Taiwan, officially the Republic of China (ROC), is a sovereign state off the east coast of Asia. The Republic of China, originally based in mainland China, now governs the island of Taiwan, formerly known to Westerners as Formosa (Portuguese word for beautiful), which makes up over 99% of its territory, as well as Penghu, Kinmen, Matsu, and other minor islands.
Formosa's first human inhabitants arrived some 8000 years prior to a Han migration from mainland China in the 17th Century. Concurrently, Formosa was also colonized by the Dutch and Portuguese. A pro-Ming government was established in 1662, which expelled the Europeans, but that fell in 1683 to the Qing Dynasty, which annexed Formosa outright to China. Formosa, now most commonly called "Taiwan", was ceded to Japan in 1895, and remained under Japanese rule until the end of World War II in 1945. At the end of the Chinese Civil War in 1949, the Chinese Communist Party took control of mainland China, and ousted the government of the Republic of China (ROC), which had been established in 1912. The ROC fled to Taiwan, and for a time enjoyed official recognition as the "true" government of China. However, this recognition has eroded with the passing decades, and most governments now recognize the People's Republic of China (PRC) on the mainland as the "true" China.
From its foundation to the 1980s, Taiwan was a one-party state under the rule of the Kuomintang. However, the tight reins of the government began to ease in the 1980s, and Taiwan is now a generally functional democracy. As the Chinese Civil War never officially ended, Taiwan has substantial military fortifications. For several decades, it also maintained a mutual defense with the United States. The ROC does not seek to reinstall itself on the mainland, and its status as an independent nation is not truly legal for a number of complicated reasons. For its part, the PRC considers itself the successor state to the Republic of China (ROC) and therefore entitled to all its holdings, including Taiwan, and has frequently made it clear that any move by the ROC to declare itself a truly independent nation-state will be met with force.