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During the 1950s and 1960s, after the government had fled to Taiwan due to losing the Chinese Civil War, it was commonly referred to as "Nationalist China" (or "Free China") to differentiate it from "Communist China" (or "Red China").
It was a member of the United Nations representing "China" until 1971, when it lost its seat to the People's Republic of China.
After a brief rule by the Kingdom of Tungning, the island was annexed by the Qing dynasty, the last dynasty of China.
The Qing ceded Taiwan to Japan in 1895 after the Sino-Japanese War.
Some of these fell under Dutch control, while others remained independent.
In 1626, the Spanish Empire landed on and occupied northern Taiwan, at the ports of Keelung and Tamsui, as a base to extend their trading.
Taiwan is the 22nd-largest economy in the world, and its high-tech industry plays a key role in the global economy.
For instance, it is the name under which it has competed at the Olympic Games since 1984, and its name as an observer at the World Health Organization.
Taiwan was joined to the mainland in the Late Pleistocene, until sea levels rose about 10,000 years ago.
This has led linguists to propose Taiwan as the urheimat of the family, from which seafaring peoples dispersed across Southeast Asia and the Pacific and Indian Oceans.
David Wright, a Scottish agent of the company who lived on the island in the 1650s, described the lowland areas of the island as being divided among 11 chiefdoms ranging in size from two settlements to 72.