Taiwan and mainland China share a close history. In fact, Taiwan’s official name is the Republic of China (ROC). The ROC governs Taiwan Island and several smaller groups of nearby islands. The ROC once also governed mainland China. But after World War II, China was divided by a civil war. The Kuomintang (KMT), a political party, fought against the Communist Party. In 1949 Communist forces took control of mainland China. The KMT fled to Taiwan. Mainland China became known as the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Taiwan became the ROC. The KMT made Taipei its capital. The PRC still considers Taiwan part of China. It only recognizes Taiwan’s government as a local government.
Despite these political tensions, Taiwan and China are culturally close. Most of Taiwan’s 23 million people are ethnic Han Chinese, the main ethnic group of China. Taiwan’s official language is Mandarin, a Chinese dialect. Most people also speak Taiwanese, another Chinese dialect. And many Taiwanese people practice the Chinese religions of Buddhism, Confucianism, and Taoism. But unlike China, Taiwan has long-