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By Christopher L. Salter

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Q 2/10/04 10:01 PM Page 54 54 Taiwan Why does this matter? Why is having an urban population important? In fact, everything about this statistic is significant. To a geographer, it is one of the most important of all statistics. The percentage of a country’s population that lives in the cities serves is a benchmark for the success of the entire development process. It is reflects how well a country has dealt with the demanding forces of development and transformation. The more people a nation has living in cities, the greater the likelihood that more children will go to school and continue to go to school.

TAIWAN IN THE NINETEENTH CENTURY At the time of the first Sino-British war (1839), also known as the Opium War, Taiwan had a population of approximately 2,500,000. By that time rice and sugar had become agricultural surpluses that played a strong trade role between the island and the Chinese mainland. In what is sometimes called the second Opium War (1858), the British forced the Chinese to open additional mainland Chinese ports to foreign trade. The two ports of Tainan and Tamshui (on the northwest corner of Taiwan) were included in this 1858 Treaty Port provision.

During the Japanese colonial period (1895 –1945), they were a particularly resistant minority force and required considerable Japanese effort to bring them under control as the Japanese attempted to tap highland forest resources. LANGUAGE AND RELIGION When I taught at a Chinese university many years ago, I tried very hard to learn Chinese. I remember being very impressed with the man who ran the local “convenience store” near the place where we lived. Everyday he worked in four languages. He knew—and could use in his trade—Taiwanese, Mandarin Chinese, Japanese, and a few words of English.

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