Taiwan Struggling for Independence:
By Tsai Pai-chuan and Chi-ming Ng
A Historical Perspective
Prehistoric Taiwan (Since 6000 B.C.)
- ¡@Described by Taiwanese historian Lien Heng in his A General History of Taiwan (922)
as a "beautiful island in a magnificent ocean," Taiwan, at the dawn of history, was more appropriately a Pacific island inhabited by several groups of peoples who have completely disappeared from the island, leaving behind them only remnants for archaeologists to pore and ponder. Beginning about 6,000 years ago, Taiwan became a homeland of the Austronesian-speaking people, including the aboriginal Taiwanese who settled or lived on Taiwan before the arrival of ethnic Chinese in the 17th century.
- Taiwan,¡@ a Pacific Island
The Austronesian-speaking people today has a total population of about 250 million scattering over islands in the Pacific Ocean, including Taiwan, Island Southeast Asia, the Pacific islands and Madagascar. It is widely believed that their ancestors originally emigrated from Taiwan.
- ¡@According to Dr. Peter Bellwood, an Australian anthropologist, the first group of aboriginal Taiwanese arrived to settle in Taiwan in about 4000 B.C. and developed the proto-Austronesian language before their resettlement in the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia and other areas. Even the name "Taiwan" is thought to derive from an Austronesian word "Tyawan" denoting a small island or sandbar off the southwest coast of Taiwan proper and now connected to mainland Taiwan and becomes the present Anping District of Tainan City in southwest Taiwan. Just as Mozambique was originally the name of a small island but has now become the name of the entire country, so has Taiwan become the name of the country well known to the world as a showcase of economic success, though officially the country is still called the "Republic of China."
- Taiwanese, an Ethnic Austronesian People
- ¡@In contrast to the first group of aboriginal Taiwanese who have settled or lived on Taiwan for at least 6,000 years, a majority Taiwanese of ethnic Chinese have emigrated to Taiwan for only 400 years. For the sake of convenience, anthropologists have traditionally divided aboriginal Taiwanese into two major groups: plain aborigines who lived on the west plains of the island and mountain aborigines who mainly lived in the mountains. The plain aborigines have now
become nearly extinct following their oppression by or intermarriage with Chinese settlers. Thus, most of the Taiwanese can be said to be the distant relatives of the Austronesian people in dispersal.
¡´ Bellwood, Peter, ¡@"Austronesian Dispersal and the Family of Language," Scientific American (July l991), pp.88-93BACK
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