Celebrating Taiwanese American Heritage Week in San Francisco

Join us on May 14, 2011 for a grand celebration of Taiwanese Americans and the Taiwanese culture at the 19th annual Taiwanese American Cultural Festival. This festival will take place in the popular, busy, and centrally-located Union Square in San Francisco. Last year over 8,000 visitors attended the festival, including esteemed guests such as David Chiu, President of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors; Gavin Newsom, Mayor of San Francisco and California State Lieutenant Governor-Elect; Jackie Speier, U.S. Congresswoman; and we only expect a greater turnout this year! Come join us for a day of unique cultural performances, food, and fun at what has become the annual landmark event for the Bay Area Taiwanese American community.

What's New in 2011?

Performers are coming directly from Taiwan! They will be showcasing unique stunts and acrobatics, including the use of the Taiwanese yo-yo. Stay tuned for more details on this exciting addition to the program this year.


Proclamation City and County of San Francisco ImageThe Taiwanese American Cultural Festival in San Francisco is visited each year by key community leaders and officials in the Bay Area. Many proclamations have been issued for the success and the achievement of the event. Below are some of the proclamations received and VIPs that have attended past year's festivals.

PDF Icon   PDF of Proclamation (177 kb)


Taiwan MapTaiwan is an island nation situated in the western Pacific Ocean with Japan to the north, Philippines to the south, and separated from southern China by the Taiwan Strait. It has an estimated population of over 23 million people and research suggests that it was inhabited around 4300 B.C. Taiwan's highest point is Yu Shan at 3,952 meters, and there are five other peaks over 3,500 meters. This makes it the world's fourth-highest island.


The first inhabitants came from the Malay-Polynesian tribes and were the earliest aborigines in Taiwan. Between the 16th and the 17th centuries, Hakka and Holo speaking people from the coastal Chinese provinces of Kwantung and Fukien began to arrive. Today, the Holo speakers account for about 62% of the population on the island. Descendants of the Hakka settlers account for another 20%. About 3% are indigenous people from one of the twelve tribes. The remaining 15% of the population immigrated to Taiwan in 1949 after the Kuomintang's defeat in China.

In the past four hundred years, Taiwan has been under the rule of many world powers including the Dutch, Koxinga, Manchu Ching, Japanese, and the Chinese Nationalists. Under each colonial rule, the local population has suffered repression and massacres, with the most significant occurring on February 28, 1947 at which Chinese Nationalist troops killed as many as 20,000 Taiwanese. Over the next century, leaders such as Chiang Kai Shek and Chiang Ching Kuo helped solidify control over Taiwan and in 1986, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) was formed and inaugurated as the first opposition party in Taiwan to counter the Kuomintang Party (KMT, Chinese Nationalist Party). Today, polarized politics has emerged in Taiwan with the formation of the Pan-Blue Coalition of parties led by the KMT, favoring eventual Chinese reunification, and the Pan-Green Coalition of parties led by the DPP, favoring an eventual and official declaration of Taiwan independence.

Language & Religion

Mandarin is the national language and is spoken by the vast majority of residents. About 70% of the people in Taiwan speak both Taiwanese and Mandarin. The Hakka ethnic group,comprising around 15% of the population, use the Hakka language.

Over 93% of Taiwanese are adherents of a combination of the polytheistic ancient Chinese religion, Buddhism, Confucianism, and Taoism.


Taiwan's many encounters with other countries and cultures, especially in its experiences of colonialism, have led to a diverse and unique art scene. Taiwan's aborigines are renowned for their folk dances and indigenous music, while painting, pottery, and modern dance took root under the Japanese. Taiwan also continues the traditional arts of glove puppetry and opera. Every genre of art, be it music, painting, dance, or literature, has drawn on multicultural influences and added a local sensibility, resulting in art that is unique to Taiwan's cultural, political and geographical position.

Taiwanese culture has also influenced other cultures. Bubble tea and milk tea are available in Singapore, Australia, Europe and North America. Taiwan television variety shows are popular in Singapore, Malaysia and other Asian countries. On the global stage, Taiwan's cinema scene has garnered the most praise, with its highly lauded New Wave movement founded by directors such as Edward Yang, Wang Tong, and Hou Hsiao-hsien. In 2005, Ang Lee, a native of Pingtung, was the first Asian director to win an Academy Award.

Taiwan Culture, Ang Lee


Taiwan Taipei 101, Phalaenopsis orchids, Taiwan High Speed RailTaiwan began its transformation from an agrarian society into a technological powerhouse just sixty years ago. In the 1950s and 1960s, it was one of the world's leading sugar exporters. Over one million metric tons of sugar was produced annually. In the 1970s, it was known as the largest supplier of hats, shoes and umbrellas in the world. Nowadays, it has further evolved from a labor intensive economy into a knowledge economy, producing hi-tech goods with excellent quality and innovation. Some examples of its thriving economy include:

  • Taipei 101, a 101-floor building in Taipei, is currently one of the tallest skyscrapers in the world. It is equipped with the fastest ascending elevator: 55.22 ft/s (37.5 mile/h).
  • Taiwan's Phalaenopsis orchids (or Moth orchids) thrive in the country's subtropical climate. Taiwan is considered one of the global leaders in orchid production.
  • Taiwan currently ranks first worldwide in several categories of information technology products, such as IC foundries, notebooks, LCD monitors, etc.
  • The Taiwan High Speed Rail (THSR) connects Taipei and Kaohsiung, Taiwan's two largest cities, which are 208 miles apart. The trains are capable of traveling up to 186 mph.

Highlights of Taiwan

KTLA 5: Five-Part Series on Taiwan

Click here to watch part 4 and 5


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Taiwanese Americans in the Community

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