October 2nd, 2012
04:46 PM GMT
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Editor's note: The Outlook series spotlights a country to give a deeper understanding of the business, industry and consumer trends that fuel its economy. While exploring the current challenges and opportunities facing a country's economic progress, Outlook also seeks to provide an insight into its future development.

(CNN) The phrase "Taiwan miracle" was coined to refer to the island's remarkable economic growth over the last past five decades. Having become a developed economy in just half a century, Taiwan is now facing the challenge of maintaining its position in an increasingly tough global economic climate.

Roughly the size Portugal, Taiwan has become the world’s 18th largest exporter, according to the CIA World Factbook, and has been transformed from an economy largely reliant on agriculture to a powerhouse in the manufacture of computers, microchips, semi-conductors and other IT equipment.

Taiwan has plenty of niche players - small and mid-size businesses – some globally renowned technology brands and an improving infrastructure. A high-speed rail link completed in 2007 connects the island’s northern tip to the southern port city of Zuoying in 90 minutes.

But with its main industries highly reliant on exports (mainland China, Hong Kong and the U.S. are its largest export destinations), it is vulnerable to economic "shocks" like the global recession that saw its economy shrink in 2009. Despite a 5.2% growth in GDP in 2011, according to the CIA World Factbook, its exports have fallen over the past six months.

It also faces fierce competition from its Asian neighbors, especially from its largest trading partner, mainland China.

From next week CNN debuts a week of programming that looks at Taiwan in depth. Can the “Asian tiger” still roar in the global economy?

Taiwan fast facts:

Population: 23.1 million
Largest export sector: Machinery and electrical equipment (47% of total exports 2011)
Largest export markets: Mainland China 28.8%, Hong Kong 13.7%, U.S. 12.5 %
GDP per capita: $20,082
GDP 2011: $466bn
GDP growth in 2011: 5.2%
Unemployment rate: 4.4% (2011)
Sources: EIU, CIA World Factbook, D&B Country Riskline Report

CNN’s Outlook series often carries sponsorship originating from the countries we feature. However CNN retains full editorial control over all of its reporting. Read more about CNN's sponsorship policies

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Filed under: Outlook Taiwan

soundoff (35 Responses)
  1. Samuel Amaechi

    The spotlight on China's niche players,the SMBs is a great
    value. What excites me most is the fact the major key players
    in the country'economy come from small and midsize businesses.
    We see that their products contributes to 47% of China's exports
    And these products we noticed are computers, semi conductors,
    Microchips and other IT equipment which some globally renownd
    Technology brands really depend on

    October 3, 2012 at 12:17 pm |
  2. Danny Yang

    Taiwan is not belong to China,They are taitor

    October 8, 2012 at 1:35 am |
  3. Eddie

    Zuoying, really? The southern port city of Zuoying?

    Zuoying *district* is an administrative district of Kaohsiung City. While it is true that the HSR terminates in Zuoying (with future plans to extend to Kaohsiung railway station), the name of the city is Kaohsiung, not Zuoying. CNN, that's just sloppy research.

    October 8, 2012 at 12:04 pm |
  4. 王润

    Taiwan belongs to China!

    October 9, 2012 at 8:20 am |
  5. En Chen

    Taiwan belongs to Republic of China!

    October 10, 2012 at 3:46 am |
  6. M

    "belong" is a funny word, how should we define that delicate word?

    I see it this way, yes taiwan has lots of roots in china, true can't doubt that. I'm happy with that fact.

    I gave birth to my daughter, I raise her to an independent beautiful responsible and smart girl. She says thanks mom, I love you, thanks for everything you've taught me and I know you'll always support me no matter what happen to me but don't get me wrong, I don't belong to you. You can't make decision of who I'm marrying into or what subject I'm going to major at college nor where I'll be living in the future nor how I'll spend the money I earn (but you know any advice is welcome).

    Let it go.

    October 11, 2012 at 11:46 am |
  7. dixteel

    Actually, Taiwan belongs to me. YEA.

    October 11, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
  8. paul


    October 11, 2012 at 10:42 pm |
  9. AliciaC

    I just saw an episode about bike industry. Please DO NOT ENCOURAGE Taiwanese riding bikes. Bikers here are rude and selfish. They ride on the SIDEWALK! They like to OCCUPY the sidewalk! If any of you ever travel in Taipei city on foot, you'll find how difficult to walk here. These bikers make NO ROOM for people to walk!
    Really, I am begging you guys, do not encourage more people to ride bikes, we need our sidewalk back.
    However I do suggest that you can make an episode called "Unwalkable Taipei" or "Taipeigtory of pedestrian"

    October 12, 2012 at 12:53 am |
  10. Skylight

    China won't be a good neighbor country if it keeps claiming nonsense all day long. Taiwan is an independent country and will stands on the free world side forever ! We will keep making fine MIT products and continue to contribute the quality of life to global society.

    October 13, 2012 at 7:04 am |
  11. Paul Bouknecht

    I'm US ex-pat living in Taiwan since 2003. At one point in your report, you say that the current administration of President Ma is "pro-unification". That is not true from my observation of the politics. Mr. Ma is certainly more open to communication and trade with China than the previous administration of Mr. Chen who was pro-independence. But he is certainly not pro-unification.

    I don't know where you got that information but you should correct it.

    October 14, 2012 at 10:53 am |
  12. American Goy

    Ah Taiwan, what China could have been. As much as the PRC clamors about being a superpower, imagine 1.3 billion people that are as advanced as those in Taiwan. They would've surpassed the US decades ago, and peacefully too. The CCP is a scam that did nothing but ruin China's destiny, not to mention its environment, and the hearts of its people.

    October 15, 2012 at 5:55 pm |
  13. chapter

    mainland China belongs to ROC .

    October 31, 2012 at 1:21 am |
  14. jay

    Taiwan and China are different countries

    November 4, 2012 at 2:00 pm |
  15. frenchalso

    Taiwan doesn't belong to anybody but the Taiwanese.

    November 7, 2012 at 1:21 am |
  16. May

    Though Taiwan is samll and crowded, you can find very few countries in the world whose people are so warm and friendly like Taiwan's. I love Taiwan.

    November 17, 2012 at 9:32 am |
  17. Sam Chou

    I am proud of being Taiwanese.

    November 19, 2012 at 3:07 am |
  18. Andy

    Taiwan is a country where i live .People in Taiwan are really friendly.i love is country.

    November 19, 2012 at 3:10 am |
  19. Debbie

    Hope Taiwan's GDP growth can be more obviously.

    November 19, 2012 at 3:12 am |
  20. Fall

    It's ridiculous to say Taiwan belongs to China.
    There are so many differences between these two countries.

    November 19, 2012 at 3:18 am |
  21. KS

    Most of people in Taiwan are great,but I am sad to say that there are also some bad people in Taiwan.
    Those bad people make the economy of Taiwan getting wrose and wrose day by day.
    I hope they can correct their behavier,and make Taiwan a better country
    than anyother countries around the world.

    November 19, 2012 at 3:21 am |
  22. KS

    Most of people in Taiwan are great,but I am sad to say that there are also some bad people in Taiwan.
    Those bad people make the economy of Taiwan getting worse and worse day by day.
    I hope they can correct their behavier,and make Taiwan a better country
    than any other countries around the world.

    November 19, 2012 at 3:29 am |
  23. tom

    Taiwan is good country, and welcome everyone to visit!

    November 20, 2012 at 12:52 am |
  24. jack

    Although Taiwan is small and crowded, but of course there are many features.I am proud of being Taiwanese.

    November 20, 2012 at 1:00 am |
  25. Alen Jack

    It is a good place to travel. In Taiwan many good place are good to visit, and people there are friendly. It doesn't matter who has Taiwan, but who love Taiwan. Many people think that Taiwan is a place should everyone invest in it. And the place will be more lovely.

    November 20, 2012 at 1:04 am |
  26. Enya

    Through we don’t speak English very well, we still have a big passion for treating people wherever they come from.

    November 20, 2012 at 1:05 am |
  27. air conditioning

    Yeah!! Taiwan got the golden medal at Tpa!! I am proud of it.Janna is beautiful.

    November 20, 2012 at 1:12 am |
  28. Timmy

    Taiwan is independent country which doesn't belong to any other country and people in Taiwan are full of enthusiasm. I am proud to be Taiwanese. I love Taiwan.

    November 20, 2012 at 1:12 am |
  29. Will

    Taiwan is a splendid place to wisit in. Includes of friendly people, beauty scenery, etc.
    It is a really recommended place to travel.

    November 20, 2012 at 1:15 am |
  30. TPA

    TPA is the wonder of Taiwan.
    Taiwanese should fight against USA with Chinese.

    November 20, 2012 at 2:07 am |
  31. Daniel

    People should know that Republic of China is not the same as People's Republic of China (communist). Two countries are ruled under different governments. Taiwan is known as the Republic of China. We are Chinese but from different countries. Im proud of being a Taiwanese, and we welcome everyone to visit Taiwan.

    November 21, 2012 at 12:31 am |
  32. Tien

    Taiwan! GOOD!

    November 21, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
  33. Dragon

    Taiwan is great!!!(come from mianland……)

    December 26, 2012 at 4:34 pm |
  34. RT

    R.O.C Taiwan is a nice country and Taiwanese are so friendly~~ So welcome to Taiwan~~

    January 2, 2013 at 8:27 am |
  35. Taiwan Moto

    Taiwan, where I was born, where I went to school, where my friends and families are, where we have our own laws, where we are FREE to choose our leader, where we have FREEDOM of speech, where we have our own military and police force, so BACK OFF China!! Taiwan is a INDEPENDENT country!

    January 7, 2013 at 1:20 am |

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