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Church in Taiwan

Capital : Taipei
Population : 23.78 million
Catholics : 2,24,954 (0.95 %)
Jurisdictions : One Archdiocese, Six Dioceses
Parishes : 411
Major Religions : Buddhism 35.1%, Taoism 33%, Christianity 3.9%, Irreligious 18.7%, other 9.3%
Taiwan, an island just north of the Philippines and southeast of China, is officially called Republic of China.

It was originally called Formosa and was inhabited by the Taiwanese aboriginals until the Dutch period, which started with the Dutch East India Company in south of Taiwan in 1624.

The arrival of Spanish two years later in the north of the island helped introducing Christianity. The tribal people's first encounter with the western culture did not help them appreciate the religion.

The re-emergence of Christianity happened in 1859 with the return of the Dominicans to the south of Taiwan. Since then Christianity began to take root in the south and gradually reached north Taiwan.

Taiwan has been part of the Catholic missionary jurisdiction since 16th century after the arrival of Portuguese in Asia in 1498. It was part of Diocese of Funchal in Portuguese, which the Portuguese set up in 1514. Later in 1576, diocese of Macau was established, which covered all of Mainland China and Macau Island. It was divided several times over the centuries to create many more dioceses in the region.

The arrival of Presbyterian missionaries in the 1860’s and their schools and medical facilities helped many Taiwanese embrace Christianity.

In 1949, the Chinese nationalist government relocated itself to Taiwan and many Christians followed it.

The Presbyterian mission began in Taiwan in 1865 when a missioner of English Presbyterian Church arrived in southern Taiwan. In 1872, a Canadian Presbyterian missionary arrived in the north. When the US established the Presbyterian Church in 1949, these two groups joined it.

Although Christians are a minority, Presbyterians play important roles in Taiwanese politics as they have been supporting Taiwan's movement for democracy. Four of its five presidents since 1949 have been Christians.

Major Christian denominations are: Protestants, Catholics and Mormons. There are also non-denominational Christians.

According to statistics, some 3.9 percent of the Taiwan's 23.78 million people are Christian. However, some 62 percent of the Taiwanese population is working class people, of which only 0.5 percent people are Christian.

Catholics are roughly 0.5 to 2 percent of the population. They are now organized into seven dioceses, including an archdiocese.
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