Formosa (Chinese Taiwan), an island lying off the coast of China, from which it is separated by the Fu-chien Strait, 90 to 220 miles wide. It has a maximum length of 235 miles, a varying breadth of 70 to 90 miles, and an area of 14,978 sq. m. The backbone of the island is formed of a range of densely-wooded mountains, which culminate in Mount Morrison (12,847 feet). Eastward of this range lies a narrow strip of mountainous country, presenting to the Pacific a precipitous cliff-wall with in many places a sheer descent of from 5000 to 7000 feet. West of the range is a broad alluvial plain. The rainfall of the northern, central, and eastern portions of the island is heavy. The mean temperature of summer is 80° to 90° F. ; of winter, 50° to 60°. Malarial fever is prevalent in the north, and violent typhoons are very common at certain seasons. The island is famous for its rich vegetation. Of animal life there are at least forty-three species of birds peculiar to the island, whilst insects are scarce, and noxious wild animals few. The principal commercial products are tea, sugar, coal, turmeric, rice, sweet potatoes, groundnuts, bamboos, grasses, tobacco, timber, and sesamum-seed. In the south the staple crops are sugar and turmeric, and in the north tea. The imports consist principally of opium, cotton and woollen piece goods, and lead. Sulphur, iron, and petroleum also exist, but are not worked to any extent. Camphor, once the chief product, has again under Japanese rule become an important product; and since 1895, when Formosa was ceded by China to Japan, the Japanese have done marvels for the development of the island - in mining, roads, artesian wells, railways, post-offices, savings-banks, sanitation, hospitals, and education. The savage tribes of the interior have been reduced to order, not without some trouble. (See Formosa Past and Present, 1903, by J. W. Davidson.) Formosa forms a province of Japan under its Chinese name of Taiwan. Taiwan and Takow are ports on the south-west, and Tamsui and Kelung on the north. The inhabitants, 2,810,000 in 1905, consist of Chinese settlers and of aborigines, mainly of Malayan and Negrito descent, with some 25,000 Japanese. The Pescadores, a group of islands with 10,000 inhabitants, 20 miles to the west, were ceded to Japan at the same time as Formosa. In the 14th century the Chinese established several colonies in Formosa. Although Portuguese and Spanish navigators began to visit the island in the 16th century, the first European people to establish themselves on it were the Dutch, who in 1624 built Fort Zealandia, near the modern Taiwan. They were, however, expelled in 1661 by a Chinese adventurer, Koscinga, who retained possession of the island for twenty-two years. Some years later a regular Chinese colonisation of the western half of the island was carried through. Subsequently the island became notorious for piracy, and for its ill treatment of shipwrecked crews.


Formosa, a territory in the extreme north of Argentine Republic, formed in 1884. The capital is Formosa (1000 inhabitants), on the Paraguay, 100 miles NNE. of Corrientes.