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February 2016

Taiwan

Taiwan

Earthquakes in Taiwan

Earthquakes in Taiwan

On February 5, 2016, a magnitude 6.4 earthquake struck Tainan, Taiwan. The city of Tainan is located in the southeast corner of the island. The powerful, shallow earthquake only occurred approximately 20 km in depth. Taiwan lies on the boundary between the Philippine Sea and Eurasia plates, along the Ryuku Trench.

Located in Eastern Asia, Taiwan is slightly smaller than Maryland and Delaware combined. The eastern two-thirds of Taiwan is mostly rugged mountains; the west is comprised of mostly flat to gently rolling plains. Taiwan is the location of frequent seismicity. In 1999, the second deadliest earthquake in Taiwan history struck at a magnitude of 7.6. In 1935, an earthquake just north of Taichung, caused over 3000 fatalities. In 1941, a M 7.3 earthquake caused several hundred fatalities.

In 1895, military defeat forced China's Qing Dynasty to cede Taiwan to Japan. Taiwan came under Chinese Nationalist control after World War II. Following the communist victory on the mainland in 1949, 2 million Nationalists fled to Taiwan and established a government under the 1947 constitution drawn up for all of China. Beginning in the 1950s, the ruling authorities gradually democratized and incorporated the local population within the governing structure. This process expanded rapidly in the 1980s, and Taiwan held its first direct presidential election in 1996. In 2000, Taiwan underwent its first peaceful transfer of power from the Nationalist (Kuomintang or KMT) to the Democratic Progressive Party. Throughout this period, the island prospered and became one of East Asia's economic "Tigers." The dominant political issues continue to be management of sensitive relations between Taiwan and China - specifically the question of Taiwan's eventual status - as well as domestic priorities for economic reform and growth.

Taiwan's natural resources include: coal, natural gas, limestone, marble, and asbestos. Natural hazards facing the island are earthquakes and typhoons; there is one historically active volcano east of Taiwan: Kueishantao Island, with an elevation of 401 meters.

To learn more about earthquakes, visit the United States Geological Survey (USGS) Earthquake Hazards Program.

USGS Earthquake Hazards Program; CIA World Factbook, 2/2016; 2/2016

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