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Kaohsiung History, Taiwan

Situated in southwestern Taiwan, Kaohsiung is the most densely populated and second largest provincial city of the island of Taiwan, Republic of China. Originally merely a bamboo thicket resided in by the Makatau tribe, Kaohsiung is now regarded as one of the biggest and most thriving industrial port cities in the world. Here are some facts behind the colorful Kaohsiung History.

Kaohsiung History – Its Beginnings

Archaeological studies show that the earliest traces of human activity in Kaohsiung date 4700 - 5200 years ago and were found in the nearby hills along the port. Before the 15th century, the Makatau inhabited the area, which was then covered mostly of bamboo. The aborigines called the area ‘Takau’ from the Hoklo language spoken by the settlers, meaning bamboo forest.

Kaohsiung History - Under the Dutch and Ming Dynasty

In the 1630s, The Dutch defeated the local tribes and established Fort Zeelandia, after being driven out from Penghu by the Ming. They changed the name of the harbor to Tancoia. Also in 1630 came the first wave of large scale immigration of people from mainland China.

In 1661, Zheng Chenggong led the Taiwanese forces to get rid of the Dutch and renamed Taiwan as Dongdu (Eastern Capital). Taiwan was divided into Chengtian Prefecture, Tianxing County, and Wannian County (which included the current Kaohsiung City, Kaohsiung County, Pingtung County and part of Tainan County). In 1664, Wannian became a prefecture under Chengtian.

Kaohsiung History - Under the Qing Dynasty

In 1683, the navy military governor Shi Lang of Fujien (Qing Dynasty) made Zheng Keshuang surrender, ending the Ming supporters rule over Taiwan. Wannian Prefecture split into Taiwan County and Fengshan County (where the running of Kaohsiung city was moved). During this time as well, Kaohsiung was opened for the first time as a port.

Kaohsiung History - During the Japanese Occupation

After the Treaty of Shimonoseki took effect, Japan took over the command of Kaohsiung as with the rest of Taiwan. Takau (sounded like dagou), meaning “beating dog” was changed to the better sounding Japanese Takou, meaning “high hero.” Recognizing its strategic military and economic importance, the Japanese developed the Kaohsiung harbor and the area eventually became a state in 1920. Because of its importance, Kaohsiung was heavily bombed during the Second World War.

Kaohsiung History – At Present

When Taiwan was handed back to the Republic of China after the war, the Romanization of the city name changed to Kao-hsiung, based on the Standard Mandarin reading of the kanji characters. In July 1979, Kaohsiung became the second municipality in Taiwan. In December of that same year, the first major Human Rights Day happened in the city, the first public display of discontent against the nationalist government. It was known as the Kaohsiung Incident, where many of the prominent opposition leaders were either jailed or put to death because of the demonstration. This incident also became the driving force in creating the present-day opposition, the Democratic Progressive Party. In 2000, the DPP was successful in ending the rule of the Kuomintang Party in Taiwan.

Kaohsiung History is one of the most important series of events that took place in Taiwan. If you want to learn more about Asia, references are available through Taipei History and Philippines' Basco History.

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