About Taiwan,  English Version

Are There Indigenous People in Taiwan? How Many of Them?

I believe that almost every country has their own indigenous people. There are American Indians in the USA, and Māori in New Zealand, for example. In Taiwan, there are 16 different indigenous people until now. All of them are so special and precious for us. I’m so happy and honor to share with every one of you about their traditions and cultures.

The History of Indigenous People

People called them Taiwanese indigenous peoples (formerly Taiwanese aborigines), Formosan people, Austronesian Taiwanese Yuanzhumin or Gāoshān people. Recent research suggests their ancestors may have been living on Taiwan for approximately 6,500 years. 

Indigenous People Migrated to Oceanic Austronesia

Taiwanese indigenous peoples are Austronesian peoples, with linguistic and cultural ties, as well as some genetic drift to other Austronesian peoples. Taiwan is the origin of the oceanic Austronesian expansion whose descendant groups today include the majority of the ethnic groups of the PhilippinesMicronesiaIndonesiaMalaysia, Brunei, East Timor, Madagascar, and Polynesia.

Colonization of Different Countries

Recorded history of the indigenous peoples in Taiwan began around the 17th century, and has often been dominated by the views and policies of foreign powers and non-aborigines. Beginning with the arrival of Dutch merchants in 1624, the traditional lands of the aborigines have been successively colonized by DutchSpanishMingQing DynastyJapanese, and Republic of China rulers.

Each of these successive “civilizing” cultural centers participated in violent conflict and peaceful economic interaction with both the Plains and Mountain indigenous groups. To varying degrees, they influenced or transformed the culture and language of the indigenous peoples.

Many Original Cultures Have Been Destroyed

For centuries, Taiwan’s indigenous inhabitants experienced economic competition and military conflict with a series of colonizing newcomers. Centralized government policies designed to foster language shift and cultural assimilation, as well as continued contact with the colonizers through trade, inter-marriage and other intercultural processes, have resulted in varying degrees of language death and loss of original cultural identity.

Therefore, the government work so hard and try their best to protect those important and unique cultures and people. If you want to know more history about indigenous people, check out Taiwanese indigenous peoples.

Distribution of Indigenous People

16 Indigenous People in Taiwan

There are 16 different indigenous people in Taiwan. Including Saisiyat, Atayal, Sediq, Tsou, Kanakanava, Hla’alua, Rukai, Bunun, Paiwan, Yami, Puyuma, Thao, Kavalan, Amis, Sakizaya and Truku. They spread in every city around Taiwan, and most of them live in the mountains.


The population was 577,000 at the end of 2020. It increased of 0.9% from the end of 2019. Amis people accounted for the largest number of 215,000 people with 37.3%. Paiwan people accounted for 104,000 people accounted for 18.0% Followed by Atayal people accounted for 93,000 people, 16.1% ranked third.

Among the counties and cities, Hualien County has the largest number of indigenous people with 93,000 (accounting for 28.8% of the county’s population), followed by Taitung County’s 79,000 (accounting for 36.5% of the county’s population).


Matrilineal society

Among the aborigines of Taiwan, Amis and Puyuma, which are located in eastern Taiwan, are the most special ethnic groups. These two ethnic groups are typical matrilineal societies. It means that women have an absolute dominant position in the family while men are in a subordinate position. Therefore, they live together in the woman’s house after marriage.

Traditional ritual

Religious Festival is a very important part of Taiwan’s aboriginal culture. There are many different types of rituals according to different ethnic groups. The different rituals of each ethnic group also have different meanings. To understand the culture of the indigenous people, it is absolutely necessary to understand the meaning of their various rituals.

Atayal and Truku have ancestral ritual, Lus’an of Thao, Pasta’ai of Saisiyat. Ear Festival of Bunun, Harvest Festival of Amis, Flying Fish Festival of Yami, Mangayan gayau of Puyuma and Mayasvi of Tsou, etc.

These diverse types of traditional rituals can once again illustrate the diversity and richness of Taiwan’s aboriginal culture and its social mechanism with profound cultural connotations.

They remain their own culture and respect others is so beautiful. I’m glad to share those beautiful indigenous peoples with you, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.















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