Taiwan is often seen as a place where Chinese Culture is still alive versus the Chinese Mainland where in the Mao Era most of it was destroyed and now rebuilt. In 1949 the government of the Republic of China had to relocate to Taiwan, after its troops were defeated by the Communists. Consequently the Communist Party of China declared the Founding of The People’s Republic of China, which sees Taiwan as a Province of China.
Taiwan is an interesting place, not just by a very beautiful nature, but mainly by its people. On the Chinese Mainland, as well as in Taiwan, I find it easy to connect to people and they are open and friendly. But in Taiwan the general character is quite mild and the behavior very polite - which you find on the Mainland also, but in more educated circles. Of course it also makes me think for reasons why the culture is so distinct from the other two “special regions”, which are Hong Kong and Macao and perhaps it can be partly explained by the kind of immigrants and the reasons they immigrated.
If you had a reason to leave the Chinese Mainland in 1949 or shortly after, Taiwan was for many the first option. For example they might have been a supporter of the Kuomintang, headed by Chiang Kai-Shek, or might have been among the retreating troops. Also members of the retreating government likely relocated to Taiwan and a lot of the educated elite. Business people, for example from Shanghai, were not in the first wave of immigrants, because many still tried to stay with their businesses until it was clear that the country will develop into a repressive communist state under Mao Zedong. If it was not too late, they could still relocate to Taiwan, but some also choose Hong Kong. Even the historical Kuomintang were running a corrupted regime before 1949, which made many people welcome the Communists at first, still they represented the elite of the country which was then choosing to leave. They were the ones building up Taiwan and refining its culture, while The Peoples Republic of China dropped into a form of Communism which was mainly (mis-) used by Mao to secure his own power. The enormous modernization of China, dragging hundreds of million of people out of bare poverty, only started in 1979 with Deng Xiaoping.
Immigrants to Hong Kong, who were not retreating business people from the Mainland, were often farmers escaping the famine in the 50s. Hong Kong has more the character and culture of a refugee camp. Those who were able to, did not stay for long and then immigrated overseas. A few of them who stayed took opportunities of the “gateway to China” and built amazing business empires in just one generation. Teaching at the University of Hong Kong (HKU) I always have to remind myself, that many local students actually are in the first generation of their families which receive any education. Perhaps this is why I was feeling so comfortable that in Taiwan many people have an exited sparkle in their eyes - in Hong Kong you only see this effect, when you point a flashlight into their ear.
Political relations between The People’s Republic of China and The Republic of China (Taiwan) are getting less ideological and much more practical today. It seems to be on a good way and sometimes it is better to accept and develop a new reality and then try to find an appropriate name for it later. This is one of the many strengths of Chinese people, that they can accept for a long time names which do not really represent the reality, but everybody knows what they mean.