Country Profile: Taiwan, Republic of China

This Country Profile provides a basic overview of the legal history and institutional structures of the Republic of China/Taiwan, based on research produced by GlobaLex at NYU Law School and the Library of Congress. Under Taiwan's Constitution, Islamic law (sharīʿa or fiqh) has no legal status. 

Country Background

Taiwan is an island country located in Eastern Asia, north of the Philippines and off the southeastern coast of China. It is bounded by the East China Sea, Philippine Sea, South China Sea, and Taiwan Strait. The capital of Taiwan is Taipei. The official languages are Mandarin Chinese and the Formosan languages of Taiwan's indigenous population. The country's population in 2017 was approximately 23.5 million. Taiwan is a predominantly Buddhist and Taoist country, with about 35% of the population Buddhist and 33% Taoist.

It is important to note that although Taiwan is fully self-governing, the People's Republic of China claims sovereignty over Taiwan. Under its One-China Policy, China refuses to engage in diplomatic relations with any country that recognizes Taiwan as a sovereign state. Thus, Taiwan is often blocked from membership from international forums, or is only allowed observer status under the name "Chinese Taipei."

Constitution & Legal Structure

After gaining independence from Japan after WWII, Taiwan became part of China. However, when the Chinese Civil War erupted in the late 1940s and the Communist party began gaining power, the Chinese Nationalists (KMT) evacuated to Taiwan. A system of martial law was put in place from 1949-1987, known as the White Terror, in which almost 150,000 people were killed or imprisoned on suspected pro-Communist or anti-KMT leanings. The majority of these individuals were of Taiwan's political and social elite. In 2008, Taiwan's president formally apologized for the White Terror. After the martial law system ended in 1987, Taiwan began a process towards democratization. Today, Taiwan is referred to as a semi-presidential republic, in which sovereignty belongs to the people and the Constitution is the supreme law of the land. The system of government is based on principles of separation and checks and balances and has three branches: legislative, executive, and judicial. The legal system of Taiwan is a mixed legal system whose development has been influenced by Dutch, traditional Chinese, Japanese, and American legal traditions. 

Constitutional Status of Islamic Law

Islamic law has no constitutional status in Taiwan.

Jurisdiction(s) of Islamic Law

Islamic law has no official jurisdiction of operation in Taiwan. 

Dominant School of Islamic Law

Taiwan has no official school of Islamic law. 

Sources of Law for Legal Research

Official Publications

Unofficial Databases


For an extended list of legal resources for this country, see the Library of Congress’s Research Guide, and for a narrative review, see the GlobaLex Foreign Law Research Guide (most updated version, where available). The Constitution is available in the LOC Guide in its original language and at Constitute in English translation. For full versions of past constitutions, amendments, and related legislation, see HeinOnline World Constitutions Illustrated or Oxford Constitutions of the World [subscription required for each].