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Originally known in the west as "Formosa," from the Portuguese isla formosa or "beautiful island," Taiwan has since 1948 constituted virtually the entire land area of the Republic of China (ROC). Until then, the ROC had controlled most of the mainland but in 1948 they were driven out by Mao`s communists and established themselves on Taiwan.

One of the permanent seats at the United Nations Security Council belongs to China. After 1948, the seat was still held by the Republic of China, even though it controls just a small fraction of the land and population of the People`s Republic of China (PRC). As a result of the thaw in relations initiated by Richard Nixon`s visit in 1972, the United States withdrew its insistence that the ROC be recognized as China`s legitimate government, and the United Nations recognized the PRC and granted them the Security Council seat. Since then, the ROC has not been represented in the United Nations.