National Geographic : 1982 Jan
The first Taiwanese, aboriginesinhabitedthe island long before the first immigrationof Chinese. Nine tribes, each with a different language, now accountfor only aboutone percent of the population.Though their origins have not been conclusively traced, some are thought to be ofMalayan stock. In many of their 240 villages, most located among the high central mountains, the elderly and children predominate; others venture to the cities and Taiwan's mainstream. NearIlan, children of the Atayal tribe rule the street during school recess (right), while a young mother shows off her son (above). The Atayals and other aboriginesalso find a lucrative livelihood in cateringto touristsat Sun Moon Lake. After dancing at a lakeside resort,a young entertainer(below) returns by boat to her village. Through education the government encourages assimilationof the aboriginalminority. The nine years of compulsory school attendance requiredof all Taiwan's children has given the islandpopulation a literacy rate of 90 percent.