Taiwan Prefecture (Chinese: 臺灣府; pinyin: Táiwān Fǔ) was a prefecture of Taiwan under Qing rule. The prefecture was established by the Qing dynasty government in 1684, after the island "became an integral part of the Chinese Empire" in 1683. The Taiwan Prefecture Gazetteer (臺灣府志; Taiwan Fu Zhi) documented it as part of Fujian Province. The Taiwan Prefecture Gazetteer was completed by Gao Gonggan in 1695, the 34th year of the reign of the Kangxi Emperor.
When the Qing wrested the island from the control of the Kingdom of Tungning in 1683, Taiwan was made a prefecture under the administration of Fujian Province. The new Prefecture "was divided into three hien or districts":
- Zhuluo County, the central western plains and the north
- Taiwan County, around the prefectural seat at Taiwan-fu
- Fongshan County, which took up much of present-day Kaohsiung and Pingtung County
The aboriginal lands on the east coast were not under Qing jurisdiction (this area was called Behind the Mountains (後山) by the Qing). The seat of government, referred to as "Taiwan-fu" (臺灣府城; Táiwān fǔchéng), was located in modern-day Tainan, "which city had been in turn the capital of the Dutch, Koxinga, and the Chinese".
Four Prefectures, Two Seaboard Divisions
Prefectures (from south to north):
- Fongshan hien: one town, 8 Chinese villages, 73 uncivilized native villages, 8 civilized native villages
- Kagi hien: one town, 4 Chinese villages, 22 uncivilized native villages, 8 civilized native villages
- Changhwa hien: one town, 16 villages
- Pescadores ting
- Tamsui ting: one town, 132 farms, 70 native villages
An administrative change occurred in 1875, when Imperial Commissioner Shen Pao-chen demanded that another prefecture be added in Taiwan to revamp the administrative organization of the northern area of the island. As a result, Taipeh Prefecture was created from part of Taiwan Prefecture.
Fokien-Taiwan Province was established in 1887, consisting of four prefectures: Taipeh, Taiwan, Tainan, and Taitung. Tainan Prefecture was created from part of Taiwan Prefecture. Thus Taiwan Prefecture was reduced to the area of central Taiwan only, composed of the modern-day Miaoli County, Taichung City, Nantou County, Changhua County, and Yunlin County.
The new prefecture was divided into four counties and one subprefecture: Taiwan County, Changhua County, Yunlin County, Miaoli County, and Puli Subprefecture. The new prefecture seat was located at the central city of Toatun (大墩), which was also designated as the site of the new provincial capital, or Taiwan-fu. However, during construction of the new Taiwan-fu, the provincial capital was temporarily relocated to the city of Taipeh (Taipei). One of the administrators of Taiwan Prefecture was Raymund Tu, a native priest of Taiwan.
Four years after development of Toatun began, the seat of Taipeh (Taipei) was officially declared the provincial capital.
In 1895, with the Treaty of Shimonoseki and the successful Japanese invasion of Taiwan, Taiwan Prefecture was abolished. Under Japanese rule, the province was abolished in favor of Japanese-style divisions.
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- Davidson (1903), p. 64:"Taiwan was divided into three "hien" or districts, known as Choolo, Taiwan, and Fangshan, under civil magistrates, and one ''ting" or maritime division, Panghoo (Pescadores) under a marine magistrate. These magistrates submitted themselves to the Taiwanfu or prefect, who in turn was under the authority of the censor of Taiwan, afterwards known as the Taotai, who was the highest authority in Taiwan, and was to make a circuit of the departments once annually."
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- Davidson (1903), p. 245: "...the seat of government (which had been formerly at the old town of Taiwan-fu in the south, which city had been in turn the capital of the Dutch, Koxinga, and the Chinese,) was now removed temporarily to the new city of Taipeh, which had been lately in course of construction...In connection with this, it is necessary to go further and explain that it was the intention of the government to build a new capital city in the centre of the island near Changwha. Accordingly, the new city was laid out and the construction of official yamens commenced. The name of the new city became Taiwan-fu, or the capital city of Taiwan (Formosa), and it was also to be the seat of a new prefecture called Taiwan."
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