The term "Taiwanese" is often used when referring to those Chinese who are natives of the island as distinct from the 2 million "mainlanders" who migrated from China after the end of World War II. Most of the more than 20 million inhabitants of Taiwan are descendants of earlier immigrants from Fujian and Guangdong (Kwangtung) provinces in South China. They form several distinct groups. The Hakka are descendants of refugees and exiles from Guangdong who came to Taiwan before the 19th century; they are farmers and woodsmen who occupy the frontiers of settlement. The more numerous Fujians are descendants of peasants from Fujian who migrated to Taiwan in the 18th and 19th centuries; they form the bulk of the agricultural population.
The aboriginal population is primarily of Indonesian origin. They live mainly in central and eastern Taiwan. They are mainly divided into nine major tribes, with the Ami, Atayal, Paiwan, and Bunun accounting for about 88%; the balance is mainly distributed among the Puyuma, Rukai, Saisiyat, Tsou, and Yami. The language and customs of the aborigines suggest a close resemblance to the Malays.
In 1999, Taiwanese constituted 84% of the population; mainland Chinese 14%; and aborigine 2%.