The Taiwan provincial government holds jurisdiction over the main island of Taiwan, 21 smaller islands in adjacent waters, and the 64 islands of the Penghu (Pescadores) group. The provincial capital is located at Taichung. The province is divided into 16 county (hsien) administrative areas and 5 municipalities under the direct jurisdiction of the provincial government. In addition, T'aipei (since 1967) and Kaohsiung (since 1979) are self-governing "special" municipalities. Subdivisions of the county are the township ( chen ), the rural district or group of villages ( hsiang ), and the precinct. Quemoy and Matsu are administered by the military. At the local level and under the Taiwan Provincial Government, there are five cities—Keelung, Hsinchu, Taichung, Chiayi, and Tainan—and 16 counties, and under each county there are county municipalities.
The province is headed by a governor who is nominated by the president of the executive yuan and appointed by the president of the republic. Department heads and members of the provincial council are recommended by the governor for appointment by the executive yuan. The governor is the ex officio chairman of the appointed provincial council, the policy making body, and holds veto power over its resolutions. The provincial government can issue ordinances and regulations for the administration of the province as long as they do not conflict with laws of the central government. The mayors and city councils of T'aipei and Kaohsiung are elected.
The provincial assembly, an elected body, meets for two yearly sessions of two months each. Nominally it possesses broad legislative powers; however, its prerogatives are circumscribed by a provision in its organic law that in the event of a disagreement between the provincial executive and the Assembly, the former may request a reconsideration. Should the assembly uphold its original resolution, the provincial executive may submit the dispute to the executive yuan for final judgment. The executive yuan may dissolve the provincial assembly and order a new election if it holds that the assembly is acting contrary to national policy.
At the end of 1996, the National Development Conference was convened to streamline local government operations. The county government is headed by an elected magistrate ( hsien-chang ) and the municipal government by a mayor ( shih-chang ). Each county or municipality has a representative body called the hsien , or municipal assembly. Further down are the councils and assemblies of townships and rural districts, each headed by a chief officer. All of these officials are elected by universal suffrage of citizens over age 20.