The number of foreign nationals in Taiwan, not including mainland Chinese citizens, reached a record high of 648,000 at the end of 2011, up 56,000 from a year earlier, the Ministry of the Interior announced Feb. 4.
According to Taiwan MOI, foreigners with Alien Resident Certificates accounted for 524,000 of the total, while the remainder had visitor visas or other types of short-term visas.
Among ARC holders, 81.3 percent were foreign laborers, while 8.8 percent were foreign spouses who had not obtained ROC citizenship. The two groups accounted for 73 percent of all foreigners in Taiwan.
Indonesians accounted for the largest share of the foreign laborer population, at 41.21 percent, with their numbers rising significantly over the last five years. Second were Vietnamese workers, at 22.47 percent, followed by Filipinos and Thais, at 19.46 percent and 16.86 percent, respectively. Numbers for the last two groups have gradually declined in recent years.
Among foreign spouses, although Vietnamese remained the largest group, their share of the total dropped to below 50 percent to stand at 46.76 percent. Thais and Indonesians constituted the second and third largest groups, at 12.77 percent and 9.95 percent. The number of foreign spouses dropped 1,053, or 2.23 percentage points, year on year.
The MOI said the major reason for the increase in the number of foreign nationals was the growing population of foreign laborers, while the main reason for the gradual decline in the number of foreign spouses is the fact that many have obtained ROC citizenship.
Among foreigners on short-term visas of less than six months, most of whom are in Taiwan for business or tourism, Japanese represented the largest group at 26.3 percent, followed by Americans at 18 percent. The total figure of 114,00 marked an increase of 13,000 over that at the end of the previous year, according to the MOI.