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Minnan Taiwanese, Hakka Taiwanese, mainlanders, and aborigines are the four major ethnic groups in Taiwan. The first three groups are Han Chinese, and within those the first two refer to those whose ancestors came from mainland China to Taiwan many generations ago, whereas the mainlanders are those who themselves or whose parents or grandparents arrived in Taiwan recently-mostly in the late 1940s. The aborigines are of Malay stock, and can be subdivided into several smaller groupings, but their overall number is small.

In TEDS 2001, the distribution of responses to the question about one's father's ethnic background is 75.9 percent, 12.2 percent, 10.1 percent, and 1.5 percent for Minnan, Hakka, mainlanders, and aborigines, respectively. In the 2000 Population and Housing Census, the only question related to ethnicity was targeted at the aborigines, showing that there were 397 535 aborigines, accounting for 1.78 percent of the total population (Census, 2000).

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