Taiwan (/ˌtaɪˈwɑːn/), officially the Republic of China (ROC), is a state in East Asia. Neighbors include the People's Republic of China (PRC) to the west, Japan to the northeast, and the Philippines to the south. Taiwan is the most populous non-UN state and the largest economy outside the UN. Being one of the cradles of civilization, China's known history begins as an ancient civilization that flourished in the fertile basin of the Yellow River in the North China Plain. For millennia, China's political system was based on hereditary monarchies known as dynasties. Since 221 BC, when the Qin Dynasty first conquered several states to form a Chinese empire, the state has expanded, fractured and reformed numerous times. The island of Taiwan was mainly inhabited by Taiwanese aborigines before Han Chinese began immigrating to the island in the 17th century. European settlements and the Kingdom of Tungning were established shortly before the Qing dynasty, the last dynasty of China, annexed the island. Taiwan was later ceded to Japan in 1895 after the Qing was defeated in war. While Taiwan was under Japanese rule, the Republic of China (ROC) was established on the mainland in 1912 after the fall of the Qing dynasty. Following the Japanese surrender to the Allies in 1945, the ROC took governance of Taiwan. However, the ROC lost control of the mainland to the Communists during the Chinese Civil War. In 1949, the Communist Party of China took full control of the mainland and founded the PRC. The ROC government fled to Taiwan and continued to claim to be the legitimate government of all of China. Effective ROC jurisdiction has since been limited to Taiwan and its surrounding islands, with the main island making up 99% of its de facto territory. The ROC continued to represent China at the United Nations until 1971, when the PRC assumed China's seat via Resolution 2758, causing the ROC to lose its UN membership. International recognition of the ROC gradually eroded as most countries switched their "China" recognition to the PRC. Today 21 UN member states and the Holy See maintain official diplomatic relations with the ROC. However, numerous other states maintain unofficial ties through representative offices via institutions that function as de facto embassies and consulates. Diplomats around the world avoid mentioning the Republic of China's official name and instead use various other designations such as Chinese Taipei, Taiwan, China or simply "Taiwan" to refer to the ROC. In the 1980s and early 1990s, Taiwan changed from a military dictatorship with a one party system of governance dominated by the Kuomintang to a multi-party system with universal suffrage. Taiwan maintains a stable industrial economy as a result of rapid economic growth and industrialization, which has been dubbed the Taiwan Miracle. Taiwan is one of the Four Asian Tigers and a member of the World Trade Organization and Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation. The 21st-largest economy in the world, its high-tech industry plays a key role in the global economy. Taiwan is ranked highly in terms of freedom of the press, health care, public education, economic freedom, and human development. The complications of Taiwan's history since 1945 have created a number of practical issues for its people. Key among these are the exact nature of Taiwanese national identity, the ambiguous international political status of Taiwan, and the difficult Cross-Strait relations. In Taiwan, these issues generate debate among political parties and candidates. Though the ROC renounced in 1992 the conquest of PRC-controlled territories as a national goal, there is still dispute over whether the constitution still claims sovereignty over all of the ROC's pre-1949 territories, including Outer Mongolia and the entirety of the present PRC. In practical terms, settlement of questions such as whether the ROC identifies more as "Taiwan" or "China", and what the exact nature of its identity is relative to the PRC (whether international or domestic), rests with the political coalition most recently elected. Meanwhile, the PRC continues to assert the One China policy, in which it is sole legal government of "China" and that Taiwan is a province of China. As a result, the ROC is not recognised as a sovereign state by most countries and has not been a member of the United Nations since 1971. The PRC has threatened the use of military force as a response to any formal declaration by Taiwan of national independence or to any decision by PRC leaders that peaceful Chinese unification is no longer possible.