Dutch Trading Post
Heritage Network
Dutch Trading Post Heritage Network


Country: Taiwan
Member: Taijiang National Park Headquarters

The Dutch in Taiwan

The Dutch colonized the Tainan area in southern Taiwan for 38 years, from 1624 to 1662. The Dutch East India Company came to Tayouan (modern day Anping) to build their trading post here with the help of the Chinese merchants after they were expelled from the Penghu islands by Chinese forces in 1624. They turned to Taiwan as it was not under the jurisdiction of the Ming government.

The Dutch built Fort Zeelandia as well as a settlement, which was mainly for the Han Chinese. During the 38-year occupation, the Dutch constructed many fortifications in the area such as a trading post and Fort Zeeburgh in Boxemboy, Fort Zeelandia, Fort Utrecht and a settlement in Tayouan, as well as Fort Provintia in Chacam. In 1662 Zheng Chenggong (also known as Koxinga), a general who tried to defend the Ming dynasty from the rising Qin dynasty, crossed the Taiwan Strait with his troops to create a base to regroup and resupply themselves. He captured most of the Dutch forts and finally also Fort Zeelandia, ending the Dutch trade on Taiwan.

Trading goods and routesIn 1624, the VOC trading post in Taiwan was established to gain access to the trade with China, and to link it to the worldwide VOC trading network. As such, VOC-occupied Taiwan quickly became an important entrepot in East Asia. Ships from Taiwan sailed north to Japan, west to Fujian and south via Vietnam and Thailand to Indonesia and onwards to India, Iran or Europe.

The main products shipped through Tainan were spices, lead, tin, hemp, cotton and kapok from Southeast Asia to China. In return raw silk, gold, sugar and porcelain from China were exported through Taiwan to Japan where it was traded for silver and copper. This was again shipped back to Indonesia, Europe and other countries through Taiwan. Local produce like deer skin and sugar were also important export products. Taiwan thus played a critical part in the intercontinental trade chain and relied on military strongholds in Tainan to safeguard this trade.

Fort Zeelandia in AnpingAmong the various fortifications built by the VOC in Taiwan, Fort Zeelandia is the most prolific remains.
Fort Zeelandia was the largest fortress, built over ten years from 1624 to 1634 by the Dutch East India Company (VOC). It is the oldest remaining castle building in Taiwan.
However, after natural disasters and several wars, Fort Zeelandia was left in ruins. As a representation of Taiwanese culture and history, the government has rebuilt parts of it and renamed it Anping Fort. Some of the original walls still remain and can be visited by the public. Taiwan has carried out various projects in cooperation with the Netherlands in historical research, architectural structures and follow-up operations.

Around 1626, the Spanish occupied north Formosa, they also drew the maps of Island Formosa including the port of the Dutch at Tayouan (Anping). We can see the first Dutch Trading Post on Boxemboy islet just across the cannons.

Fort Zeelandia underground ruins and mounds.Fort Zeelandia and the civil town in 1644

Fort Zeelandia drawn in 1635 with a wharf in front of the trading post.

Current Fort Zeelandia ruin in Anping, Tainan

Current Fort Zeelandia ruin with wall anchor.

Current Fort Zeelandia ruin. The gap between bricks sealed with mixed oyster shell powder. Fort Zeelandia is Taiwanese National Heritage