Taiwan profile - Leaders
President (outgoing): Ma Ying-jeou
Ma Ying-jeou was voted into office in 2008 and won a second term in January 2012.
After his re-election he promised further steps towards reconciliation with China, having campaigned on his record of economic rapprochement with Beijing.
China indicated its satisfaction at the result, saying that peace and development across the Taiwan strait was the correct path.
A lawyer by education, Mr Ma rose through the ranks of the Kuomintang to become the youngest ever cabinet minister in 1988.
As justice minister in 1993-1996 he acquired a reputation for combating corruption, and won back Taipei from the Democratic Progressive Party in the mayoral elections of 1998.
He led the Kuomintang in 2005-2007, scoring significant wins in the 2005 local elections. He stepped down from the party chairmanship in order to successfully contest allegations of misuse of funds in 2007.
Among the results of Mr Ma's policy of rapprochement are the 2008 resumption of direct flights, a 2009 agreement to facilitate investment in the island from the mainland, as well as a landmark trade deal signed in June 2010. He is said to have reduced tensions with Beijing to the lowest level since the end of a civil war in 1949.
But his opponents warned that his policies could hurt the island's sovereignty. Early 2014 saw opposition protests at a draft trade agreement that they said could give China too much power over the Taiwanese economy by liberalising investment regulations.There followed a series of electoral defeats for the Kuomintang, culminating in the triumph at the 2016 presidential poll for the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party's Tsai Ing-wen. She takes office in May 2016.