Taiwan's population was estimated in 2010 at 23 million, most of whom are on the island of Taiwan. About 98% of the population is of Han Chinese ethnicity. Of these, 86% are descendants of early Han Chinese immigrants known as the "benshengren" (Chinese: 本省人; pinyin: Běnshěng rén; literally "home-province person") in Chinese. This group is often referred to "native Taiwanese" in English while the Taiwanese aborigines are also considered as "native Taiwanese" frequently. The benshengren group contains two subgroups: the Hoklo people (70% of the total population), whose ancestors migrated from the coastal Southern Fujian (Min-nan) region in the southeast of mainland China starting in the 17th century; and the Hakka (15% of the total population), whose ancestors originally migrated south to Guangdong, its surrounding areas and Taiwan. Some of the benshengren do not often speak Mandarin, but instead use their mother tongues such as Taiwanese or Hakka.
12% of population are known as waishengren (Chinese: 外省人; pinyin: Wàishěng rén; literally "out-of-province person"), composed of people who (or whose ancestors) immigrated from mainland China after the Chinese Civil War with the KMT government. Most Waishengren speak primarily Mandarin.
The other 2% of Taiwan's population, numbering about 458,000, are listed as the Taiwanese aborigines, divided into 13 major groups: Ami, Atayal, Paiwan, Bunun, Rukai, Puyuma, Tsou, Saisiyat, Tao (Yami), Thao, Kavalan, Truku and Sakizaya.
For sociologists, these ethnic classifications are a social construct, the contestation and compromise between political forces. Sociology scholar Wang Fu-chang writes in his book that Minnanren (Hoklo people), Hakka, Waishengren and indigenous peoples are social categories that have developed over the last fifty years.