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Island 100 miles (160 km) off the southeast coast of the China mainland. Taiwan had a native aboriginal population of Malayo-Polynesian ancestry and it occupies an important position in the prehistory of Southeast Asia. Evidence for pre-Neolithic settlement is from c 3500 BC, followed by a Neolithic culture (Ta-p'en-k'eng culture). That culture had cord-marked pottery and was related to contemporary rice-cultivating cultures on the adjacent mainland. Linguistically, it represents the earliest recognizable phase of Austronesian language in the islands Southeast Asia. Later Taiwan Neolithic cultures also show close connections with south China and the Philippines. Major Chinese settlement of the island did not occur until the 17th century AD.