In the nineteenth century Taiwan's economy depended mainly upon agriculture, and its social customs resembled those of South China from which most of its population originated. As both population and cultivated land steadily expanded during the century, aggregate output undoubtedly increased, but whether or not per capita income improved significantly is uncertain. During the third quarter of the century the island began to trade and enter into various contacts with the West; yet, like the mainland, Taiwan did not respond to this stimulus in a sustained, positive manner. Therefore, at the end of the nineteenth century Taiwan, by any criterion, still remained an underdeveloped economy: the few small cities on the island were poorly integrated with villages by transport and markets; unsanitary health conditions prevailed; economic activities depended entirely upon an uncertain harvest. If past performance was a guide to its future, the economic outlook for Taiwan appeared to be more of the same patterns of the past. Yet, a few years after Taiwan's cession to Japan in 1895, the economy began to grow and to change, and such development continued steadily until World War II.