Ryukyu Islands

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Location of Ryukyu Islands
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The Ryukyu Islands (琉球列島 Ryūkyū-rettō), also known as the Nansei-shoto (南西諸島 Nansei-shotō, which translates literally as the Southwest Islands), are an island chain stretching southwestward from the island of Kyushu in Japan. The portion south of Yoron belongs to Okinawa Prefecture, and the portion north of Yoron belongs to Kagoshima Prefecture. The archipelago is home to the Ryukyuan languages.

The islands have a subtropical climate with warm winters and hot summers. Precipitation is very high, and is affected by the rainy season and typhoons.



The Ryukyu Kingdom was once an independent kingdom occupying the island chain, from Yonaguni Island in the southwest to Amami Oshima in the north. In 1372, it obtained tributary status to the Chinese emperor. A 1609 expedition from Satsuma on Kyushu captured the kingdom. After that, the kings of the Ryukyus paid tribute to the Japanese shogun as well as the Chinese emperor.

In 1879, the Meiji government announced the annexation of the Ryukyus. China objected and the ex-President of the United States Ulysses S. Grant was asked to arbitrate. He decided that Japan's claim to the islands was stronger and ruled in Japan's favor.

Today, there are a host of problems arising from the Ryukyu's history. Some Ryukyuans and some Japanese feel that people from the Ryukyus are not "real" Japanese. Some natives of the Ryukyus claim that the central government is discriminating against the islanders by allowing so many American soldiers to be stationed on bases in Okinawa with a minimal presence on the mainland.

Many popular singers and musical groups come from the Ryukyus. These include (among many others) the pop group Begin, singer Amuro Namie and the group Da Pump. See also Ryukyuan songs.


Nansei Islands subtropical evergreen forests

The Ryukyu Islands are recognized by ecologists as a distinct subtropical moist broadleaf forest ecoregion. The flora and fauna of the islands have much in common with Taiwan, the Philippines, and Southeast Asia, and are part of the Indomalaya ecozone.

Coral reefs

The coral reefs of the Ryukyus are one of the World Wildlife Fund's Global 200 ecoregions. The reefs are endangered by sedimentation and eutrophication, mostly a result of agriculture, as well as damage from fishing.

Major islands



External link

Nansei Islands subtropical evergreen forests (World Wildlife Fund) (ūkyū-Inseln fr:les Ry-Ky it:Ryu Kyu nl:Riukiu-eilanden ja:南西諸島 pl:Wyspy Riukiu pt:Riukyu sv:Ryukyuarna zh:琉球群岛


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