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Nagasaki (nägˌäsäˈkē), city (1990 pop. 444,599), capital of Nagasaki prefecture, W Kyushu, Japan, on Nagasaki Bay. It is one of Japan's leading ports. Shipbuilding is the chief industry; machinery and electronics manufacturing and fishing are also important. Nagasaki's port, the first to receive Western trade, was known to Portuguese and Spanish traders before it was opened to the Dutch in 1567. After the Portuguese and Spanish merchants were forced to leave Japan in 1637, the Dutch traders were restricted (1641–1858) to De-shima, an island in the harbor. Nagasaki was gradually reopened to general foreign trade during the 1850s. Long a center of Christianity, the city had until 1945 Japan's largest Roman Catholic cathedral. During World War II, on Aug. 9, 1945, Nagasaki became the target of the second atomic bomb ever detonated on a populated area; as a result of this attack by the United States, about 75,000 people were killed or wounded, and more than one third of the city was devastated. Among Nagasaki's landmarks is Glover Mansion, scene of Puccini's opera Madama Butterfly. Nagasaki prefecture (1990 pop. 1,563,015), 1,574 sq mi (4,077 sq km), is mainly agricultural. Raw-silk production is widespread, and coal is mined near Sasebo. Important cities are Nagasaki, Hirado, known for its fine porcelain ware, and Sasebo, the site of a large naval base. The prefecture includes the island of Goto-retto.


See S. Southard, Nagasaki: Life after Nuclear War (2015).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a prefecture in Japan, on the western coast of the island of Kyushu and on numerous offshore islands, including Goto and Hirado. Area, 4,100 sq km. Population, 1.6 million (1970). Its capital is Nagasaki.

The terrain is sharply dissected by mountains and hills. The volcano Unzen is 1,360 meters high. The coastline is jagged. Only a very limited area of the prefecture is tillable. Rice, barley, wheat, and vegetables are cultivated, mainly on low-lying strips of land along the coast. Tea plants and mulberry bushes are grown on terraced slopes. There is fruit growing and fishing and whaling. Industry is concentrated primarily in the cities of Nagasaki and Sasebo. The main branches of industry are shipbuilding, metallurgy, glass and ceramics, and food processing (fish canning). The Saikai and Unzen-Amakusa national parks are located in Nagasaki.



a city in Japan, on the west coast of Kyushu Island, at the head of Nagasaki Bay. It is the capital of Nagasaki Prefecture. Population, 421,100 (1973).

Nagasaki is a major port for commercial shipping and passenger liners. It is a base for sea fishing in the southern waters of Japan. It is a major center for shipbuilding and ship repair. In addition to machine building, there are well-developed food-processing (including fish-canning), metallurgical, textile, petrochemical, and sawmilling industries. There is a university. A coal basin is near Nagasaki.

The city arose on the site of a fishing settlement known since the 12th century. During the 16th and 17th centuries, there was a Portuguese trading station in the city. During the period of Japan’s isolation from the external world (1636–1854), Nagasaki was the only port that carried on limited trade with the Dutch and Chinese. Nagasaki was visited by the Russian diplomatic missions of N. P. Rezanov (1804–05) and E. V. Putiatin (1853–54) and talks were held on the opening of trade between Russia and Japan. At the end of the 19th century, Nagasaki became a center of military shipbuilding. At the close of World War II, on Aug. 9, 1945, an atom bomb was dropped on Nagasaki by US forces. The explosion destroyed one-third of the city and killed or wounded about 75,000 persons. Several times since 1956, Nagasaki has been the site of international conferences on the prohibition of thermonuclear weapons.

Nagasaki has an irregular layout. It is a city of numerous gardens and parks. Among the architectural monuments that have been preserved are the following: the Shintoistic Suwa Shrine (16th century); the Buddhist Sofukuji and Kofukuji temples (both 17th century); and Meganebashi Bridge (1634); and a number of 19th- and 20th-century European-style Catholic churches. Among the noteworthy buildings erected after the destruction of Aug. 9, 1945, are Peace Park with the International Cultural Center building (1955, architect Takeo Satow and others) and the Statue of Peace (1955, sculptor Kitamura Seibo).

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


Japanese city destroyed by A-bomb (1945). [Am. Hist.: Fuller, III: 626]
Allusions—Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


a port in SW Japan, on W Kyushu: almost completely destroyed in 1945 by the second atomic bomb dropped on Japan by the US; shipbuilding industry. Pop.: 419 901 (2002 est.)
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
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