Ryukyu Islands


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Related to Ryukyu Islands: Kuril Islands, Senkaku Islands

Ryukyu Islands

(rēo͞o`kyo͞o), Jap. Ryukyu-retto or Nansei-shoto [southwest group], archipelago (1990 est. pop. 1,500,000), c.1,850 sq mi (4,790 sq km), SW Japan, in the W Pacific Ocean. The chain stretches about 650 mi (1,050 km) between Taiwan and Japan, separating the East China Sea from the Philippine Sea. The Ryukyus are composed of three principal groups: they are, from north to south, the Amami Islands (part of Kagoshima prefecture), the Okinawa Islands, and the Sakishima Islands (both part of Okinawa prefecture). OkinawaOkinawa
, island (1990 pop. 1,222,458), 454 sq mi (1,176 sq km), W Pacific Ocean, SW of Kyushu; a part of Okinawa prefecture, Japan. It is the largest of the Okinawa Islands in the Ryukyu Islands archipelago. Naha is the largest city and chief port.
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 is the largest and most important island of the Ryukyus.

The islands are the exposed tops of submarine mountains and are of volcanic or coral origin; there are several active volcanoes in the group. Although the islands are low, with few points above 2,000 ft (610 m), they have rugged hills and little flatland. The Ryukyus have a subtropical climate with much rain and are often hit by typhoons. The chief agricultural products are sugarcane, sweet potatoes, pineapples, and rice. Fishing is also important to the economy. Some light industry is found in NahaNaha
, city (1990 pop. 304,836), on Okinawa island, in the Ryukyu Islands, Japan. A port on the southwest coast, it is also the chief manufacturing center of the island. Long the economic center of Okinawa, it now includes Shuri, the historic capital and formerly a separate city.
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, Okinawa, the Ryukyus' largest city. Sugar and canned pineapples account for most of the exports. The inhabitants speak a language said to be related to that of the AinuAinu
, aborigines of Japan who may be descended from a Caucasoid people who once lived in N Asia. More powerful invaders from the Asian mainland gradually forced the Ainu to retreat to the northern islands of Japan and Sakhalin and the Kuril Islands in what is now the Russian
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.

The islands were the site of an ancient independent kingdom that had its capital at Shuri (now part of Naha), on Okinawa. The Chinese reached the islands in the 7th cent. but did not exact tribute until the 14th cent. In the 17th cent. the Japanese prince of Satsuma invaded the islands, which thereafter paid tribute to both Japan and China. Commodore Matthew PerryPerry, Matthew Calbraith,
1794–1858, American naval officer, b. South Kingstown, R.I.; brother of Oliver Hazard Perry. Appointed a midshipman in 1809, he first served under his brother on the Revenge and then was aide to Commodore John Rodgers on the
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 of the U.S. navy landed in the Ryukyus in 1853. The entire archipelago was incorporated into the Japanese empire in 1879, but the islands were generally neglected by Japan.

During World War II the Ryukyus were the scene of fierce fighting between U.S. and Japanese forces, with the United States winning control of the islands in 1945. After the war the islands south of lat. 30°N were placed (Aug., 1945) under a U.S. military governor at Naha. The Ryukyus became a key salient of the U.S. Pacific defense perimeter, and major military bases were established on Okinawa. In 1951, at the San Francisco Peace Conference, the Japanese were given residual sovereignty over the islands, but the United States retained actual control.

The Amami group was returned to Japan in 1953, and the Japanese desire to regain the remaining U.S.-held islands was a source of friction between the two countries for nearly two decades. In 1962 the occupation administration was liberalized, and in 1968, after a series of negotiations, the United States permitted the popular election of the governor of the Ryukyus and the seating of Ryukyu representatives in the Japanese Diet. The archipelago was returned to Japan in May, 1972. The United States was allowed to retain its military bases subject to certain limitations.

Other forms of the name are Lu-chu, Loo-choo, Liu-kiu, and Riukiu.

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

Ryukyu Islands

 

(also Nansei-Shoto), an archipelago in Japan, between the islands of Kyushu and Taiwan. The Ryu-kyus separate the East China Sea from the open Pacific Ocean and stretch in an arc from northeast to southwest for approximately 1,200 km. The archipelago consists of six groups of islands—Osumi, Tokara, Amami, Okinawa, Miyako, and Yae-yama; the last two groups are often called Sakishima. The six groups include 98 islands, with a total area of about 4,800 sq km. (In Japanese sources the name “Ryukyus” often refers only to the middle and southwestern segments of the island arc—that is, to 55 islands, with a total area of 2,400 sq km.) The largest islands are Okinawa and Amami-o-shima. Population, 1.2 million (1970, estimate).

The southeastern group of islands is composed primarily of Mesocenozoic karstified limestones. In the axial zone the Paleozoic folded basement often crops out at the surface. Igneous rocks are common in the northwest; there are three active and several extinct volcanoes. Plateaus, low mountains (300–500 m), and low coastal terraces dominate the relief. The highest point is 1,935 m, on the island of Yaku. South of 29°N lat., coral reefs stretch along the shores in some places. The islands have deposits of phosphorites and hard coal.

The northern islands have a subtropical climate. The southern ones have a tropical monsoon climate, with about 2,000 to 3,500 mm of precipitation a year and with frequent typhoons in August and September. The mean January temperature is 14°–18°C; the mean July temperature is 27°-28°C. The mountain slopes of the southern islands are covered in places by tropical forests of palms and orchids. On the northern islands, forests of camellias, magnolias, camphor trees, and oaks remain.

Economic activities include the cultivation of rice, sweet potatoes, and sugarcane, fishing, and the production of silk fabrics and lacquer ware. The principal city is Naha, on the island of Okinawa.

IU. K. EFREMOV

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Reproductive and sexual characteristics in five Lethrinus species in waters off the Ryukyu Islands. Ichthyol.
Since Japan's baselines to the south will be those typical of an archipelago, along the Ryukyu Islands, Japan is expected to use strait baselines to the outermost points of the outermost island.
The San Francisco Peace Treaty stipulates the US "as the sole administering authority" over "Nansei Shoto south of 29 degree north latitude (including the Ryukyu Islands and the Daito Islands)" (1951, Article 3).
government's recognition of Japan's residual sovereignty applied to every component of the Ryukyu Islands, including the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands.
Article I of the Okinawa Reversion Treaty defines the term "the Ryukyu Islands and the Daito Islands" as "all territories with their territorial waters with respect to which the right to exercise all and any powers of administration, legislation and jurisdiction was accorded to the United States of America under Article 3 of the Treaty of Peace with Japan....
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SINGAPORE, February 07, 2010, SPA, -- A 6.6 magnitude earthquake struck on Sunday east of Taiwan, about 73 miles south southwest of Ishigaki-jima in Japan's Ryukyu islands, the U.S.
KARATE was invented on the Japanese Ryukyu Islands in 1429 after the government banned the use of weapons.
After leaving mainland Asia, the path crosses Japans Ryukyu Islands and curves southeast through the Pacific Ocean.
This Chinese monograph in short characters surveys the history of the Mazu ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) or Tianfei ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) cult which is not only associated with maritime China but also the Ryukyu Islands, Japan and, above all, with the overseas Chinese in Southeast Asia.
To illuminate the role of religion in recognizing and protesting injustice, Hunt looks at postwar peace protests in the Ryukyu Islands, of which Okinawa is the most populous and best known, where centuries of independence and time as a US colony have made the culture different from the rest of Japan.