Ryukyu Islands

Ryukyu Islands
Ryukyuan languages:
Ruuchuu (琉球/ルーチュー)
Japanese language:
Nansei-shotō (南西諸島, Southwest Islands)
Ryūkyū-shotō (琉球諸島, Ryukyu Islands)[1]
Location of the Ryukyu Islands in Japan
Location of Ryukyu Islands
Geography
LocationOn the boundary between the East China Sea and the Philippine Sea
Coordinates26°30′N 128°00′E / 26°30′N 128°00′E / 26.5; 128
Total islands100+
Major islands
Area4,642.11 km2 (1,792.33 sq mi)
Highest elevation1,936 m (6,352 ft)
Highest pointMt. Miyanoura-dake
Administration
Prefecture
Demographics
DemonymRyukyuans
Population1,550,161 (2005)
Pop. density333.93 /km2 (864.87 /sq mi)
Ethnic groups

The Ryukyu Islands[note 1] (琉球諸島, Ryūkyū-shotō), also known as the Nansei Islands (南西諸島, Nansei-shotō, lit. "Southwest Islands") or the Ryukyu Arc (琉球弧, Ryūkyū-ko), are a chain of Japanese islands that stretch southwest from Kyushu to Taiwan: the Ōsumi, Tokara, Amami, Okinawa, and Sakishima Islands (further divided into the Miyako and Yaeyama Islands), with Yonaguni the westernmost. The larger are mostly high islands and the smaller mostly coral. The largest is Okinawa Island.

The climate of the islands ranges from humid subtropical climate (Köppen climate classification Cfa) in the north to tropical rainforest climate (Köppen climate classification Af) in the south. Precipitation is very high and is affected by the rainy season and typhoons. Except the outlying Daitō Islands, the island chain has two major geologic boundaries, the Tokara Strait (between the Tokara and Amami Islands) and the Kerama Gap (between the Okinawa and Miyako Islands). The islands beyond the Tokara Strait are characterized by their coral reefs.

The Ōsumi and Tokara Islands, the northernmost of the islands, fall under the cultural sphere of the Kyushu region of Japan; the people are ethnically Japanese and speak a variation of the Kagoshima dialect of Japanese. The Amami, Okinawa, Miyako, and Yaeyama Islands have a native population collectively called the Ryukyuan people, named for the former Ryukyu Kingdom that ruled them. The varied Ryukyuan languages are traditionally spoken on these islands, and the major islands have their own distinct languages. In modern times, the Japanese language is the primary language of the islands, with the Okinawan Japanese dialect prevalently spoken. The outlying Daitō Islands were uninhabited until the Meiji period, when their development was started mainly by people from the Izu Islands south of Tokyo, with the people there speaking the Hachijō language.

Administratively, the islands are divided into Kagoshima Prefecture (specifically the islands administered by Kagoshima District, Kumage Subprefecture/District, and Ōshima Subprefecture/District) in the north and Okinawa Prefecture in the south, with the divide between the Amami and Okinawa Islands, with the Daitō Islands part of Okinawa Prefecture. The northern (Kagoshima) islands are collectively called the Satsunan Islands, while the southern part of the chain (Okinawa Prefecture) are called the Ryukyu Islands in Chinese.

Island subgrouping

The last sunset in Japan is seen from Yonaguni.

The Ryukyu islands are commonly divided into two or three primary groups:

  • either administratively, with the Northern Ryukyus being the islands in Kagoshima Prefecture (known in Japanese as the "Satsunan Islands") and the Southern Ryukyus being the islands in Okinawa Prefecture (known in Japanese as the "Ryukyu Islands"),
  • or geologically, with the islands north of the Tokara Strait (Ōsumi and Tokara) being the Northern Ryukyus, those between the Tokara Strait and Kerama Gap (Amami and Okinawa) being the Central Ryukyus, and those south of the Kerama Gap (Miyako and Yaeyama) being the Southern Ryukyus.

The following are the grouping and names used by the Hydrographic and Oceanographic Department of the Japan Coast Guard.[3] The islands are listed from north to south where possible.

The Geospatial Information Authority of Japan, another government organization that is responsible for standardization of place names, disagrees with the Japan Coast Guard over some names and their extent, but the two are working on standardization.[3] They agreed on February 15, 2010, to use Amami-guntō (奄美群島) for the Amami Islands; prior to that, Amami-shotō (奄美諸島) had also been used.[5]

Other Languages
Afrikaans: Ryukyu-eilande
Ænglisc: Riuciu Īega
العربية: جزر ريوكيو
azərbaycanca: Ryukyu adaları
Bân-lâm-gú: Liû-kiû Kûn-tó
беларуская: Рукю
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Рукю
български: Рюкю
bosanski: Ryūkyū
brezhoneg: Inizi Ryūkyū
čeština: Rjúkjú
Ελληνικά: Ρίου Κίου
español: Islas Ryūkyū
Esperanto: Rjukju-insularo
galego: Illas Ryukyu
客家語/Hak-kâ-ngî: Liù-khiù Khiùn-tó
한국어: 류큐 제도
հայերեն: Ռյուկյու
hrvatski: Ryū Kyū
Bahasa Indonesia: Kepulauan Ryukyu
íslenska: Ryukyu-eyjar
italiano: Ryūkyū
Kapampangan: Ryūkyū Islands
ქართული: რიუკიუ
Кыргызча: Рюкю
latviešu: Rjūkjū salas
lietuvių: Riūkiū salos
Bahasa Melayu: Kepulauan Ryukyu
Mìng-dĕ̤ng-ngṳ̄: Liù-giù
Nederlands: Riukiu-eilanden
日本語: 琉球諸島
norsk nynorsk: Ryukyuøyene
occitan: Ryukyu
polski: Riukiu
português: Ilhas Ryūkyū
română: Insulele Ryukyu
русский: Рюкю
Simple English: Ryūkyū Islands
slovenčina: Rjúkju
slovenščina: Otočje Rjukju
српски / srpski: Рјукју
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Ryukyu
svenska: Ryukyuöarna
татарча/tatarça: Рүкү утраулары
Türkçe: Ryukyu Adaları
українська: Рюкю (острови)
吴语: 琉球群岛
粵語: 琉球
中文: 琉球群岛