Natural Regions, Kyushu and the Ryukyu Islands
volcano collapses, Sakurajima, Kuju, volcanic cone, Ryukyu Islands
The region of Kyushu and the Ryukyu Islands consists of Kyushu, the third largest of Japan’s four major islands; many small surrounding islands; and the Ryukyu Islands, located south of Kyushu. Kyushu’s interior is mountainous with numerous volcanoes, some of which are active. A notable example is Mount Aso in central Kyushu. Its huge caldera (round or oval-shaped low-lying area that forms when a volcano collapses) measures 80 km (50 mi) in circumference. The volcanic cone on Sakurajima, a volcanic island off Kyushu, has erupted more than 5,000 times since 1955. The tallest mountain on Kyushu is Kuju, measuring 1,788 m (5,866 ft). Kyushu’s volcanic mountain scenery and the resorts built around its thermal hot springs attract many tourists.
Coal deposits in northern Kyushu have made the area an important industrial center, specializing in the production of iron, steel, chemicals, and machinery. In addition to rice and vegetables, Kyushu’s farmers grow subtropical fruits and raise cattle. The island is connected to the mainland by a bridge and several tunnels, including one for Japan’s high-speed train, the Shinkansen. Kyushu’s largest city is Fukuoka.
The Ryukyu chain’s larger islands are volcanic, while the smaller ones are coral formations. Farmers grow sugarcane and pineapples in the islands’ frost-free climate. The bathing beaches of Okinawa, the largest and most populated of the Ryukyu Islands, make it an especially popular tourist destination.
The prefectures of Fukuoka, Nagasaki, Oita, Kumamoto, Miyazaki, Saga, Kagoshima, and Okinawa make up the Kyushu and Ryukyu Islands region.
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