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Ryūkyū Islands

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Ryūkyū Islands southwest of the island of Kyushu

The Ryūkyū Islands (琉球諸島, Ryūkyū-shotō), also known as the Nansei Islands (南西諸島, Nansei-shotō, lit. "Southwest Islands"), are a chain of Japanese islands in a line between Kyushu and Taiwan.[1] The native people of the Ryūkyū Islands are the Ryūkyūan people and its native languages are the endangered Ryukyuan languages.

History[change | change source]

In the islands, the Ryūkyū Kingdom (琉球王国, Ryūkyū-ōkoku) dates from the middle 14th century.[2] It entered into a tributary relationship with Imperial China.[3]

In the early 17th century, the kingdom entered into a tributary relationship with Japan after the Satsuma Domain invaded.[4][5]

In 1765, the islands were described by Hayashi Shihei in Sangoku Tsūran Zusetsu.[6]

Timeline[change | change source]

  • 1314: Kingdoms of Nanzan, Chūzan, and Hokuzan are founded
  • 1429: Ryūkyū Kingdom is founded
  • 1609: Ryūkyū Kingdom is invaded by the Satsuma Domain, causing its vassal status to Japan and its loss of the Amami Islands
  • 1972: United States gives the Ryūkyū Islands back to Japan

Geography[change | change source]

The islands are at the eastern edge of the East China Sea and the western edge of the Pacific Ocean.

The Islands are separated into two geographical regions: the Northern Ryūkyū Islands, centered on Amami Island, and the Southern Ryūkyū Islands, centered on Okinawa Island. Sometimes the Southern Ryūkyū Islands are further divided into the Okinawa Islands and the Sakishima Islands.

The largest of the islands is Okinawa Island.[8]

Culture[change | change source]

Karate was invented by the local people (mainly from Okinawa). The Japanese phrase "Karate-do" means "way of the empty hand").

Related pages[change | change source]

References[change | change source]

  1. Nussbaum, Louis-Frédéric. (2005). "Ryūkyū Islands" in Japan Encyclopedia, p. 801.
  2. Klaproth, Julius. (1832). San kokf tsou ran to sets, ou Aperçu général des trois royaumes, p. 175 n1.
  3. Kerr, George. (2000). Okinawa: The History of an Island People, p. 63.
  4. Klaproth, pp. 177.
  5. Smits, Gregory. (1999). Visions of Ryūkyū: Identity and Ideology in Early-Modern Thought and Politics, p. 28.
  6. Klaproth, pp. 169-180.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Matsumura, Wendy. (2007). Becoming Okinawan: Japanese Capitalism and Changing Representations of Okinawa, p. 38; excerpt, "March 27, 1879 marks the birth of Okinawa Prefecture and the death of the short-lived Ryukyu domain, which itself came into being on September 14, 1872, replacing the Ryukyu kingdom."
  8. Nussbaum, "Okinawa-ken" at pp. 746-747.