Ryukyu Islands

/ (rɪˈuːkjuː) /

pl n

a chain of 55 islands in the W Pacific, extending almost 650 km (400 miles) from S Japan to N Taiwan: an ancient kingdom, under Chinese rule from the late 14th century, invaded by Japan in the early 17th century, under full Japanese sovereignty from 1879 to 1945, and US control from 1945 to 1972; now part of Japan again. They are subject to frequent typhoons. Chief town: Naha (on Okinawa). Pop: 1 318 220 (2000). Area: 2196 sq km (849 sq miles)Japanese name: Nansei-shoto

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