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Kyushu

Updated on January 25, 2013

Kyushu is an island of Japan, southernmost of the four main Japanese islands, lying between the East China and Philippine seas, just south of the chief Japanese island of Honshu, to which it was connected in 1942 by a 2.3-mile railway tunnel under Shimonoseki Strait. Kyushu is about 210 miles long and 120 miles wide, with an area of 15,756 square miles (including smaller islands), and is the third largest and second most densely populated of the main Japanese islands. Its mountainous terrain is part of the Ryukyu range extending from Taiwan through the arc of the Ryukyu Islands. Active volcanoes of the Aso chain include Unzen (west central) and Aso (north central), a particularly beautiful mountain. There are numerous hot springs, the most noted being at Beppu in the northeast, where one can enjoy beach bathing as well. Rivers, especially the Chikugo in the northwest, flow from the mountains, furnishing hydroelectric power and irrigating rice fields.

The mean annual temperature is 60° F., and in the southern portion there are orchards of subtropical trees: banana, camphor, gum, lichee, and palm. In the north, rice is extensively cultivated; in the south, cereals and sweet potatoes; in the east, oranges, pears, and plums; and in all sections, soybeans, tea, and tobacco are grown. There are also many fisheries and considerable production of silk fiber. Kitakyushu, at the northern tip near Japan's principal coal field, is the chief center of industry. Gold, silver, and iron are mined in the south, tin in the northeast. Nagasaki, in the west central region, atom-bombed by the United States in World War II, has been rebuilt and is the principal port. Chief exports are agricultural produce, lumber, tobacco, and pottery.

There are remnants of Stone Age culture in Kyushu, and a new Japanese civilization originated here probably in the 1st century B.C.

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