Okinawa prefecture is a string of islands in the far south of Japan’s territory. It is composed of 160 dispersed islands -- 48 inhabited and 112 uninhabited -- in the Asian Pacific Sea and East China Sea. The islands span about 1,000 kilometers (630 miles) from east to west and 400 kilometers (250 miles) from north to south (Okinawa Prefecture Government of Military Base Affairs Division, 2008). There are approximately 1,310,000 people in the prefecture, of which 1,150,000 people live on Okinawa Island, the biggest island and home to the prefecture’s capital city, Naha. It is about a 2 hour and 30 minute flight from Tokyo, 1 hour and 30 minutes from Shanghai, China, and 1 hour from Taiwan to Naha Airport (Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, 2009).
The size of Okinawa prefecture is 2,266.9 square kilometers, the 44th biggest in Japan; however, the range of Okinawa prefecture is massive and the most widely dispersed among all of other Japanese prefectures (Okinawa Convention and Visitors Bureau, 2005). It is located at 24 to 27 degrees north latitude and 122 to 128 degrees east longitude, southwest of the main island of Japan. Other famous beach resort destinations that include Hawaii, Florida, and the Bahamas are found in the identical latitude zone as Okinawa (Geographical Survey Institute, Government of Japan, 2009).
Okinawa is the only Japanese prefecture existing in a subtropical ocean climate with a rich natural environment including deep green oceans and white sand beaches. The average temperature is 23 degrees Centigrade (77.3 degrees Fahrenheit) throughout the year, and the average lowest temperature in the year is 16 degrees Centigrade (68.9 degrees Fahrenheit) (Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, 2009). Compared to the climate on the main island of Japan, there are not four clear seasons since they have long summers and warm winters affected by the Black Stream (kuroshio) in the Pacific Ocean (Okinawa Convention and Visitors Bureau, 2005).
Okinawa’s subtropical ocean climate is suited to growing sugar cane, vegetables, fruits, house plants (for trading in the flower industries) and other unique islands plants. In stockbreeding, pigs were the mainly produced product, but beef is becoming more common in Okinawa. Both inshore and offshore tuna and bonito fisheries, as well as prawn and seaweed farming are widespread in Okinawa (Okinawa Prefecture Government of Military Base Affairs Division, 2008).
About 87 percent of the economy in Okinawa is supported by the tertiary industry focused on service divisions. Tourism is an especially significant industry, with approximately 4,120,000 tourists visiting Okinawa each year mainly from mainland Japan, China, Taiwan, and Korea to enjoy the beautiful nature and the unique Okinawan culture. Following the islands’ industrial development, the construction industry has been rapidly growing in the past 30 years (Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, 2009).
Okinawa Prefecture Tourist Information
Okinawa Prefecture Government of Military Base Affairs Division
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan