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Iriomote Island (西表島, Iriomote-jima, Yaeyama: Irïmutii; Iriomote dialect: Irimutii; Okinawan: Iriumuti) is the largest of the Yaeyama Islands of Japan, and the second largest in Okinawa Prefecture after Okinawa Island itself.

Iriomote Island
Native name:
西表島
Map-Iriomote.png
Map of Iriomote Island
Yaeyama map.png
Iriomote Island in relation to the other Yaeyama Islands
Geography
LocationBordering the Pacific Ocean and East China Sea, southwest of mainland Japan and east of Taiwan
Coordinates24°17′33″N 123°51′43″E / 24.29250°N 123.86194°E / 24.29250; 123.86194
ArchipelagoYaeyama Islands
Area289.27 km2 (111.69 sq mi)[1]
Coastline130.0 km (80.78 mi)[1]
Highest elevation469.5 m (1,540.4 ft)
Highest pointMt. Komi (古見岳, Komi-dake)
Administration
Japan
PrefectureOkinawa Prefecture
TownTaketomi, Okinawa
Demographics
Population2347 (2005)

The island has an area of 289.27 km² and a 2005 population of 2,347. The island does not have an airstrip, and most visitors — over 390,000 in 2006 — arrive from Ishigaki by ferry, a 31.4 km ride to Uwahara Port (上原港) on Iriomote's northeast coast or Ōhara Port (大原港) on the southeast coast. Administratively the island belongs to Taketomi Town, Okinawa Prefecture.[1] Infrastructure is limited to a single coastal road connecting the hamlets on the northern and eastern shores.

Contents

WildlifeEdit

The island is famed for the Iriomote cat, a Critically Endangered wild cat found only on Iriomote.[2] As of 2007 the population size is estimated to be 100–109 individuals.[3]

The island has a venomous snake—Trimeresurus elegans, known locally as the habu, a species of pitviper whose bite has a fatality rate of 3% and a permanent disability rate of 6–8%.[4]

CultureEdit

The Iriomote dialect of the Yaeyama language is spoken by some[quantify] people on the island.

HistoryEdit

The island had few settlements of fishermen and rice growers on the coastal areas, but it never had a large population until the Iriomote Coal Mine operated between 1889 and 1959.

During World War II some residents of Ishigaki were forcibly made to take refuge in Iriomote, many of whom contracted malaria. After the war, the US Forces in Japan eradicated malaria from the island, and the island has been malaria-free since then. The island, together with the rest of Okinawa Prefecture, remained a US-controlled territory until 1972. Iriomote was returned to Japan on 17 June 1972.

EconomyEdit

Apart from tourism, the island economy is sustained by agricultural production, primarily of pineapple, sugarcane, mango, culture pearl growing [5] and fishing.

Geography and climateEdit

 
A satellite photo of Iriomote Island, April 2014. Iriomote is in the center and there are other small islands surrounding it.

90% of the island is covered by dense jungle and mangrove swamps. 80% of the island is protected state land, and 34.3% of the island forms the Iriomote National Park. The highest point on the island is Mt. Komi (古見岳 Komidake) at 469.5 metres (1,540 ft). Around 21 kilometres (13 mi) northwest (24°33′29″N 124°00′00″E / 24.558°N 124.00°E / 24.558; 124.00 (Iriomotejima)) of Iriomote is an active undersea volcano which last erupted in 1924; the summit is 200 metres (660 ft) below sea level.

The island's Urauchi River is the largest river in Okinawa Prefecture, and the smaller Nakama and Nakara rivers also flow within the island. Iriomote is also home to Pinaisara Falls, the largest waterfall in Okinawa Prefecture.[6]

Iriomote has a tropical rainforest climate (Köppen climate classification Af). The average yearly temperature is 23.6 °C (74.5 °F), and the average monthly temperature ranges from 18.3 °C (64.9 °F) in January to 28.9 °C (84.0 °F) in July. Iriomote has a typhoon season that, on average, runs from June to September.

Climate data for Iriomote
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 20.4
(68.7)
21.4
(70.5)
22.8
(73.0)
25.1
(77.2)
28.3
(82.9)
30.2
(86.4)
32.1
(89.8)
31.1
(88.0)
30.1
(86.2)
27.6
(81.7)
25.0
(77.0)
22.1
(71.8)
26.4
(79.4)
Daily mean °C (°F) 18.3
(64.9)
18.9
(66.0)
19.9
(67.8)
22.5
(72.5)
25.2
(77.4)
27.4
(81.3)
28.9
(84.0)
28.3
(82.9)
27.3
(81.1)
25.1
(77.2)
22.7
(72.9)
19.5
(67.1)
23.7
(74.6)
Average low °C (°F) 16.3
(61.3)
16.7
(62.1)
17.6
(63.7)
20.1
(68.2)
22.7
(72.9)
25.1
(77.2)
26.5
(79.7)
25.8
(78.4)
24.8
(76.6)
23.0
(73.4)
20.5
(68.9)
17.7
(63.9)
21.4
(70.5)
Average precipitation mm (inches) 168.9
(6.65)
166.0
(6.54)
149.2
(5.87)
174.6
(6.87)
182.1
(7.17)
197.8
(7.79)
141.6
(5.57)
273.6
(10.77)
267.7
(10.54)
209.1
(8.23)
221.2
(8.71)
153.1
(6.03)
2,304.9
(90.74)
Average relative humidity (%) 78 76 80 80 82 82 78 82 81 76 78 73 79
Mean monthly sunshine hours 74.5 77.0 95.5 121.8 170.3 199.8 253.2 230.6 198.7 146.0 93.4 75.4 1,736.2
Source: JMA (1981-2010) [7]

GalleryEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c 知・旅・住 離島総合情報サイト 沖縄のしまじま [Know, Travel, Live: Remote Islands General Information Site: Okinawa's Islands] (in Japanese). Okinawa Prefecture. Archived from the original on 28 June 2004. Retrieved 11 June 2012.
  2. ^ Izawa, M. (2008). "Prionailurus bengalensis ssp. iriomotensis". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature.
  3. ^ 環境省. イリオモテヤマネコ生息状況等総合調査(第4次)の結果について(お知らせ) [(Fourth) Survey of the State of the Iriomote Cat's Habitat: Regarding the Results (notice)] (in Japanese). Retrieved 10 June 2012.
  4. ^ U.S. Navy (1991). Poisonous Snakes of the World. New York: Dover Publications Inc. ISBN 0-486-26629-X.
  5. ^ http://raden-pearlinlay.com/en/pearlshells
  6. ^ "Introducing places of interest: Iriomote-Ishigaki National Park (Iriomote)". Ministry of the Environment. Retrieved 11 June 2012.
  7. ^ "Iriomotejima Climate Normals 1981-2010" (in Japanese). Japan Meteorological Agency. Retrieved December 22, 2013.
  8. ^ Hohenegger, J., Larger foraminifera as important calcium-carbonate producers in coral reef environments and constituting the main components of carbonate beach sands; examples from the Ryukyu archipelago. Institut für Paläontologie, Universität Wien.

External linksEdit