Okinawa Prefecture (沖縄県) is a Japanese prefecture consisting of a string of the Ryukyu Islands, a chain more than 1,000 km long stretching from Kyushu to Taiwan. The capital of Okinawa Prefecture is Naha, located on Okinawa Island.
The oldest known human inhabitants of Okinawa date back to the Paleolithic era, though actual inhabitation or civilization during that time has never been established. The majority of recovered historical artifacts from the Ryukyu Islands is greatly influenced by Jomon culture as well as Taiwanese artifacts.
The word Okinawa is the Japanese word to describe the islands of Ryukyu and was first used in 779. The first known agricultural societies on the islands was developed in the 8th century with slow development through the 12th century. The small island nation eventually became a trading nation due to its proximity to Japan, China and other nearby nations. The official relationship between Ryukyu and China started in the 15th Century.
Japanese incursion into the Ryukyu Kingdom took place in 1609 when the Satsuma Clan, controllers of present day Kagoshima Prefecture, invaded. The Ryukyu Kingdom surrendered and formed a tributary role with Satsuma and Tokugawa in turn. Ryukyu’s sovereign status was maintained however due to the relationship the nation previously had with China. Because foreign trade was so heavily restricted during this time, the Satsuma clan became quite wealthy through its trading with China.
When the Meiji Restoration occurred in 1868, the Ryukyu Kingdom’s freedom was largely revoked as Japan officially annexed the islands, renamed Ryukyu Han. It was not made into a prefecture until 1879 however due to tributary concerns with the Qing Dynasty in Japan.
After the end of World War II, Okinawa was administrated by the United States for 27 years and multiple bases were built on the islands. The islands were returned to Japanese control in 1972, but the US retained its presence there under the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security with about 27,000 military personnel and 22,000 family members currently stationed there.
The prefecture of Okinawa is largely isolated from the rest of Japan because of its island status with multiple sets of islands in the chain. Those islands that are actually part of Okinawa Prefecture are known as Ryukyu Shoto with three separate groupings including:
The cities currently located in Okinawa Prefecture include:
Districts and Towns
The districts and towns currently in Okinawa Prefecture include:
Public education in Okinawa is controlled by the Okinawa Prefectural Board of Education,, operating 9 public high schools. Elementary and Junior High Schools are operated by local municipalities. In addition to the public high schools, 13 schools operated by the United States’ Department of Defense are located in Okinawa as well, with 7 in Kadena Air Base.
Okinawa is home to multiple airports, connecting the various islands of Okinawa through local flights as well as through major hubs to main islands. The airports servicing Okinawa Prefecture include:
Major ports located within Okinawa include the following:
Multiple US Military bases are currently located in Okinawa, including the following: