|Native name: 奄美大島|
Amami Ōshima and surrounding islands
|Area||712.35 km2 (275.04 sq mi)|
|Largest city||Amami (pop. 46,668)|
|Population||approximately 66,000 (as of 1 April 2009)|
Amami Ōshima (奄美大島, Okinawan: Uushima (ウーシマ?); Amami: Ushima (ウシマ?)) is a semi-tropical island in the Amami Islands, which is part of the Ryukyu Archipelago in Japan. Ōshima literally means big island, and it is the largest of the Amami Islands. It lies roughly halfway between the islands of Okinawa and Kyūshū. Briefly part of the Ryūkyū Kingdom, in 1624 it was annexed by the daimyo of Satsuma. It also spent approximately seven years under American control following World War II.
Amami Ōshima is home to several rare or endangered animals, including the Amami Rabbit and the Lidth's Jay, both of which are now found only in Amami Ōshima and Tokunoshima. The Amami rabbit is sometimes called a living fossil because it represents an ancient Asian lineage that has elsewhere disappeared.
The island is also home to the habu[disambiguation needed], a type of venomous snake that can be found throughout the Ryūkyū Islands. Mongooses were brought in to kill some of the habu, as the bite from one can be fatal. As of today, the mongooses have bred with each other and are now becoming another problem. In fact, the increase in the mongoose population has been linked to the decline of the Amami rabbit and other endemic species.
Amami Ōshima is located approximately 300 km north of Okinawa Island and 380 km south of Kyūshū. It is surrounded by the East China Sea on the west and the Pacific Ocean on the East. With an area of 712.35 km², it is the second-largest of the Ryūkyū Islands after Okinawa Island and the seventh-largest island in Japan (excluding the disputed Kuril Islands).
Two dialects of the Amami language are spoken in Amami Ōshima: the Northern Ōshima dialect and the Southern Ōshima dialect. These dialects are part of the Ryukyuan languages group. According to Ethnologue, as of 2004 there were about 10,000 speakers of the Northern Ōshima dialect and about 1,800 speakers of the Southern Ōshima dialect. These dialects are now spoken mostly by older residents of the island, while most of the younger generations are monolingual in Japanese. The Amami language, including the Ōshima dialects, is classified as endangered by UNESCO.
The island is served by Amami Airport and Naze Port in the city of Amami.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Amami Oshima|
- Watari Y, Yamada F, Sugimura K, Takatsuki S. 2006. Direct and indirect effects of an alien mongoose (Herpestes javanicus) on the native animal community on Amami-Oshima Island, southern Japan, as inferred from distribution patterns of animals.