Iriomote-jima

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Iriomote Island
Native name: 西表島
A satellite photo of Iriomote Island. Iriomote is in the center and is the largest island. There are other small islands surrounding it, and a portion of Ishigaki Island can be seen in the top-right of the iamge
Iriomote from space, August 1991
Yaeyama map.png
Map of Iriomote Islands in relation to the other Yaeyama Islands
Geography
Location Bordering the Pacific Ocean and East China Sea, southwest of mainland Japan and east of Taiwan
Coordinates 24°17′33″N 123°51′43″E / 24.29250°N 123.86194°E / 24.29250; 123.86194
Archipelago Yaeyama Islands
Area 289.27 km2 (111.69 sq mi)[1]
Coastline 130.0 km (80.78 mi)[1]
Highest elevation 469.5 m (1,540.4 ft)
Highest point Mt. Komi (古見岳 Komi-dake?)
Country
Japan
Prefecture Okinawa Prefecture
Town Taketomi, Okinawa
Demographics
Population 2347 (as of 2005)

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

The island has an area of 289.27 km² and a 2005 population of 2347. 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, Japan.[1] Infrastructure is limited to a single coastal road connecting the hamlets on the northern and eastern shores.

Geography and climate[edit]

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.[2]

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°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)
25.1
(77.2)
28.3
(82.9)
30.2
(86.4)
32.1
(89.8)
31.1
(88)
30.1
(86.2)
27.6
(81.7)
25.0
(77)
22.1
(71.8)
26.35
(79.43)
Daily mean °C (°F) 18.3
(64.9)
18.9
(66)
19.9
(67.8)
22.5
(72.5)
25.2
(77.4)
27.4
(81.3)
28.9
(84)
28.3
(82.9)
27.3
(81.1)
25.1
(77.2)
22.7
(72.9)
19.5
(67.1)
23.67
(74.59)
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
(70.52)
Precipitation mm (inches) 168.9
(6.65)
166.0
(6.535)
149.2
(5.874)
174.6
(6.874)
182.1
(7.169)
197.8
(7.787)
141.6
(5.575)
273.6
(10.772)
267.7
(10.539)
209.1
(8.232)
221.2
(8.709)
153.1
(6.028)
2,304.9
(90.744)
 % humidity 78 76 80 80 82 82 78 82 81 76 78 73 78.8
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) [3]

Wildlife[edit]

The island is famed for the Iriomote cat (Prionailurus bengalensis iriomotensis), a Critically Endangered wild cat found only on Iriomote.[4] As of 2007 the population size is estimated to be 100–109 individuals.[5]

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

Culture[edit]

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

History[edit]

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.

Economy[edit]

Apart from tourism, the island economy is sustained by agricultural production, primarily of pineapple, sugarcane, mango, and fishing.

Gallery[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 24°20′N 123°48′E / 24.333°N 123.800°E / 24.333; 123.800