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Kyushu (九州) is the third largest island of Japan and most southerly of the main islands. It is considered the birthplace of Japanese civilization.

Population: 13.44 million (1995). Area: 35,640 km².

The island is mountainous, and Japan's largest active volcano, Aso at 1592m, is on Kyushu. There are many other signs of tectonic activity, including hot springs.

Kyushu includes seven Prefectures - Fukuoka, Kagoshima, Kumamoto, Miyazaki, Nagasaki, Oita, and Saga. The major city on the island is Fukuoka - a port and major centre for heavy industry. Kitakyushu and Omuta are also industrial centres. Nagasaki is the main port.

Kyushu has a subtropical climate. Major agricultural products are rice, tea, tobacco, sweet potatoes, and soy; silk is also widely produced. The island is noted for two types of porcelain - Satsuma and Hizen. Heavy industry is concentrated in the north and includes chemicals and metal processing.

The name Kyushu literally means nine (九) provinces (州) and gets its meaning from the nine ancient provinces that once made up the island. The central government, behind the Meiji Emperor, in 1871 abolished this and the feudal system of government and established prefectures (Haihan Chiken) in their place.

See also: Geography of Japan, List of regions in Japan

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