Okinawa Prefecture is one of the 47 prefectures of Japan, an island chain to the southwest of the Home Islands. The name Okinawa means "rope in the open sea", a fairly apt description of this long stretch of islands between the main islands of Japan and Taiwan. Consisting of 49 inhabited islands and 111 uninhabited islands, Okinawa has a subtropical to tropical climate, and is a popular beach holiday destination for Japanese, with frequent flights from all the major cities of Japan. While visitors from nearby countries are increasingly discovering Okinawa's charms, the number still remains low compared to the tourist destinations on mainland Japan.
Most people come to Okinawa for the sun and beaches. Even in midwinter, when many areas of the mainland Japan teeter around the freezing point, temperatures rarely dip below 15°C in Okinawa. For more adventurous types, the vast yet almost uninhabited island of Iriomote is covered in dense jungle.
Cultural attractions are rather more limited, as the Japanese invasion and subsequent brutal colonization coupled with fighting in World War II did a regrettably thorough job of eliminating most traces of the Ryukyu Kingdom.