Southernmost of the main islands of Japan, separated from Shikoku island by the Bungo Strait, from Honshu island by the Kammon Strait, and from Korea by the Korea Strait; connected to Honshu by bridge and rail tunnel; area 42,150 sq km/16,270 sq mi, including about 370 small islands; population (2010 est) 13,204,000. The capital is Nagasaki, and Fukuoka, Kumamoto, Kagoshima, and Kitakyushu are other cities. The island is mountainous, with a subtropical climate. It is volcanic and the active volcano Aso-take (1,592 m/5,225 ft) has the world's largest crater. Industries include coal mining and the manufacture of iron and steel, chemicals, tin products, pottery, and semiconductors; there is also a significant tourist trade, for which Beppu, a resort with hot springs, is a noted centre. Cattle and pigs are reared, and agricultural products also include rice, tea, oranges, tobacco, and sweet potatoes.
Two railway tunnels and a road tunnel connect Moji (Kyushu) with Shimonoseki (Honshu), and a road bridge across the Kammon Strait was opened in 1973. Industry is concentrated in the north of the island, around Kitakyushu, and is a key region for the production of semiconductors. The coalfields in the north of the island once accounted for 38% of Japan's coal output. Advanced rice farming is largely confined to the plains around Fukuoka, Saga, and Kumamoto. Elsewhere, there is more emphasis on cash crops such as oranges, tobacco, and sweet potatoes. Tourism is an increasingly important sector of the island's economy, as the national parks of Unzen-Amakusa, Aso, Kirishima, and Saikai contain some of the finest scenery in Japan. The island has a varied climate; the summers are hot (August average temperature 27°C) and the winters are cold (January average temperature 7°C), the months of July and August being especially marked by the oppressive heat at sea level.