The captivating story of the Ryukyu Islands, located to the south of the main Japanese islands, covers the rise and fall of a maritime kingdom and its enduring legacy. The Ryukyus, which include Okinawa, have a rich and complex history which contains influences from a variety of cultures, including China, Japan and Southeast Asia and dates back over 30,000 years. Once a major trading power in the region, they maintained a complex relationship with both China and Japan before being annexed by the samurai of Japan in the late 19th century. Despite this, and the suffering endured during World War II, Ryukyu culture continues to thrive. In addition to their natural and cultural treasures, the Ryukyu Islands also hold great strategic importance due to their location in the Pacific Ocean, playing a key role in regional and global politics for centuries, and they continue to do so today. This book reveals the fascinating history and enduring legacy of this unique and captivating region at the heart of East Asia.