Kyushu (九州 Kyūshū, lit. “Nine Provinces”) is the third largest island of Japan and most southwesterly of its four main islands. Its alternate ancient names include Kyūkoku (九国, “Nine States”), Chinzei (鎮西, “West of the Pacified Area”), and Tsukushi-no-shima (筑紫島, “Island of Tsukushi”). The historical regional name Saikaidō (西海道, lit. West Sea Circuit) referred to Kyushu and its surrounding islands.
As of 2006, Kyushu has a population of 13,231,995 and covers 35,640 square kilometres (13,760 sq mi)
The island is mountainous, and Japan’s most active volcano, Mt Aso at 1,591 metres (5,220 ft), is on Kyushu. There are many other signs of tectonic activity, including numerous areas of hot springs. The most famous of these are in Beppu, on the east shore, and around Mt. Aso, in central Kyushu.
The name Kyūshū comes from the nine ancient provinces of Saikaidō situated on the island.
Today’s Kyushu Region is a politically defined region that consists of the seven prefectures on the island of Kyushu.
The world’s 37th largest island by area, Kyushu is smaller than Spitsbergen but larger than New Britain and nearby Taiwan. By population, it ranks 13th, having fewer inhabitants than Borneo or Sulawesi, but more than Salsette (Mumbai) or Cuba.
Parts of Kyushu have a subtropical climate, particularly Miyazaki and Kagoshima prefectures. Major agricultural products are rice, tea,tobacco, sweet potatoes, and soy; silk is also widely produced. The island is noted for various types of porcelain, including Arita, Imari, Satsuma, and Karatsu. Heavy industry is concentrated in the north around Fukuoka, Kitakyushu, Nagasaki, and Oita and includes chemicals, automobiles, semiconductors, and metal processing.
Most of Kyushu’s population is concentrated along the northwest, in the cities of Fukuoka and Kitakyushu, with population corridors stretching southwest into Sasebo and Nagasaki and south into Kumamoto and Kagoshima. Excepting Oita and Miyazaki cities, the eastern seaboard shows a general decline in population.
In 2010, the graduate employment rate in the region was the lowest nationwide, at 88.9%.
Besides the volcanic area of the south, there are significant mud hot springs in the northern part of the island, around Beppu. These springs are the site of occurrence of certain extremophile micro-organisms, that are capable of surviving in extremely hot environments.