The Bonin or Ogasawara Islands are a group of 30 volcanic islands situated about 500 miles southeast of Japan (600 miles southeast of Tokyo) in the central Pacific Ocean.

In 1543 they were first discovered by the Spanish navigator Ruy Lopez de Villalobos (although others claim they were first discovered by Sadayori Ogasawara, the lord of Shinshu-Matsumoto in 1593) and are grouped in three different groups: Chichijima-retto (Beechey Group: Ani-jima, Chichi-jima), Mukojima-retto (Parry Group: Muko-jima), and Hahajima-retto (Baily Group: Haha-jima). Their location makes them of strategic importance, especially during the days of World War II, and although both the United States and Britain made claims to them in the early 19th century in 1876 Japan formally annexed them and they were considered part of Tokyo Prefecture and Metropolis. By 1941, 7700 people lived there (Japanese and also immigrants from Britain, the United States and Canada who had been naturalized as Japanese citizens in 1882) and they were forced to move because of the war. When the war ended in 1945 the United States placed them under military control until June 26, 1968 when they were returned to Japan. Today they're administered as part of a group with Marcus Island (Minami-Torishima) and the Volcano Islands (Kazan-retto).

The Bonin Islands boast of their fishing and diving and are mostly forested and hilly. The hills are covered with cedar, rosewood, boxwood, white oak, ironwood and other species.

Highest Point: On Haha-jima, 1,500 feet
Largest Island: Chichi-jimi, 9.5 square miles
Best Port: On Futami-byochi, Port Lloyd Harbor
Population: 2,010 (as of 1980)

Sources:
"Bonin Islands." Encyclopædia Britannica. 2003. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 28 Oct, 2003 <http://www.search.eb.com/eb/article?eu=82773>.
"The History of the Bonin Islands." Unknown. 28 Oct, 2003 <http://www.asahi-net.or.jp/~et7t-tum/bonin-hise.html>.

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