Iriomote is the largest of the Yaeyama Islands and the second largest in Okinawa Prefecture after Okinawa Island itself.
Despite its having an area of 289 km² the island's total population is less than 2,000, and infrastructure is limited to a single coastal road connecting the hamlets on the northern and eastern shores. The island does not have an airstrip, and most visitors — over 150,000 in 2003 — arrive from Ishigaki by ferry. Administratively the island belongs to Taketomi District, Okinawa Prefecture, Japan.
Until the end of World War II, Iriomote was largely uninhabited due to its infestation by malaria. It was used primarily as agricultural land to grow rice. Additionally, during the war some residents of Ishigaki were forcibly made to take refuge in Iriomote, some of whom contracted malaria.
After the war, the US Forces in Japan eradicated malaria from the island, and the island has been malaria free since. Apart from tourism, the island economy is sustained by agricultural production, primarily of pineapple, and fishing.
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