The Ryukyuan or Lewchewan people are the indigenous peoples of the Ryukyu Islands between the islands of Kyushu and Taiwan. The generally recognized subgroups of Ryukyuans are Amamians, Okinawans, Miyakoans, Yaeyamans, and Yonagunians. Geographically, they live in either Okinawa Prefecture or Kagoshima Prefecture. Their languages, such as Uchinaaguchi, make up the Ryukyuan language family, one of the two branches of the Japonic language family, the other one being Japanese and its dialects. Chinese historical writings first mentioned the Ryukyus during the 6th-7th centuries (the Sui Dynasty). Exact details of these early voyages are still unknown, and it is widely believed that the ancient Ryukyus described by the Chinese consisted of the modern day Ryukyuan Islands and Taiwan. The Ryukyu Islands were inhabited early in historical times, by migrants believed to have crossed into the northern Amami-Uchiha Islands via Kyushu.
Contributions by Ebizur, Belle Equipe, and SmackBot.