YEZO, yil/z5. The most northerly of the large islands of Japan. forming with its twelve adjacent islands and the Kurile Islands (q.v.) a division of the Japanese Empire known as the Hokkaido. or 'North Sea Circuit.' It is separated from the main island of Japan on the south by the deep strait of Tsugaru, 10 miles wide, and is included within the meridians of 139° II' and 146' 7' E„ and the parallels of 41° 21' and 15° 30' N. \ma, 30.1-13 square miles; population, in 19110, 922.058. ineluding 17,000 aborigines. known as Aino (q.v.).
The surfaee is nmeh broken by two great intersecting mountain systems, one volcanic, from the Kurile Islands, and the other of granite and old schists from Saghalien, culminating in Tokachi-dake (8200 feet), latitude 43° 48' N. and longitude 143° 10' E. The volcanic peaks are numerous, the best known being Komaga-take (4000 feet), still active. The chief rivers are the lshikari, 407 miles long. the seat of a great salmon-fishing and canning industry, and the To kachi. There is comparatively little level land that is suitable for cultivation, and the principal industries, besides farming, are hunting, fishing, and mining—chiefly gold and coal. Mineral oil is found near Hakodate (the principal seaport) and elsewhere, and is being developed by foreign companies. Brewing is carried on at Sapporo, the capital of Ishikari Province (43° 4' N., and
144° 43' E.), and glass works for bottle-making and several paper mills are in operation. The chief exportable commodities are canned salmon, fish-manure, fish-oil, dried fish-roe, seaweed, salt, and sulphur. In 1900, 328 miles of railway were in operation. The forests are dense, and many wild animals, including (leer and hear, abound. The climate is severe, and for nearly six months the country is covered with a deep mantle of snow and ice. (See the article JAPAN, section Climate.) Besides Sapporo and Hako date, already mentioned, the chief towns are Okkashi, Nemuro. Mororan, a naval station on Volcano Bay, and Fukuyaina or Matsumai (for merly the chief town of the island). From 1600 to 1808 the southwestern portion of the island was the possession of a Daimio named Matsumai, and Hakodate belonged to the Shogun. In 1871, fearing Russian aggression, active colonization was begun, a new department—the Kaitakushi. or Colonization Department—was established, and much development work was done under foreign superintendence. This was abolished in 1881, and the country was divided into prefectures as in Japan proper. It is still regarded as a colony, however, and electoral privileges have not as yet been extended to its inhabitants.