Okinawa Prefecture consists of 161 islands, of which only 44 are inhabited. Scattered over 1,000 km (600mi), Yonagoni, the southernmost island, lies a mere 100km (60mi) from Taiwan. Although once an independent state, the Ryukyu Islands are now the most popular Japanese beach resort destination, thanks to its mild climate and fringing coral reefs. Okinawa is smack dab in the middle of Typhoon Alley, sandwiched between the Pacific Ocean on its east side and the East China Sea to the west. This positioning allows for a wealth of spots facing in all directions to pick up virtually any swell going. They break over very shallow shelves of reef and/or basaltic rock, which is why 90% of the spots are mid-to-high tide breaks, but experienced surfers not scared of the odd bounce will find plenty of low tide waves. Most spots range from 2-5ft of water at high tide. There are only two sandy beachbreaks. Crowds are heavy at the main spots, but some spots remain unpopulated. Most of the outer reefs and islands are still uncharted.