The Shikoku region--comprising the entire island of Shikoku-- covers about 18,800 square kilometers and consists of four prefectures. It is connected to Honshu by ferry and air and, since 1988, by the Seto- Ohashi bridge network. Until completion of the bridges, the region was isolated from the rest of Japan, and the freer movement between Honshu and Shikoku is expected to promote economic development on both sides of the bridges.
Mountains running east and west divide Shikoku into a narrow northern subregion, fronting on the Inland Sea, and a southern part facing the Pacific Ocean. Most of the population lives in the north, and all but one of the island's few larger cites are located there. Industry is moderately well developed and includes the processing of ores from the important Besshi copper mine. Land is used intensively. Wide alluvial areas, especially in the eastern part of the zone, are planted with rice and subsequently are double cropped with winter wheat and barley. Fruit is grown throughout the northern area in great variety, including citrus fruits, persimmons, peaches, and grapes.
The larger southern area of Shikoku is mountainous and sparsely populated. The only significant lowland is a small alluvial plain at Kochi, a prefectural capital. The area's mild winters stimulated some truck farming, specializing in growing out-of-season vegetables under plastic covering. Two crops of rice can be cultivated annually in the southern area. The pulp and paper industry took advantage of the abundant forests and hydroelectric power.
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