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Japan’s poorest prefecture is Okinawa — and on Okinawa the poorest region lies along the northeastern coast blanketed by the dense Yanbaru jungle. Here, the villages of Higashi and Kunigami were the last areas on the island to receive electricity and running water. Until 1978, they lacked even a paved road.

Yet when it comes to biodiversity, this is one of the richest places on the planet, with almost a dozen unique species, including the noguchi gera, an endangered woodpecker that has become a symbol of the prefecture.

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