The Sirenes (/ˈsiːɹᵻnˌiːz/ or /sᵻɹˈɛnˌiːz/) or Sirenean Islands are an island chain and volcanic arc in the Pearl Sea, south of mainland Wilassia. Along with the larger Caroline Islands to the south and east they seperate the Pearl Sea from the greater Alqosian Ocean. Despite laying entirely above the 30th parallel north, the islands enjoy a tropical climate, bordering on humid subtropical in the northern islands, due to the effects of the Carolinian Warm Currents.
The islands have for centuries been important as a cultural and mercantile meeting point between Alisna, Alqosia, and Wilassia and are home to a distinctive and diverse mix of cultures drawing from all three continents. Politically, they are divided into a number of self-governing territories in association with six different sovereign states.
Names and etymology
The word "Sirenes" is from the French "Îles Sirènes", or "mermaid islands"; early Questarian maps refer to them in English as the Mermaid (or "Mermayd") Islands. In both languages, the name was coined due to the abundance of dugong in the surrounding waters; traditionally many cultures believed dugong to be mermaids. The same etymology, for instance, is seen in the naming of the order Sirenia, which includes the dugong.
The indigenous islanders identified with their individual polity, island, or community and had no native name to describe the islands as a whole. The Sericanese name was Lu Giu (琉球), which entered into most languages of southeast Wilassia; "Ruču" in Narangol, "Laucau" in Sinitalian, and "Ryukyu" (琉球) in Yamato. It was also borrowed by the Uchina language to refer to the whole archipelago as "Ruuchuu" (ルーチュー), and from it entered into the other Ruuchuuan languages. In modern usage, transliterations of the western name are also used in the Wilassian languages.
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