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Nagasaki, Japan

Nagasaki’s fine natural harbor on Kyushu island was mostly of local interest until Portuguese explorers landed there in 1543. It quickly flourished as a trading center for European and Asian merchants, which continued throughout its history. It also developed into an important industrial center. Because of its open status, the city harbored a significant Christian community, as well as a bustling Chinatown. During World War II, Nagasaki’s concentration of military and industrial sites made it a target of repeated Allied bombing raids, culminating in a nuclear bombing on August 9, 1945, the second, and to date the last use of a nuclear weapon in war. As in Hiroshima a few days before, the devastation from the aerial explosion of the “Fat Man” plutonium bomb was horrific. An area of over 2.5 square miles was flattened, and about 80,000 people were killed directly, with an equal number suffering injuries. Now rebuilt, and with a thriving industrial and shipbuilding economy, Nagasaki still attracts visitors with the relics of its history up to and including the atomic bombing.