As of 2012, the town had an estimated population of 8,548 and is located approximately 100 kilometres (62 miles) west of Naha, the capital of Okinawa. The town can be accessed by the New Kumejima Ferry, Japan Transocean Air, or Ryukyu Air Commuter. It is well known for its textiles, called Kumejima-tsumugi which are designated an Important Intangible Cultural Property. The town is also known for its Kumesen Awamori (Okinawan sake) and deep sea water where the Kumejima Open Water Swim (沖縄久米島大会) is held.
Historically due to Kumejima's abundance of freshwater, rice was once extensively cultivated. Recently however Kumejima's main industry is sugar cane and tourism. Kumejima is often said to be one of the most beautiful of the Okinawa Islands. During the time of the Ryūkyū Kingdom, Kumejima was often visited by Chinese envoys called "sapposhi" on their way to Shuri Castle on Okinawa Island. When the Ryūkyū kingdom was abolished by Japan, many noble families were moved from Shuri to Kumejima.
Open Water Swimming
The Kumejima Open Water Swim (沖縄久米島大会), sanctioned by the Japan International Open Water Swimming Association, is held on Kumejima on 19-20 October 2013. The two-day open water swimming festival includes 400m, 800m, 1500m, 3000m, 4 x 400m relay, 4 x 2.5 km relay, 5 km, and 10 km races.