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Japan: modernity, tradition, islands and volcanoes

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Japan is a state of north-eastern Asia made up of over 3,000 islands that extend north-south between the Kuril and Sahalin islands in the north and the island of Formosa (Taiwan) in the south. The Japanese archipelago is made up of numerous islands of volcanic origin. Numerous volcanoes are still active and earthquakes are frequent. In addition, over 70% of the country is made up of mountains.

The main island of Japan is the island of Honshū (227,962 sq km), which is the seventh largest island in the world. On this island are some of the largest cities in the country. Including the capital Tōkyō, one of the most populous metropolises in the world. Other important cities of the island are Kyōto, Osaka, Kobe, Nagoya, Yokohama and Hiroshima, the latter sadly famous for the launch of the first atomic bomb.

The island of Honshū is rich in mountains and volcanic peaks. The backbone of the island is formed by the Japanese Alps that run from north to south. These mountains are formed by the chains of the Hida, Kiso and Akaishi mountains, with peaks that exceed 3,000 meters like the Hotaka mountains (3,190 meters) and Mount Kita (3,193 meters). In the center-south of the island of Honshū there is also the highest mountain in Japan, Mount Fuji (3,776 meters), a still active volcanic peak with an almost perfect conical shape.

In addition to Honshū three other are the main islands of the archipelago of Japan. At the far north of the archipelago is the island of Hokkaidō (83,453 sq km). Here the most important city is Sapporo. The geography of the island is characterized by volcanic highlands rich in still active volcanic peaks. Among these in the Daisetsuzan volcanic group is Mount Asahi (2,290 meters) the highest mountain in Hokkaidō.


South of Honshū are the other two main islands of the country: Kyūshū (35,640 sq km) and Shikoku (18,800 sq km). Kyūshū island is the third largest Japanese island, it is home to the most active Japanese volcano, Mount Aso (1,591 meters). While the highest peak of the island is Mount Kujū-san (1,788 meters). The most important city on the island is that of Fukuoka. Another important center of the island, also sadly famous for its atomic bomb, is Nagasaki.

Japan’s fourth largest island is Shikoku Island, which is located south of Honshū and east of Kyūshū. The highest mountain on the island of Shikoku is Mount Ishizuchi (1,982 meters). South of Kyūshū the archipelago of the Ryukyu islands stretches for over 1,000 km, reaching Formosa (Taiwan). This cordon of islands is made up of hundreds of volcanic islands, the largest of which is the island of Okinawa (1,015 sq km).

The economy of Japan, by Gross Domestic Product (GDP), is after China, the first on the Asian continent, followed by the Indian one. The country is highly industrialized.

Japan’s climate.

The official page of the Government of Japan.

  • Area: 377,873 sqkm. (Arable 12%, Pastures 2%, Forests and Woodlands 66%, Uncultivated and Unproductive 20%)
  • Population: 127,500,000 (2007 data)
  • State Capital: Tokyo.
  • Languages: The official language is Japanese.
  • Religion: Shintoist, Buddhist, Christian 2%.
  • Currency: Yen (JPY)
  • Time: UTC +9 hours.



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