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Official Name Nippon
Capital Tokyo
Population 127.3 million
Area 377,765 sq km or 145,855 sq mi
Currency Yen ($1=124)
Religion Shintoism, Buddhism
Literacy 100%
Languages Japanese
Major Cities Tokyo, Yokohama,Osaka, Sapporo
Climate Humid & wet
About Japan
A small nation in the eastern part of Asia , Japan , today has emerged as the second largest economy of the world and subsequently a member of the United Nations, G8 and APEC.
Lying to the east of China , Japan is surrounded by the Sea of Okhotsk in the north and the East China Sea on the South. The name Japan itself signifies "sun-origin"and that is precisely the reason why it is called the "Land of the Rising Sun" across the globe. With a conglomeration of about 3000 islands , and a mountainous and volcanic geography, Japan is presently the 10 th most populated country in the world . Mount Fuji is Japan 's highest point and the city of Tokyo , Japan 's capital , is the largest city of Japan .

History first mentions Japan in the Chinese texts of the 10 th millennium BC but recent survey has shown that mankind inhabited Japanese islands back in the Paleolithic age. Although civilization started around 3 rd century BC with the Jamon culture, the Japanese culture was truly shaped with the introduction of Mahayana Buddhism during the 6 th century AD. In the succession of imperial rules that followed, special mention should me made of the Samurais, the ruling warrior class of the feudal era. However, Japan first opened its secluded economy to the world during the 19 th century with the advent of the Americans. Japan 's most significant mention in History came during the World War II and the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings . Following the defeat in World War II , Japan set up a unitary constitutional monarchy in 1947 , which follows liberal policies.

Ever since, the world has witnessed Japan 's spectacular rise in world economy mostly owing to its high-technology boom . It is rapidly expanding and its culture is being shaped today by its vast number of major cities. Although Japan enjoys mostly a temperate climate, there is a variation as one travels from the North to South. The Pacific Ring of Fire however makes Japan extremely vulnerable to volcanoes, earthquakes and tsunamis. Typhoons are predominant all across Japan , which brings heavy rains. However Japan 's tourism especially thrives on all its natural resources like the Hot Springs . Japan is also noted throughout the world for its martial arts and Sumo Wrestling, which incidentally is the national sport of Japan .

Japan Location Map
Location of Japan
Japan is located in Eastern Asia and forms an island-chain between the North Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Japan, east of the Korean Peninsula.

Physical Map of Japan
Japan is sliced into two halves by the mountains - the front half facing the Pacific Ocean, and the other half facing the Sea of Japan. The Pacific side consists of high, steep mountains while the lower mountains and plateaus determine the Sea of Japan side. The country is traditionally divided into eight major islands: Hokkaido, Tohoku, Kanto, Chubu, Kinki, Chugoku, Shikoku, and Kyushu and the Ryukyu Islands. Most of the rivers of Japan are relatively short and swift flowing. The longest river, the Shinano, arises in the mountains of central Honshu and flows to empty into the Sea of Japan. Other major rivers are the Tone River in the northern Kanto Plain and the Ishikari River in Hokkaido.

Flag of Japan
The flag of Japan is white with a large red disk (representing the sun without rays) in the center.

Climate of Japan
The climate of Japan is basically wet and humid, and is marked in most places by four distinct seasons. Hokkaido and other parts of northern Japan have long, harsh winters and relatively cool summers. Average temperatures in the northern city of Sapporo dip to -5ºC in January but reach only 20ºC in July. Central Japan has cold but short winters and hot, humid summers. In Tokyo, temperatures average 3ºC in January and 25ºC in July. Kyushu is subtropical, with short, mild winters and hot, humid summers. Average temperatures in the southern city of Kagoshima are 7ºC in January and 26ºC (79ºF) in July. Farther south, the Ryukyu Islands are warmer still, with frost-free winters.

Flora And Fauna of Japan
Over 17,000 species of flowers and plants are found in Japan including Azaleas, tree peony, lotus and chrysanthemum. Forests cover 64 percent of Japan's land area. In the island of Hokkaido, spruce, larch, and northern fir are found along with alder, poplar, and beech trees. Central Honshu has beech, willows, and chestnuts. In Shikoku, Kyushu, and the warmer parts of Honshu, subtropical trees such as camphors and banyans grow in abundance. Cultivated tree species include fruit trees bearing peaches, plums, pears, oranges, and cherries; mulberry trees for silk production; and lacquer trees.

Animal life of Japan includes at least 140 species of mammals; 450 species of birds; and a wide variety of reptiles, amphibians, and fish. Mammals include wild boar, deer, rabbits and hares, squirrels, and various species of bear, foxes, badgers and the Japanese macaque, a red-faced monkey found throughout Honshu. The most common birds are sparrows, house swallows, and thrushes. Water birds are common as well, including cranes, herons, swans, storks, cormorants, and ducks.

People of Japan
The population of Japan comprises of an overwhelming majority of Japanese having ethnic origin, who are believed to have migrated from the Asian continent and the South Pacific more than 2,000 years ago. The Ainu are Japan's only indigenous ethnic group. The country also has a small population of Koreans, Chinese, and other nationalities but they amount to only 2 percent of the total population. Japanese is the official language but regional dialects are also spoken among people.

Arts, Culture and Music of Japan

The art of Japan includes the ancient handmade clay pottery, which had marked the beginning of a rich ceramic-making tradition when it was first produced in 10,000 BC. This work-of art has gained pace and today is a well-appreciated art in the country.
The sculptors of Japan flourished during the Kofun period, when they made fashioned terra cotta figurines called haniwa that depicted a variety of people like armor-clad warriors and shamans; animals, buildings, and boats. These figurines were usually placed on the tombs of Japan's rulers.

As far as music and dance of Japan is concerned, gigaku, an age-old traditional form of music and dance is quite famous. History goes that a Korean performer had imported it from China somewhere in the early 6th century. In gigaku, masked dancers performed dramas to the accompaniment of flute, drum, and gong ensembles.

Economy of Japan
Japan is the world's second largest economy after the United States. Services make up the largest part of Japan's economy. In 2000, service sector (such as trade, government, and real estate) accounted for 67 percent of Japan's GDP, while industry (mining, manufacturing, and construction) made up 32 percent, and agriculture (including forestry and fishing) contributed simply 1 percent.

In 2001 Japan's gross domestic product (GDP) was $4.14 trillion. Japan's per capita GDP rose from 21 percent in 1955 to 56 percent in 1970. By 1992, per capita GDP had reached $19,920, 86 percent of the US level. However, in the late 1990s, Japan was mired in its longest recession since World War II. GDP, which had grown slowly in the early 1990s, fell 0.4 percent in 1997 and another 2.8 percent in 1998. This was the first time in the postwar era that Japan's GDP declined two years in a row.

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