Japan Notes

Sunday, June 11, 2006


Capital: Tokyo. Area: 145,894 sq mi (377,835sq km). Currency: yen. Language: Japanese.

Physical features: Highest mountain: Mt. Fujiyama, 12,388ft (3,776m). Longest river: the Shinano-gawa, 228mi (367km).

Japanese Population: 127 million. Population density: 873 sq mi (337 sq km). Life expectancy: Men 77.6 years; women 84.2 years.

Wealth: GDP: $4,555.1 billion. GDP per head: $35,830.

Exports: Electronic goods, steel, cars, ships, chemicals, textiles, machinery.

Japan is very mountainous, so the big cities where nine out often people live are crowded into the coastal plains. 40 million people are crammed into Tokyo and its suburbs alone, making it the biggest urban center in the world. Tokyo has tall skyscrapers to make the most of the limited space available.

Japan is famous for its electronic goods--including walkmans and games consoles. It also makes huge amounts of steel, half the world's ships, and more cars than any other country.

All but 14 percent of the land is too steep for farming, but millions of little square rice fields are packed on to the coastal plains and hillside terraces.

Most Japanese live a very modern way of life. But traditions still survive and there are many ancient Buddhist and Shinto shrines.

Japan has one of the world's largest fishing fleets which hauls in over 5 million tons of fish a year.

Japan is made up of four large islands: Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku, and Kyushu: and nearly 4,000 smaller ones, stretching over almost 1,490mi (2,400km) of the western Pacific Ocean. 75 percent of Japanese people live on Honshu, the largest island. But the most densely populated is Kyushu. After some gigantic engineering projects in the late 20th century, Kyushu, Honshu, Shikoku, and other islands are now all linked by bridges and tunnels. The massive Seto Ohashi bridge links several islands. The bridge from Honshu to Shikoku at Akashi-Kaikyo has the world's longest single span: 1.24mi (2km). Hokkaido and Honshu are linked by the Seikan tunnel, the world's longest undersea tunnel, 33.5mi (53.8km) long.


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