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Back to Japan

Japan's Geography 

 

 

 

 

 

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 Japan, lying off the eastern coast of the Asian continent, consists of four main islands - Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku, and Kyushu - as well as thousands of adjacent smaller islands.  The archipelago runs in an arc from north to south, stretching 3,800 km.    Its total land area is 377,818 sq km, which is about 4% of that of the United States and slightly more than one and a half times as large as that of Britain.  Japan occupies about 0.3% of the earth's total land area.

Mountains claim 71% of Japan's land area, with plains and basins accounting for the remaining 29%. A chain of mountains extends along the middle of the long, narrow archipelago, dividing it into two sides, one facing the Pacific and the other the Sea of Japan. In general, the rivers are short and swift-flowing.

 The archipelago is washed by the warm Japan and Tsushima currents and the cold Kurile current.  Japan abounds in volcanoes, including about one tenth of the world's active ones.  Mount Fuji, the country's highest peak, is a dormant volcano.

The general climate, except for part of Hokkaido in the north and some of the southernmost islands, is temperate with seasonal winds.  Rainfall is abundant, ranging from 1,000 - 3,000 millimeters annually.  Japan has well-defined changes of season: In the summer southeasterly winds blow across the archipelago from the Pacific, while in the winter northwesterly winds sweep across the archipelago from the Asian continent.

More...  Back to Top

Information provided by the Japanese Embassy

Location:
Eastern Asia, island chain between the North Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Japan, east of the Korean Peninsula
Geographic coordinates:
36 00 N, 138 00 E
Map references:
Asia
Area:
total: 377,915 sq km
country comparison to the world: 61
land: 364,485 sq km
water: 13,430 sq km
note: includes Bonin Islands (Ogasawara-gunto), Daito-shoto, Minami-jima, Okino-tori-shima, Ryukyu Islands (Nansei-shoto), and Volcano Islands (Kazan-retto)
Area - comparative:
slightly smaller than California
Land boundaries:
0 km
Coastline:
29,751 km
Maritime claims:
territorial sea: 12 nm; between 3 nm and 12 nm in the international straits - La Perouse or Soya, Tsugaru, Osumi, and Eastern and Western Channels of the Korea or Tsushima Strait
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
Climate:
Current Weather
varies from tropical in south to cool temperate in north
Terrain:
mostly rugged and mountainous
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Hachiro-gata -4 m
highest point: Fujiyama 3,776 m
Natural resources:
negligible mineral resources, fish
note: with virtually no energy natural resources, Japan is the world's largest importer of coal and liquefied natural gas, as well as the second largest importer of oil
Land use:
arable land: 11.64%
permanent crops: 0.9%
other: 87.46% (2005)
Irrigated land:
25,920 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources:
430 cu km (1999)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural):
total: 88.43 cu km/yr (20%/18%/62%)
per capita: 690 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards:
many dormant and some active volcanoes; about 1,500 seismic occurrences (mostly tremors) every year; tsunamis; typhoons
volcanism: both Unzen (elev. 1,500 m, 4,621 ft) and Sakura-jima (elev. 1,117 m, 3,665 ft), which lies near the densely populated city of Kagoshima, have been deemed "Decade Volcanoes" by the International Association of Volcanology and Chemistry of the Earth's Interior, worthy of study due to their explosive history and close proximity to human populations; other notable historically active volcanoes include Asama, Honshu Island's most active volcano, Aso, Bandai, Fuji, Iwo-Jima, Kikai, Kirishima, Komaga-take, Oshima, Suwanosejima, Tokachi, Yake-dake, and Usu
Environment - current issues:
air pollution from power plant emissions results in acid rain; acidification of lakes and reservoirs degrading water quality and threatening aquatic life; Japan is one of the largest consumers of fish and tropical timber, contributing to the depletion of these resources in Asia and elsewhere
Environment - international agreements:
party to: Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, Antarctic Seals, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography - note:
strategic location in northeast Asia

 

 

 
 
 
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