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Japan: Japan Geography Profile 2012






Japan Geography Profile 2012

Japan is exposed to the mountain ranges that rise abruptly from the ocean floor. Some rise to extreme depths to the east, the Japan Trench plunges to nearly 28,000 feet (8,500 m) below sea level, the Kuril Trench at over 32,000 feet (10,000 m).
4 / 5 of Japan is either hilly or mountainous. Several hundreds of peaks rising to over 6,500 feet (2,000 m) altitude. In central Honshu, particularly in what is sometimes called the Japanese Alps, many summits peak between 8,000 and 10,500 feet (2,400 and 3,200 m). Fujiyama, a 12,389 feet (3776 m) southwest of Tokyo volcanic cone, is the highest mountain in the country.
The plains are relatively flat, up about one fifth of Japan's total area and occur mainly along the coast. Except for the Kanto Plain, which is located in Tokyo, all are relatively low. They are, however, of great importance as centers of agriculture, manufacturing, and population.
Japan is in a volcanic eruption, the earthquake belt called the Ring of Fire, which fringe much of the Pacific Basin. About 50 of the 192 volcanoes in Japan are classified as active, although some rash. Earthquakes are frequent, but most are just minor tremors that make little or no damage. A notable exception was the 1923 earthquake that devastated Tokyo and Yokohama, killing 100,000 people.

Japan's rivers are generally short and swift. The longest is the Shinano, some 230 miles (370 km) long. Many rivers are used for hydropower and irrigation of rice fields in the plains. Navigation is not important except in the mouths of some rivers. Floods, especially those caused by typhoon rains, sometimes causing extensive damage and many deaths.
Almost all lakes in Japan are small. The largest is Lake Biwa, covering some 265 square miles (686 km 2) of Honshu. Hot springs associated with volcanic activity underground, are numerous.
Japan has about 16,000 miles (26,000 km) of coastline. Much of the coast is rocky and deeply indented with bays and coves. The Inland Sea, between Honshu, Shikoku. and Kyushu, is an arm of the pan and generally placid Pacific, dotted with hundreds of islands.

The four main islands of Japan span the same latitude as that between the ERN South Georgia and central Maine. The climate, therefore, varies from subtropical in the south of the mainland in the north. It is often classified as the monsoon due to cold winds from the northwest of the Asian continent in winter and warm, moist winds from the southeast Pacific in summer. The warm, northward-flowing Kuroshio (Black Current, or Japan Current) washes the south and east coasts as far north as northern Honshu. During the winter, the stream has a particularly sweet for the toughening and along the south coast. Northern Honshu and Hokkaido are more influenced by the cold, southward-moving Oyashio (Okhotsk Current). In summer it's often fog, mist, and cool weather.
Summers are usually hot and stuffy, except in the north, winter is cold, except in the extreme south. Average temperatures in August, the warmest month, range from about 80 ° F. (27 ° C) in the south at about 68 ° F. (20 ° C) in the north. Averages for January, the coldest month, range between 45 ° and 20 ° F. (7 ° and 7 ° C).
Mid-June to mid-July is the season of the bai-u fresh or plum rains. Torrential rains caused by typhoons, often occur in late summer. The annual rainfall varies with the locality, is generally 40 to 100 inches (1000-2540 mm). The snow is particularly abundant along the northwest coast, which lies in the path of the winter monsoon winds that cross the Sea of Japan.
In contrast, the relative size expansion and rapid mobile sector continues to support growth in the telecommunications industry. Despite a slowdown in 2009, largely due to the broader context of recession, the mobile industry is poised for strong growth between 2010 and 2015 on the back of the launch of the new 3G and 4G networks. In particular, mobile broadband is likely to become a major source of income with more competition emerging between Digicel, Claro and lime.

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: 


Area comparative: 

slightly smaller than California

Land boundaries Total: 

0 km

Land boundaries Note: 


varies from tropical in south to cool temperate in north


mostly rugged and mountainous

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

Natural hazards: 

many dormant and some active volcanoes; about 1,500 seismic occurrences (mostly tremors) every year; tsunamis; typhoons

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

Geography note: 

strategic location in northeast Asia