AREA & POPULATION
Total Area : 388,000 sq km
Japan is an island nation located off the east coast of the Asian continent. The archipelago of about 7,000 islands runs almost 3,000km northeast to southwest. The total land area is just under 388,000 square kilometers, roughly equal in size to the US state of Montana or 1.5 times the land area of the UK. Only about 16% of the land is fertile, the rest being mostly forest-covered mountains. Japan is located on the western rim of the so-called Pacific "Ring of Fire" and as a result suffers from frequent earthquakes and volcanic activity. There are four main islands - Honshu, often referred to as the mainland, Hokkaido, Kyushu and Shikoku. Read more about the regions of Japan.
The population of Japan is approximately 126,580,000 (August 1999) of which 51.3% is female, 48.7% male. In 1920, the population was about 56 million and the projected population for 2050 is just over 100 million of which a third are expected to be aged 65 years or over, up from the present 17%. The Japanese refer to this ongoing phenomenon as the 'silver' society. The estimated number of children (aged up to 14 years) is 18.88 million (14.9% of the total population), of which boys make up 51.3%, girls 48.7%. This figure began to decline in the early 1950s after the first 'baby boom' and rose slightly during the second baby boom (1971-1974) but has been on the decline ever since. The most densely populated areas are in the Kanto region - the Tokyo metropolis and its port cities of Yokohama and Kawasaki - and the Kansai area, centered around the cities of Osaka, Kobe and Kyoto. Read more about the major cities of Japan.