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Japan Country Guide

Explore Japan in Asia

Japan with the capital city Edo is located in Asia (Eastern Asia, island chain between the North Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Japan). It covers some 377,836 square kilometres (slightly smaller than California) with 127,288,000 citizens.

Map of the area of  in

The topography includes mostly rugged and mountainous. The average density of population is approximately 337 per km². The notable climate conditions in Japan can be described as varying from tropical in south to cool temperate in north. Possible natural disasters include many dormant and some active volcanoes or about 1,500 seismic occurrences (mostly tremors but occasional severe earthquakes) every year, tsunamis or typhoons.

To reach someone in Japan dial +81 prior to a number. There are 44,364,000 installed telephones. And there are 114,917,000 registered mobile phones. The cellular networks commonly support frequencies of 3G. Websites registered in this country end with the top level domain ".jp". If you want to bring electric equipment on your trip (e.g. laptop power supply), note the local power outlet of 100V - 50/60Hz.

About the flag and history of Japan

White with a large red disk (representing the sun without rays) in the center.

In 1603, after decades of civil warfare, the Tokugawa shogunate (a military-led, dynastic government) ushered in a long period of relative political stability and isolation from foreign influence. For more than two centuries this policy enabled Japan to enjoy a flowering of its indigenous culture. Japan opened its ports after signing the Treaty of Kanagawa with the US in 1854 and began to intensively modernize and industrialize. During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Japan became a regional power that was able to defeat the forces of both China and Russia. It occupied Korea, Formosa (Taiwan), and southern Sakhalin Island. In 1931-32 Japan occupied Manchuria, and in 1937 it launched a full-scale invasion of China. Japan attacked US forces in 1941 - triggering America's entry into World War II - and soon occupied much of East and Southeast Asia. After its defeat in World War II, Japan recovered to become an economic power and an ally of the US. While the emperor retains his throne as a symbol of national unity, elected politicians hold actual decision-making power. Following three decades of unprecedented growth, Japan''s economy experienced a major slowdown starting in the 1990s, but the country remains a major economic power. In March 2011, Japan''s strongest-ever earthquake, and an accompanying tsunami, devastated the northeast part of Honshu island, killing thousands and damaging several nuclear power plants. The catastrophe hobbled the country''s economy and its energy infrastructure, and tested its ability to deal with humanitarian disasters.

Geography Quick-Facts

Summary Continent: Asia
Capital: Edo
Size 377,835 square kilometers (km² or sqkm) or 145,883 square miles (mi² or sqmi)
slightly smaller than California
Population 127,288,000
Currency Name: Yen, Currency Code: JPY
Country Top Level Domain (cTLD) .jp
Telephone Country Prefix +81
Mobile Phone Connections 114,917,000
Landline Phone Connections 44,364,000

Country Position in World Rankings

Information about single country attributes and how these compare against the rest of the world. The information below is compiled with data from 2013. As such, it may differ a bit to the Information above in the text (which is from 2010).


Value name Value World Rank
Area 377,915 (sq km) 62

People and Society

Value name Value World Rank
Population 127,253,075 10
Population growth rate -0.10 (%) 205
Birth rate 8.23 (births/1,000 population) 219
Death rate 9.27 (deaths/1,000 population) 60
Maternal mortality rate 5.00 (deaths/100,000 live births) 173
Infant mortality rate 2.17 (deaths/1,000 live births) 223
Life expectancy at birth 84.19 (years) 3
Total fertility rate 1.39 (children born/woman) 208
Health expenditures 9.50 (% of GDP) 35
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate 0.10 (%) 136
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS 8,100 108
HIV/AIDS - deaths 100 137
Obesity - adult prevalence rate 5.00 (%) 157
Education expenditures 3.80 (% of GDP) 121
Unemployment, youth ages 15-24 8.0 (%) 119


Value name Value World Rank
GDP (purchasing power parity) 4,704,000,000,000 5
GDP - real growth rate 2.00 (%) 137
GDP - per capita (PPP) 36,900 38
Labor force 65,020,000 9
Unemployment rate 4.40 (%) 38
Distribution of family income - Gini index 38 76
Investment (gross fixed) 21.10 (% of GDP) 82
Taxes and other revenues 33.9 (% of GDP) 68
Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-) -9.10 (% of GDP) 203
Public debt 214.30 (% of GDP) 1
Inflation rate (consumer prices) 0.10 (%) 4
Central bank discount rate 0.30 (%) 140
Commercial bank prime lending rate 1.48 (%) 181
Stock of narrow money 6,305,000,000,000 1
Stock of broad money 13,120,000,000,000 2
Stock of domestic credit 16,990,000,000,000 3
Market value of publicly traded shares 3,541,000,000,000 3
Industrial production growth rate -3.50 (%) 160
Current account balance 84,700,000,000 4
Exports 792,900,000,000 5
Imports 856,900,000,000 5
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold 1,351,000,000,000 2
Debt - external 3,024,000,000,000 6
Stock of direct foreign investment - at home 202,800,000,000 23
Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad 864,600,000,000 9


Value name Value World Rank
Electricity - production 936,200,000,000 (kWh) 6
Electricity - consumption 859,700,000,000 (kWh) 6
Electricity - installed generating capacity 284500000 (kW) 4
Electricity - from fossil fuels 63.9 (% of total installed capacity) 132
Electricity - from nuclear fuels 17.2 (% of total installed capacity) 14
Electricity - from hydroelectric plants 7.7 (% of total installed capacity) 120
Electricity - from other renewable sources 2.3 (% of total installed capacity) 55
Crude oil - production 17,480 (bbl/day) 75
Crude oil - imports 3,384,000 (bbl/day) 4
Crude oil - proved reserves 44120000 (bbl) 81
Refined petroleum products - production 3,861,000 (bbl/day) 6
Refined petroleum products - consumption 4,464,000 (bbl/day) 5
Refined petroleum products - exports 366,800 (bbl/day) 22
Refined petroleum products - imports 949,800 (bbl/day) 7
Natural gas - production 3,276,000,000 (cu m) 54
Natural gas - consumption 112,600,000,000 (cu m) 7
Natural gas - imports 109,900,000,000 (cu m) 3
Natural gas - proved reserves 20,900,000,000 (cu m) 78
Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy 1,164,000,000 (Mt) 6


Value name Value World Rank
Telephones - main lines in use 64,668,000 3
Telephones - mobile cellular 132,760,000 7
Internet hosts 64,453,000 2
Internet users 99,182,000 3


Value name Value World Rank
Airports 175 34
Railways 27,182 (km) 11
Roadways 1,210,251 (km) 5
Waterways 1,770 (km) 45
Merchant marine 684 16


Value name Value World Rank
Military expenditures 1.00 (% of GDP) 124

Data based on CIA facts book 2010 & 2013, wikipedia, national statistical offices and their census releases

List of current world heritage sites

Name Since
Buddhist Monuments in the Horyu-ji Area
There are around 48 Buddhist monuments in the Horyu-ji area, in Nara Prefecture. Several date from the late 7th or early 8th century, making them some of the oldest surviving wooden buildings in the world. These masterpieces of wooden architecture ar ...
Fujisan, sacred place and source of artistic inspiration
The beauty of the solitary, often snow-capped, stratovolcano, known around the world as Mount Fuji, rising above villages and tree-fringed sea and lakes has long been the object of pilgrimages and inspired artists and poets. The inscribed property co ...
Gusuku Sites and Related Properties of the Kingdom of Ryukyu
Five hundred years of Ryukyuan history (12th-17th century) are represented by this group of sites and monuments. The ruins of the castles, on imposing elevated sites, are evidence for the social structure over much of that period, while the sacred si ...
Himeji-jo is the finest surviving example of early 17th-century Japanese castle architecture, comprising 83 buildings with highly developed systems of defence and ingenious protection devices dating from the beginning of the Shogun period. It is a ma ...
Hiraizumi – Temples, Gardens and Archaeological Sites Representing the Buddhist Pure Land
Hiraizumi - Temples, Gardens and Archaeological Sites Representing the Buddhist Pure Land comprises five sites, including the sacred Mount Kinkeisan. It features vestiges of government offices dating from the 11th and 12th centuries when Hiraizumi w ...
Hiroshima Peace Memorial (Genbaku Dome)
The Hiroshima Peace Memorial (Genbaku Dome) was the only structure left standing in the area where the first atomic bomb exploded on 6 August 1945. Through the efforts of many people, including those of the city of Hiroshima, it has been preserved in ...
Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto (Kyoto, Uji and Otsu Cities)
Built in A.D. 794 on the model of the capitals of ancient China, Kyoto was the imperial capital of Japan from its foundation until the middle of the 19th century. As the centre of Japanese culture for more than 1,000 years, Kyoto illustrates the deve ...
Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara
Nara was the capital of Japan from 710 to 784. During this period the framework of national government was consolidated and Nara enjoyed great prosperity, emerging as the fountainhead of Japanese culture. The city's historic monuments – Buddhist te ...
Historic Villages of Shirakawa-go and Gokayama
Located in a mountainous region that was cut off from the rest of the world for a long period of time, these villages with their Gassho-style houses subsisted on the cultivation of mulberry trees and the rearing of silkworms. The large houses with th ...
Itsukushima Shinto Shrine
The island of Itsukushima, in the Seto inland sea, has been a holy place of Shintoism since the earliest times. The first shrine buildings here were probably erected in the 6th century. The present shrine dates from the 12th century and the harmoniou ...
Iwami Ginzan Silver Mine and its Cultural Landscape
The Iwami Ginzan Silver Mine in the south-west of Honshu Island is a cluster of mountains, rising to 600 m and interspersed by deep river valleys featuring the archaeological remains of large-scale mines, smelting and refining sites and mining settle ...
Ogasawara Islands
The property numbers more than 30 islands clustered in three groups and covers surface area of 7,939 hectares. The islands offer a variety of landscapes and are home to a wealth of fauna, including the Bonin Flying Fox, a critically endangered bat, a ...
Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes in the Kii Mountain Range
Set in the dense forests of the Kii Mountains overlooking the Pacific Ocean, three sacred sites – Yoshino and Omine, Kumano Sanzan, Koyasan – linked by pilgrimage routes to the ancient capital cities of Nara and Kyoto, reflect the fusion of Shint ...
Situated in the mountains of northern Honshu, this trackless site includes the last virgin remains of the cool-temperate forest of Siebold's beech trees that once covered the hills and mountain slopes of northern Japan. The black bear, the serow and ...
Shiretoko Peninsula is located in the north-east of Hokkaido, the northernmost island of Japan. The site includes the land from the central part of the peninsula to its tip (Shiretoko Cape) and the surrounding marine area. It provides an outstanding ...
Shrines and Temples of Nikko
The shrines and temples of Nikko, together with their natural surroundings, have for centuries been a sacred site known for its architectural and decorative masterpieces. They are closely associated with the history of the Tokugawa Shoguns. ...
Tomioka Silk Mill and Related Sites
This property is a historic sericulture and silk mill complex established in 1872 in the Gunma prefecture north-west of Tokyo. Built by the Japanese Government with machinery imported from France, it consists of four sites that attest to the differen ...
Located in the interior of Yaku Island, at the meeting-point of the palaearctic and oriental biotic regions, Yakushima exhibits a rich flora, with some 1,900 species and subspecies, including ancient specimens of the sugi (Japanese cedar). It also co ...