Category Archives: geography


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:
total: 377,915 sq km

country comparison to the world: 62

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
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

varies from tropical in south to cool temperate in north
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: 11.26%

permanent crops: 0.81%

other: 87.93% (2011)

Irrigated land:
25,000 sq km (2010)
Total renewable water resources:
430 cu km (2011)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural):
total: 90.04 cu km/yr (20%/18%/62%)

per capita: 714.3 cu m/yr (2007)

Natural hazards:
many dormant and some active volcanoes; about 1,500 seismic occurrences (mostly tremors but occasional severe earthquakes) every year; tsunamis; typhoons

volcanism: both Unzen (elev. 1,500 m) and Sakura-jima (elev. 1,117 m), 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