October 19, 2021
Japan (Japanese: 日本; Romaniz.: Nihon, Nippon or, archaically, Jippon; officially 日本国, Nippon-koku or koku, literal translation: State of Japan) is an island country in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, east of the Sea of Japan, the People's Republic of China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south. The characters that make up its name mean "Origin of the Sun", which is why Japan is sometimes identified as the "Land of the Rising Sun". The country is an archipelago of 6,852 islands, the four largest of which are Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyushu and Shikoku, together representing 97% of the national land area. Most of the islands are mountainous, with many volcanoes such as the Japanese Alps and Mount Fuji. Japan has the tenth largest population in the world, with about 128 million inhabitants. Tokyo Metropolitan Area, which includes the de facto capital of Tokyo and several adjacent city halls, is the largest metropolitan area in the world, with more than 30 million inhabitants. Archaeological research indicates that humans already lived on Japanese islands in the Upper Paleolithic period. The first written mention of Japan begins with a brief appearance in 1st century AD Chinese historical texts. The influence of the rest of the world followed by long periods of isolation has characterized the country's history. Since its constitution in 1947, Japan has remained a unitary constitutional monarchy with an emperor and an elected parliament, the Diet. As a great economic power, it has the third largest economy in the world in nominal GDP and the fourth largest in purchasing power. It is also the fourth largest exporter and fourth largest importer in the world, in addition to being the only Asian member of the G7. The country maintains a modern and extensive security force used for self-defence and peacekeeping functions. Japan has a very high standard of living (17th highest HDI), with the highest life expectancy in the world (according to UN and WHO estimates) and the third lowest infant mortality rate. The country is also part of the G20, a group formed by the 19 largest economies in the world plus the European Union.