The Online Library of Knowledge


You are here: Geography > Asia > Japan


A map of JapanA map of JapanJapan is made up of four main islands, where most of the population lives, and nearly 7000 smaller ones. The four large islands are, in order of size: Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyushu and Shikoku. These islands are linked together by bridges and tunnels. Japan is covered by thickly forested mountains, many of them volcanic. The few lowland areas near the coast or along river valleys are shared between great cities—like Tokyo, the capital, Osaka and Nagoya—and farmland. The south of the country has mild winters and hot summers, while in the north, winters can be very cold. The cone of Mount Fuji, a volcano that rises above Tokyo, is snow-capped for several months of the year. 

A map of JapanA map of Japan

Tsuyama Cherry Blossom Festival.Tsuyama Cherry Blossom Festival.


Nearly all Japan's people are ethnic Japanese, descended from peoples who settled on the islands after around 14,000 BC. A small number of Ainu, a people native to Hokkaido and the islands to the north, still live there today. Japan’s mountainous landscape means that land for building is in short supply, and nearly everybody lives in crowded cities along the coast.

Tokyo's Shibuya pedestrian crossingTokyo's Shibuya pedestrian crossing

The Japanese islands of Hokkaido and Honshu are linked by the world's longest and deepest railway tunnel: the 53.9-km (33.5-mile) Seikan Tunnel.

© 2020 Q-files Ltd. All rights reserved. Switch to Mobile