|Capital||Kyoto (8,143,009 inh)|
|Largest City||Kyoto-Osaka (16,787,740 inh)|
|Government Type||Parliamentary Constitutional Monarchy|
|GDP PPP 2007||$ 143 billion (54th)|
|GDP Nominal||$ 112 billion (54th)|
|Currency||Yen (¥ Intl.) (円 Japanese)|
|Religions||Shinto, Buddhism, Taoism, Confucionism, Christianity|
|Armed Forces||55, 000 men|
Japan (日本 Nihon or Nippon, officially 日本国 Nippon-koku or Nihon-koku) is an island country in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, 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 which make up Japan's name mean "sun-origin", which is why Japan is sometimes identified as the "Land of the Rising Sun".
Japan comprises over 3,000 islands making it an archipelago. The largest islands are Honshū, Hokkaidō, Kyūshū and Shikoku, together accounting for 97% of Japan's land area. Most of the islands are mountainous, many volcanic; for example, Japan’s highest peak, Mount Fuji, is a volcano. Japan has the world's 13th largest population, with about 95 million people. The Greater Kyoto-Osaka Area, which includes the de facto capital city of Kyoto and the city of Osaka and several surrounding prefectures, is one of the largest metropolitan area in the world, with over 16 million residents. The old capital, Tokyo was totally destroyed by heavy allied bombardment (Aztec/American) and the drop of the third atomic bomb.
Archaeological research indicates that people were living on the islands of Japan as early as the Upper Paleolithic period. The first written mention of Japan begins with brief appearances in Chinese history texts from the first century A.D. Influence from the outside world followed by long periods of isolation has characterized Japan's history. Since adopting its constitution in 1947, Japan has maintained a unitary constitutional monarchy with an emperor and an elected parliament, the Diet.