Land area: 140,728 sq mi (364,485 sq km); Total area: 145,913 sq mi (377,915 sq km)
Population (2012 est.): 127,368,088 (growth rate: -0.077%); birth rate: 8.39/1000; infant mortality rate: 2.21/1000; life expectancy: 83.91 Capital and largest city (2009 est.): Tokyo, 36.507 million Other large cities: Osaka-Kobe 11.325 million; Nagoya 3.257 million; Fukuoka-Kitakyushu 2.809 million; Sapporo 2.673 million (2009) Monetary unit: Yen
There are over 127,078,679 (July 2009 est.) people living in Japan. For most of Japan's history its borders were closed to foreigners. As a result, Japan's society is very homogeneous, composed of 98.5% ethnic Japanese. The remaining 1.5 percent are mostly Korean, who number around 1 million. There are also considerable numbers of Brazilians, Chinese, and Filipinos residing in Japan. There is also an ethnic minority of indigenous people, called Ainu, who live mostly in northern Hokkaido.
Japanese is the official language of Japan. Many Japanese also have some ability in writing and speaking English as it is a mandatory part of the curriculum in the Japanese educational system. Japanese uses four different writing systems; Kanji (Chinese characters), Hiragana (phonetic alphabet for native words), Katakana (phonetic alphabet for foreign words), and Romaji (western alphabet used to write Japanese). Japanese vocabulary has been strongly influenced by loanwords from other languages, with most loanwords coming from Chinese and English.
The climate of Japan varies considerably depending on the region and season. Summer is usually very hot and humid, known to the Japanese as "mushiatsui". From mid June there is a rainy season which lasts around one month. Winters are usually mild, with the northern areas of Japan receiving more snow. Spring and autumn are usually sunny with mild temperatures.
The two major religions in Japan are Shinto and Buddhism. While religion does not play a major role in the life of the average Japanese, religious ceremonies are usually held at births, weddings, and funerals. On New Year's Day visiting a temple or shrine is also a common custom. About 1% of the population follow Christianity, which was heavily persecuted in Japan prior to the Meiji Restoration in 1873. National name: Nippon Current government officials Language: Japanese
Ethnicity/race: Japanese 98.5%, Koreans 0.5%, Chinese 0.4%, other 0.6% note: up to 230,000 Brazilians of Japanese origin migrated to Japan in the 1990s to work in industries; some have returned to Brazil (2004)
Religions: Shintoism 83.9%, Buddhism 71.4%, Christianity 2%, other 7.8% note: total adherents exceeds 100% because many people belong to both Shintoism and Buddhism (2005) National Holiday: Birthday of Emperor Akihito, December 23 Literacy rate: 99% (2002 est.)
GDP/PPP (2011 est.): $4.497 trillion; per capita $35,200. Real growth rate: –0.7%. Inflation: 0.4%. Unemployment: 5.6%. Arable land: 11.64%. Agriculture: rice, sugar beets, vegetables, fruit; pork, poultry, dairy products, eggs; fish. Labor force: 65.93 million; agriculture 3.9%, industry 26.2%, services 69.8% (2011). Industries: among world's largest and technologically advanced producers of motor vehicles, electronic equipment, machine tools, steel and nonferrous metals, ships, chemicals, textiles, processed foods. Natural resources: negligible mineral resources, fish. Exports: $800.8 billion (2011 est.): transport equipment, motor vehicles, semiconductors, electrical machinery, chemicals. Imports: $794.7 billion (2011 est.): machinery and equipment, fuels, foodstuffs, chemicals, textiles, raw materials. Major trading partners: U.S., China, South Korea, Hong Kong, Australia, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Thailand (2011).
Telephones: main lines in use: 40.419 million (2009); mobile cellular: 121 million (2009). Broadcast media: a mixture of public and commercial broadcast TV and radio stations; 5 national terrestrial TV networks including 1 public broadcaster; the large number of radio and TV stations available provide a wide range of choices; satellite and cable services provide access to international channels (2008). Internet hosts: 63.466 million (2010). Internet users: 99.182 million (2009).
Railways: total: 27,182 km (2009). Highways: total: 1,210,251 km; paved: 973,234 km (includes 7,803 km of expressways); unpaved: 237,017 km (2003). Waterways: 1,770 km (seagoing vessels use inland seas) (2010). Ports and terminals: Chiba, Kawasaki, Kiire, Kisarazu, Kobe, Mizushima, Nagoya, Osaka, Tokyo, Yohohama. Airports: 175 (2012).