377,864 sq km (145,894 sq miles).
127.9 million (UN, 2005).
338.48 per sq km.
Tokyo. Population: 8.1 million (2000).
Japan is separated from the Asian mainland by 160km (100 miles) of sea. About 70 per cent of the country is covered by hills and mountains, a number of which are active or dormant volcanoes. A series of mountain ranges runs from northern Hokkaido to southern Kyushu. The Japanese Alps (the most prominent range) run in a north–south direction through central Honshu. The highest mountain is Mount Fuji at 3776m (12,388ft). Lowlands and plains are small and scattered, mostly lying along the coast and composed of alluvial lowlands and diluvial uplands. The coastline is very long in relation to the land area, and has very varied features. The deeply indented bays with good natural harbours tend to be adjacent to mountainous terrain.
Japanese is the official language. Some English is spoken in major cities.
Shintoism and Buddhism (most Japanese follow both religions) with a Christian minority. In Okinawa, however, people believe in Niraikanai, the realm of the dead beyond the sea.
Most visits to Japan are trouble-free but you should be aware of the global risk of indiscriminate international terrorist attacks, which could be against civilian targets, including places frequented by foreigners.
Do not become involved with drugs. Possession of small amounts will lead to detention and prosecution. Possession of large amounts earns long sentences of rigorous imprisonment and very heavy fines.
This advice is based on information provided by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office in the UK. It is correct at time of publishing. As the situation can change rapidly, visitors are advised to contact the following organisations for the latest travel advice: