Japan is a volcanic archipelago with 127 million inhabitants. Japan consists of four large islands, Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku and Kyushu and some 4000 small, mostly uninhabited, islands. The empire is trapped between the Japanese sea and the Pacific ocean. The landscape consists of many densely forested mountains and hills, lakes, small fertile plains, short rivers and snow-capped mountains. There is a temperate climate. Only Okinawa has a subtropical climate. The capital Tokyo has almost 9 million inhabitants and is considered one of the four major world cities. Other cities are Nagoya, Fukuoka, industrial city Osaka, Kyoto, the port cities of Kobe, Hiroshima, Yokohama and Nagasaki and the Olympic cities of Sapporo and Nagano. The UNESCO World Heritage List includes Buddhist monuments in the Horyuji area, Himeji castle, Yakushima, Shirakami Sanchi, Shirakawago and Gokayama historic villages, Hiroshima Peace Memorial, Itsukushima Shrine, ancient Nara historical monuments, temples from Nikko, the Gusuku location, Three holy places and the pilgrim route in the Kii Mountains, Shiretoko and the Silver mine Iwami Ginzan.

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