Useful country information
Land area: 140,728 sq mi (364,485 sq km); total area: 145,913 sq mi (377,915 sq km)
Population (2014 est.): 127,103,388 (growth rate: -0.13%); birth rate: 8.07/1000; infant mortality rate: 2.13/1000; life expectancy: 84.46
Capital and largest city (2009 est.): Tokyo, 37.217 million
Other large cities: Osaka-Kobe 11.494 million; Nagoya 3.328 million; Fukuoka-Kitakyushu 2.868 million; Sapporo 2.742 million; Sendai 2.428 million (2011)
Monetary unit: Yen
National name: Nippon
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.)
While retaining its time-honored culture, Japan rapidly absorbed Western technology during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
After its devastating defeat in World War II, Japan recovered to become the third most powerful economy in the world and a staunch ally of the US.
While the emperor retains his throne as a symbol of national unity, actual power rests in networks of powerful politicians, bureaucrats, and business executives.
The economy experienced a significant slowdown in the 1990s following three decades of unprecedented growth.
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