Japan is an island nation in East Asia extending along the Pacific coast of Asia. Measured from the geographic coordinate system, Japan is 36° north of the equator and 138° east of the Prime
Meridian. The country is north-northeast of China and Taiwan separated by the East China Sea and slightly east of Korea separated by the Sea of Japan. The country is south of the Russian Far East.
The main islands, sometimes called the "Home Islands", are (from north to south) Hokkaidō, Honshū, Shikoku and Kyūshū. There are also about 3,000 smaller islands, including Okinawa, and islets, some inhabited and others uninhabited. In total, as of 2006, Japan's territory is 377,923.1 km², of which 374,834 km² is land and 3,091 km² water.
About 73% of Japan is mountainous, with a mountain range running through each of the main islands. Japan's highest mountain is Mt. Fuji, with an elevation of 3,776 m (12,388 ft).
The four major islands are separated by narrow straits and form a natural entity. The Ryukyu Islands curve 970 kilometers southward from Kyūshū.
The Japanese islands are the summits of mountain ridges uplifted near the outer edge of the continental shelf.
Rivers are generally steep and swift, and few are suitable for navigation except in their lower reaches. Most rivers are fewer than 300 kilometers in length. Most of the rivers are very short. The longest, the Shinano River, which winds through Nagano Prefecture to Niigata Prefecture and flows into the Sea of Japan, is only 367 kilometers long. The largest freshwater lake is Lake Biwa, northeast of Kyoto.
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