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377,837 km²
(145,884 mi²)
Tokyo (pop. 9,375,104)

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Japan is an archipelago nation in the Pacific Ocean. The four main islands are Hokkaido, a complete prefecture in itself in the north, Honshu, the main and largest island, with the majority of the population, and Kyushu and Shikoku in the south. There are 3030 cities, towns and villages in the country, 598 of which are distinct cities. The vast majority of the population are Japanese persons, who speak the Japanese language, and who mostly believe in a mixed belief system of Buddhism, brought to Japan first in the 6th century, and Shinto, the original animism religion of the Japanese people. A very small portion of 1% of the population are made up of the Ainu people, now mostly living in the north of Hokkaido. They are a distinct racial and language group, best described as the aborigines of Japan. Although decreasing in numbers, the villages where they live are experiencing a resurgence of their ancient culture. A few small percentages of the local populations are made up of foreign people, gaijins, who come from many countries of the world, and fill all economic and cultural groups, from construction workers to symphony orchestra conductors.