Japan

Japan played a pivotal role as a destination along the Silk Road.

 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 second 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 major slowdown in the 1990s following three decades of unprecedented growth.

 

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Due to the large North South extension of the country, the climate varies strongly in different regions. The climate in most of the major cities, including Tokyo, is temperate to subtropic and consists of four seasons. The winter is mild and the summer is hot and humid. There is a rainy season in early summer, and typhoons hit parts of the country every year during late summer. The climate of the northern island of Hokkaido is colder, and snow storms occur frequently during winter. In Okinawa, on the other hand, the mean temperature of January is a warm 16 degrees Celsius.
Japan is situated in northeastern Asia between the North Pacific and the Sea of Japan. The area of Japan is 377,873 square kilometers, nearly equivalent to Germany and Switzerland combined or slightly smaller than California. Japan consists of four major islands, surrounded by more than 4,000 smaller islands. 

There is only one official language spoken in Japan, which is Japanese. However, many Japanese are able to understand English to a certain extent since English is the foreign language that everyone must learn as part of compulsory education.

 

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