Japanese archipelago

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Japanese Archipelago
Japan (orthographic projection).svg
Japanese archipelago shown in dark green
Coordinates37°30′52″N 137°42′44″E / 37.514444°N 137.712222°E / 37.514444; 137.712222Coordinates: 37°30′52″N 137°42′44″E / 37.514444°N 137.712222°E / 37.514444; 137.712222
A topographic map of Japan
A satellite image of Japan

The Japanese archipelago (日本列島, Nihon Rettō) is a group of 6,852 islands that form the country of Japan. It extends over 3,000 km (1,900 mi)[1] from the Sea of Okhotsk northeast to the Philippine Sea south along the northeastern coast of the Eurasia continent. It consists of islands from the Sakhalin island arc, the Northeastern Japan arc to the Ryukyu islands and the Nanpō Islands.

The term Home Islands was used at the end of World War II to define the area of Japan to which its sovereignty and the constitutional rule of the Emperor would be restricted.[citation needed] The term is also commonly used today to distinguish the archipelago from Japan's colonies and other territories in the first half of the 20th century.[2]



The archipelago consists of 6,852 islands[3] (here defined as land more than 100 m in circumference), of which 430 are inhabited.[4] The four main islands, from north to south, are Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku, and Kyushu; Honshu is the largest and referred to as the Japanese mainland.[5]

The current Japanese archipelago topography is:

The Nanpō Islands administered by Tokyo Metropolis.

Islands and prefectures[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Water Supply in Japan". Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare. Archived from the original (website) on January 26, 2018. Retrieved 26 September 2018.
  2. ^ Milton W. Meyer, Japan: A Concise History, 4th ed. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield, 2012, ISBN 9780742541184, p. 2.
  3. ^ "離島とは(島の基礎知識)". Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism. Archived from the original (website) on November 13, 2007. Retrieved 3 October 2018.
  4. ^ "Islands in Abundance", Look Japan Volume 43, Issues 493–504, p. 37.
  5. ^ "Japanese Archipelago", TheFreeDictionary.com, retrieved 24 June 2013.
  6. ^ "The Chautauquan", Volume 42, p. 6.