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The Name of the Country

___The Japanese refer to their country as "Nippon" or "Nihon". These two names apparently have their origin in the words "place from where the sun rises" used by Prince Shotoku, an early 7th-century Japanese ruler, to designate his country in a letter he sent to China. The designation "place from where the sun rises" translates into Chinese characters which can be read either as "Nippon" or "Nihon". Both readings are in general use today. However, "Nippon" is the more common choice in formal matters.

___There are two widely held explanations regarding the origin of "Japan" and similar names used in the European languages. According to one of these, these names come from "Zipangu" or "Jipangu" which are Portuguese attempts at pronouncing "Jihpenkuo", the name for Japan used for Japan in northern China.
___The other has it that they come from the Dutch "Japan" taken from "Yatpun", the name for Japan used in Southern China.

___"Japan" has been chosen as the formal name designating the country in the English language.


Location and Size of Japan

___Japan is an island nation lying off the east coast of Asia. It has the general shape of a crescent and extends 3,000 km (1,860 miles) from tip to tip.

___The country is made up of four main islands (Honshu, Shikoku, Kyushu, and Hokkaido) which together with more than 4,000 smaller islands are collectively referred to as the Japanese Archipelago.

___Japan's land area of about 146,000 square miles is one twenty-fifth that of the United States.


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