Japan is an island nation that's actually an archipelago made up of over 6500 islands. The country is bordered by the Sea of Japan to the east and the Atlantic Ocean to the west. It's land mass runs longitudinally in a relatively narrow width. The closest countries to Japan are North and South Korea, China and Russia that lie to the west of the Sea of Japan. Japan has been subjected to many earthquakes and tsunamis putting it at high risk for natural disasters.Though relatively small in land mass, Japan is one of the most densely populated countries in the world putting it in the top ten of the world's most populated countries. The capital of Japan is Tokyo.
Japan ranks in the top five of the world's largest economies. Japan is one of the most advanced producers of motor vehicles and has many vehicle production centers around the world. It's also a large producer and exporter of electronics and various metals. Japan's imports include foodstuffs, machinery, fossil fuels and raw materials.
Japan is a constitutional Monarchy. The Emperor is basically a ceremonial figurehead with very limited power. The Prime Minister is the country's highest ranking official and is elected to office by the people of Japan. Japan has a parliamentary style of government called the National Diet. The Diet consists of the 480 seat House of Representatives and the 240 seat House of Councillors. Japan has a court system made up of the Supreme Court and three lower courts. Japan's statutory laws come from the country's legislature and is automatically approved by the Emperor as required by the constitution.
Japan maintains a large military for defensive reasons. The county's constitution prohibits it from declaring war. The country is a mesh of the very modern influence of North America, and the ancient influence of Asia. Shinto and Buddhism are the main religions practiced in Japan.
With a population of approximately 1.2 billion people, India is the second most populous planet in the world. India is also the world's largest democracy. India has one of the world's fastest growing economies, and ranks in the top ten economies ranked by GDP. India is a nuclear state that also has a very large standing army. It has land borders with Burma, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Pakistan, Nepal and China. It's also bounded by the Arabian Sea, Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean.
India's major exports include software, chemicals, petroleum products and textiles. major imports include fertilizer, crude oil and machinery. The automotive industry is one of the fastest growing in the country. Vehicle production and exports have risen dramatically over the last decade. Even with India'a impressive economic growth, much of the country's population lives below the international poverty line established by the World Bank.
India has a parliamentary style government that operates under the Constitution of India. The Parliament is styled after the British model that has an upper and lower house. The President of India is the head of state who is elected to a five year term of office. The Judicial branch of government consists of a Supreme Court, High Court and various trial courts. The constitution is ultimately interpreted by the Supreme Court.
Indo-Aryan and Dravidian are the two major families of languages in the country. Though India has no national language, Hindi is spoken by the largest percentage of the population and is the official language of the government. English is used extensively in the business sector. India's society is largely regulated by the caste systems that make upward mobility very difficult. Castes are basically hereditary positions handed down through families. Arranged and child marriages are still very common in India.
The People's Republic of China is the world's largest country by population, the second largest by land area, and continues to emerge as a major economic and military power. Modern China has evolved from one of the oldest civilizations known to man. For thousands of years, China was rule by hereditary dynasties. Modern China is centrally governed by the Communist Party. The Yangtze and Yellow Rivers are two of the largest river systems in the world. China implemented economic reforms in 1978 and has since become one of the fastest growing economic powers in the world. The country is known as an Asian regional power that is sometimes described as a potential super power by political analysts around the world. Beijing is the capital city.
When it was formed in 1949, The People's Republic of China mandated a planned economy that was based on state controlled collective farms and industry. This caused the economy to lag behind those in the developed world that were more market oriented and based on capitalism. In 1978, the government implemented economic reforms that allowed for more private enterprise with less government intervention. This state-capitalism has enabled China to grow its economy at a very fast rate. China is now home to the second largest concentration of the world's billionaires, but there is a very large discrepancy in per capita wealth. The fast rate of economic expansion has also met with some problems like rapid inflation and some downturns in the overall economy.
Even though it has implemented economic reforms, China is still a socialist state that endorses communism. The upper echelons of the ruling party elects their single party members from within. Lower level provincial leaders do have a relatively high level of autonomy. The President of China is a ceremonial figurehead and head of state for the National People's Congress. At the town and village levels, there is a level of political liberalization, but the Party still has control over most political positions.
Chinese society has changed dramatically since the late 1970s. Automobile ownership has skyrocketed over the recent decades. More automobiles and coal powered industries have made parts of China some of the most polluted in the world. The youth of China seem to be more embracing of the western lifestyle but the ruling Party keeps tight control on Internet communications as well as individual expression.
Spanning nine time zones, Russia is the largest country by land mass in the world. It's also in the top ten of the most populous countries in the world. The country has a vast degree of geographic complexity along with many different climactic regions. Russia is one of the largest producers of oil and natural gas in the world and has a vast amount of natural resources. It's also a regional power and a nuclear state. The government is located in the Kremlin in Moscow, its largest city. Russia evolved out of the former Soviet Union in the early 1990s.
Russia has had significant economic growth since the beginning of the 21st century. Russia adapted a simplified and more streamlined tax code in 2001. This led to more prosperity on the individual level while increasing state revenue. The relatively new market economy has held up quite well through economic downturns, largely owing to steady demand of the countries natural resources. The economy rates in the top ten for GDP and purchasing power. Poverty and unemployment are currently relatively low.
Russia is classified as a semi-presidential republic and federation by the Constitution of Russia. The President is the head of state and the Prime Minister is the head of government. The government is made up of the Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches. The Federal Assembly of Russia is made up of the 450 seat State Duma and the 166 seat Federation Council. The President is the Commander-in-Chief of the military and has the power to veto legislation. The Judiciary is made up of the Constitutional Court, Supreme Court, Supreme Court of Arbitration and several lower courts.
With over 160 ethic and indigenous groups in Russia, there are many different and somewhat disparate cultures throughout the country. Russia has long been noted for its literary and classical music giants. The Bolshoi Ballet continues to be one of the most famous dance groups in the world.
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