The Japanese archipelago consists of four major islands and over six-thousand minor ones, and has enormous climatic variation. The four major islands are Hokkaidō, Honshū, Shikoku, and Kyūshū. The southern island group of Okinawa (the Ryūkyū Islands) is geographically, historically, and culturally distinct.
Life expectancy is the highest in the world, and the birthrate has been declining dramatically. Because of these trends, the population is projected to peak early in the twenty-first century and then shrink.
During much of Japanese history, Shintō and Buddhism have coexisted and influenced each other. Shintō is closely linked to the imperial family and a nationalist ideology.
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