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−Islands Connecting People and the Land− Oki Islands UNESCO Global Geopark Home


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Geography Basics – Answers Found in Geography

How the terrain changes

Made up of 6,852 islands with 70% of its land occupied by mountains, only 14% of Japan’s land is flat, and 50% of Japan’s population is concentrated in this limited area.

Japan’s largely mountainous landscape includes active and extinct volcanoes, mountain ranges, and old mountains worn down by weathering and erosion. The sediment resulting from processes of weathering and erosion is carried by rivers towards the sea, and gathers near the coast to form flat, open land. The coastline of Japan, the sixth longest in the world, is rich in variety, changing from sandy beaches to jagged cliffs, to rocky shores.

And these coastal shores haven`t always been as they are today; some of them only took shape a few ten thousand or thousand years ago. All of the mountains, rivers, plains, plateaus, beaches, and islands around us were formed through a process or series of processes involving rocks and the various properties they possess.

However, we can’t leave out the over millions of years ongoing cycle of global warming and cooling and the consequent cycle of rising and falling sea levels in the discussion of the formation of Earth’s geographical features. The cycles of rising and falling sea levels repeated over and over gave shape to Japan’s current flat lands.

Some might think that scenery or terrain are nothing special to look at, but geoparks show that stories of Earth’s history can be hidden within even the most ordinary geography.

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