Natural Regions, Hokkaido
coal deposits, island of Hokkaido, Hokkaido, Japanese people, Sapporo
Hokkaido is Japanís large northern island. Most of the island is mountainous and heavily forested. Hokkaido has a number of volcanoes, including Asahi Dake, which stands 2,290 m (7,513 ft) high in the Ishikari Mountains and is the islandís highest peak. Hokkaido also holds one of Japanís largest alluvial plains, the Ishikari Plain. The islandís fertile soils support agriculture and provide the vast majority of Japanís pasturelands. In addition, Hokkaido contains coal deposits, and the cold currents off its shores supply cold-water fish.
Winters are long and harsh, so most of Hokkaido is lightly settled, housing about 5 percent of Japanís population on approximately 20 percent of its land area. However, its snowy winters and unspoiled natural beauty attract many skiers and tourists. Hokkaido is thought of as Japanís northern frontier because Japanese people settled it only after the middle of the 19th century. Most of the remaining Ainu people, who populated Hokkaido before the arrival of the Japanese, live on the island. The island of Hokkaido forms a single prefecture. Its capital, Sapporo, is an important commercial and manufacturing center.
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