Essay, Research Paper: Japan And Thailand

Geography

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Thailand and Japan are two countries situated in the Australian, Asian and
Pacific (A.A.P) region. There are many similarities and differences in their
physical and human geographies. Japan is an archipelago of 3900 mountainous
islands with a total land size of 377 835km2. Located in East Asia along the
'Pacific Ring of Fire' Japan ranges from North 50 30I to 210 and East 970 3I to
1030 3I. In contrast, Thailand is a larger country with a total landmass of 511
770km2. It is located in South East Asia on the Indo-China and Malayan
peninsula. Thailandís landmass ranges from 70 5I to 200 5I North and 970 to
105o 41 East. Thailand has a tropical climate that experiences monsoonal
influences, whereas Japan has a diverse climate, ranging from sub-tropical in
the south to alpine conditions on the elevated peaks. Japan has an aging
population, which is twice the size of Thailand's. 90% of Japanís 126 million
people live on only 20% of its dry land. Dissimilarly, Thailandís population
is more evenly spread with a distribution of 117 persons per km2. Japan is a
More Developed country (M.D.C) with a GNP per capita of US$34 500, which makes
it Asia most affluent country. Japan Economy relies on services and high
technology industries. Thailand is a Less-Developed country (L.D.C) with a GNP
per capita of US$8 800. Thailandís population relies more on a subsistence way
of life. In fact 75% of its inhabitants making their living from farming. Japan
is an island archipelago with over 3900 islands. The four main islands, Honshu,
Hokkaido, Kyushu and Shikoku stretch for over 3 800 kilometres. The country
situated on the edge of large tectonic plates which are constantly moving
providing an unpredictable countryside. The Pacific Ocean, Sea of Japan, Korea
Strait and the East China Sea surround the Japanese archipelago. Unlike Japan,
Thailand is not a group of islands, it is however a larger country with a land
area of 511 770km2. Thailand's extends 2500km from North 50 30I to 210 and
1250km from East 970 3I to 1030 3I. The most southern land extends down the
Malayan peninsula and borders with Malaysia. The country also borders with
Burma, Laos and Cambodia as well as the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Thailand.
Similarly, both Japan and Thailand have elevated landscapes. Japan physical
geography is described as rugged and mountainous. Over 80% of the land is at an
elevated level and there are 532 mountains over 2000 metres. The mountain ranges
extend across the islands from north to south. The main ranges are located
throughout the central areas of the four main islands. The highest mountain is
on Honshu, Mt Fuji is 3776m above sea level, other large mountains are Mt Kita,
3192m, Mt Hotaka 3190m and Mt Asahi 2290m. The lowest point is Hachiro-gata and
-4m below sea level. Thailand is described as a hilly country with some
mountains located in the North and South. The highest mountain is Inthanon
Mountain at 2595m; other substantial mountains are Luang Chiang Dao at 2182 and
Mt Mokochu at 1964m. There are many volcano located on the Japanese islands, of
which 60 are still active. There are over 1500 earthquakes reported each year,
most cause little or no damage but some can be disastrous. In contrast, there
are no active volcanoes in Thailand and only minor earthquakes occur. Japan
experiences seismic activity such as volcanoes and earthquakes because it is
located on the edge of large tectonic plates which are regularly moving. These
plates are what cause Japan to have such an elevated landform. Thailand only
experiences earthquakes because it is located on an area of folding and not the
edge of tectonic plates. Edges of the tectonic plates run throughout Asia and
have become known as 'the Pacific Ring of Fire'. Compared to Japan, Thailand has
very few forest and trees. Substantial amounts of land have been cleared for
agricultural purposes. Only 25% of the land has been left with coverings of
forests and woodlands. Japan has 68% of land surfaced with forests and
woodlands. 34% of Thailand's landmass is considered arable, which enables it to
be cultivated. In contrast, only 11% of Japanese land in considered arable. This
is because of the steep rugged land that is throughout Japan. Only 1% of Japan's
landmass has permanent crops being cultivated, whereas 6% of Thailand land has
permanent crops. Similar, Japan and Thailand both have 2 per-cent of their land
covered with permanent crops. Japan and Thailand are heavily reliant on the
production of rice and because of this the land must be saturated with water. In
Thailand 44 000 km2 of land is irrigated, on the other hand, only 27 820km2 of
Japanese land is also irrigated. Although this is a smaller amount, it is quite
considerable because of Japan's restricted land area. Japan has a wide variety
of minerals most of which are in quantities too small to provide for all of
Japans industry needs. Because of this many of Japan's industries must import
many minerals and raw materials, such as iron ore, bauxite and petroleum form
other countries. On the other hand, Thailand does not need to import large
amounts of minerals and raw materials. There are large supplies of tin, iron
ore, manganese, rubber, bauxite, natural gas, tungsten, tantalum, timber, lead,
gypsum, lignite and fluorite. Both countries have many large rivers systems but
they are vastly different. Thailandís rivers are deep, wide and slow moving;
the rivers are like this because Thailand is a relatively flat country. The
rivers enable many industries, such as the timber industry, to use the rivers to
transport logs down stream for milling. While on the contrary, Japanese rivers
are far too shallow, narrow and fast-flowing to be used for any purpose expect
for hydro-electricity schemes. Rivers play an important role in Thai life. Many
markets and sales take place in small boats along the river systems.
Thailandís major rivers are the Chao Phraya, Mekong, Chi and Mun. Japans major
rivers are the Shinano, Ishikari and Tenryu. Likewise both Japan and Thailand
have many lakes scattered though-out the countries. Many lakes in Japan have
been formed in the craters of 'extinct' volcanoes. Thailand and Japan have
opposing climates. Thailandís climate is categorised as tropical unlike
Japans, which is classed as a temperate climate. Japan climate alters with its
latitudinal range and elevation. The southern islands, Kyushu and Shikoku are
classed as sub-tropical with long, hot summers and mild winters. Hokkaido and
the northern reaches of Honshu have more of a temperate climate with short
summers and severe long winters. Thailand's climate does not indicate such
variation, although the Northern Mountains are cooler during the winter. Three
seasons can be recognised in Thailand. A rainy season takes place from June to
October, a cool season from November to February and a hot season from March to
May. Similarly both countries climates are influenced by monsoons. Thailand's
climate is influenced by a Southwest monsoon, which brings rain from June to
October. However, Japan is influenced by a southeastern monsoon, which also
delivers rain from June to October. The amount of rain Japan receives also
alters with latitudinal range and elevation. Hokkaido receives an average annual
rainfall of 1015 mm and the mountains of Honshu receive an average of 3810mm
yearly. In contrast Thailand's rainfall does not differentiate on a regional
basis. Bangkok, in central Thailand receives an average rainfall of 1400mm each
year and the southern peninsula is subject to an annual precipitation of 2500mm.
A significant distinction between the two countries is the fact that Japan
receives annual snowfalls whereas Thailand experiences predominantly hot and
humid conditions.

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