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Hokkaido Geography

Surrounded by the Sea of Japan, the Okhotsk Sea and the Pacific Ocean, Hokkaido is an island, with its adjacent islands, that measures 83,455 km2 in area, approximately 22% of the nation's total land area. Hokkaido is situated in the northern part of the Japanese archipelago at about the same latitude as such major world cities as Chicago, Montreal and Rome. Taking advantage of its geographical location, it aims to become a hub linking northern regions with the Asia-Pacific region.

The island of Hokkaido is located at the north end of Japan, near Russia, and has coastlines on the Sea of Japan, the Sea of Okhotsk, and the Pacific Ocean. The center of the island has a number of mountains and volcanic plateaus, and there are coastal plains in all directions. Major cities include Sapporo and Asahikawa in the central region and the port of Hakodate facing Honshu.

The governmental jurisdiction of Hokkaido incorporates several smaller islands, including Rishiri, Okushiri Island, and Rebun. (By Japanese reckoning, Hokkaido also incorporates several of the Kuril Islands.) Because the prefectural status of Hokkaido is denoted by the dō in its name, it is rarely referred to as "Hokkaido Prefecture", except when necessary to distinguish the governmental entity from the island.

The island ranks 21st in the world by area. It is 3.6% smaller than the island of Ireland while Hispaniola is 6.1% smaller than Hokkaido. By population it ranks 20th, between Ireland and Sicily. Hokkaido's population is 4.7% less than that of the island of Ireland, and Sicily's is 12% lower than Hokkaido's.

Seismic activity
Like the rest of Japan, Hokkaido is seismically active. Aside from numerous earthquakes, the following volcanoes are still considered active (at least one eruption since 1850):

   * Mount Koma
   * Mount Usu and Showashinzan
   * Mount Tarumae
   * Mount Tokachi
   * Mount Meakan

In 1993, an earthquake of magnitude 7.8 generated a tsunami which devastated Okushiri, killing 202. An earthquake of magnitude 8.0 struck near the island on September 25, 2003, at 19:50:07 (UTC).
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