The Empire of Japan, with its over 41,-000,000 subjects, stands next to China in importance among the independent governments of Asia. In fact, in point of progress and development, both in its people and its resources, it is far ahead of any other Asiatic country. The kingdom consists entirely of islands (nearly 4,000 in number), embracing an area of nearly 150,000 square miles, containing mountains, streams, forests, and a well-cultivated soil, teeming with every variety of agricultural produce. The total length of the country is 2,450 miles and its area about 180 000 square miles, The coasts are indented by splendid harbors. The mountains are rich in minerals. The gold mines of Matsumai have long been celebrated. Silver, copper (the chief mineral), iron and sulphur abound; also several varieties of precious stones. It possesses also ample deposits of coal. Among the most remarkable of its vegetable products is the varnish tree, with the juice of which the natives lacquer or "japan" their furniture. The camphor and vegetable-wax trees, the paper mulberry, the chestnut, oak, pine, beech, elm, maple, cypress, etc., are also noteworthy ; the wagreen oak and the maple being the finest of all Japanese trees. Bamboos, palms, bananas, etc., also flourish. The tobacco-plant, tea-shrub, potato, rice, wheat, and other cereals, are all cultivated, - agriculture, upon which the people bestow great care and which they thoroughly understand, being their chief occupation ; in fact, nothing can surpass their diligent and successful husbandry. The floral kingdom is rich, beautiful and varied. The fruits comprise those of the temperate zone, together with such semi-tropical varieties as the orange, lemon, and fig. The chief manufacturing industries are those of silk and cotton, lacquering, and porcelain, in which they are said to excel the Chinese; also lithochromo printing, engraving, etc. The leading commodities exported are copper, camphor, tea, silk, japanned ware, painted paper, etc. The internal trade of Japan is very extensive, and rigid regulations are in force to protect and encourage home industry. Foreign commerce was, until of quite recent date, completely excluded. In 1854, however, treaties were entered into with the United States and Great Britain, and in following years with others of the European States, by which the ports of Nagasaki, Kanagawa (Yokohama), Hiogo, Osaka-Nu-gata, and Hakodadi were thrown open to foreign traffic.
Since the China-Japanese War in 1895, the country has been practically as accessible to the commerce and enterprise of the world as that of any other civilized nation, and the manufacturing and business spirit of the Japs has won for themselves the title of "the Yankees of the East." The empire is politically subdivided into provinces, departments and districts, formerly governed by upwards of 200 princes called Daimios, each of whom held absolute power over his own jurisdiction ; in 1870-71, these princes were made subordinate to the Mikado, or supreme 786 ruler of the empire. This Mikado, or emperor, is considered of semi-divine origin, and was until quite recently invisible to the people at large. The Japanese army has latterly been reconstituted after the European manner. The navy consists of several splendid fighting ships, built in the United States and England. A railroad 517 miles in length connects the cities of Yeddo and Kioto, and many shorter lines have been and are being built to keep pace with the growing spirit of trade and progress which within the last decade of the nineteenth century became the great passion of the nation, collectively and individually. Telegraphic communication was opened first with China in 1870 and quickly extended to all other countries.
In view of the fact that Japan has concluded a victorious war with Russia, proving herself to be a world power to be reckoned with in 1905, it is hardly possible to realize that this nation has been considered as civilized for scarcely more than fifty years. In 1867 the first Japanese embassies were sent out to Europe. Since then her statesmen and students have gone officially to all foreign courts; and as students - some at the government's expense- large numbers of her young men have been sent to the leading institutions of learning iu Europe and America, to study not only the lore of the books, but, more especially, to learn what the Westerner knows outside cf books, in business and everywhere, that it might be taken back for " home improvement." The fruitage of this planting has been remarkable for its quickness and abundance. No other people of modern times, if, indeed, in any age, have advanced so rapidly in the threefold sense of material, educational and governmental progress as have the Japanese.