Jan 5, 2010

Tokyo - World's Most Populous Metropolitan Area

Tokyo (東京 Tōkyō), officially Tokyo Metropolis (東京都 Tōkyō-to), is one of the 47 prefectures of Japan and is located on the eastern side of the main island Honshū. Tokyo's government also administers the twenty-three special wards of Tokyo, each governed as a city, that cover the area that was once the city of Tokyo in the eastern part of the prefecture.

The population of the special wards is over 8 million people, with the total population of the prefecture exceeding 12 million. The prefecture is the center of the Greater Tokyo Area, the world's most populous metropolitan area with 35 to 39 million people (depending on definition) and the world's largest metropolitan economy with a GDP of US$1.479 trillion at purchasing power parity in 2008.

Tokyo was described by Saskia Sassen as one of the three "command centers" for the world economy, along with London and New York City. This city is considered an alpha+ world city, listed by the GaWC's 2008 inventory and ranked fourth among global cities by Foreign Policy's 2008 Global Cities Index. In 2009 Tokyo was named the world's most expensive city for expatriate employees, according to the Mercer and Economist Intelligence Unit cost-of-living surveys and named the third Most Liveable City and the World’s Most Livable Megalopolis by the magazine Monocle.

Tokyo is the seat of the Japanese government and the Imperial Palace, and the home of the Japanese Imperial Family.




Geography and administrative divisions

The mainland portion of Tokyo lies northwest of Tokyo Bay and measures about 90 km east to west and 25 km north to south. Chiba Prefecture borders it to the east, Yamanashi to the west, Kanagawa to the south, and Saitama to the north. Mainland Tokyo is further subdivided into the special wards (occupying the eastern half) and the Tama area (多摩地域) stretching westwards.

Also within the administrative boundaries of Tokyo Metropolis are two island chains in the Pacific Ocean directly south: the Izu Islands, and the Ogasawara Islands, which stretch more than 1,000 km away from the mainland. Because of these islands and mountainous regions to the west, Tokyo's overall population density figures far underrepresent the real figures for urban and suburban regions of Tokyo.

Under Japanese law, Tokyo is designated as a to (都), translated as metropolis. Its administrative structure is similar to that of Japan's other prefectures. Within Tokyo lie dozens of smaller entities, most of them conventionally referred to as cities. It includes twenty-three special wards (特別区 -ku) which until 1943 comprised the city of Tokyo but are now separate, self-governing municipalities, each with a mayor and a council, and having the status of a city.

In addition to these 23 municipalities, Tokyo also encompasses 26 more cities (市 -shi), five towns (町 -chō or machi), and eight villages (村 -son or -mura), each of which has a local government. The Tokyo Metropolitan Government is headed by a publicly elected governor and metropolitan assembly. Its headquarters are in the ward of Shinjuku. They govern all of Tokyo, including lakes, rivers, dams, farms, remote islands, and national parks in addition to its neon jungles, skyscrapers and crowded subways.




Demographics

As of October 2007, the official intercensal estimate showed 12.79 million people in Tokyo with 8.653 million living within Tokyo's 23 wards. During the daytime, the population swells by over 2.5 million as workers and students commute from adjacent areas. This effect is even more pronounced in the three central wards of Chiyoda, Chūō, and Minato, whose collective population as of the 2005 National Census was 326,000 at night, but 2.4 million during the day.

The entire prefecture had 12,790,000 residents in October 2007 (8,653,000 in 23 wards), with an increase of over 3 million in the day. Tokyo is at its highest population ever, while that of the 23 wards peak official count was 8,893,094 in the 1965 Census, with the count dipping below 8 million in the 1995 Census. People continue to move back into the core city as land prices have fallen dramatically.

As of 2005, the most common foreign nationalities found in Tokyo are Chinese (123,661), Korean (106,697), Filipino (31,077), American (18,848), British (7,696), Brazilian (5,300) and French (3,000).




List of metropolitan areas by population

The question of which are the world's largest cities is a complex one, to which there is no single correct answer, simply because there are many different ways of defining a "city".

One concept is that of the metropolitan area, which is based on the concept of a labor market area and is typically defined as an employment core (an area with a high density of available jobs) and the surrounding areas that have strong commuting ties to the core. There is currently no generally accepted, globally consistent definition of exactly what constitutes a metropolitan area, thus making comparisons between cities in different countries especially difficult.

One attempt at arriving at a consistently defined metropolitan area concept is the study by Richard Forstall, Richard Greene, and James Pick. The basic principles of their definition involve delineating the urban area as the core, then adding surrounding communities that meet two criteria: (1) Less than 35% of the resident workforce must be engaged in agriculture or fishing; and (2) At least 20% of the working residents commute to the urban core. Based on their consistently defined metropolitan area criteria, they tabulate a list of the twenty largest metropolitan areas in 2003. As population figures are interpreted and presented differently according to different methods of data collection, definitions and sources, these numbers should be viewed as approximate. Data from other sources may be equally valid but differ due to being measured according to different criteria or taken from different census years.




Architecture in Tokyo has largely been shaped by Tokyo's history. Twice in recent history has the metropolis been left in ruins: first in the 1923 Great Kantō earthquake and later after extensive firebombing in World War II. Because of this, Tokyo's current urban landscape is one of modern and contemporary architecture, and older buildings are scarce.

Tokyo also contains numerous parks and gardens.


 
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