Palmyra is an ancient Semitic city in present-day Homs Governorate, Syria. Archaeological finds date back to the Neolithic period, documents first mention the city in the early second millennium BC. Palmyra changed hands on a number of occasions between different empires before becoming a subject of the Roman Empire in the first century AD; the city grew wealthy from trade caravans. Palmyra's wealth enabled the construction of monumental projects, such as the Great Colonnade, the Temple of Bel, the distinctive tower tombs. Ethnically, the Palmyrenes combined elements of Amorites and Arabs; the city's social structure was tribal, its inhabitants spoke Palmyrene, while using Greek for commercial and diplomatic purposes. Greco-Roman culture influenced the culture of Palmyra, which produced distinctive art and architecture that combined eastern and western traditions; the city's inhabitants worshiped local Semitic deities and Arab gods. By the third century AD Palmyra had become a prosperous regional center.
It reached the apex of its power in the 260s, when the Palmyrene King Odaenathus defeated Persian Emperor Shapur I. The king was succeeded by regent Queen Zenobia, who rebelled against Rome and established the Palmyrene Empire. In 273, Roman emperor Aurelian destroyed the city, restored by Diocletian at a reduced size; the Palmyrenes converted to Christianity during the fourth century and to Islam in the centuries following the conquest by the 7th-century Rashidun Caliphate, after which the Palmyrene and Greek languages were replaced by Arabic. Before AD 273, Palmyra enjoyed autonomy and was attached to the Roman province of Syria, having its political organization influenced by the Greek city-state model during the first two centuries AD; the city became a Roman colonia during the third century, leading to the incorporation of Roman governing institutions, before becoming a monarchy in 260. Following its destruction in 273, Palmyra became a minor center under the Byzantines and empires, its destruction by the Timurids in 1400 reduced it to a small village.
Under French Mandatory rule in 1932, the inhabitants were moved into the new village of Tadmur, the ancient site became available for excavations. During the Syrian Civil War in 2015, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant destroyed large parts of the ancient city, recaptured by the Syrian Army on 2 March 2017; the name "Tadmor" is known from the early second millennium BC. Aramaic Palmyrene inscriptions; the etymology of the name is unclear. The Greek name Παλμύρα is first recorded by Pliny the Elder in the 1st century AD, it was used throughout the Greco-Roman world. It is believed that "Palmyra" derives from "Tadmor" and two possibilities have been presented by linguists. According to the suggestion by Schultens, "Palmyra" could have arisen as a corruption of "Tadmor", via an unattested form "Talmura", changed to "Palmura" by influence of the Latin word palma, in reference to the city's palm trees the name reached its final form "Palmyra"; the second view, supported by some philologists, such as Jean Starcky, holds that Palmyra is a translation of "Tadmor", which had derived from the Greek word for palm, "Palame".
An alternative suggestion connects the name to the Syriac tedmurtā "miracle", hence tedmurtā "object of wonder", from the root dmr "to wonder". Michael Patrick O'Connor suggested that the names "Palmyra" and "Tadmor" originated in the Hurrian language; as evidence, he cited the inexplicability of alterations to the theorized roots of both names. According to this theory, "Tadmor" derives from the Hurrian word tad with the addition of the typical Hurrian mid vowel rising formant mar. According to this theory, "Palmyra" derives from the Hurrian word pal using the same mVr formant. Palmyra lies 215 km northeast of Damascus, in an oasis surrounded by palms. Two mountain ranges overlook the city. In the south and the east Palmyra is exposed to the Syrian Desert. A small wadi crosses the area, flowing from the western hills past the city before disappearing in the eastern gardens of the oasis. South of the wadi is Efqa. Pliny the Elder described the town in the 70s AD as famous for its desert location, the richness of its soil, the springs surrounding it, which made agriculture and herding possible.
Palmyra began as a small settlement near the Efqa spring on the southern bank of Wadi al-Qubur. The settlement, known as the Hellenistic settlement, had residences expanding to the wadi's northern bank during the first century. Although the city's walls enclosed an extensive area on both b
The Kama Sutra is an ancient Indian Sanskrit text on sexuality and emotional fulfillment in life. Attributed to Vātsyāyana, the Kama Sutra is neither nor predominantly a sex manual on sex positions, but written as a guide to the "art-of-living" well, the nature of love, finding a life partner, maintaining one's love life, other aspects pertaining to pleasure-oriented faculties of human life. Kamasutra is the oldest surviving Hindu text on erotic love, it is a sutra-genre text with terse aphoristic verses that have survived into the modern era with different bhasya. The text is a mix of prose and anustubh-meter poetry verses; the text acknowledges the Hindu concept of Purusharthas, lists desire and emotional fulfillment as one of the proper goals of life. Its chapters discuss methods for courtship, training in the arts to be engaging, finding a partner, maintaining power in a married life and how to commit adultery, sexual positions, other topics; the majority of the book is about the philosophy and theory of love, what triggers desire, what sustains it, how and when it is good or bad.
The text is one of many Indian texts on Kama Shastra. It is a much-translated work in non-Indian languages; the Kamasutra has influenced many secondary texts that followed after the 4th-century CE, as well as the Indian arts as exemplified by the pervasive presence Kama-related reliefs and sculpture in old Hindu temples. Of these, the Khajuraho in Madhya Pradesh is a UNESCO world heritage site. Among the surviving temples in north India, one in Rajasthan sculpts all the major chapters and sexual positions to illustrate the Kamasutra. According to Wendy Doniger, the Kamasutra became "one of the most pirated books in English language" soon after it was published in 1883 by Richard Burton; this first European edition by Burton does not faithfully reflect much in the Kamasutra because he revised the collaborative translation by Bhagavanlal Indrajit and Shivaram Parashuram Bhide with Forster Arbuthnot to suit 19th-century Victorian tastes. The original composition date or century for the Kamasutra is unknown.
Historians have variously placed it between 400 BCE and 300 CE. According to John Keay, the Kama Sutra is a compendium, collected into its present form in the 2nd century CE. In contrast, the Indologist Wendy Doniger who has co-translated Kama sutra and published many papers on related Hindu texts, the surviving version of the Kamasutra must have been revised or composed after 225 CE because it mentions the Abhiras and the Andhras dynasties that did not co-rule major regions of ancient India before that year; the text makes no mention of the Gupta Empire which ruled over major urban areas of ancient India, reshaping ancient Indian arts, Hindu culture and economy from the 4th-century through the 6th-century. For these reasons, she dates the Kama sutra to the second half of the 3rd-century CE; the place of its composition is unclear. The candidates are urban centers of north or northwest ancient India, alternatively in the eastern urban Pataliputra. Vatsyayana Mallanaga is its accepted author because his name is embedded in the colophon verse, but little is known about him.
Vatsyayana states. In the preface, Vatsyayana acknowledges that he is distilling many ancient texts, but these have not survived, he cites the work of others he calls "teachers" and "scholars", the longer texts by Auddalaki, Dattaka, Ghotakamukha, Gonikaputra and Kuchumara. Vatsyayana's Kamasutra is mentioned and some verses quoted in the Brihatsamhita of Varahamihira, as well as the poems of Kalidasa; this suggests he lived before the 5th-century CE. The Hindu tradition has the concept of the Purusharthas which outlines "four main goals of life", it holds that every human being has four proper goals that are necessary and sufficient for a fulfilling and happy life: Dharma – signifies behaviors that are considered to be in accord with rta, the order that makes life and universe possible, includes duties, laws, conduct and right way of living. Hindu dharma includes the religious duties, moral rights and duties of each individual, as well as behaviors that enable social order, right conduct, those that are virtuous.
Dharma, according to Van Buitenen, is that which all existing beings must accept and respect to sustain harmony and order in the world. It is, states Van Buitenen, the pursuit and execution of one's nature and true calling, thus playing one's role in cosmic concert. Artha – signifies the "means of life", activities and resources that enables one to be in a state one wants to be in. Artha incorporates wealth, activity to make a living, financial security and economic prosperity; the proper pursuit of artha is considered an important aim of human life in Hinduism. Kama – signifies desire, passion, pleasure of the senses, the aesthetic enjoyment of life, affection, or love, with or without sexual connotations. Gavin Flood explains kāma as "love" without violating dharma and one's journey towards moksha. Moksha – signifies emancipation, liberation or release. In some schools of Hinduism, moksha connotes freedom from saṃsāra, the cycle of death and rebirth, in other schools moksha connotes freedom, self-knowledge, self-realization and liberation in this life.
Each of these pursuits became a subject of study and led to prolific Sanskrit and some Prakrit languages literature in ancient India. Along with Dharmasastras and Mokshasastras, the Kamasastras genre have been preserved in palm leaf manuscripts; the K
Tikal is the ruin of an ancient city, to have been called Yax Mutal, found in a rainforest in Guatemala. It is one of the largest archaeological sites and urban centers of the pre-Columbian Maya civilization, it is located in the archaeological region of the Petén Basin in. Situated in the department of El Petén, the site is part of Guatemala's Tikal National Park and in 1979 it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Tikal was the capital of a conquest state that became one of the most powerful kingdoms of the ancient Maya. Though monumental architecture at the site dates back as far as the 4th century BC, Tikal reached its apogee during the Classic Period, c. 200 to 900 AD. During this time, the city dominated much of the Maya region politically and militarily, while interacting with areas throughout Mesoamerica such as the great metropolis of Teotihuacan in the distant Valley of Mexico. There is evidence that Tikal was conquered by Teotihuacan in the 4th century CE. Following the end of the Late Classic Period, no new major monuments were built at Tikal and there is evidence that elite palaces were burned.
These events were coupled with a gradual population decline, culminating with the site’s abandonment by the end of the 10th century. Tikal is the best understood of any of the large lowland Maya cities, with a long dynastic ruler list, the discovery of the tombs of many of the rulers on this list and the investigation of their monuments and palaces; the name Tikal may be derived from ti ak'al in the Yucatec Maya language. The name was applied to one of the site's ancient reservoirs by hunters and travelers in the region, it has alternatively been interpreted as meaning "the place of the voices" in the Itza Maya language. Tikal, however, is not the ancient name for the site but rather the name adopted shortly after its discovery in the 1840s. Hieroglyphic inscriptions at the ruins refer to the ancient city as Yax Mutal or Yax Mutul, meaning "First Mutal". Tikal may have come to have been called this because Dos Pilas came to use the same emblem glyph; the kingdom as a whole was called Mutul, the reading of the "hair bundle" emblem glyph seen in the accompanying photo.
Its precise meaning remains obscure. The closest large modern settlements are Flores and Santa Elena 64 kilometres by road to the southwest. Tikal is 303 kilometres north of Guatemala City, it is 19 kilometres south of the contemporary Maya city of Uaxactun and 30 kilometres northwest of Yaxha. The city was located 100 kilometres southeast of its great Classic Period rival, 85 kilometres northwest of Calakmul's ally Caracol, now in Belize; the city has been mapped and covered an area greater than 16 square kilometres that included about 3,000 structures. The topography of the site consists of a series of parallel limestone ridges rising above swampy lowlands; the major architecture of the site is clustered upon areas of higher ground and linked by raised causeways spanning the swamps. The area around Tikal has been declared as the Tikal National Park and the preserved area covers 570 square kilometres, it was created on 26 May 1955 under the auspices of the Instituto de Antropología e Historia and was the first protected area in Guatemala.
The ruins lie among the tropical rainforests of northern Guatemala that formed the cradle of lowland Maya civilization. The city itself was located among abundant fertile upland soils, may have dominated a natural east–west trade route across the Yucatan Peninsula. Conspicuous trees at the Tikal park include gigantic kapok the sacred tree of the Maya. Regarding the fauna, white-nosed coatis, gray foxes, Geoffroy's spider monkeys, howler monkeys, harpy eagles, ocellated turkeys, toucans, green parrots and leafcutter ants can be seen there regularly. Jaguars and cougars are said to roam in the park. Tikal had no water other than what was stored in ten reservoirs. Archaeologists working in Tikal during the 20th century refurbished one of these ancient reservoirs to store water for their own use; the average annual rainfall at Tikal is 1,945 millimetres. However, the arrival of rain was unpredictable, long period of drought could occur before the crops ripen, which threatened the inhabitants of the city.
Population estimates for Tikal vary from 10,000 to as high as 90,000 inhabitants, with the most figure being at the upper end of this range. The population of Tikal began a continuous curve of growth starting in the Preclassic Period, with a peak in the Late Classic with the population growing from AD 700 through to 830, followed by a sharp decline. For the 120 square kilometres area falling within the earthwork defenses of the hinterland, the peak population is estimated at 517 per square kilometer. In an area within a 12 kilometres radius of the site core, peak population is estimated at 120,000. In a region within a 25 kilometres radius of the site core and including some satellite sites, peak population is estimated at 425,000 with a density of 216 per square kilometer; these population figures are more impressive because of the extensive swampland
Egypt (Roman province)
The Roman province of Egypt was established in 30 BC after Octavian defeated his rival Mark Antony, deposed Pharaoh Cleopatra, annexed the Ptolemaic Kingdom to the Roman Empire. The province encompassed most of modern-day Egypt except for the Sinai Peninsula. Aegyptus was bordered by the provinces of Crete and Cyrenaica to Judea to the East; the province came to serve as a major producer of grain for the empire and had a developed urban economy. Aegyptus was by far the wealthiest Eastern Roman province, by far the wealthiest Roman province outside of Italia. In Alexandria, its capital, it possessed the largest port, the second largest city of the Roman Empire; as a key province, but the'crown domain' where the emperors succeeded the divine Pharaohs, Egypt was ruled by a uniquely styled Praefectus augustalis, instead of the traditional senatorial governor of other Roman provinces. The prefect was appointed by the Emperor; the first prefect of Aegyptus, Gaius Cornelius Gallus, brought Upper Egypt under Roman control by force of arms, established a protectorate over the southern frontier district, abandoned by the Ptolemies.
The second prefect, Aelius Gallus, made an unsuccessful expedition to conquer Arabia Petraea and Arabia Felix. The Red Sea coast of Aegyptus was not brought under Roman control until the reign of Claudius; the third prefect, Gaius Petronius, cleared the neglected canals for irrigation, stimulating a revival of agriculture. Petronius led a campaign into present-day central Sudan against the Kingdom of Kush at Meroe, whose queen Imanarenat had attacked Roman Egypt. Failing to acquire permanent gains, in 22 BC he razed the city of Napata to the ground and retreated to the north. From the reign of Nero onward, Aegyptus enjoyed an era of prosperity. Much trouble was caused by religious conflicts between the Greeks and the Jews in Alexandria, which after the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 became the world centre of Jewish religion and culture. Under Trajan a Jewish revolt occurred, resulting in the suppression of the Jews of Alexandria and the loss of all their privileges, although they soon returned.
Hadrian, who twice visited Aegyptus, founded Antinopolis in memory of his drowned lover Antinous. From his reign onward buildings in the Greco-Roman style were erected throughout the country Under Antoninus Pius oppressive taxation led to a revolt in 139, of the native Egyptians, suppressed only after several years of fighting; this Bucolic War, led by one Isidorus, caused great damage to the economy and marked the beginning of Egypt's economic decline. Avidius Cassius, who led the Roman forces in the war, declared himself emperor in 175, was acknowledged by the armies of Syria and Aegyptus. On the approach of Marcus Aurelius, Cassius was deposed and killed and the clemency of the emperor restored peace. A similar revolt broke out in 193, when Pescennius Niger was proclaimed emperor on the death of Pertinax; the Emperor Septimius Severus gave a constitution to Alexandria and the provincial capitals in 202. Caracalla granted Roman citizenship to all Egyptians, in common with the other provincials, but this was to extort more taxes, which grew onerous as the needs of the emperors for more revenue grew more desperate.
There was a series of revolts, both civilian, through the 3rd century. Under Decius, in 250, the Christians again suffered from persecution, but their religion continued to spread; the prefect of Aegyptus in 260, Mussius Aemilianus, first supported the Macriani, usurpers during the rule of Gallienus, in 261, became a usurper himself, but was defeated by Gallienus. Zenobia, queen of Palmyra, took the country away from the Romans when she conquered Aegyptus in 269, declaring herself the Queen of Egypt also; this warrior queen claimed that Egypt was an ancestral home of hers through a familial tie to Cleopatra VII. She was well educated and familiar with the culture of Egypt, its religion, its language, she lost it when the Roman emperor, severed amicable relations between the two countries and retook Egypt in 274. Two generals based in Aegyptus and Domitius Domitianus, led successful revolts and made themselves emperors. Diocletian reorganised the whole province, his edict of 303 against the Christians began a new era of persecution.
This was the last serious attempt to stem the steady growth of Christianity in Egypt, however. As Rome overtook the Ptolemaic system in place for areas of Egypt, they made many changes; the effect of the Roman conquest was at first to strengthen the position of the Greeks and of Hellenism against Egyptian influences. Some of the previous offices and names of offices under the Hellenistic Ptolemaic rule were kept, some were changed, some names would have remained but the function and administration would have changed; the Romans introduced important changes in the administrative system, aimed at achieving a high level of efficiency and maximizing revenue. The duties of the prefect of Aegyptus combined responsibility for military security through command of the legions and cohorts, for the organization of finance and taxation, for the administration of justice; the reforms of the early 4th century had established the basis for another 250 years of comparative prosperity in Aegyptus, at a cost of greater rigidity and more oppressive state control.
Aegyptus was subdivided for administrative purposes into a number of smaller provinces, s
Mexico the United Mexican States, is a country in the southern portion of North America. It is bordered to the north by the United States. Covering 2,000,000 square kilometres, the nation is the fifth largest country in the Americas by total area and the 13th largest independent state in the world. With an estimated population of over 120 million people, the country is the eleventh most populous state and the most populous Spanish-speaking state in the world, while being the second most populous nation in Latin America after Brazil. Mexico is a federation comprising 31 states and Mexico City, a special federal entity, the capital city and its most populous city. Other metropolises in the state include Guadalajara, Puebla, Tijuana and León. Pre-Columbian Mexico dates to about 8000 BC and is identified as one of five cradles of civilization and was home to many advanced Mesoamerican civilizations such as the Olmec, Teotihuacan, Zapotec and Aztec before first contact with Europeans. In 1521, the Spanish Empire conquered and colonized the territory from its politically powerful base in Mexico-Tenochtitlan, administered as the viceroyalty of New Spain.
Three centuries the territory became a nation state following its recognition in 1821 after the Mexican War of Independence. The post-independence period was tumultuous, characterized by economic inequality and many contrasting political changes; the Mexican–American War led to a territorial cession of the extant northern territories to the United States. The Pastry War, the Franco-Mexican War, a civil war, two empires, the Porfiriato occurred in the 19th century; the Porfiriato was ended by the start of the Mexican Revolution in 1910, which culminated with the promulgation of the 1917 Constitution and the emergence of the country's current political system as a federal, democratic republic. Mexico has the 11th largest by purchasing power parity; the Mexican economy is linked to those of its 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement partners the United States. In 1994, Mexico became the first Latin American member of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, it is classified as an upper-middle income country by the World Bank and a newly industrialized country by several analysts.
The country is considered both a regional power and a middle power, is identified as an emerging global power. Due to its rich culture and history, Mexico ranks first in the Americas and seventh in the world for number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Mexico is an ecologically megadiverse country, ranking fourth in the world for its biodiversity. Mexico receives a huge number of tourists every year: in 2018, it was the sixth most-visited country in the world, with 39 million international arrivals. Mexico is a member of the United Nations, the World Trade Organization, the G8+5, the G20, the Uniting for Consensus group of the UN, the Pacific Alliance trade bloc. Mēxihco is the Nahuatl term for the heartland of the Aztec Empire, namely the Valley of Mexico and surrounding territories, with its people being known as the Mexica, it is believed to be a toponym for the valley which became the primary ethnonym for the Aztec Triple Alliance as a result, although it could have been the other way around.
In the colonial era, back when Mexico was called New Spain this territory became the Intendency of Mexico and after New Spain achieved independence from the Spanish Empire it came to be known as the State of Mexico with the new country being named after its capital: the City of Mexico, which itself was founded in 1524 on top of the ancient Mexica capital of Mexico-Tenochtitlan. Traditionally, the name Tenochtitlan was thought to come from Nahuatl tetl and nōchtli and is thought to mean "Among the prickly pears rocks". However, one attestation in the late 16th-century manuscript known as "the Bancroft dialogues" suggests the second vowel was short, so that the true etymology remains uncertain; the suffix -co is the Nahuatl locative, making the word a place name. Beyond that, the etymology is uncertain, it has been suggested that it is derived from Mextli or Mēxihtli, a secret name for the god of war and patron of the Mexica, Huitzilopochtli, in which case Mēxihco means "place where Huitzilopochtli lives".
Another hypothesis suggests that Mēxihco derives from a portmanteau of the Nahuatl words for "moon" and navel. This meaning might refer to Tenochtitlan's position in the middle of Lake Texcoco; the system of interconnected lakes, of which Texcoco formed the center, had the form of a rabbit, which the Mesoamericans pareidolically associated with the moon rabbit. Still another hypothesis suggests that the word is derived from Mēctli, the name of the goddess of maguey; the name of the city-state was transliterated to Spanish as México with the phonetic value of the letter x in Medieval Spanish, which represented the voiceless postalveolar fricative. This sound, as well as the voiced postalveolar fricative, represented by a j, evolved into a voiceless velar fricative during the 16th century; this led to the use of the variant Méjico in many publications in Spanish, most notably in Spain, whereas in Mexico and most other Spanish–speaking countries, México was the preferred spelling. In recent years, the Real Academia Española, which regulates the Spanish l
Lullingstone is a village in the county of Kent, England. It is best known for Roman villa and its public golf course. Lullingstone was a civil parish until 1955; the parish was in its successor Dartford Rural District. It is believed that an Iron Age hill fort is sited on the hill above the castle, although this is unconfirmed. Lullingstone Roman villa was discovered in 1939, is believed to have been built around 100 AD, it contains some of the finest excavated remains of a Roman villa in Britain, including a Romano-Christian chapel, displaying some of the earliest evidence of Christianity in Britain. Nearby is the site of a decoy airfield for the nearby Biggin Hill airfield. Known as a Q-site, this was intended to entice bombers to misinterpret it as Biggin Hill. In 1937 a plan was announced to create an airport the size of Heathrow in Lullingstone; the area of land had been reserved and construction of Lullingstone railway station to serve the site began. The proposal was abandoned at the outbreak of World War II.
Lullingstone Country Park was established in the 20th century. Farningham Eynsford Swanley Sevenoaks Chelsfield Petts Wood St Mary Cray Farnborough uk-golfguide.com kentattractions.co.uk lullingstonecastle.co.uk kentarchaeology.org.uk
History of Japan
The first human habitation in the Japanese archipelago has been traced to prehistoric times. The Jōmon period, named after its "cord-marked" pottery, was followed by the Yayoi in the first millennium BC when new technologies were introduced from continental Asia. During this period, the first known written reference to Japan was recorded in the Chinese Book of Han in the first century AD. Between the fourth century and the ninth century, Japan's many kingdoms and tribes came to be unified under a centralized government, nominally controlled by the Emperor; this imperial dynasty continues to reign over Japan. In 794, a new imperial capital was established at Heian-kyō, marking the beginning of the Heian period, which lasted until 1185; the Heian period is considered a golden age of classical Japanese culture. Japanese religious life from this time and onwards was a mix of native Shinto practices and Buddhism. Over the following centuries, the power of the Emperor and the imperial court declined and passed to the military clans and their armies of samurai warriors.
The Minamoto clan under Minamoto no Yoritomo emerged victorious from the Genpei War of 1180–85. After seizing power, Yoritomo took the title of shōgun. In 1274 and 1281, the Kamakura shogunate withstood two Mongol invasions, but in 1333 it was toppled by a rival claimant to the shogunate, ushering in the Muromachi period. During the Muromachi period regional warlords called daimyōs grew in power at the expense of the shōgun. Japan descended into a period of civil war. Over the course of the late sixteenth century, Japan was reunified under the leadership of the daimyō Oda Nobunaga and his successor Toyotomi Hideyoshi. After Hideyoshi's death in 1598, Tokugawa Ieyasu came to power and was appointed shōgun by the Emperor; the Tokugawa shogunate, which governed from Edo, presided over a prosperous and peaceful era known as the Edo period. The Tokugawa shogunate imposed a strict class system on Japanese society and cut off all contact with the outside world. Portugal and Japan started their first affiliation in 1543, making the Portuguese the first Europeans to reach Japan by landing in the southern archipelago of Japan.
The Netherlands was the first to establish trade relations with Japan, Japan–Netherlands relations dating back to 1609. The American Perry Expedition in 1853–54 more ended Japan's seclusion; the new national leadership of the following Meiji period transformed the isolated feudal island country into an empire that followed Western models and became a great power. Although democracy developed and modern civilian culture prospered during the Taishō period, Japan's powerful military had great autonomy and overruled Japan's civilian leaders in the 1920s and 1930s; the military invaded Manchuria in 1931, from 1937 the conflict escalated into a prolonged war with China. Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941 led to war with its allies. Japan's forces soon became overextended, but the military held out in spite of Allied air attacks that inflicted severe damage on population centers. Emperor Hirohito announced Japan's unconditional surrender on 15 August 1945, following the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the Soviet invasion of Manchuria.
The Allies occupied Japan until 1952, during which a new constitution was enacted in 1947 that transformed Japan into a constitutional monarchy. After 1955, Japan enjoyed high economic growth, became a world economic powerhouse. Since the 1990s, economic stagnation has been a major issue. An earthquake, tsunami in 2011 caused massive economic dislocations and a serious nuclear power disaster; the mountainous Japanese archipelago stretches northeast to southwest 3,000 km off the east of the Asian continent at the convergence of four tectonic plates. The steep, craggy mountains that cover two-thirds of its surface are prone to quick erosion from fast-flowing rivers and to mudslides, they have hampered internal travel and communication and driven the population to rely on transportation along coastal waters. There is a great variety to its regions' geographical features and weather patterns, with a Wet season, in most parts in early summer. Volcanic soil that washes along the 13% of the area that makes up the coastal plains provides fertile land, the temperate climate allows long growing seasons, which with the diversity of flora and fauna provide rich resources able to support the density of the population.
A accepted periodization of Japanese history: Land bridges, during glacial periods when the world sea level is lower, have periodically linked the Japanese archipelago to the Asian continent via Sakhalin Island in the north and via the Ryukyu Islands and Taiwan in the south since the beginning of the current Quaternary glaciation 2.58 million years ago. There may have been a land bridge to Korea in the southwest, though not in the 125,000 years or so since the start of the last interglacial; the Korea Strait was, quite narrow at the Last Glacial Maximum from 25,000 to 20,000 years BP. The earliest firm evidence of human habitation is of early Upper Paleolithic hunter-gatherers from 40,000 years ago, when Japan was separated from the continent. Edge-ground axes dating to 32–38,000 years ago found in 224 sites in Honshu and Kyushu are unlike anything found in neighbouring areas of continental Asia, have been proposed as evidence for the first Homo sapiens in Japan. Radiocarbon dating has shown that the earliest fossils in