an economic region of Japan, in the southwestern part of the island of Honshu. Chugoku is divided into a southern part, called Sanyo (Okayama, Hiroshima, and Yamaguchi prefectures), and a northern part, called Sanin (Tottori and Shimane prefectures). The area is approximately 32,000 sq km, and the population exceeds 7 million, 64 percent of which is urban. The largest cities are Hiroshima, Okayama, Shimonoseki, and Kure.
The topography of Chugoku is for the most part mountainous; elevations in the Chugoku Mountains reach 1,713 m (Mount Dai). To the north and south of the mountain range are lowlands and rolling plains. The region has a tropical, monsoonal climate.
Chugoku is an industrial and agricultural region. Of those employed, 30.6 percent work in agriculture, forestry, and maritime industries, and 28 percent work in manufacturing and mining. The region accounts for 8 percent of Japan’s gross industrial output. The mining industry produces coal, copper, pyrites, molybdenum (90 percent of the country’s total), uranium ore, tin, and tungsten. A significant part of the rapidly growing manufacturing industry is concentrated in Sanyo, Sanin being mainly agricultural. The region’s chemical industry accounts for more than 10 percent of total Japanese output. In addition to metallurgy and oil refining, Chugoku has petrochemical, woodworking, machinebuilding (mainly ships, aircraft, and transportation equipment), and textile industries. Industrial enterprises are concentrated in a belt along the coasts of the Seto and Suo seas in such large industrial centers and ports as Hiroshima, Shimonoseki, and Kure.
Approximately 500,000 hectares of land are cultivated, the main crops being rice (requiring irrigation; 900,000 tons harvested in 1971), barley, wheat, soya, and sweet potatoes. Citrus fruits, pears, and peaches are grown, and there is also sericulture, viticulture, tobacco cultivation, and animal husbandry for meat and dairy products. Industries on the coast include fishing and salt production.