Chitose is located at a latitude of 42 degrees north, and borders Sapporo, the political, economic and cultural center of Hokkaido. The city is also situated in south-central Hokkaido and at the southern end of the Ishikari Plain. At New Chitose Airport (one of Japan’s major hubs), 33 domestic routes, 11 international routes to six countries and 21 international charter routes to 13 countries are in service (as of 2007). Additionally, Tomakomai Port, which hosts international container routes, is located approximately 26 km from the city center (30 minutes by car). The city is constantly developing as a domestic and international physical distribution base as well as an important transportation hub.
Chitose is also located at a turnoff, and is influenced by the weather conditions of the Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Japan. The maximum temperature in summer is approximately 30˚C, while the average annual temperature is about 7˚C. The city has a comfortable inland climate – it is hardly affected by the rainy season or typhoons, and has less snowfall than the rest of the prefecture.
The population of Chitose is 92,907 (as of January 1, 2008, according to the Basic Resident Register), and the average age of its citizens is 39.4 years old (2005 national census). Taking advantage of the area’s energy as the youngest city in Hokkaido, focus is placed on the development of attractive, comfortable communities to help promote wellbeing and cultural activities for residents. Chitose is also known as a host city to the Self-Defense Forces, housing both a Ground Self-Defense Force base and an Air Self-Defense Force base.
In agriculture, Chitose has many large-scale upland farms where wheat, soybeans, adzuki beans, kidney beans and sugar beet are primarily cultivated. Livestock farming for dairy cows, beef cows and layers is also thriving. In fisheries, the Chitose River has been a source of parent salmon and trout as well as a site for hatching and release since the Meiji era, and the city plays a central role in the prefecture’s salmon and trout breeding programs. Additionally, Lake Shikotsu, which is renowned for kokanee salmon fishing, plays host to a kokanee salmon hatching and release program implemented for resource conservation and breeding purposes. Approximately 80% of the forests and wilderness areas, which account for 56% of the city’s total area, are national forests, spreading from the western urban district to Shikotsu-Toya National Park.
In industry, Chitose is touted as the ideal place for industrial activities in Hokkaido because raw materials and products can be transported by land, air and sea, and first-rate manpower is available. The municipal industrial complex, developed in 1964, has been expanded, and efforts are made to actively attract businesses to it. As of fiscal 2007, more than 230 businesses were located in the complex. The city is also striving to become a center of expertise in photonics and optical technology, and the newly launched government-industry-academia program centering on the Chitose Institute of Science and Technology is also attracting worldwide attention.