On 5th March, 2006, a new Kitami City was born when Kitami City merged with the neighbouring towns of Tanno, Tokoro and Rubeshibe. The new Kitami City, population 130,000, is the largest and most central city of the Okhotsk region of eastern Hokkaido. Attractive urban areas and townscapes are set amid beautiful natural surroundings that change dramatically from season to season. Kitami is a natural growth point for the expansion of industry, commerce, information services, culture and sport. Businesses, universities and local government work together to increase the prosperity of the region by introducing new technology, developing new products and encouraging business coordination. Kitami enjoys one of Japan's highest counts of sunny days per year and is a leader in the use of solar energy.