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city, Ehime ken (prefecture), Shikoku, Japan. It lies on the Inland Sea coast. Originally a small fishing village, it grew after 1691 as a transit port for copper from an inland copper mine to Osaka. The foundation of modern smelting works (1883) and a hydroelectric company (1913) laid the basis of present industrialization in the city. The port was enlarged for the importation of foreign copper ores, and in the 1970s Niihama was the core of the East Ehime New Industrial City Program, producing copper, aluminum, chemicals, and machinery. Pop. (2005) 123,952.