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Node.js is a free and open-source runtime environment that allows developers to run JavaScript on the server side. It is built on Chrome's V8 JavaScript engine and is designed to be lightweight and efficient, making it well-suited for building scalable and real-time web applications. Node.js is based on an event-driven, non-blocking I/O model, which makes it ideal for building high-concurrency applications that can handle a large number of concurrent connections without requiring the use of threads. This makes it well-suited for building real-time web applications such as chat rooms, online games, and real-time data dashboards.