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South Korea Facts

Overview and Location

Map of South KoreaKorea was an independent kingdom for much of the past millennium. Following its victory in the Russo-Japanese War in 1905, Japan occupied Korea; five years later it formally annexed the entire peninsula. After World War II, a Republic of Korea (ROK) was set up in the southern half of the Korean Peninsula while a Communist-style government was installed in the north (the DPRK). During the Korean War (1950-53), US troops and UN forces fought alongside soldiers from the ROK to defend South Korea from DPRK attacks supported by China and the Soviet Union. An armistice was signed in 1953, splitting the peninsula along a demilitarized zone at about the 38th parallel. Thereafter, South Korea achieved rapid economic growth with per capita income rising to roughly 14 times the level of North Korea. In 1993, KIM Yo’ng-sam became South Korea’s first civilian president following 32 years of military rule. South Korea today is a fully functioning modern democracy. In June 2000, a historic first North-South summit took place between the South’s President KIM Dae-jung and the North’s leader KIM Jong Il.

 


Government

Official Country Name: Republic of Korea (Taehan-min’guk)
Government Type: Republic
Established: 2333 BC
Capital: Seoul
Independence: 15 August 1945 (from Japan)
National holiday: Liberation Day, 15 August (1945)
Constitution: 17 July 1948

Land

North and South Korea sit at approximately the same latitude as Spain and Northern California. The peninsula is approximately 600 miles long and 200 miles wide at the widest point. 70% of South Korea is mountainous.

Total Area: 98,480 sq km (61,192 sq mi)
Comparative Area: Slightly larger than Indiana
Coastline: 2,413 km (1499 mi)
Climate: Temperate, with rainfall heavier in summer than winter – Same latitude as Northern California, Spain
Terrain: Mostly hills and mountains; wide coastal plains in west and south
Elevation Extremes: Sea of Japan 0m — Mt. Halla-san 1,950m (6397 ft)
Natural Resources: Coal, tungsten, graphite, molybdenum, lead, hydropower potential
Land Use: Arable land: 16.58% Permanent crops: 2.01% Other: 81.41%
Natural Hazards: Occasional typhoons bring high winds and floods; low-level seismic activity common in southwest

Weather (Seoul)

Average Temperature: 62F
Hottest Month: Aug (84F)
Coolest Month: Jan (37F)
Average Number of Days With Precip: 140
Average Number of Days With Snow: 25
Highest Recorded Temperature Since 1985: 98F
Lowest Recorded Temperature Since 1985: 1F

Monetary & Taxation

Currency: Korean Won (KRW)
Value Added Tax: 10% (Included in price of goods, additional on hotel bills)
Exchange Rate: $1 USD = 965 Korean Won (5/2006)
Time Zone: UTC+9

Demographics

Population: 48,846,823 (July 2006 est.)
Median Age: 35 years
Life Expectancy: 77 years
Ethnic Groups: Homogeneous (except for about 20,000 Chinese)
Religions: No affiliation 46%, Christian 26%, Buddhist 26%, Confucianist 1%, other 1%
Languages: Korean, English (widely taught in junior high and high school)
Literacy: 97.9%

Industrial Output

Labor Force: Agriculture: 6.4%. Industry: 26.4%. Services: 67.2%
Unemployment Rate: 3.7% (2005 est.)
Population Below Poverty Line: 15% (2003 est.)
Agriculture: Rice, root crops, barley, vegetables, fruit; cattle, pigs, chickens, milk, eggs; fish
Industries: Electronics, telecommunications, automobile production, chemicals, shipbuilding, steel

Military

Military Branches: Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, National Maritime Police (Coast Guard)
Military Service Age: 20-30 years of age for compulsory military service
Compulsory Military Service: 24-28 months, depending on the military branch involved

Information Courtesy: US Central Intelligence Agency

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