Area and geographical features
The Korean peninsula borders China and the Soviet Union
to the north and extends southwards to within 70 miles
of Japan. The peninsula is c 600 miles in length and is
flanked by the East Sea and the Yellow Sea. To the south
it is separated from Japan by the Korean Straits.
The Republic of Korea occupies the southern half of the
peninsula, below the 38th parallel. It is separated from
the Democratic People's Republic of Korea by a 4 km wide
Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). With an area of 38,279 square
About two thirds of the terrain is mountainous and rugged,
especially in the east. The principal lowland areas are
located in the west. Only about 20% of the land is arable
- concentrated in the river valleys and coastal river
basins. Soils are generally poor and there are few mineral
The population of South Korea is nearly 47 million (1999),
with a growth rate of around 1% per year. The population
is heavily urbanized: 70% of the total live in the cities.
Over 10m people live in Seoul alone, making it one of
the ten largest cities in the world.
The Korean people form a homogenous ethnic group of Mongolian
descent that is quite distinct from the Chinese and the
Japanese. Koreans are highly nationalistic and intensely
proud of their language, cuisine, dress, architectural
and artistic heritage, all of which differ from those
of China and Japan.
Major business cities and towns
The capital city is Seoul, which is the political, cultural,
commercial, financial, and educational center of Korea.
Pusan is the second largest city and her principal port.
Taegu houses many of the textile based industries while
Taejon is the major industrial R&D research center.
Inchon is a major port city and Korea's huge new international
There are four distinct seasons of which Spring and Autumn
are the most pleasant. Summer is hot and humid with July
and August the hottest and also the wettest months (half
of the annual rainfall occurs at this time). Winter is
cold with moderate snowfall - the coldest months being
January and February.