South Korea (Republic of Korea) is the world's 15th largest economy
and an important Asian country, culturally, politically and not
The Korean Peninsula extends southward from the northeastern part
of the Asian continent, between 33º-43º N, 124º-132º E, and covers
approx 220,000 sq km, including some 3,500 islands. The peninsula
lies between the East Sea (or Sea of Japan) and the Yellow Sea.
The Amnok (Yalu) and Duman (Tumen) Rivers border both China and
Russia to the north, and Japan is just across the East Sea (or Sea
of Japan) and the Korea Strait.
Since 1945, as a result of World War II and the Korean War
1950-1953, the peninsula has been divided between the Republic of
Korea, or South Korea, and the Democratic People's Republic of
Korea, or North Korea.
South Korea covers 99,400 sq km and North Korea 122,800 sq km. By
comparison, the landmass of the island of Ireland is approximately
84,000 sq km of which 73,000 sq km is in the Republic.
About 70% of the land is mountainous. Lowlands, located primarily
in the west and southeast, constitute 30% of the land area. South
Korea can be divided into four general regions: an eastern region
of high mountain ranges and narrow coastal plains; a western
region of broad coastal plains, river basins, and rolling
hills; a southwestern region of mountains and valleys; and a
southeastern region dominated by the broad basin of the Nakdong
River. The coasts of South Korea are extraordinarily beautiful,
sprinkled with rocky islands.
The largest island, Jejudo, is located 100 km off the southern
coast of South Korea. This volcanic island, with the extinct
Hallasan volcano in the centre, has a subtropical climate, warmer
than the rest of Korea. The climate in South Korea is temperate
with a short rainy season (jangma) during the summer. Winters
are cool and summers are warm (22-29º C in Seoul in July).
Koreans, like other North East Asian peoples, are of Mongolian
lineage. Koreans differ from the neighboring Japanese and Chinese,
however, and Koreans are a very homogeneous ethnic nation with
their very own language and alphabet (hangul), culture and customs.
Korean people are characterised by their generosity and kindness,
and are renowned as one of the hardest working peoples in the
South Korea is arguably the most Confucianist nation, more so than
China. The population is evenly distributed between Christians,
Buddhists and nonreligious, in addition to indigenous religions.
English is taught in school, but not widely spoken yet outside
business and university circles, but Koreans are helpful and
foreign visitors will come a long way with sign language. In Seoul
and other major cities most official signs (eg in the subway) are
South Korea has 48.6 million inhabitants (North Korea has 22.9
million officially, in reality probably less).
You can find information by visiting the official website of
Korea for all kinds of practical information on the Republic of