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South Korea

A map of South Korea showing highland and lowland areas and vegetationSince 1948, the Korean Peninsula has been split into two countries, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea) and the Republic of Korea (South Korea). North Korea is a Communist dictatorship, while South Korea is a democracy with one of the world’s most dynamic economies. Conflict between the two nations means they are separated by a 4-kilometre-wide (2.5-mile) strip of land called the Demilitarized Zone. Much of South Korea is mountainous: the Taebaek Mountains stretch along the east coast, and forested uplands rise in the southwest. Also belonging to South Korea are about 3000 islands. South Korea’s climate is continental: freezing winters and warm and humid summers.


A map of South Korea

A customer eats in Namdaemun food market in Seoul

People

Almost all the country’s people are ethnic Koreans, descendants of groups from Mongolia and Siberia who populated the peninsula in the Stone and Bronze Ages. South Korean culture is strongly influenced by Confucianism, a Chinese philosophy that teaches people to respect one another and behave morally. In the 1970s, the rapid development of the country’s industries brought many people from the countryside to live and work in its cities. The capital, Seoul, has grown very quickly; most of its buildings have been constructed in the last 50 years. Today, 80% of South Koreans live in towns and cities. When Korea was separated into two countries, about 4 million North Koreans crossed over to South Korea. Increasingly, South Koreans are moving abroad to work in countries such as the United States and Canada.
Taekwondo demonstration team in Insa-dong. Taekwondo, a popular martial and Olympic sport, evolved in Korea during the 1940s and...Read More >>Taekwondo demonstration team in Insa-dong. Taekwondo, a popular martial and Olympic sport, evolved in Korea during the 1940s and 1950s. It incorporates elements of karate and Chinese martial arts with traditional Korean martial arts such as Taekkyeon, Subak and Gwonbeop, which have historical origins dating back to the 1st century BC.
Maglev train at Incheon Airport

Economy

South Korea has the world’s fastest internet connection speed, at 53.7 megabits per second.

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