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By Entry Pages > Visit Detail > Country Facts for Korea, Republic of
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Introduction Geography People Government Economy Communications Transportation Military Transnational Issues
Map of Korea, Republic of
IntroductionTop
Background:Korea was an independent kingdom under Chinese suzerainty for most 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 was set up in the southern half of the Korean Peninsula while a Communist-style government was installed in the north. During the Korean War (1950-53), US and other UN forces intervened to defend South Korea from North Korean attacks supported by the Chinese. 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 1987, South Korean voters elected ROH Tae-woo to the presidency, ending 26 years of military dictatorships. 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 Tae-chung and the North's leader KIM Jong Il.
GeographyTop
Location:Eastern Asia, southern half of the Korean Peninsula bordering the Sea of Japan and the Yellow Sea
Geographic coordinates:37 00 N, 127 30 E
Map references:Asia
Area:total: 98,480 sq km
land: 98,190 sq km
water: 290 sq km

Area - comparative:slightly larger than Indiana
Land boundaries:total: 238 km
border countries: North Korea 238 km

Coastline:2,413 km
Maritime claims:territorial sea: 12 nm; between 3 nm and 12 nm in the Korea Strait
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: not specified

Climate:temperate, with rainfall heavier in summer than winter
Terrain:mostly hills and mountains; wide coastal plains in west and south
Elevation extremes:lowest point: Sea of Japan 0 m
highest point: Halla-san 1,950 m

Natural resources:coal, tungsten, graphite, molybdenum, lead, hydropower potential
Land use:arable land: 17.18%
permanent crops: 1.95%
other: 80.87% (2001)

Irrigated land:11,590 sq km (1998 est.)
Natural hazards:occasional typhoons bring high winds and floods; low-level seismic activity common in southwest
Environment - current issues:air pollution in large cities; acid rain; water pollution from the discharge of sewage and industrial effluents; drift net fishing
Environment - international agreements:party to: Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

Geography - note:strategic location on Korea Strait
PeopleTop
Population:48,422,644 (July 2005 est.)
Age structure:0-14 years: 19.4% (male 4,952,177/female 4,450,821)
15-64 years: 72% (male 17,715,267/female 17,147,808)
65 years and over: 8.6% (male 1,670,971/female 2,485,600) (2005 est.)

Median age:total: 34.51 years
male: 33.53 years
female: 35.53 years (2005 est.)

Population growth rate:0.38% (2005 est.)
Birth rate:10.08 births/1,000 population (2005 est.)
Death rate:6.26 deaths/1,000 population (2005 est.)
Net migration rate:0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2005 est.)
Sex ratio:at birth: 1.08 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.11 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.03 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.67 male(s)/female
total population: 1.01 male(s)/female (2005 est.)

Infant mortality rate:total: 7.05 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 7.5 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 6.57 deaths/1,000 live births (2005 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:total population: 75.82 years
male: 72.19 years
female: 79.76 years (2005 est.)

Total fertility rate:1.26 children born/woman (2005 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:less than 0.1% (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:8,300 (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:less than 200 (2003 est.)
Nationality:noun: Korean(s)
adjective: Korean

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:definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 97.9%
male: 99.2%
female: 96.6% (2002)

GovernmentTop
Country name:conventional long form: Republic of Korea
conventional short form: South Korea
local long form: Taehan-min'guk
local short form: none
note: the South Koreans generally use the term "Han'guk" to refer to their country
abbreviation: ROK

Government type:republic
Capital:Seoul
Administrative divisions:9 provinces (do, singular and plural) and 7 metropolitan cities (gwangyoksi, singular and plural)
: provinces: Cheju-do, Cholla-bukto (North Cholla), Cholla-namdo (South Cholla), Ch'ungch'ong-bukto (North Ch'ungch'ong), Ch'ungch'ong-namdo (South Ch'ungch'ong), Kangwon-do, Kyonggi-do, Kyongsang-bukto (North Kyongsang), Kyongsang-namdo (South Kyongsang)
: metropolitan cities: Inch'on-gwangyoksi (Inch'on), Kwangju-gwangyoksi (Kwangju), Pusan-gwangyoksi (Pusan), Soul-t'ukpyolsi (Seoul), Taegu-gwangyoksi (Taegu), Taejon-gwangyoksi (Taejon), Ulsan-gwangyoksi (Ulsan)

Independence:15 August 1945 (from Japan)
National holiday:Liberation Day, 15 August (1945)
Constitution:17 July 1948
Legal system:combines elements of continental European civil law systems, Anglo-American law, and Chinese classical thought
Suffrage:20 years of age; universal
Executive branch:chief of state: President ROH Moo-hyun (since 25 February 2003)
head of government: Prime Minister LEE Hae-chan (since 25 May 2004); Deputy Prime Ministers HAN Duck-soo (14 March 2005), KIM Jin-pyo (since 28 January 2005), and OH Myung (since 18 October 2004)
cabinet: State Council appointed by the president on the prime minister's recommendation
elections: president elected by popular vote for single five-year term; election last held 19 December 2002 (next to be held in December 2007); prime minister appointed by president with consent of National Assembly; deputy prime ministers appointed by president on prime minister's recommendation
election results: results of the 19 December 2002 election - ROH Moo-hyun elected president; percent of vote - ROH Moo-hyun (MDP) 48.9%; LEE Hoi-chang (GNP) 46.6%; other 4.5%

Legislative branch:unicameral National Assembly or Kukhoe (299 seats - members elected for four-year terms; 243 in single-seat constituencies, 56 by proportional representation
elections: last held 15 April 2004 (next to be held in April 2008; byelections held on 30 April 2005)
election results: percent of vote by party - Uri 51%, GNP 41%, DLP 3%, DP 3%, others 2%; seats by party - Uri 146, GNP 125, DLP 10, DP 9, ULD 3, independents 6
note: percent of vote is for 2004 general election; seats by party reflect results of 2005 byelections involving six seats; MDP became DP in May 2005 (2005)

Judicial branch:Supreme Court (justices appointed by president with consent of National Assembly); Constitutional Court (justices appointed by president based partly on nominations by National Assembly and Chief Justice of the court)
Political parties and leaders:Democratic Labor Party or DLP [KIM Hye-kyung, chairwoman]; Democratic Party or DP [HAHN Hwa-kap, chairman]; Grand National Party or GNP [PARK Geun-hye, chairwoman]; United Liberal Democrats or ULD [KIM Hak-won, chairman]; Uri Party [MOON Hee-sang, chairman]
Political pressure groups and leaders:Federation of Korean Industries; Federation of Korean Trade Unions; Korean Confederation of Trade Unions; Korean National Council of Churches; Korean Traders Association; Korean Veterans' Association; National Council of Labor Unions; National Democratic Alliance of Korea; National Federation of Farmers' Associations; National Federation of Student Associations
International organization participation:AfDB, APEC, APT, ARF, AsDB, ASEAN (dialogue partner), Australia Group, BIS, CP, EBRD, FAO, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICCt, ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IEA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, ISO, ITU, LAIA, MIGA, MINURSO, NAM (guest), NEA, NSG, OAS (observer), OECD, ONUB, OPCW, OSCE (partner), PCA, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNMIL, UNMOGIP, UNOMIG, UPU, WCL, WCO, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTO, ZC
Flag description:white with a red (top) and blue yin-yang symbol in the center; there is a different black trigram from the ancient I Ching (Book of Changes) in each corner of the white field
EconomyTop
Economy - overview:Since the early 1960s, South Korea has achieved an incredible record of growth and integration into the high-tech modern world economy. Four decades ago GDP per capita was comparable with levels in the poorer countries of Africa and Asia. In 2004, it joined the trillion dollar club of world economies. Today its GDP per capita is 14 times North Korea's and equal to the lesser economies of the European Union. This success through the late 1980s was achieved by a system of close government/business ties, including directed credit, import restrictions, sponsorship of specific industries, and a strong labor effort. The government promoted the import of raw materials and technology at the expense of consumer goods and encouraged savings and investment over consumption. The Asian financial crisis of 1997-99 exposed longstanding weaknesses in South Korea's development model, including high debt/equity ratios, massive foreign borrowing, and an undisciplined financial sector. Growth plunged to a negative 6.9% in 1998, then strongly recovered to 9.5% in 1999 and 8.5% in 2000. Growth fell back to 3.3% in 2001 because of the slowing global economy, falling exports, and the perception that much-needed corporate and financial reforms had stalled. Led by consumer spending and exports, growth in 2002 was an impressive 7.0%, despite anemic global growth. Economic growth fell to 3.1% in 2003 because of a downturn in consumer spending and recovered to an estimated 4.6% in 2004 on the strength of rapid export growth. The government plans to boost infrastructure spending in 2005. Moderate inflation, low unemployment, an export surplus, and fairly equal distribution of income characterize this solid economy.
GDP:purchasing power parity - $925.1 billion (2004 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:4.6% (2004 est.)
GDP - per capita:purchasing power parity - $19,200 (2004 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:agriculture: 3.2%
industry: 40.4%
services: 56.3% (2004 est.)

Labor force:22.9 million (2004 est.)
Labor force - by occupation:agriculture 8%, industry 19%, services 73% (2004 est.)
Unemployment rate:3.6% (2004 est.)
Population below poverty line:4% (2001 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:lowest 10%: 2.9%
highest 10%: 22.5% (1999 est.)

Distribution of family income - Gini index:35.8 (2000)
Inflation rate (consumer prices):3.6% (2004 est.)
Investment (gross fixed):28.7% of GDP (2004 est.)
Budget:revenues: $150.5 billion
expenditures: $155.8 billion, including capital expenditures of NA (2004 est.)

Public debt:21.3% of GDP (2004 est.)
Agriculture - products:rice, root crops, barley, vegetables, fruit; cattle, pigs, chickens, milk, eggs; fish
Industries:electronics, telecommunications, automobile production, chemicals, shipbuilding, steel
Industrial production growth rate:10.1% (2004 est.)
Electricity - production:322.5 billion kWh (2003)
Electricity - production by source:fossil fuel: 62.4%
hydro: 0.8%
nuclear: 36.6%
other: 0.2% (2001)

Electricity - consumption:293.6 billion kWh (2003)
Electricity - exports:0 kWh (2003)
Electricity - imports:0 kWh (2003)
Oil - production:0 bbl/day (2004 est.)
Oil - consumption:2.07 million bbl/day (2004 est.)
Oil - exports:630,100 bbl/day (2003)
Oil - imports:2.263 million bbl/day (2003)
Natural gas - production:0 cu m (2003 est.)
Natural gas - consumption:20.92 billion cu m (2003 est.)
Natural gas - exports:0 cu m (2003 est.)
Natural gas - imports:21.11 billion cu m (2003 est.)
Current account balance:$26.78 billion (2004 est.)
Exports:$250.6 billion f.o.b. (2004 est.)
Exports - commodities:semiconductors, wireless telecommunications equipment, motor vehicles, computers, steel, ships, petrochemicals
Exports - partners:China 22.4%, US 17.8%, Japan 8.3%, Hong Kong 4.8% (2004)
Imports:$214.2 billion f.o.b. (2004 est.)
Imports - commodities:machinery, electronics and electronic equipment, oil, steel, transport equipment, organic chemicals, plastics
Imports - partners:Japan 21.6%, US 12.7%, China 12.3%, Saudi Arabia 5.1% (2004)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:$199.1 billion (2004 est.)
Debt - external:$160 billion (2004 est.)
Economic aid - donor:ODA $334 million (2003)
Currency (code):South Korean won (KRW)
Currency code:KRW
Exchange rates:South Korean won per US dollar - 1,145.3 (2004), 1,191.6 (2003), 1,251.1 (2002), 1,291 (2001), 1,131 (2000)
Fiscal year:calendar year
CommunicationsTop
Telephones - main lines in use:22.877 million (2003)
Telephones - mobile cellular:33,591,800 (2003)
Telephone system:general assessment: excellent domestic and international services
domestic: NA
international: country code - 82; fiber-optic submarine cable to China; the Russia-Korea-Japan submarine cable; satellite earth stations - 3 Intelsat (2 Pacific Ocean and 1 Indian Ocean) and 1 Inmarsat (Pacific Ocean region)

Radio broadcast stations:AM 58, FM 150, shortwave 2 (2004)
Radios:47.5 million (2000)
Television broadcast stations:64 (additionally 119 Cable Operators; 239 Relay Cable Operators) (2004)
Televisions:15.9 million (1997)
Internet country code:.kr
Internet hosts:694,206 (2001)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):11 (2000)
Internet users:29.22 million (2003)
TransportationTop
Railways:total: 3,472 km
standard gauge: 3,472 km 1.435-m gauge (1,342 km electrified) (2004)

Highways:total: 86,990 km
paved: 66,721 km (including 1,996 km of expressways)
unpaved: 20,269 km (2001)

Waterways:1,608 km
note: most navigable only by small craft (2004)

Pipelines:gas 1,433 km; refined products 827 km (2004)
Ports and harbors:Inch'on, Masan, P'ohang, Pusan, Ulsan
Merchant marine:total: 601 ships (1,000 GRT or over) 6,992,656 GRT/11,081,142 DWT
by type: bulk carrier 125, cargo 196, chemical tanker 88, container 71, liquefied gas 20, passenger 5, passenger/cargo 22, petroleum tanker 51, refrigerated cargo 15, roll on/roll off 5, vehicle carrier 3
foreign-owned: 2 (Germany 1, United Kingdom 1)
registered in other countries: 366 (2005)

Airports:179 (2004 est.)
Airports - with paved runways:total: 88
over 3,047 m: 3
2,438 to 3,047 m: 21
1,524 to 2,437 m: 14
914 to 1,523 m: 12
under 914 m: 38 (2004 est.)

Airports - with unpaved runways:total: 91
914 to 1,523 m: 3
under 914 m: 88 (2004 est.)

Heliports:206 (2004 est.)
MilitaryTop
Military branches:Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, National Maritime Police (Coast Guard)
Military manpower - military age and obligation:20-30 years of age for compulsory military service; conscript service obligation - 24-28 months, depending on the military branch involved; 18 years of age for voluntary military service; some 3,000 women serve in the armed forces, less than 1% of the military personnel total (2004)
Military manpower - availability:males age 20-49: 12,458,257 (2005 est.)
Military manpower - fit for military service:males age 20-49: 9,932,026 (2005 est.)
Military manpower - reaching military age annually:males: 344,723 (2005 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure:$16.18 billion (2004)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:2.8% (2004)
Transnational IssuesTop
Disputes - international:Military Demarcation Line within the 4-km wide Demilitarized Zone has separated North from South Korea since 1953; periodic maritime disputes with North Korea over the Northern Limit Line; South Korea and Japan claim Liancourt Rocks (Tok-do/Take-shima), occupied by South Korea since 1954



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