Useful country information
Land area: 37,421 sq mi (96,920 sq km)
Population (2020 est.): 51,269,185 (growth rate: 0.16%); birth rate: 8.26/1000; infant mortality rate: 3.93/1000; life expectancy: 79.8
Capital and largest city (2011 est.): Seoul, 9.736 million
Other large cities: Busan (Pusan) 3.372 million; Incheon (Inch'on) 2.622 million; Daegu (Taegu) 2.447 million; Daejon (Taejon) 1.538 million; Gwangju (Kwangju) 1.503 million (2011).
Monetary unit: won
National name: Taehan Min'guk
Languages: Korean, English widely taught
Ethnicity/race: homogeneous (except for about 20,000 Chinese)
Religions: Christian 31.6% (Protestant 24%, Roman Catholic 7.6%), Buddhist 24.2%, other or unknown 0.9%, none 43.3% (2010 survey)
National Holiday: Liberation Day, August 15
Literacy rate: 98% (2003 est.)
The Korean Peninsula extends southward from the northeastern part of the Asian continent. The country has a long history and proud tradition. Buddhism and Confucianism have influenced the nation's society and culture.
Koreans, like many other Asian peoples, are descendants of the Mongolian Tungus stock. They differ from the neighboring Japanese and Chinese, however, in that Koreans are a homogeneous ethnic group with their own language, culture, and customs.
Over the last several decades, South Korea has transformed herself from an agrarian society to an industrial leader on the world economic scene. Progress is being made in education, science and technology and social welfare.
In 2002 South Korea has co-hosted, the FIFA World Cup™ tournament.
After World War II, a republic was set up in the southern half of the Korean Peninsula (in August 15, 1945) while a communist-style government was installed in the north.
The Korean War (1950-53) had US and other UN forces intervene 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 13 times the level of North Korea.
In 1997, the nation suffered a severe financial crisis from which it continues to make a solid recovery. South Korea has also maintained its commitment to democratize its political processes.
In June 2000, a historic first south-north summit took place between the south's then President KIM Dae-jung and the north's leader KIM Chong-il. In December 2000, President KIM Dae-jung won the Noble Peace Prize for his lifelong commitment to democracy and human rights in Asia. He was the first Korean to win a Nobel Prize.
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