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South Korea:
Geography

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Background
Definition
An independent Korean state or collection of states has existed almost continuously for several millennia. Between its initial unification in the 7th century - from three predecessor Korean states - until the 20th century, Korea existed as a single independent country. In 1905, following the Russo-Japanese War, Korea became a protectorate of imperial Japan, and in 1910 it was annexed as a colony. Korea regained its independence following Japan's surrender to the United States in 1945. After World War II, a Republic of Korea (ROK) was set up in the southern half of the Korean Peninsula while a Communist-style government was installed in the north (the DPRK). During the Korean War (1950-53), US troops and UN forces fought alongside soldiers from the ROK to defend South Korea from DPRK attacks supported by China and the Soviet Union. 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 1993, KIM Young-sam became South Korea's first civilian president following 32 years of military rule. 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 Dae-jung and the North's leader KIM Jong Il. In October 2007, a second North-South summit took place between the South's President ROH Moo-hyun and the North Korean leader.
Location
Definition
Eastern Asia, southern half of the Korean Peninsula bordering the Sea of Japan and the Yellow Sea
Geographic coordinates
Definition
37 00 N, 127 30 E
Map references
Definition
Asia
Area
Definition - World rank and map
total: 98,480 sq km
land: 98,190 sq km
water: 290 sq km
Area - comparative
Definition
slightly larger than Indiana
Land boundaries
Definition
total: 238 km
border countries: North Korea 238 km
Coastline
Definition
2,413 km
Maritime claims
Definition
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
Definition
temperate, with rainfall heavier in summer than winter
Terrain
Definition
mostly hills and mountains; wide coastal plains in west and south
Elevation extremes
Definition
lowest point: Sea of Japan 0 m
highest point: Halla-san 1,950 m
Natural resources
Definition
coal, tungsten, graphite, molybdenum, lead, hydropower potential
Land use
Definition - World rank and map
arable land: 16.58%
permanent crops: 2.01%
other: 81.41% (2005)
Irrigated land
Definition
8,780 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources
Definition
69.7 cu km (1999)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural)
Definition
total: 18.59 cu km/yr (36%/16%/48%)
per capita: 389 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards
Definition
occasional typhoons bring high winds and floods; low-level seismic activity common in southwest
Environment - current issues
Definition
air pollution in large cities; acid rain; water pollution from the discharge of sewage and industrial effluents; drift net fishing
Environment - international agreements
Definition
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
Definition
strategic location on Korea Strait


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