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South Korea and The Far East

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South Korea, officially the Republic of Korea, is an East Asian state on the southern half of the Korean Peninsula. To the north, it is bordered by North Korea (Democratic People's Republic of Korea), with which it was a single country called Korea until 1945. To the west, across the Yellow Sea, lies China, and to the southeast, across the Korea Strait, lies Japan. Approximately one-half of South Korea's population lives in or near the capital and largest city, Seoul, the second largest metropolitan area in the world.

Since its founding in 1948, the country has struggled with the aftermath of 35 years of Japanese annexation, the Korean War, and decades of military rule, seeing five major constitutional changes. Pro-democracy demonstrations during the 1980s led to free elections in 1987. South Korea is now a multi-party democracy.

The South Korean economy has advanced rapidly since the 1950s and is now the 10th largest (nominal value) economy in the world. South Korea is also one of the world's most technologically advanced and digitally-connected countries. It has the second highest broadband Internet connections per capita among OECD countries and is a global leader in electronics, digital displays, shipbuilding and mobile phones.

South Korea's entertainment industry has grown explosively since the 1990s, producing Asia-wide successes in music, television, and film in a phenomenon known as Hallyu, or the "Korean wave." However, the country still retains centuries-old customs and traditions, such as its unique cuisine and ancestor worship.

South Korea occupies the southern portion of the Korean Peninsula, which extends some 680 miles (1,100 km) from the Asian mainland. This mountainous peninsula is flanked by the Yellow Sea to the west, and the Sea of Japan to the east. Its southern tip lies on the Korea Strait and the East China Sea. The country's total area is 38,462.49 square miles or 99,617.38 square kilometres.

South Korea's land is mountainous, and most of it is not arable. Lowlands, located primarily in the west and southeast, constitute only 30% of the total 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.

About three thousand islands, mostly small and uninhabited, lie off the western and southern coasts. Jeju Island is located about 100 kilometres (about 60 mi) off the southern coast of South Korea. It is the country's largest island, with an area of 1,845 square kilometres (712 sq mi). Jeju is also the site of South Korea's highest point: Halla-san, an extinct volcano on Jeju, reaches 1,950 metres (6,398 ft) above sea level.

The local climate is relatively temperate, with precipitation heavier in summer during a short rainy season called jangma, and winters that can be bitterly cold. In Seoul the average January temperature range is -7C to 1C (19F to 33F), and the average July temperature range is 22C to 29C (71F to 83F). Winter temperatures are higher along the southern coast and considerably lower in the mountainous interior. Rainfall is concentrated in the summer months of June through September. The southern coast is subject to late summer typhoons that bring strong winds and heavy rains. The average annual precipitation varies from 1,370 millimetres (54 in) in Seoul to 1,470 millimetres (58 in) in Busan.

Information provided by Wikipedia

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