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Korea, South


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Background: At the end of World War II, the US and the Soviet Union agreed that US troops would accept the surrender of Japanese forces south of the 38th parallel and the Soviet Union would do so in the north. In 1948, the UN proposed nationwide elections; after P'yongyang's refusal to allow UN inspectors in the north, elections were held in the south and the Republic of Korea was established. The Democratic People's Republic of Korea was established the following month in the north. Communist North Korean forces invaded South Korea in 1950. US and other UN forces intervened to defend the South and Chinese forces intervened on behalf of the North. After a bitter three-year war, an armistice was signed in 1953, establishing a military demarcation line near the 38th parallel. Thereafter, South Korea achieved amazing economic growth, with per capita output rising to 13 times the level in the North. Since late 1997, however, the nation has suffered widespread financial and organizational difficulties. Continuing tensions between North and South have raised concerns of provocative military actions by the North.


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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

Areacomparative: slightly larger than Indiana

Land boundaries: total: 238 km border countries: North Korea 238 km

Coastline: 2,413 km

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

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

Land use: arable land: 19% permanent crops: 2% permanent pastures: 1% forests and woodland: 65% other: 13% (1993 est.)

Irrigated land: 13,350 sq km (1993 est.)

Natural hazards: occasional typhoons bring high winds and floods; low-level seismic activity common in southwest

Environmentcurrent issues: air pollution in large cities; water pollution from the discharge of sewage and industrial effluents; driftnet fishing

Environmentinternational agreements: party to: Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling signed, but not ratified: Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification


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Population: 46,884,800 (July 1999 est.)

Age structure: 0-14 years: 22% (male 5,504,333; female 4,874,974) 15-64 years: 71% (male 16,949,807; female 16,432,951) 65 years and over: 7% (male 1,192,688; female 1,930,047) (1999 est.)

Population growth rate: 1% (1999 est.)

Birth rate: 15.95 births/1,000 population (1999 est.)

Death rate: 5.68 deaths/1,000 population (1999 est.)

Net migration rate: -0.3 migrant(s)/1,000 population (1999 est.)

Sex ratio: at birth: 1.13 male(s)/female under 15 years: 1.13 male(s)/female 15-64 years: 1.03 male(s)/female 65 years and over: 0.62 male(s)/female total population: 1.02 male(s)/female (1999 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 7.57 deaths/1,000 live births (1999 est.)

Life expectancy at birth: total population: 74.3 years male: 70.75 years female: 78.32 years (1999 est.)

: 1/11/2007