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Republic of Korea Information - Page 1
Geography
The Republic of Korea (South Korea) is situated in Eastern Asia on the Korean Peninsula. The islands of Japan are to the east. Its land border is with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea) and its coasts are surrounded by the Yellow Sea and Korea's East Sea, also known as the "Sea of Japan". The volcanic island of Cheju is Korea's largest island.

Seoul is Korea's capital city. Other important cities include Pusan (Busan), Taegu (Daegu), Taejon (Daejeon), Incheon and Ulsan. Pusan is the main port.

Korea's terrain is mainly hilly and mountainous. Mountains cover around two-thirds of the country and there are wide coastal plains in the south and west of the country. Rivers include the Han and the Naktong.

The weather is cold in the winter and hot in the summer. Rainfall tends to be high during the month of July.

Environment
A number of areas in Korea are designated as National Parks. The parks cover a variety of regions: mountains, forests, lakes and islands.

Ramsar Wetlands of International Importance in South Korea are Jangdo Island High Moor, the High Moor, Yongneup of Mt. Daeam, Suncheon Bay and Woopo Wetland.

Mount Sorak, on the east coast of the Korean Peninsula, and Jeju Island, in the southern part of the Korean Peninsula, are UNESCO MAB Biosphere Reserves.

Architecture
Korea has a number of architectural heritage sites. In the year 2000, Gyeongju, once the capital of the ancient Shilla Kingdom, was designated as one of UNESCO's ten most important cultural heritage sites.

Other World Heritage sites are Seokguram Grotto and Bulguksa Temple, Haeinsa Temple, Jongmyo Shrine, Changdeokgung Palace Complex, and Hwasong Fortress.

During the late 1950s and the 1960s South Korea began to reconstruct its towns and cities damaged during the Korean War (1950-53). The economic expansion of the 1970s and 80s fuelled the growth of contemporary architecture and the 1988 Seoul Olympics added to the momentum of modern design.

Korea's largest construction of the twenty-first century is South Korea's Incheon Airport that stretches from a man-made land bridge between two islands in the Yellow Sea. However Korea's most famous building of modern times is the Seoul Soccer World Cup Stadium. This building is extremely contemporary in design but embodies Korea's past with the roof shaped like a square Korean kite and a pattern of curved lines on the roof screen reminiscent of the roof and eaves of Korea's traditional buildings.

Population
The population of South Korea was estimated at 48,508,970 in 2009.

Languages
Korean is the official language. English is taught in schools.

Religion
Significant numbers of Koreans are Christians and Buddhists. Confucianism has been an important influence on Korean culture, especially in the respect it requires for the ancestors and the family.

Food
Korean cuisine uses a variety of cooking methods. Food is steamed, stir-fried, grilled or barbecued. Fish may be eaten raw. Seasonings are important and those most used in Korean cuisine are soy sauce, soybean paste (doenjang) and red pepper paste (gochujang). Fermented foods, such as kimchi, a fermented vegetable dish, are popular.

Soups and stews are eaten frequently. Beef, chicken, pork, fish and seafood are combined with rice, noodles, and vegetables such as beans, bean-sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cucumbers, mushrooms, onions, peppers, potatoes and spinach.

Dessert recipes make use of rice flour, honey and nuts. Fruits including cherries, strawberries, peaches and watermelons are available.

A traditional Korean alcoholic drink is soju, made from rice or potatoes. Beer and wines are produced locally. Non-alcoholic drinks include barley tea, green tea, lemon tea, ginseng and coffee.

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