The territory

Korea map

The Korean peninsula extends on 1 000 km from north to south in the North-East from the vast Asian continent. The greatest part of its northern border skirts China and Russia. Since 1948, the peninsula is divided into two on the level of the 38th parallel, with the Republic of South Korea and the Democratic Popular Republic of North Korea.

The Republic of Korea covers 99 274 km², that is to say a little more twice Switzerland. It counts 48.846.823 inhabitants (2006).

Korea has a varied topography although made up at 70% of mountains. The spectacular Taebaek mounts border the Eastern coast where the strong tides of the Sea of the East, cut out abrupt cliffs and small rock islands. In the Western and southernmost areas, we find a softer relief, formed of plains and many islands close to the littoral with innumerable bays. The irregular shore is strewn of more than 3 000 islands.

Being given the extend of the territory, we count a relatively high number of rivers which played an important part in the industrial development and the way of life. The two longest rivers, Amnok (or Yalou, 790 km) and Tuman (or Tumen, 521 km), take their source with the Paektu mount, and run respectively towards the west and the east, along the northern border of the peninsula. The two principal rivers in South Korea are the Naktong river (525 km) and the river Han (514 km) which take their source in Taebaek-Sanmaekqui. They ensure the needs for the irrigation and industry. Han plays a vital part for the strongly populated central area, in particular of the 11 million inhabitants of Seoul, the capital of the South, which it crosses. This river in addition largely contributed to the development of old Korean civilization.

Yellow sea located between Korea and the People's Republic of China, and the ocean which borders the southernmost littoral, form a continental shelf with not very deep water which provides invaluable resources to the fishing industry. The sea, which bathes the peninsula on three sides, occupies a place of choice in the history of Korea since old times, contributing to the early development of the shipbuilding and the technics of navigation. During these last years, oil prospections were carried out with broad of the south-western coasts.

Korea in figures

Surface : 99 274 km²
Capital : Séoul (10,3 million inhabitants)
Other large cities : Pusan, Taegu, Inchon, Kwangju, Taejon, Ulsan
Spoken language : korean
Ethnic composition : Koreans (there is a Chinese community of approximately 20 000 people)
Religions : Christians 52%, Buddhists 46%, Confucianists 2%
Monetary unit : the won

GNP 1997 : 12th/226
GNP/living 1997 : 52th/226

Time shift (compared to Paris) : +8h (winter-time) and +7h (summer-time)
   Paris :    Séoul :
Outdistance France - South Korea : 13 000 km
Duration of the flight : 12 hours.