South Korea (About this sound listen), officially the Republic of Korea (Korean: 대한민국; Hanja: 大韓民國; Daehan Minguk, pronounced [tɛ̝ː.ɦa̠n min.ɡuk̚] About this sound listen; lit. ”The Great Country of the Han People”), is a country in East Asia, constituting the southern part of the Korean Peninsula and lies east to the Asian mainland. The name Korea is derived from Goryeo, a dynasty which ruled in the Middle Ages. South Korea lies in the north temperate zone with a predominantly mountainous terrain. It comprises an estimated 51.4 million residents distributed over 99,392 km2 (38,375 sq mi).The capital and largest city is Seoul, with a population of 10 million.
Archaeology indicates that the Korean Peninsula was already inhabited starting from the Lower Paleolithic period (2.6 Ma–300 Ka). The history of Korea begins with the foundation of Gojoseon in 2333 BC by the legendary Dangun. Following the unification of the Three Kingdoms of Korea under Unified Silla in AD 668, Korea was subsequently ruled by the Goryeo Dynasty (918–1392) and the Joseon Dynasty (1392–1910). It was annexed by the Empire of Japan in 1910. At the end of World War II, Korea was divided into Soviet and U.S. zones of occupations. An election was held in the U.S. zone in 1948 which led to the creation of the Republic of Korea (ROK). Although the United Nations at the time passed a resolution declaring the ROK to be the only lawful government in Korea,the Soviets set up a rival government in the North.
The Korean War began in 1950 when forces from the North invaded the South. The war lasted three years and involved the U.S., China, the Soviet Union, and several other nations. The border between the two nations remains the most heavily fortified in the world. In the decades that followed, the South Korean economy grew significantly and the country was transformed into a G-20 major economy. Civilian government replaced military rule in 1987 and is now a presidential republic consisting of 17 administrative divisions.
South Korea is a developed country and a high-income economy with a “very high” Human Development Index, ranking 18th in the world. The country is considered a regional power and is the world’s 11th largest economy by nominal GDP, and the 12th largest by PPP as of 2010. South Korea is a global leader in the industrial and technological sectors, being the world’s 5th largest exporter and 8th largest importer. It’s export-driven economy primarily focuses production on electronics, automobiles, ships, machinery, petrochemicals and robotics. South Korea is a member of the ASEAN Plus mechanism, United Nations, Uniting for Consensus, G20, WTO, and OECD, and a founding member of APEC and the East Asia Summit.
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