South Korea
South Korea is officially known as Taehan Min’guk (Republic of Korea). This
country is in northeastern Asia and occupies the southern part of the Korean

Peninsula. South Korea is bounded on the north by North Korea; on the east by
the East Sea (Sea of Japan); on the south bye the Korea Strait, which also
separates it from Japan; and on the west by the Yellow Sea. It has a total area
of 38,328 square miles, including many offshore islands in the south and west,
and the largest is Cheju. The state of South Korea was established in 1948
succeeding the post-World War II distribution of the penisula between the
occupying forces of the United States in the south and the Union of Soviet

Republics (USSR) in the north. The capital of South Korea is Seoul which is also
the largest city. The current version of the South Korean flag was adopted in

1984, but the basic design has been used since the country’s founding is 1948.

The Buddhist yin-yang symbol represents the unity of opposites, and the white
background represents purity. The black markings symbolize three cycles, with
opposites in each cycle opposing one another(reading clockwise from the upper
left): summer, autumn, winter, spring, south, west, north, east, sky, moon,
earth, and sun. South Korea is mainly a rugged, mountainous terrain. The
principal range is the T’aebaek-sanmaek, which extends in a north-south
direction parallel to the eastern coast. The country’s highest peak, located
on the island of Cheju, is Halla-san. Plains constitute less than one-fifth the
total area and are mostly in the west along the coast the coastal plains in the
east and south are very narrow. South Korea has a highly indented coastline
characterized by high tidal ranges, the country’s tow longest rivers, the

Naktong and Han, rise in the T’aebaek-sanmaek, one flowing south to the Korea

Strait and the other northwest to the Yellow sea. Other major rivers include the

Kom, Yengsan, and Tongjin. South Korea has a continental climate, with cold, dry
winters and hot, rainy summers. In Seoul the average January temperature range
is 16 to 30 degrees F, and the average July temperature range is 70 to 84
degrees F. Winter temperatures are higher along the southern coast and
considerably lower in the mountainous interior. The average precipitation in

Seoul is 49in and in Pusan 54in. Rainfall is mostly in the summer months (June
to September). The southern coast is subject to late summer typhoons that bring
strong winds and heavy rains. Mixed deciduous and coniferous forests cover about
three-quarters of the land, but have been lessened of use as fuel. Predominate
species include pine, maple, elm, poplar, fir and aspen. Bamboo, laurel, and
evergreen oak are found in the southern coastal areas. Large mammals, such as
tigers, leopards, bears, and lynx, used to be common throughout the Korean

Peninsula, but these animals have virtually disappeared form South Korea due to
deforestation and poaching. The population of South Korea (1997 estimate) is

45,948,811. The country’s population density of 1199 people per sq. mi. is one
of the highest in the world. The majority of the population lives in the
southern and western coastal areas. South Korea like North Korea is one of the
most ethnically homogeneous countries in the world. Aside from a resident
foreign population of about 55,000 , mostly Chinese, the country has no racial
or linguistic minorities. Because of the mixed racial character of the
present-day Korean population, it is believed that the ancestors of the Koreans
included immigrants from the northern part of the Asian mainland. The national
language, Korean, is believed by some scholars to be a member of the Altaic
language family. It is similar to Japanese in grammar, but it contains many
borrowed Chinese words. Korean is written in a phonetic script known as

Han’gol from the colonial period and most educated Koreans can read English,
which is taught in all secondary schools. In 1995 nearly one-half of the people
in South Korea did not claim a religion. Buddhism claimed more adherents than
any other religion in South Korea. Confucianism, which is more a moral
philosophy than a religion, is a more prominent element in Korean life than its
somewhat small number of adherents would recommend. Christian missionaries were
first permitted in Korea in 1882 and by 1995 the Christian population
skyrocketed to 11.8 million, three quarters of them were Protestants. Other
important influences include Ch’endogyo, a religion founded in the mid-19th
century that fuses elements of Confucianism and Daoism. Primary education is
free for all children between the ages of 6