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South Korea

free online send smsSouth Korea, officially the Republic of Korea or sometimes the Korea Republic, is an East Asian country on the southern half of the Korean Peninsula. To the north, it is bordered by North Korea (Democratic People's Republic of Korea), with which it was united until 1945. To the west, across the Yellow Sea, lies China, and to the southeast, across the Korea Strait, lies Japan. Approximately one-half of South Korea's population lives in or near the capital and largest city, Seoul, the second most populous metropolitan area in the world.

Since its founding in 1948, the country struggled with the aftermath of 35 years of Japanese annexation, the Korean War, and decades of authoritarian governments, seeing five major constitutional changes. While the South Korean government officially embraced Western-style democracy from its founding, presidential elections invariably suffered from rampant irregularities and voter manipulation. The 1970s saw a creation of a rubber-stamp electoral college. It was not until 1987 that direct and fair presidential elections were held, largely prompted by popular demonstrations. South Korea has been a vibrant multi-party democracy for two decades.

free international send smsThe South Korean economy has advanced rapidly since the 1950s and is now the 11th largest (nominal value) economy in the world. South Korea is also one of the world's most technologically advanced and digitally-connected countries. It has the fourth highest broadband Internet connections per capita among OECD countries and is a global leader in electronics, digital displays, shipbuilding and mobile phones.

South Korea's entertainment industry has grown explosively since the 1990s, producing Asia-wide successes in music, television, and film in a phenomenon known as Hallyu, or the "Korean wave." However, the country still retains centuries-old customs and traditions, such as its unique cuisine and ancestor worship.

Geography and climate

South Korea's land is mountainous, and most of it is not arable. Lowlands, located primarily in the west and southeast, constitute only 30% of the total land area. South Korea can be divided into four general regions: an eastern region of high mountain ranges and narrow coastal plains; a western region of broad coastal plains, river basins, and rolling hills; a southwestern region of mountains and valleys and a southeastern region dominated by the broad basin of the Nakdong River.

About three thousand islands, mostly small and uninhabited, lie off the western and southern coasts. Jeju Island is located about 100 kilometres (about 60 mi) off the southern coast of South Korea. It is the country's largest island, with an area of 1,845 square kilometres (712 sq mi). Jeju is also the site of South Korea's highest point: Halla-san, an extinct volcano on Jeju, reaches 1,950 metres (6,398 ft) above sea level. Other well-known islands of South Korea include Ulleungdo and Dokdo.

korea picture southSouth Korea has four seasons that are spring, summer, fall, and winter. The local climate is relatively temperate, with precipitation heavier in summer during a short rainy season called jangma, and winters that can be bitterly cold. In Seoul the average January temperature range is -7C to 1C (19F to 33F), and the average July temperature range is 22C to 29C (71F to 83F). Winter temperatures are higher along the southern coast and considerably lower in the mountainous interior. Rainfall is concentrated in the summer months of June through September. The southern coast is subject to late summer typhoons that bring strong winds and heavy rains. The average annual precipitation varies from 1,370 millimetres (54 inches) in Seoul to 1,470 millimetres (58 inches) in Busan.

South Korea occupies the southern portion of the Korean Peninsula, which extends some 680 miles (1,100 km) from the Asian mainland. This mountainous peninsula is flanked by the Yellow Sea to the west, and the East Sea (Sea of Japan) to the east. Its southern tip lies on the Korea Strait and the East China Sea. The country's total area is 38,462.49 square miles or 99,617.38 square kilometres.

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