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Korea
Overview
Background
After World War II, a republic was set up in the southern half of the Korean Peninsula while a Communist-style government was installed in the north. During the Korean War (1950-1953), US and other UN forces intervened to defend South Korea from North Korean attacks supported by the Chinese. An armistice was signed in 1953, splitting the Peninsula along a demilitarized zone at about the 38th parallel. Thereafter, South Korea achieved rapid economic growth with per capita income rising to roughly 20 times the level of North Korea. South Korea has maintained its commitment to democratize its political processes. In June 2000, a historic first North-South summit took place between the South's President KIM Dae-jung and the North's leader KIM Chong-il.
Natural resources
coal, tungsten, graphite, molybdenum, lead, hydropower potential
Land use
arable land: 17.44%
permanent crops: 2.05%
other: 80.51% (1998 est.)
Population
48,289,037 (July 2003 est.)
Ethnic groups
homogeneous (except for about 20,000 Chinese)
Religions
Christian 49%, Buddhist 47%, Confucianist 3%, Shamanist, Chondogyo (Religion of the Heavenly Way), and other 1%
Languages
Korean, English widely taught in junior high and high school
Literacy
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 98.1%
male: 99.3%
female: 97% (2003 est.)
Capital
Seoul
Government type
republic
Independence
15 August 1945 (from Japan)
National holiday
Liberation Day, 15 August (1945)
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