South Korea has a population of approximately 50 million, 82.5% of which live in urban areas. Major cities include the capital Seoul (9.7 million people), Busan (3.2 million), Incheon (2.6 million) and Daegu (2.2 million). The country is located on the southern half of the Korean peninsula, with the southern end of Japan lying to the south east.
Following the split from North Korea in 1948, the two countries have moved in very different directions, both economically and socially. While the people of the South enjoy a free, modern way of life, it is well known that the people of North Korea do not enjoy such luxuries. Over half a century of strict rule by a family of dictators has left the country isolated and extremely poor. A 4 km wide Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) separates the two nations.
South Korea’s economy is largely export based. $495.5 billion worth of exports were made in 2016, making it the 6th largest exporter globally. The majority of Korean exports are computer parts and other electronic goods, along with automobile and auto parts. Imports into South Korea in 2015 totaled $430.8 billion.
South Korea has a government divided into three branches: executive, judicial, and legislative. The executive and legislative branches operate primarily at the national level, although various ministries in the executive branch also carry out local functions. Local governments are semi-autonomous, and contain executive and legislative bodies of their own. The judicial branch operates at both the national and local levels. South Korea is a constitutional democracy.
As of 2016 57% of the population had no formal religion. 27% declared themselves to be Christian, 20% followed protestantism, 7.9% the Catholic Church and 15.5% Korean Buddhism.
South Korea tends to have a humid continental climate and a humid subtropical climate, and is affected by the East Asian monsoon, with precipitation heavier in summer during a short rainy season called jangma (장마), which begins end of June through the end of July. Winters can be extremely cold with the minimum temperature dropping below −20 °C in the inland region of the country: in Seoul, the average January temperature range is −7 to 1 °C , and the average August temperature range is 22 to 30 °C . Winter temperatures are higher along the southern coast and considerably lower in the mountainous interior. Summer can be uncomfortably hot and humid, with temperatures exceeding 30 °C in most parts of the country. South Korea has four distinct seasons; spring, summer, autumn and winter. Spring usually lasts from late-March to early-May, summer from mid-May to early-September, autumn from mid-September to early-November, and winter from mid-November to mid-March.
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