South Korea , is a sovereign state in East Asia, constituting the southern part of the Korean Peninsula.
Highly urbanized at 92%, South Koreans lead a distinctive urban lifestyle; half of them live in high-rises concentrated in the Seoul Capital Areawith 25 million residents and the world's sixth leading global city with the fourth largest economy and seventh most sustainable city in the world.
The earliest Korean pottery dates to 8000 BC, with three kingdoms flourishing in the 1st century BC. The name Korea is derived from one of them, Goguryeo, also known as Koryŏ, which was a powerful empire and one of the great powers in East Asia, ruling Northeast China, parts of Russia and Inner Mongolia, and more than two-thirds of the Korean Peninsula under Gwanggaeto the Great. Since their unification into Later Silla and Balhae in the 7th century, Korea enjoyed over a millennium of relative tranquility under long lasting dynasties, with innovations like Hangul, the unique alphabet created by Sejong the Great in 1446, enabling anyone to easily learn to read and write. Its rich and vibrant culture left 17 UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritages of Humanity, the third largest in the world, along with 12 World Heritage Sites. Annexed by Imperial Japan in 1910 due to its strategic and central location, Korea was divided into North and South after its surrender in 1945. A North Korean invasion led to the Korean War(1950–53). Peace has since mostly continued with the two agreeing to work peacefully for reunification and the South solidifying peace as a regional power with the world's 10th largest defence budget.
South Korea's tiger economy soared at an annual average of 10% for over 30 years in a period called the Miracle on the Han River, rapidly transforming it into the world's 9th largest high-income economy by 1995. A long legacy of openness and focus in innovation made it successful. Today, it is the world's fifth largest exporter and seventh largest importer with the G20's largest budget surplus and highest credit rating of any country in East Asia. It has free trade agreements with 75% of the world economy and is the only G20 nation trading freely with China, the US and EUsimultaneously. In 1987, it became a multi-party democracy with universal suffrage and is today Asia's most advanced democracy with high government transparency, universal healthcare and freedom of religion. High civil liberties led to the rise of a globally influential pop culture such as K-popand K-drama, a phenomenon called the Korean Wave, known for its distinctive fashionable and trendy style. Home of the UN Green Climate Fund and GGGI, South Korea is a leader in low carbongreen growth, committed to helping developing countries as a major DAC and Paris Club contributor. It is the OECD's most welcoming country by visa-free entryto foreigners and rated highly in peaceful tolerance and inclusion of minorities.
South Korea is East Asia's most developed country in the Human Development Index. It has the world's eighth highest median household income, the highest in Asia, and its singles in particular earn more than all G7 nations. Globally, it ranks highly in personal safety, education, job security, ease of doing business and healthcare quality, with the world's third highest health adjusted life expectancy and fourth most efficient healthcare system. It leads the OECD in graduates in science and engineering and is ranked third in the Youth Wellbeing Index. Home of Samsung, the world's leading smartphone and TV maker, LG and Hyundai-Kia, South Korea was named the world's most innovative country in the Bloomberg Innovation Index, ranking first in business R&D intensity and patents filed per GDP. It has the world's fastest Internet speed and highest smartphone ownership, ranking first in ICT Development, e-Government and 4G LTE coverage. In 2005, it became the world's first country to fully transition to high-speed Internet and start the world's first mobile TV broadcast with 97% of cellphones already having Internet access.
Known as the "Land of the Morning Calm", Korea has for a long time served as a cultural bridge between its neighbors, China and Japan. In recent times, South Korea has emerged from the shadows of its turbulent past and cemented its place as one of the world's major economic powers. Since the turn of the 21st century, South Korean culture has become enormously popular all over East Asia, and this has resulted in South Korea becoming a very popular tourist destination.
In 2012, 11.1 million foreign tourists visited South Korea, making it the 20th most visited country in the world, up from 8.5 million in 2010. Due to Hallyu, South Korea welcomed more than 12 million visitors in 2013 with 6 million tourists coming from China alone. With rising tourist prospects, especially from foreign countries outside of Asia, the South Korean government has set a target of attracting 20 million foreign tourists a year by 2017. Hallyu's positive effects of the nation's entertainment industry are not limited to within its culture industry, according to a study by the Hyundai Research Institute. The Hyundai Research Institute reported that the Korean Wave has a direct impact in encouraging direct foreign investment back into the country through demand for products, and the tourism industry. Among Asian countries, China was the most receptive, investing 1.4 billion in South Korea, with much of the investment within its service sector, a sevenfold increase from 2001. According to economist, Han Sang-Wan, shown an analysis that a 1 percent increase of exports of Korean cultural content pushes consumer goods exports up 0.083 percent while a 1 percent increase in Korean pop content exports to a country produces a 0.019 percent bump in tourism.
In April 2016, South Korea's population was estimated to be around 50.8 million by National Statistical Office, with continuing decline of working age population and total fertility rate. The country is noted for its population density, which was an estimated 505 per square kilometer in 2015, more than 10 times the global average. Most South Koreans live in urban areas, because of rapid migration from the countryside during the country's quick economic expansion in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. The capital city of Seoul is also the country's largest city and chief industrial center. According to the 2005 census, Seoul had a population of 10 million inhabitants. The Seoul National Capital Area has 24.5 million inhabitants (about half of South Korea's entire population) making it the world's second largest metropolitan area. Other major cities include Busan (3.5 million), Incheon (2.5 million), Daegu (2.5 million), Daejeon(1.4 million), Gwangju (1.4 million) and Ulsan (1.1 million).
The population has also been shaped by international migration. After World War II and the division of the Korean Peninsula, about four million people from North Korea crossed the border to South Korea. This trend of net entry reversed over the next 40 years because of emigration, especially to the United States and Canada. South Korea's total population in 1955 was 21.5 million, and has more than doubled, to 50 million, by 2010.
South Korea is one of the most ethnically homogeneous societies in the world, with more than 99% of inhabitants having Korean ethnicity.
The percentage of foreign nationals has been growing rapidly. As of 2009, South Korea had 1,106,884 foreign residents, 2.7% of the population; however, more than half of them are ethnic Koreans with a foreign citizenship. For example, migrants from China (PRC) make up 56.5% of foreign nationals, but approximately 70% of the Chinese citizens in Korea are Joseonjok (조선족 in Korean), PRC citizens of Korean ethnicity. Regardless of the ethnicity, there are 28,500 US military personnel serving in South Korea, most serving a one-year unaccompanied tour (though approximately 10% serve longer tours accompanied by family), according to the Korea National Statistical Office. In addition, about 43,000 English teachers from English-speaking countries reside temporarily in Korea. Currently, South Korea has one of the highest rates of growth of foreign born population, with about 30,000 foreign born residences obtaining South Korean citizenship every year since 2010.
South Korea's birthrate was the world's lowest in 2009. If this continues, its population is expected to decrease by 13% to 42.3 million in 2050. South Korea's annual birthrate is approximately 9 births per 1000 people. However, the birthrate has increased by 5.7% in 2010 and Korea no longer has the world's lowest birthrate. According to a 2011 report from Chosun Ilbo, South Korea's total fertility rate (1.23 children born per woman) is higher than those of Taiwan (1.15) and Japan (1.21). The average life expectancy in 2008 was 79.10 years, (which was 34th in the world) but by 2015 it had increased to around 81. South Korea has the steepest decline in working age population of the OECD nations. In 2015, National Statistical Office estimated that the population of the country would reach its peak by 2030.
As of 2005, just under half of the South Korean population expressed no religious preference. Of the rest, most are Buddhist or Christian. According to the 2007 census, 29.2% of the population at that time was Christian (18.3% identified themselves as Protestants, 10.9% as Roman Catholics), and 22.8% were Buddhist. Other religions include Islam and various new religious movements such as Jeungsanism, Cheondoism and Wonbuddhism. The earliest religion practiced was Korean shamanism. Today, freedom of religion is guaranteed by the constitution, and there is no state religion. There is a conflict however with the long established requirement of mandatory military service which leads to the imprisonment of conscientious objectors, thereby causing many Jehovah's Witnesses to be imprisoned in South Korea for refusing on the same grounds of conscientious objection. The UN Human Rights Committee has determined that the government of South Korea uses arbitrary detention for conscientious objectors and should take steps to resolve the issue.
Christianity is South Korea's largest religion, accounting for more than half of all South Korean religious adherents. There are approximately 13.7 million Christians in South Korea today; about 63% of Korean Christians belong to Protestant churches, while 37% belong to the Roman Catholic Church. The number of Protestant Christians has slightly decreased since the 1990s, while the number of Roman Catholics has rapidly increased since the 1980s. Presbyterian denominations are the biggest Christian denominations in South Korea. About nine million people belong to one of the 100 different Presbyterian churches; among the biggest denominations are the HapDong Presbyterian Church, TongHap Presbyterian Church, the Koshin Presbyterian Church. For more information see Presbyterianism in South Korea.South Korea is also the second-largest missionary-sending nation, after the United States.
Buddhism was introduced to Korea in the year 372. According to the national census as of 2005, South Korea has over 10.7 million Buddhists. Today, about 90% of Korean Buddhists belong to Jogye Order. Most of the National Treasures of South Korea are Buddhist artifacts. Buddhism became the state religion in some of Korean kingdoms since the Three Kingdoms Period, when Goguryeo adopted it as the state religion in 372, followed by Baekje (528). Buddhism had been the state religion of Unified Silla from the North South States Period (not to be confused with the modern division of Korea) to Goryeo before suppression under the Joseon dynasty in favor of Neo-Confucianism.
Fewer than 30,000 South Koreans are thought to be Muslims, but the country has some 100,000 resident foreign workers from Islamic countries such as Bangladesh, Indonesia and Pakistan.
Korean shamanism, today known as Muism (religion of the mu [shamans]) or Sinism (religion of the gods) encompasses a variety of indigenous religious beliefs and practices of the Korean people and the Korean sphere. In contemporary South Korea, the most used term is Muism and a shaman is known as a mudang (무당, 巫堂) or Tangol (당골). Since the early 2000s, this religion has regained popularity among Koreans.
South Korea's mixed economy ranks 11thnominal and 13th purchasing power parity GDP in the world, identifying it as one of the G-20 major economies. It is a developed country with a high-income economy and is the most industrialized member country of the OECD. South Korean brands such as LG Electronics and Samsung are internationally famous.
With its massive investment in education has taken the country from mass illiteracy to a major international technological powerhouse. South Korea's economy was one of the world's fastest-growing from the early 1960s to the late 1990s, and South Korea is still one of the fastest-growing developed countries in the 2000s, along with Hong Kong, Singapore, and Taiwan, the other three Asian Tigers. South Koreans refer to this growth as the Miracle on the Han River. The South Korean economy is heavily dependent on international trade, and in 2014, South Korea was the 5th largest exporter and 7th largest importer in the world.
South Korea hosted the fifth G20 summit in its capital city, Seoul, in November 2010. The two-day summit was expected to boost South Korea's economy by 31 trillion won, or 4% of South Korea's 2010 GDP, in economic effects, and create over 160,000 jobs in South Korea. It may also help improve the country's sovereign credit rating.
Despite the South Korean economy's high growth potential and apparent structural stability, the country suffers damage to its credit rating in the stock market because of the belligerence of North Korea in times of deep military crises, which has an adverse effect on South Korean financial markets. The International Monetary Fund compliments the resilience of the South Korean economy against various economic crises, citing low state debt and high fiscal reserves that can quickly be mobilized to address financial emergencies. Although it was severely harmed by the Asian economic crisis of the late 1990s, the South Korean economy managed a rapid recovery and subsequently tripled its GDP.
Furthermore, South Korea was one of the few developed countries that were able to avoid a recession during the global financial crisis. Its economic growth rate reached 6.2 percent in 2010 (the fastest growth for eight years after significant growth by 7.2 percent in 2002), a sharp recovery from economic growth rates of 2.3% in 2008 and 0.2% in 2009, when the global financial crisis hit. The unemployment rate in South Korea also remained low in 2009, at 3.6%.
The following list includes the largest South Korean companies by revenue in 2013 who are all listed as part of the Fortune Global 500:
|6.||Hyundai Heavy Industries||Ulsan||49,507||254.6||50,421|
|7.||Korea Electric Power||Naju||49,072||54.8||147,391|
|14.||Samsung Life Insurance||Seoul||26,167||832.6||182,855|