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General Information

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Geographical and Topographical Features

The Korean Peninsula (lat. 33˚ - 43˚; long. 124˚ - 132˚) lies in the middle of Northeast Asia, flanked by China to its west and Japan to its east. The peninsula is 950km long longitudinally and 540km wide latitudinally, and has a total area of 223,433㎢, of which Republic of Korea occupies about 100,295㎢(2015). The northern end of the peninsula is joined to the Asian Continent. The peninsula is predominantly mountainous, with flat land accounting for only 30% of the entire territory. Mountains over 1,000m above sea level make up only 15% of the mountainous areas, while mountains lower than 500m account for 65%.

Korea map

Country Name

Republic of Korea (South Korea)

Capital City

Seoul

National Flag

Taegeukgi

National Flower

Mugunghwa (Rose of Sharon)

Language

Korean (Writing system: Hangeul)

The Taebaeksan Mountain Range forms the backbone of the peninsula, with the eastern part of the range rising higher than the western part. Rivers, both small and large, originate from the high mountainous areas in the east and flow toward the West and South Seas, forming plains suitable for grain cultivation. The climate created by the mountainous areas in the east has an impact on people’s lives. The easterly wind’s passage across the mountainous areas is subject to the Foehn effect, creating a warm and dry wind in the western downwind side of the mountain range. People living in the areas to the east of the high mountains experience considerable inconveniences with regard to transportation, as these areas have undergone very little development compared to the area to the west of the high mountains. However, the slow pace of development has brought at least one advantage to local residents: the natural sceneries have remained unspoilt and many people now choose these areas as travel destinations.

The East Sea has a relatively straight, featureless coastline, and the difference between high and low tide is only 30 cm. However, the sea along the coast is generally deeper than 1,000m. According to the result of a sonar measurement carried out by the Korea Hydrographic and Oceanographic Administration, the deepest part of the East Sea lies in the area north of Ulleungdo Island (2,985m deep). In contrast, the sea along the West Sea is shallow, which has led to the formation of wide tidal flats. The deepest part of the West Sea is in the waters surrounding Gageodo Island, Sinan-gun, Jeollanam-do (124m deep). The rise and fall of the tide shows a considerable difference, i.e. by as much as 7 - 8 m. The South coast has a heavily indented rias coastline. About 3,000 mainly small islands lie off the western and southern coasts of Republic of Korea. Many beaches around the peninsula boast beautiful scenery and world-class facilities.

Changes in Weather around the Year

The Korean Peninsula belongs to a temperate zone. There are marked changes in climate between the four distinct seasons. Under the influence of the continental climate, there is a considerable difference in temperature between summer and winter. It is hot and humid in summer, and cold and dry in winter. Over the past thirty years, the summer temperature range has averaged 20.5 - 26.1˚C, while the winter temperature range has averaged -2.5 - 5.7˚C.

Many Koreans take their summer holidays during this period. During the peak season, the number of visitors to well known beaches, including Haeundae in Busan, Gyeongpodae in Gangneung, and Daecheon on the West Sea, exceeds 1 million.

Four Seasons of Korea

Four Seasons of Korea. 1. Spring of Baraebong in Jirisan Mountain; 2. Summer of Garibong Valley in Seoraksan Mountain;
3. Autumn of Gayasan; 4. Winter of Balwangsan Mountain

In winter, people enjoy skating and skiing across the country. There are many ski slopes in Gangwon-do. Winter snowfall in the mountainous areas of Gangwon-do sometimes reaches 50 - 60 cm in a day or two. The average daytime temperature in spring and fall is maintained at 15 - 18˚C. In these seasons, the sky is clear and the weather is pleasant and agreeable, encouraging many people to engage in outdoor activities or go on a trip.

Recently, the Korean Peninsula has shown signs of transition to a subtropical climate amid the phenomenon of global warming. In summer, the temperature rises above 35˚C. In spring, azaleas and forsythias bloom earlier than in the past. Over the past 6 - 7 years, many new and extraordinary climate-related records have been reported. In December 2010, a cold wave hit the peninsula for 39 days, lasting well into January of the following year. Heavy snowfall hit Donghae and Pohang, breaking a 79-year-old record. In July 2011, the heavy rain concentrated on Seoul and its vicinity was recorded as the heaviest daily rainfall in the meteorological history of the country. According to climate observation records, the average temperature in the Korean Peninsula has risen by 1.5˚C over the past century. Only ten years ago, it was usual for cold and warm weather to succeed each other on the peninsula every three or four days, but that pattern has disappeared. The northern limit line for the growth of tree and plant species such as apple trees and green tea plants is moving gradually northward. The presence of more subtropical fish along the coast of the Korean Peninsula constitutes further proof of global warming. Researchers started observing coral reefs in the sea near Busan. The number of subtropical marine plants is increasing in the sea near Jejudo Island.

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