Location & Population

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The Korean peninsula, roughly 1,030 kilometers long and 175 kilometers wide at its narrowest point, is located in Northeast Asia. With Seoul as its capital city, Korea's total land area is 100,364 kilometers squared. Korea's neighbors include Japan to the east, China to the west, and Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea) across the northern border.


Archaeologists think that people started settling in the Korean Peninsula around 700,000 BCE during the Paleolithic Age. South Korea’s 2019 population was estimated at 51.71 million, and according to the 2018 Population and Housing Census, 49.8% of the population resided in the Seoul metropolitan area. This was up by 0.7% from 49.1% in 2010, showing a distinct trend toward the concentration of the population in the capital.

Meanwhile, the country’s low birth rate has emerged as a serious social problem. In 2019, the total fertility rate, meaning the average number of childbirths by fertile women, stood at 0.92, with the number of newborns reaching 3,02,700, all of which were the lowest ever recorded. Meanwhile, the life expectancy of South Koreans reached 82.7 years (as of 2018), higher than the OECD average (80.7 years).

The international migration of South Koreans began at the end of the 19th century and the early 20th century, with people leaving for China and Russia. Around the mid-20th century, after the 1945 Liberation of Korea, the United States was their main destination, though Koreans also started to emigrate to diverse regions around the world including Europe, the Middle East, and South America. As a result, the number of overseas South Koreans amounted to 7.49. million (2019). Statistics showed that the largest number of Korean expatriates was in the United States (2.54 million), followed by China (2.46 million), and Japan (820,000).

Since 2011, the net inflow of population has outnumbered the net outflow. The number of foreign nationals residing or working in the country has increased dramatically, particularly since 2000. Despite fluctuations every year, the number of inflows of foreign nationals has been increasing as a whole. According to Statistics Korea, the number of foreigners entering Korea reached 293,000 in 2010, 373,000 in 2015, and 438,000 in 2019, respectively. With respect to the purposes of their entry into the country, a short-term stay (34.5%) topped the list, followed by employment (26%), study (14.9%), and arrivals of overseas Koreans (12%). Although not included in the major rankings, the number of people entering the country because of permanent residence and marriage increased by 7.7% year on year (as of 2019).

sourceKorea.netImagine your Korea