South Korea – Climate and Geography
Korean geography facts and introduction
Korea is a peninsula, located between Japan (east) and China (west) and surrounded by the East Sea on the east side, the Korea Bay and Yellow Sea on the west and the northern border is marked by the Amnokkang (Yalu) and Tuman-gang (Tumen) rivers which separate it from Manchuria. The Korean peninsula is about 1,000 km long and 300 km wide. The whole Korean peninsula occupies an area of roughly 220,000 square km, of which about 45% (100,000 square km) constitutes South Korea (about the size of Hungary). The Korean peninsula is located between 43° N a 33° N of latitude and, at the end of World War II, it was divided into two different countries (North Korea and South Korea) at the 38th parallel. The Korean peninsula is home to about 72 million people, between North and South Korea, with about 50 million people living in the south.
Korean peninsula – physical geography
The 70% of the Korean peninsula’s territory is made up by mountains. The biggest planes (only 1/5 of the total territory) are located along the west coast of Korea. The main mountain ranges are Nangmin in the north and T’aebaek in the south, while the highest mountains are the Baekdu (or Paektu) Mountain in the north (2,744 m) and Hallasan Mountain (1950 m) in the south, in Chejudo.
The Korean coastline is irregular and the Korean territory includes about 3,000 islands, of which the most important are Ullungdo in the East Sea and Chejudo in front of the south-western corner of the Korean peninsula.
The main rivers in the northern side of the Korean peninsula are the Amnok River (790 km), the Tuman River (520 km), the Taedong, the Chongchon and the Chaeryong Rivers. In the South the main rivers are: the Naktong River (525 km, the longest in South Korea), Han River (514 km, the river of Seoul), Kum River(401 km), and Yongsan and Tongjin Rivers.
Korea has four distinct seasons and the weather in summer and winter is quite extreme, because the Korean peninsula is directly exposed to northerly winds in winter and to monsoons in summer time.
Autumn and spring are the best seasons in Korea, as the weather is mild and days are usually sunny. Winters can be very cold, with temperatures being as low as –20 degrees Celsius, while summers are quite humid and it rains a lot because of the monsoon. Temperatures in summer are not very high, most often below 30 degrees Celsius, but it feels very hot because of the high humidity levels.
South Korean administrative units
South Korean main administrative units are seven metropolitan cities (cities with more than one million inhabitants) and nine provinces. South Korean metropolitan units are, in size order:
- Seoul (the capital of South Korea, with more than 10 million inhabitants)
The nine South Korean provinces (do in Korean) are:
Cheju-do, Cholla-bukto (North Cholla), Cholla-namdo (South Cholla), Ch'ungch'ong-bukto (North Ch'ungch'ong), Ch'ungch'ong-namdo (South Ch'ungch'ong), Kangwon-do, Kyonggi-do, Kyongsang-bukto (North Kyongsang), Kyongsang-namdo (South Kyongsang).