World Travelling Guide
World Travelling Guide



Accommodation in Southern Africa and South Africa including accommodation in Western Cape, Eastern Cape, Northern Cape, Gauteng, Limpopo Province, North West Province, Free State, Kwazulu-Natal, Mpumalanga

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Map of Far East

Korea, South Travelling Guide
Korea, South Travelling Guide

General background: After World War II, a republic was set up in the southern half of the Korean Peninsula while a Communist-style government was installed in the north. The Korean War (1950-53) had US and other UN forces intervene to defend South Korea from North Korean attacks supported by the Chinese. An armistice was signed in 1953 splitting the peninsula along a demilitarized zone at about the 38th parallel. Thereafter, South Korea achieved rapid economic growth, with per capita income far outstripping the level of North Korea. In 1997, the nation suffered a severe financial crisis from which it continues to make a solid recovery. South Korea has also maintained its commitment to democratize its political processes. In June 2000, a historic first south-north summit took place between the south's President KIM Dae-jung and the north's leader KIM Chong-il. In December 2000, President KIM Dae-jung won the Noble Peace Prize for his lifelong commitment to democracy and human rights in Asia. He is the first Korean to win a Nobel Prize.

Area comparative: Slightly larger than Indiana.

Climate: Temperate, with rainfall heavier in summer than winter.

Terrain: Mostly hills and mountains; wide coastal plains in west and south.

Population: 48.324 million (July 2002 est.)

Ethnic groups: Homogeneous (except for about 20,000 Chinese)

Religions: Christian 49%, Buddhist 47%, Confucianist 3%, Shamanist, Chondogyo (Religion of the Heavenly Way), and other 1%

Language: Korean, English widely taught in junior high and high school.

Government type: Republic

Capital: Seoul

Legal system: Combines elements of continental European civil law systems, Anglo-American law, and Chinese classical thought.

Economic overview: As one of the Four Tigers of East Asia, South Korea has achieved an incredible record of growth. Three decades ago GDP per capita was comparable with levels in the poorer countries of Africa and Asia. Today its GDP per capita is seven times India's, 17 times North Korea's, and comparable to the lesser economies of the European Union. This success through the late 1980s was achieved by a system of close government/business ties, including directed credit, import restrictions, sponsorship of specific industries, and a strong labor effort. The government promoted the import of raw materials and technology at the expense of consumer goods and encouraged savings and investment over consumption. The Asian financial crisis of 1997-99 exposed certain longstanding weaknesses in South Korea's development model, including high debt/equity ratios, massive foreign borrowing, and an undisciplined financial sector. Growth plunged by 6.6% in 1998, then strongly recovered to plus 10% in 1999 and 9% in 2000. Growth fell back to 3.3% in 2001 because of the slowing global economy, falling exports, and the perception that much-needed corporate and financial reforms have stalled.

Communication/Telephone system: Excellent domestic and international services.

Places of interest: The country is swathed in green, and the South Koreans are obsessed with nature, and with mountains in particular.

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