South Korea , officially the Republic of Korea , is a country in East Asia, constituting the southern part of the Korean Peninsula. The name Korea is derived from Goryeo, a dynasty which ruled in the Middle Ages. It shares land borders with North Korea to the north, and oversea borders with China to the west and Japan to the east. South Korea lies in the north temperate zone with a predominantly mountainous terrain. It comprises an estimated 50 million residents distributed over 99,392 km2 (38,375 sq mi). The capital and largest city is Seoul, with a population of 10 million.
Archaeology indicates that the Korean Peninsula was occupied by the Lower Paleolithic period (2.6 Ma–300 Ka). The history of Korea begins with the founding of Gojoseon in 2333 BC by the legendary Dangun. Following the unification of the Three Kingdoms of Korea under Silla AD 668, Korea was ruled by the Goryeo Dynasty (918–1392) and Joseon Dynasty (1392–1910). It was annexed by the Empire of Japan in 1910. At the end of World War II, Korea was divided into Soviet and U.S. zones of occupation. An election was held in the U.S. zone in 1948 which led to the creation of the Republic of Korea. Although the United Nations passed a resolution declaring the Republic to be the only lawful government in Korea, the Soviets set up a rival government in the North.
The Korean War began in 1950 when forces from the North invaded the South. The war lasted three years and involved the U.S., China, the Soviet Union, and several other nations. The border between the two nations remains the most heavily fortified in the world. In the decades that followed, the South Korean economy grew significantly and the country was transformed into a G-20 major economy. Civilian government replaced military rule in 1987.
South Korea is a presidential republic consisting of 17 administrative divisions and is a developed country with the second highest standard of living in Asia, having an HDI of 0.909. It is Asia's fourth largest economy and the world's 15th (nominal) or 12th (purchasing power parity) largest economy. The economy is export-driven, with production focusing on electronics, automobiles, ships,machinery, petrochemicals and robotics. South Korea is a member of the United Nations, WTO, and OECD, and a founding member of APEC and the East Asia Summit.
The name Korea derives from Goryeo, itself referring to the ancient kingdom of Goguryeo, the first Korean dynasty visited by Persian merchants who referred to Koryŏ (Goryeo; 고려) as Korea.Koryŏ also widely became used to refer to Goguryeo, which renamed itself Koryŏ in the 5th century. Despite the coexistence of the spellings Corea and Korea in 19th century publications, some Koreans believe that Japan, around the time of the Japanese occupation, intentionally standardised the spelling on Korea, makingJapan appear first alphabetically.
After Goryeo fell in 1392, Joseon became the official name for the entire territory, though it was not universally accepted. The new official name has its origin in the ancient country of Gojoseon (Old Joseon). In 1897, the Joseon dynasty changed the official name of the country from Joseon to Daehan Jeguk (Korean Empire). The name Daehan, which means "great Han" literally, derives fromSamhan (Three Hans). However, the name Joseon was still widely used by Koreans to refer to their country, though it was no longer the official name. Under Japanese rule, the two names Han and Joseon coexisted. There were several groups who fought for independence, the most notable being the Daehan Minguk Imsi Jeongbu.
Following the surrender of Japan, in 1945, the Republic of Korea (Daehan Minguk) was adopted as the legal name for the new country. Since the government only controlled the southern part of the Korean Peninsula, the informal term South Korea was coined, becoming increasingly common in the Western world. While South Koreans use Han (orHanguk) to refer to the entire country, North Koreans use Joseon as the name of the country.