Ten Important Things to Know about the Country of North Korea

A Geographic and Educational Overview of North Korea

Kim Jong Il North Korea
In this undated image from North Korea's Korean Central Television on October 11, 2008 North Korean leader Kim Jong Il claps as he inspects a female military unit in North Korea. Kim Jong Il has been president since July 1994. Getty Images

The country of North Korea has been in the news frequently in recent years due to its uneasy relationship with the international community. However, few people know much about North Korea. For example, its full name is The Democratic People's Republic of North Korea. This article provides facts such as these to give an introduction into the ten most important things about North Korea in an effort to geographically educate readers on the country.

1. The country of North Korea is located on the northern part of the Korean Peninsula which extends the Korea Bay and the Sea of Japan. It is south of China and north of South Korea and occupies roughly 46,540 square miles (120,538 square km) or is slightly smaller than the state of Mississippi.

2. North Korea is separated from South Korea via a ceasefire line that was set along the 38th parallel after the end of the Korean War. It is separated from China by the Yalu River.

3. Terrain in North Korea consists mainly of mountains and hills that are separated by deep, narrow river valleys. The highest peak in North Korea, the volcanic Baekdu Mountain, is found in the northeastern portion of the country at 9,002 feet (2,744 m). Coastal plains are also prominent in the western portion of the country and this area is the main center of agriculture in North Korea.

4. North Korea's climate is temperate with the majority of its rainfall concentrated in the summer.

5. The population of North Korea as of July 2009 was 22,665,345, with a population density of 492.4 persons per square mile (190.1 per sq km) and a median age of 33.5 years. Life expectancy in North Korea is 63.81 years and has fallen in recent years due to famine and lack of medical care.

6. The predominant religions in North Korea are Buddhist and Confucian (51%), traditional beliefs like Shamanism are 25%, while Christians make up 4% of the population and the remaining North Koreans consider themselves as other followers of other religions. In addition, there are government-sponsored religious groups in North Korea. The literacy rate in North Korea is 99%.

7. The capital of North Korea is P'yongyang which is also its largest city. North Korea is a communist state with a single legislative body called the Supreme People's Assembly. The country is divided into nine provinces and two municipalities.

8. North Korea's current chief of state is Kim Jong-Il. He has been in that position since July 1994, however, his father, Kim Il-Sung has been named North Korea's eternal president.

9 North Korea gained its independence on August 15, 1945 during the Korean liberation from Japan. On September 9, 1948 the Democratic People's Republic of North Korea was established when it became a separate communist country and after the end of the Korean War, North Korea became a closed totalitarian country, focused on "self-reliance" to limit outside influences.

10. Because North Korea is focused on self-reliance and is closed to outside countries, more than 90% of its economy is controlled by the government and 95% of the goods produced in North Korea are manufactured by state-owned industries. This has caused development and human rights issues to arise in the country. The main crops in North Korea are rice, millet and other grains while industry focuses on the production of military weapons, chemicals, and the mining of minerals like coal, iron ore, graphite and copper.

To learn more about North Korea read North Korea - Facts and History on the Asian History GuideSite at About.com and visit the North Korea Geography and Maps page here at Geography at About.com.


Central Intelligence Agency. (2010, April 21). CIA - The World Factbook -- North Korea. Retrieved from: https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/kn.html

Infoplease.com. (n.d.). Korea, North: History, Geography, Government, and Culture - Infoplease.com. Retrieved from: http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0107686.html

Wikipedia. (2010, April 23). North Korea - Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_Korea

United States Department of State. (2010, March). North Korea (03/10). Retrieved from: http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/2792.htm