Ten Important Things to Know about the Country of North Korea

A Geographic and Educational Overview of North Korea

Former North Korean leader Kim Jong Il
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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 10 most important things about North Korea in an effort to geographically educate readers on the country.

Fast Facts: North Korea

  • Official Name: Democratic People's Republic of Korea
  • Capital: Pyongyang 
  • Population: 25,381,085 (2018)
  • Official Language: Korean
  • Currency: North Korean won (KPW)
  • Form of Government: Dictatorship, single-party state 
  • Climate: Temperate, with rainfall concentrated in summer; long, bitter winters 
  • Total Area: 46,540 square miles (120,538 square kilometers)
  • Highest Point: Paektu-san at 9,002 feet (2,744 meters)
  • Lowest Point: Sea of Japan at 0 feet (0 meters)

1. The country of North Korea is located on the northern part of the Korean Peninsula, which extends from the Korea Bay to 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), making it 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) above sea level. 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 a July 2018 estimate was 25,381,085, with a median age of 34.2 years. Life expectancy in North Korea is 71 years.

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. The remaining North Koreans consider themselves 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 Pyongyang, 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 Un, who took office in 2011. He was preceded by his father Kim Jong-Il and grandfather Kim Il-Sung, who 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.

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