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Population: 46,884,800 (July 1999 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 22% (male 5,504,333; female 4,874,974)
15-64 years: 71% (male 16,949,807; female 16,432,951)
65 years and over: 7% (male 1,192,688; female 1,930,047) (1999 est.)

Population growth rate: 1% (1999 est.)

Birth rate: 15.95 births/1,000 population (1999 est.)

Death rate: 5.68 deaths/1,000 population (1999 est.)

Net migration rate: -0.3 migrant(s)/1,000 population (1999 est.)

Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.13 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.13 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.03 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.62 male(s)/female
total population: 1.02 male(s)/female (1999 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 7.57 deaths/1,000 live births (1999 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 74.3 years
male: 70.75 years
female: 78.32 years (1999 est.)

Total fertility rate: 1.79 children born/woman (1999 est.)

noun: Korean(s)
adjective: Korean

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

Religions: Christianity 49%, Buddhism 47%, Confucianism 3%, pervasive folk religion (shamanism), Chondogyo (Religion of the Heavenly Way), and other 1%

Languages: Korean, English widely taught in junior high and high school

definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 98%
male: 99.3%
female: 96.7% (1995 est.)


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Country name:
conventional long form: Republic of Korea
conventional short form: South Korea
local long form: Taehan-min'guk
local short form: none
note: the South Koreans generally use the term "Han-guk" to refer to their country
abbreviation: ROK

Data code: KS

Government type: republic

Capital: Seoul

Administrative divisions: 9 provinces (do, singular and plural) and 6 special cities* (gwangyoksi, singular and plural); Cheju-do, Cholla-bukto, Cholla-namdo, Ch'ungch'ong-bukto, Ch'ungch'ong-namdo, Inch'on-gwangyoksi*, Kangwon-do, Kwangju-gwangyoksi*, Kyonggi-do, Kyongsang-bukto, Kyongsang-namdo, Pusan-gwangyoksi*, Soul-t'ukpyolsi*, Taegu-gwangyoksi*, Taejon-gwangyoksi*

Independence: 15 August 1945, date of liberation from Japanese colonial rule

National holiday: Liberation Day, 15 August (1945)

Constitution: 25 February 1988

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

Suffrage: 20 years of age; universal

Executive branch:
chief of state: President KIM Dae-jung (since 25 February 1998)
head of government: Prime Minister KIM Chong-p'il (since 3 March 1998)
cabinet: State Council appointed by the president on the prime minister's recommendation
elections: president elected by popular vote for a single five-year term; election last held 18 December 1997 (next to be held by 18 December 2002); prime minister appointed by the president; deputy prime ministers appointed by the president on the prime minister's recommendation
election results: KIM Dae-jung elected president; percent of voteKIM Dae-jung (NCNP) 40.3%, YI Hoe-chang (GNP) 38.7%, YI In-che (NPP) 19.2%

Legislative branch: unicameral National Assembly or Kukhoe (299 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms)
elections: last held 11 April 1996 (next to be held NA 2000)
election results: percent of vote by partyNA; seats by partyNKP 139, NCNP 79, ULD 50, DP 15, independents 16; notethe distribution of seats as of February 1999 was GNP 137, NCNP 105, ULD 53, independents 4

Judicial branch: Supreme Court, justices are appointed by the president subject to the consent of the National Assembly

Political parties and leaders: Grand National Party or GNP [CHO Sun, president]; National Congress for New Politics or NCNP [KIM Dae-jung, president]; United Liberal Democrats or ULD [PAK Tae-chun, president]
note: subsequent to the legislative election of April 1996 the following parties disbandedNew Korea Party or NKP and Democratic Party or DP; New People's Party or NPP merged with the NCNP in August 1998

Political pressure groups and leaders: Korean National Council of Churches; National Democratic Alliance of Korea; National Federation of Student Associations; National Federation of Farmers' Associations; National Council of Labor Unions; Federation of Korean Trade Unions; Korean Veterans' Association; Federation of Korean Industries; Korean Traders Association; Korean Confederation of Trade Unions

International organization participation: AfDB, APEC, AsDB, BIS, CCC, CP, EBRD, ESCAP, FAO, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IEA (observer), IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, Inmarsat, Intelsat, Interpol, IOC, IOM, ISO, ITU, MINURSO, NEA, NSG, OAS (observer), OECD, OPCW, OSCE (partner), UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNMOGIP, UNOMIG, UNU, UPU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO

Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador YI Hong-ku
chancery: 2450 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 939-5600
FAX: [1] (202) 387-0205
consulate(s) general: Agana (Guam), Anchorage, Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Honolulu, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, San Francisco, and Seattle

Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Stephen W. BOSWORTH
embassy: 82 Sejong-Ro, Chongro-ku, Seoul
mailing address: American Embassy, Unit 15550, APO AP 96205-0001
telephone: [82] (2) 397-4114
FAX: [82] (2) 738-8845

Flag description: white with a red (top) and blue yin-yang symbol in the center; there is a different black trigram from the ancient I Ching (Book of Changes) in each corner of the white field


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Economyoverview: As one of the Four Dragons of East Asia, South Korea has achieved an incredible record of growth. Three decades ago its 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, 13 times North Korea's, and already near 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 1997-98 exposed certain longstanding weaknesses in South Korea's development model, including high debt/equity ratios, massive foreign borrowing, and an undisciplined financial sector. By the end of 1998 it had recovered financial stability, rebuilding foreign exchange reserves to record levels by running a current account surplus of $40 billion. As of December 1998, the first tentative signs of a rebound in the economy emerged, and most forecasters expect GDP growth to turn positive at least in the second half of 1999. Seoul has also made a positive start on a program to get the country's largest business groups to swap subsidiaries to promote specialization, and the administration has directed many of the mid-sized conglomerates into debt-workout programs with creditor banks. Challenges for the future include cutting redundant staff, which reaches 20%-30% at most firms and maintaining the impetus for structural reform.

GDP: purchasing power parity$584.7 billion (1998 est.)

GDPreal growth rate: -6.8% (1998 est.)

GDPper capita: purchasing power parity$12,600 (1998 est.)

GDPcomposition by sector:
agriculture: 6%
industry: 43%
services: 51% (1997 est.)

Population below poverty line: NA%

Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%

Inflation rate (consumer prices): 7.5% (1998)

Labor force: 20 million

Labor forceby occupation: services and other 52%, mining and manufacturing 27%, agriculture, fishing, forestry 21% (1991)

Unemployment rate: 7.9% (1998)

revenues: $100.4 billion
expenditures: $100.5 billion, including capital expenditures of $NA (1997 est.)

Industries: electronics, automobile production, chemicals, shipbuilding, steel, textiles, clothing, footwear, food processing

Industrial production growth rate: 3.1% (1997 est.)

Electricityproduction: 194.163 billion kWh (1996)

Electricityproduction by source:
fossil fuel: 61.18%
hydro: 2.65%
nuclear: 36.17%
other: 0% (1996)

Electricityconsumption: 194.163 billion kWh (1996)

Electricityexports: 0 kWh (1996)

Electricityimports: 0 kWh (1996)

Agricultureproducts: rice, root crops, barley, vegetables, fruit; cattle, pigs, chickens, milk, eggs; fish

Exports: $133 billion (f.o.b., 1998)

Exportscommodities: electronic and electrical equipment, machinery, steel, automobiles, ships; textiles, clothing, footwear; fish

Exportspartners: US 17%, EU 13%, Japan 12% (1995)

Imports: $94 billion (c.i.f., 1998)

Importscommodities: machinery, electronics and electronic equipment, oil, steel, transport equipment, textiles, organic chemicals, grains

Importspartners: US 22%, Japan 21%, EU 13% (1995)

Debtexternal: $154 billion (1998 est.)

Economic aidrecipient: $NA

Currency: 1 South Korean won (W) = 100 chun (theoretical)

Exchange rates: South Korean won (W) per US$11,174.00 (January 1999), 1,401.44 (1998), 951.29 (1997), 804.45 (1996), 771.27 (1995), 803.45 (1994)

Fiscal year: calendar year