OFFICIAL NAME: Democratic People's Republic of Korea
CAPITAL: Pyongyang
SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT: Civilian Dictatorship
AREA: 122,098 Sq Km (47,142 Sq Mi)

Direct Link to Political MapDirect Link to Physical MapLOCATION & GEOGRAPHY: North Korea is located on the northern part of the Korean Peninsula in East Asia. It is bound by China to the north, Russia to the northeast, South Korea to the south, the Yellow Sea to the west. Around 80% of the Korean Peninsula is covered by mountains with nearly the whole of north central Korea dominated by the Machollyong, Hamgyong, Pujol-Lyong, Nangnim, Myohyang and Chogu-Ryong Mountain Ranges. The largest plains in North Korea are the Pyongyang, Unjon, Anju, Chaeryong, Yonbaek, Hamhung, Yongchon, Kilchu, Yonghung and Susong while most of the farmland and population are located on the plains. The principal rivers are the Yalu which flows to the Yellow Sea from Mt. Paektu and the Taedong which is very important for internal commerce. Major Cities (pop. est.); Pyongyang 2,355,000, Hamhung 701,000, Chongjin 520,000, Nampo 370,000, Sunchon 356,000 (1987). Land Use; forested 61%, pastures 0.5%, agricultural-cultivated 16.5%, other 22% (1993).

CLIMATE: North Korea has a continental climate with warm summers and severe cold winters due to the cold winds from Siberia and Manchuria. The severe winters cause rivers to freeze over for three to four months and snowfall to lie for long periods of time. The wettest months are from July to September when up to 85% of rainfall occurs while average annual precipitation varies from 560 mm (22 inches) to 1,520 mm ( 60 inches) depending on the region. Average temperature ranges in Pyongyang are from -8 degrees Celsius (18 degrees Fahrenheit) in January to 24 degrees Celsius (75 degrees Fahrenheit) in August.

PEOPLE: The principal ethnic majority are the Koreans who are believed to be descendants of the Tungusic, relatives of the Mongols, with an admixture of Chinese. The Chinese account for around 50,000 and are the principal non-Korean ethnic aliens.

DEMOGRAPHIC/VITAL STATISTICS: Density; 178 persons per sq km (460 persons per sq mi) (1991). Urban-Rural; 59.8% urban, 40.2% rural (1990). Sex Distribution; 49.4% male, 50.6% female (1990). Life Expectancy at Birth; 65.6 years male, 72.0 years female (1990). Age Breakdown; 29% under 15, 34% 15 to 29, 20% 30 to 44, 11% 45 to 59, 5% 60 to 74, 1% 75 and over (1990). Birth Rate; 24.1 per 1,000 (1990). Death Rate; 5.6 per 1,000 (1990). Increase Rate; 18.5 per 1,000 (1990). Infant Mortality Rate; 31.3 per 1,000 live births (1990).

RELIGIONS: Due to the communist government's influences, religious activities are now almost non-existent, although traditionally Buddhism, Confucianism and Shamanism were the national religions.

LANGUAGES: The official language is Korean or Choson Muntcha which is a member of the Altaic family of languages and spoken by the entire population. English is the principal secondary language and is taught in all secondary schools.

EDUCATION: Aged 25 or over and having attained: N/A. Literacy; literate population aged 15 or over 90.0% (1979).

MODERN HISTORY - WWII TO 1993: Following Japan's surrender during World War II, the Soviet troops occupied the Korean Peninsula north of the 38th parallel while the US troops controlled the south. In 1948 the division of Korea was formalized and the North and South Korea's declared, however, both factions claimed sovereignty over the entire peninsula and after the US and Soviet troops were withdrawn, armed clashes escalated. On June 25, 1950 North Korean troops launched a large scale offensive invading South Korea and thus began the Korean War. On July 27, 1953 a ceasefire was signed which brought an end to the war, following which the communist Korean Worker's Party (KWP) embarked on an economic reconstruction program and the consolidation of its political position. In Dec. 1955 Kim Il Sung established his personal style of Marxist-Leninist ideologies known as Juche or Juchism and by 1958 Kim had become the absolute leader of the KWP. The KWP in accordance to Juche principals began to collectivize agricultural farms and develop heavy industry. In 1971 the KWP implemented a six year plan which involved the importation of modern technologies from the West and Japan. In 1978 a seven year plan was adopted and the third plan was adopted in 1987. In 1985 North Korea signed a Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty but refused to allow inspections of its facilities unless the US removed all nuclear weapons from South Korea. In May 1990 Kim was re-elected President of the Supreme People's Assembly while his son, Kim Jong Il was elected first vice-chairman of a new National Defense Commission. In Sept. 1990 the first ever talks between the Prime Ministers of North and South Korea took place which was followed by another in October and in December a third round of talks involving Pres. Kim took place. In Dec. 1990 North Korea and Russia signed a trade and co-operation agreement. In Jan. 1991 the Soviet Union demanded that North Korea begin to pay for its goods in hard currency which only further exacerbated the worsening economic conditions including food and power shortages. In July 1991 North Korea applied for its own seat in the UN and in October the US announced that is was removing nuclear weapons from South Korea in an attempt to force North Korea to open its facilities to international inspections as fears escalated over its nuclear program. Also in Oct. 1991 President Kim visited China, their last major ally, and requested that they not recognize South Korea and to increase aid to assist their economic situation. In Dec 1991 Kim Jong Il was appointed to the position of supreme military commander. In Dec. 1991 the Premiers of both North Korea, Yon Hyong Muk and South Korea, Chung Won Shik signed a nonaggression and reconciliation treaty that included a declaration for a nonnuclear peninsula. However, the implementation of the accords ground to a halt of the nuclear issue with the US and South Korea believing that North Korea was developing nuclear weapons at Yongbyon, 90km (56 mi) north of the capital. The US and South Korea insisted that they open the plant to joint inspections, although North Korea refused to unless the US military bases were also open for inspection. In Jan. 1992 North Korea signed a nuclear safeguards accord with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). On April 9, 1992 the legislature ratified the nonaggression and reconciliation treaty and on May 4, 1992 the North Korean Atomic Energy Ministry presented a document to the IAEA describing four nuclear reactors as research reactors not used for the development of nuclear weapons, and agreed they would be opened to international inspectors. Also in May 1992 IAEA inspectors visited the Yongbyon plant and reported it was a large-scale plutonium reprocessing plant about 80% complete, while the government insisted that it was for research only. In Dec. 1992 a Russian report confirmed that 36 nuclear weapons specialists hired by the North Koreans had been detained by troops just prior to the departure of a flight to Pyongyang. On Dec. 11, 1992 Pres. Kim Il Sung dismissed Prime Minister Yon and replaced him with Kang Song San. On Dec. 29, 1992 China announced that North Korea would have to use hard-currency for all trade instead of the traditional barter. On Mar. 12, 1993 North Korea announced it would be withdrawing from the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty from June 12, 1993 following the IAEA insistence to inspect further nuclear facilities. North Korea refused to allow the inspections claiming that the IAEA demand was a violation of its sovereignty. Also in Mar. 1993 South Korea and the US began their annual "Team Spirit" military exercises that resulted in the government placing its forces into war alert and branded the maneuvers a rehearsal for nuclear war. In retaliation the South Korean government imposed economic sanctions on North Korea. On Apr. 9, 1993 the government appointed the President's son Kim Jong Il as chairman of the National Defense Commission and in May 1993 North Korea successfully tested an intermediate-range missile in the Sea of Japan that further increased tensions in the region. On June 11, 1993 following a series of meetings between US and North Korean representatives, the government agreed to suspend its withdrawal from the Non-nuclear Proliferation Treaty, although no further progress was made by the IAEA over the inspection of the North Korean nuclear sites.

CURRENCY: The official currency is the Won (W) divided into 100 Chon or Jun.

ECONOMY: Gross National Product; USD $22,000,000,000 (1992). Public Debt; USD $8,000,000,000 (1992). Imports; USD $1,900,000,000 (1992). Exports; USD $1,300,000,000 (1992). Tourism Receipts; N/A. Balance of Trade; USD -$600,000,000 (1992). Economically Active Population; 12,486,000 or 53.2% of total population (1994). Unemployed; N/A.

MAIN TRADING PARTNERS: Its main trading partners are the former USSR, former European communist countries, Japan, Germany, France and other EU countries.

MAIN PRIMARY PRODUCTS: Barley, Beans, Cattle, Coal, Copper, Fish, Grain, Gold, Iron Ore, Lead, Pigs, Poultry, Rice, Tobacco, Timber, Tungsten, Wheat, Zinc.

MAJOR INDUSTRIES: Agriculture, Automobiles, Chemicals, Electrical and Electronic Goods, Footwear, Iron and Steel, Industrial Machinery, Petrochemicals, Ship Building, Textiles and Clothing.

MAIN EXPORTS: Clothing and Textiles, Electronic Equipment, Fish, Footwear, Food Stuffs, Iron and Steel, Ships.

TRANSPORT: Railroads; route length 8,533 km (5,302 mi) (1989), passenger-km N/A., cargo ton-km N/A. Roads; length 23,000 km (14,292 mi) (1988). Vehicles; cars 248,000 (1988), trucks and buses N/A. Merchant Marine; vessels 89 (1990), deadweight tonnage 656,036 (1990). Air Transport; passenger-km 84,000,000 (52,195,000 passenger-mi) (1980), cargo ton-km 2,000,000 (1,370,000 short ton-mi) (1980).

COMMUNICATIONS: Daily Newspapers; total of 11 with a total circulation of 5,000,000 (1992). Radio; receivers 2,500,000 (1994). Television; receivers 2,000,000 (1994). Telephones; units 1,089,300 (1994).

MILITARY: 1,128,000 (1995) total active duty personnel with 88.6% army, 4.1% navy and 7.3% air force while military expenditure accounts for 26.6% (1994) of the Gross National Product (GNP).

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