Korea, South

Country Summary



An independent kingdom for much of its long history, after World War II, a democratic government was set up in the southern half of the Korean Peninsula.  After fending off an invasion by North Korea in 1950, South Korea achieved rapid economic growth and today is a fully functioning modern democracy.



total: 99,720 sq km
land: 96,920 sq km
water: 2,800 sq km


temperate, with rainfall heavier in summer than winter; cold winters

Natural resources

coal, tungsten, graphite, molybdenum, lead, hydropower potential

People and Society


51,966,948 (2023 est.)

Ethnic groups



Korean, English (widely taught in elementary, junior high, and high school)


Protestant 19.7%, Buddhist 15.5%, Catholic 7.9%, none 56.9% (2015 est.)

Population growth rate

0.23% (2023 est.)


Government type

presidential republic


name: Seoul; note - Sejong, located some 120 km (75 mi) south of Seoul, serves as an administrative capital for segments of the South Korean Government

Executive branch

chief of state: President YOON Suk Yeol (since 10 May 2022); the president is both chief of state and head of government; Prime Minister HAN Duck-soo (since 21 May 2022) serves as the principal executive assistant to the president, similar to the role of a vice president
head of government: President YOON Suk Yeol (since 10 May 2022)

Legislative branch

description: unicameral National Assembly or Gukhoe (300 seats statutory, current 295; 253 members directly elected in single-seat constituencies by simple majority vote and 47 directly elected in a single national constituency by proportional representation vote; members serve 4-year terms)


Economic overview

strong export-driven East Asian economy; sustainable and social policy leader; foreign aid financier; automotive manufacturing; app-based developer and exporter; global healthcare technology leader; aging workforce; largest semiconductor producer

Real GDP (purchasing power parity)

$2.289 trillion (2021 est.)
$2.198 trillion (2020 est.)
$2.213 trillion (2019 est.)

Real GDP per capita

$44,200 (2021 est.)
$42,400 (2020 est.)
$42,800 (2019 est.)

Agricultural products

rice, vegetables, cabbages, milk, onions, pork, poultry, eggs, tangerines/mandarins, potatoes


electronics, telecommunications, automobile production, chemicals, shipbuilding, steel


0.43% of GDP (2021 est.)
0.45% of GDP (2020 est.)
0.43% of GDP (2019 est.)


$771.202 billion (2021 est.)
$607.505 billion (2020 est.)
$660.507 billion (2019 est.)

Exports - partners

China 24%, US 15%, Vietnam 9%, Hong Kong 6%, Japan 5% (2021)

Exports - commodities

integrated circuits, cars and vehicle parts, refined petroleum, office machinery, ships, telephones (2021)


$698.103 billion (2021 est.)
$541.57 billion (2020 est.)
$607.54 billion (2019 est.)

Imports - partners

China 24%, US 12%, Japan 9%, Vietnam 4%, Taiwan 4% (2021)

Imports - commodities

crude oil, integrated circuits, natural gas, refined petroleum, photo lab equipment, cars, iron (2021)

Exchange rates

South Korean won (KRW) per US dollar -
Exchange rates:
1,143.952 (2021 est.)
1,180.266 (2020 est.)
1,165.358 (2019 est.)
1,100.163 (2018 est.)
1,131.001 (2017 est.)

Page last updated: Tuesday, November 14, 2023