Population: 10,208,302 (2009 estimate)
Land Area: 233.7 square miles (605.2 sq km)
Average Elevation: 282 feet (86 m)
Seoul is the capital and largest city in South Korea. It is considered a megacity because it has a population of over ten million people and it is one of the largest cities in the entire world. Nearly half of the South Korea's entire population lives in the Seoul National Capital Area (which also includes Incheon and Gyeonggi and makes it the second largest metropolitan area in the world). Because of its very large population, Seoul is considered a global city and it is the center of South Korea's economy, culture and politics.
The following is a list of ten more important facts to know about Seoul, South Korea:
1) Throughout its history, Seoul was known by a number of different names. The name Seoul itself is believed to have originated from the Korean word for capital city, Seoraneol. The name Seoul is interesting however because it has no matching Chinese characters, instead a Chinese name for the city, which sounds similar has recently been chosen.
2) Seoul has been continuously settled for over 2,000 years and it is believed that the city was first founded in 18 B.C.E by the Baekje, one of the Three Kingdoms of Korea. The city also remained as the capital of Korea during the Joseon Dynasty and the Korean Empire. During Japanese colonization of Korea in the early 20th century, Seoul became known as Gyeongseong.
3) In 1945, Korea gained its independence from Japan and the city was renamed Seoul. In 1949, the city separated from Gyeonggi Province and it became a "special city." In 1950 however, North Korean troops occupied the city during the Korean War and the entire city was nearly destroyed. On March 14, 1951, United Nations forces took control of Seoul and since then, the city has rebuilt and grown considerably.
4) Today, Seoul is still considered a special city, or a direct controlled municipality, in that it as a city has a status equal to that of a province. This means that it has no provincial government controlling it; rather the federal government of South Korea controls it directly.
5) As one of the largest cities in the world and a leading global city, Seoul has become the headquarters for many international companies. Currently it is the headquarters of companies like Samsung, LG, Hyundai and Kia. It also generates over 20% of South Korea's gross domestic product. In addition to its large multinational companies, Seoul's economy is focused on tourism, building and manufacturing. The city is also known for its shopping and the Dongdaemun Market, which is the largest market in South Korea, is located in the city.
6) Due to its very large population and relatively small area, Seoul is known for its population density which is about 44,776 people per square mile (17,288 people per sq km). As such, much of the city consists of dense high rise apartment buildings. Mostly all of Seoul's residents are of Korean descent, although there are some small groups of Chinese and Japanese.
7) Seoul is located in the northwestern part of South Korea (map). The city of Seoul itself has an area of 233.7 square miles (605.2 sq km) and it is cut in half by the Han River which was previously used as a trade route to China and helped the city grow throughout its history. The Han River is no longer used for navigation however because its estuary is at the border between North and South Korea. Seoul is surrounded by several mountains but the city itself is relatively flat because it is on the Han River plain. The average elevation of Seoul is 282 feet (86 m).
8) Seoul is divided into 25 administrative divisions called gu. Each gu has its own government and each is divided into several neighborhoods called a dong. Each gu in Seoul varies in both size and population and Songpa has the largest population. Seocho is the gu with the largest area in Seoul.
9) The climate of Seoul is considered both humid subtropical and humid continental (the city lies on the border of these). Summers are hot and humid and the East Asian monsoon has a strong impact on Seoul's weather from June to July. Winters are usually cold and dry, although the city gets an average of 28 days of snow per year. The average January low temperature for Seoul is 21˚F (-6˚C) and the average August high temperature is 85˚F (29.5˚C).
10) Because of its very long history of settlement, Seoul is home to a number of historic sites and monuments. In addition, the Seoul National Capital Area has four UNESCO World Heritage Sites. They are the Changdeokgung Palace Complex, the Hwaseong Fortress, the Jongmyo Shrine and the Royal Tombs of the Joseon Dynasty.
To learn more about Seoul, visit the city's official website.
Wikipedia.org. (27 November 2010). Seoul - Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seoul
Wikipedia.org. (24 November 2010). Direct Controlled Municipality - Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Direct-controlled_municipality#Republic_of_Korea