South Korea (Korean: 한국/韓國, RR: Hanguk; literally 남한/南韓, RR: Namhan, or 남조선/南朝鮮, MR: Namchosŏn in North Korean usage), officially the Republic of Korea (ROK; Korean: 대한민국/大韓民國, RR: Daehan Minguk), is a country in East Asia, constituting the southern part of the Korean Peninsula, and sharing a land border with North Korea. 25 million people, around half of the country’s population of more than 51 million people, live in the Seoul Capital Area, the fifth-largest metropolitan area in the world.
Seoul (/soʊl/, like soul; Korean: 서울 [sʌ.ul] (About this soundlisten); lit. ‘Capital’), officially the Seoul Special City, is the capital and largest metropolis of South Korea. Seoul has a population of 9.7 million people, and forms the heart of the Seoul Capital Area with the surrounding Incheon metropolis and Gyeonggi province. Considered to be a global city, Seoul was the world’s 4th largest metropolitan economy in 2014 after Tokyo, New York City and Los Angeles. In 2017, the cost of living in Seoul was ranked 6th globally.
With major technology hubs centered in Gangnam and Digital Media City, the Seoul Capital Area is home to the headquarters of 14 Fortune Global 500 companies, including Samsung, LG, and Hyundai. The metropolis exerts a major influence in global affairs as one of the five leading hosts of global conferences. Seoul has hosted the 1986 Asian Games, 1988 Summer Olympics, 2002 FIFA World Cup (with Japan), and the 2010 G-20 Seoul summit.
Seoul was the capital of various Korean states, including Baekje, Joseon, the Korean Empire, Goryeo (as a secondary capital), and presently South Korea. Strategically located along the Han River, Seoul’s history stretches back over two thousand years, when it was founded in 18 BC by the people of Baekje, one of the Three Kingdoms of Korea. The city was later designated the capital of Korea under the Joseon dynasty. Seoul is surrounded by a mountainous and hilly landscape, with Bukhan Mountain located on the northern edge of the city. As with its long history, the Seoul Capital Area contains five UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Changdeok Palace, Hwaseong Fortress, Jongmyo Shrine, Namhansanseong and the Royal Tombs of the Joseon Dynasty. Seoul received over 10 million international visitors in 2014, making it the world’s 9th most visited city and 4th largest earner in tourism.