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An independent kingdom for much of its long history, Korea was occupied by Japan beginning in 1905 following the Russo-Japanese War. In 1910, Tokyo formally annexed the entire Peninsula. Korea regained its independence following Japan's surrender to the United States in 1945. After World War II, a democratic-based government (Republic of Korea, ROK) was set up in the southern half of the Korean Peninsula while a Communist-style government was installed in the north (the DPRK). During the Korean War (1950-53), US troops and UN forces fought alongside soldiers from the ROK to defend South Korea from DPRK attacks supported by China and the Soviet Union. An armistice was signed in 1953, splitting the peninsula along a demilitarized zone at about the 38th parallel. Thereafter, South Korea under the PARK Chung-hee regime achieved rapid economic growth with per capita income rising to roughly 17 times the level of North Korea. In 1993, KIM Young-sam became South Korea's first civilian president following 32 years of military rule. South Korea today is a fully functioning modern democracy. President LEE Myung-bak has pursued a policy of global engagement since taking office in February 2008, highlighted by Seoul's hosting of the G-20 summit in November 2010 and the Nuclear Security Summit in March 2012, as well as the forthcoming 2018 Winter Olympic Games. Serious tensions with North Korea have punctuated inter-Korean relations in recent years, including the North's sinking of the South Korean warship Cheonan in March 2010 and its artillery attack on South Korean soldiers and citizens in November 2010.


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Economy

Economy - overview
South Korea over the past four decades has demonstrated incredible growth and global integration to become a high-tech industrialized economy. In the 1960s, GDP per capita was comparable with levels in the poorer countries of Africa and Asia. In 2004, South Korea joined the trillion dollar club of world economies, and currently is among the world's 20 largest economies. Initially, a system of close government and business ties, including directed credit and import restrictions, made this success possible. 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 longstanding weaknesses in South Korea''s development model including high debt/equity ratios and massive short-term foreign borrowing. GDP plunged by 6.9% in 1998, and then recovered by 9% in 1999-2000. Korea adopted numerous economic reforms following the crisis, including greater openness to foreign investment and imports. Growth moderated to about 4% annually between 2003 and 2007. With the global economic downturn in late 2008, South Korean GDP growth slowed to 0.3% in 2009. In the third quarter of 2009, the economy began to recover, in large part due to export growth, low interest rates, and an expansionary fiscal policy, and growth was 3.6% in 2011. In 2011, the US-South Korea Free Trade Agreement was ratified by both governments and is projected to go into effect in early 2012. The South Korean economy''s long term challenges include a rapidly aging population, inflexible labor market, and heavy reliance on exports - which comprise half of GDP.

Gdp (purchasing power parity) World Ranking: 13
$1.574 trillion (2011 est.)
$1.519 trillion (2010 est.)
$1.429 trillion (2009 est.)
Note Data are in 2011 US dollars

Gdp (official exchange rate)
$1.116 trillion (2011 est.)

Gdp - real growth rate World Ranking: 107
3.6% (2011 est.)
6.3% (2010 est.)
0.3% (2009 est.)

Gdp - per capita (ppp) World Ranking: 40
$32,100 (2011 est.)
$31,100 (2010 est.)
$29,300 (2009 est.)
Note Data are in 2011 US dollars

Gdp - composition by sector
Agriculture 2.6%
Industry 39.2%
Services 58.2% (2008 est.)

Labor force World Ranking: 25
25.1 million (2011 est.)

Labor force - by occupation
Agriculture 6.4%
Industry 24.2%
Services 69.4% (2011 est.)

Unemployment rate World Ranking: 31
3.4% (2011 est.)
3.7% (2010 est.)

Population below poverty line
15% (2006 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share
Lowest 10% 2.7%
Highest 10% 24.2% (2007)

Distribution of family income - gini index World Ranking: 108
31 (2010)
35.8 (2000)

Investment (gross fixed) World Ranking: 28
27.4% of GDP (2011 est.)

Budget
Revenues $267.9 billion
Expenditures $242 billion (2011 est.)

Taxes and other revenues World Ranking: 129
24% of GDP (2011 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-) World Ranking: 24
2.3% of GDP (2011 est.)

Public debt World Ranking: 103
33.6% of GDP (2011 est.)
34.6% of GDP (2010 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices) World Ranking: 102
4% (2011 est.)
2.9% (2010 est.)

Central bank discount rate World Ranking: 130
1.5% (31 December 2011)
1.25% (31 December 2009)

Commercial bank prime lending rate World Ranking: 147
5.76% (31 December 2011 est.)
5.508% (31 December 2010 est.)

Stock of narrow money World Ranking: 13
$369.6 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
$352 billion (31 December 2010 est.)

Stock of broad money World Ranking: 13
$1.484 trillion (31 December 2011)
$1.445 trillion (31 December 2010)

Stock of domestic credit World Ranking: 15
$1.356 trillion (31 December 2011 est.)
$1.275 trillion (31 December 2010 est.)

Market value of publicly traded shares World Ranking: 15
$994.3 billion (31 December 2011)
$1.089 trillion (31 December 2010)
$836.5 billion (31 December 2009)

Agriculture - products
Rice, root crops, barley, vegetables, fruit; cattle, pigs, chickens, milk, eggs; fish

Industries
Electronics, telecommunications, automobile production, chemicals, shipbuilding, steel

Industrial production growth rate World Ranking: 84
3.8% (2011 est.)

Electricity - production World Ranking: 10
459.5 billion kWh (2011 est.)

Electricity - consumption World Ranking: 11
455.1 billion kWh (2011 est.)

Electricity - exports
0 kWh (2011)

Electricity - imports
0 kWh (2011)

Oil - production World Ranking: 62
48,400 bbl/day (2010 est.)

Oil - consumption World Ranking: 10
2.195 million bbl/day (2011 est.)

Oil - exports World Ranking: 21
1.1 million bbl/day
Note
Exports consist of oil derivatives (gasoline, light oil, and diesel), not crude oil (2011 est.)

Oil - imports World Ranking: 8
2.5 million bbl/day (2011 est.)

Oil - proved reserves
NA bbl (1 January 2011 est.)

Natural gas - production World Ranking: 68
539.3 million cu m (2010 est.)

Natural gas - consumption World Ranking: 21
43 billion cu m (2010)

Natural gas - exports World Ranking: 126
0 cu m (2010 est.)

Natural gas - imports World Ranking: 8
42.38 billion cu m (2010 est.)

Natural gas - proved reserves World Ranking: 66
50 billion cu m (1 January 2008 est.)

Current account balance World Ranking: 16
$29.79 billion (2011 est.)
$28.21 billion (2010 est.)

Exports World Ranking: 7
$556.5 billion (2011 est.)
$464.3 billion (2010 est.)

Exports - commodities
Semiconductors, wireless telecommunications equipment, motor vehicles, computers, steel, ships, petrochemicals

Exports - partners
China 24.4%, US 10.1%, Japan 7.1% (2011 est.)

Imports World Ranking: 9
$524.4 billion (2011 est.)
$422.4 billion (2010 est.)

Imports - commodities
Machinery, electronics and electronic equipment, oil, steel, transport equipment, organic chemicals, plastics

Imports - partners
China 16.5%, Japan 13%, US 8.5%, Saudi Arabia 7.1%, Australia 5% (2011 est.)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold World Ranking: 9
$306.4 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
$291.6 billion (31 December 2010 est.)

Debt - external World Ranking: 27
$397.3 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
$359.4 billion (31 December 2010 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment - at home World Ranking: 30
$130.3 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
$127 billion (31 December 2010 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad World Ranking: 21
$190.4 billion (31 December 2011)
$164.8 billion (31 December 2009)

Exchange rates
South Korean won (KRW) per US dollar -
1,108.3 (2011 est.)
1,156.1 (2010 est.)
1,276.93 (2009)
1,101.7 (2008)
929.2 (2007)

Fiscal year
Calendar year


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  South Korea (Seoul):


  GPS points from South Korea (Seoul)

Yunghung Do Inch On-gwangyoksi

Sangsin-ni Kyongsang-namdo

Sop'yong-ni Cholla-namdo

Tongbok-taem Cholla-namdo

Jang Do Cholla-namdo

So-som Inch On-gwangyoksi

Paet'ul-bong Kyongsang-bukto

Yonp'ung-ni Kyonggi-do




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