North Korea Overview
|Chosŏn Minjujuŭi Inmin
|Form of government
||People's Republic (Juche)
||UTC + 9 (KST)
|Telephone area code
The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North
Korea, Korea has been divided since 1945) lies in East
Asia and occupies the northern part of the Korean
peninsula as well as a narrow strip on the East Asian
mainland. In the north, North Korea borders on China and
Russia, in the east on the Japanese Sea, in the south on
South Korea(Republic of Korea) and in the west on the
Yellow Sea. With a national area of 121 638 km², the
country is about a third the size of Germany.
Most of the country is mountainous, the highest peak
in North Korea is Paektu-san at 2,744 m, which is
located in the northeast near the Chinese border. The
Nangnim-Sanmaek mountain range runs from north to south,
the Hamgyong-Sanmaek chain from northeast to southwest.
From the strongly structured coast of the Yellow Sea,
the country gradually rises up to the 100 km wide
coastal plain, in the east it drops steeply to the
Japanese Sea. Here the coast is not very structured.
Numerous rivers run through the mountainous country,
the longest is the Jalu with a total of 790 km, which
also forms part of the border with China. The capital of
North Korea, Pyongyang, is located in the west of the
country on the Korean peninsula.
The climate in North Korea is characterized by hot,
humid summers and cold winters with little rainfall. In
the capital Pyongyang, the average July temperatures are
24 กใ C and the January values are -8 กใ C. The annual
rainfall is about 910 mm, the rain falls mainly in the
Flora and fauna
Over 60% of the country is forested, mixed forests
with oak, beech, maple and birch predominate. Above 1
100 m the mixed forest changes into coniferous forest,
typical types of trees here are fir, spruce, pine and
larch. From an altitude of approx. 2,000 m, subalpine
vegetation with grasses predominates. In the lower-lying
areas in the west of the Korean peninsula, the original
vegetation has given way to agricultural use.
Typical forest animals such as red deer, foxes and
wild boar can be found in the forests of North Korea. In
the more remote regions there are also bears, wolves,
tigers and leopards. The bird life is rich in species,
especially in the coastal areas.
A total of around 23 million people live in North
Korea, although the estimates differ widely and there
are no official figures. The growth rate of the
population of 0.7% is based only on assumptions. Two
thirds of the North Koreans live in cities. The largest
city is the capital Pyongyang with about 2.91 million
residents. Other large cities include Hamhung (around
700,000 residents) and Chongjin (around 580,000
According to COUNTRYAAH, 99% of the population are Koreans, the largest
minority are Chinese, and some Japanese live in the
state. The official language is Korean, and Chinese and
Russian are sometimes used as commercial languages. The
traditional religions in this region are Buddhism and
Confucianism, but their importance has been severely
restricted by the socialist ideology of government.
Officially, almost 70% of the population are considered
to be non-denominational. Widespread is shamanism
(15.5%) and the chondokyo religion (13.9%), which
combines both Buddhist and Christian elements.
The standard of living of the population is much
lower than in South Korea; In the 1990s there were
repeated famines among the population. There is a
nationwide social and health system. The average life
expectancy is 71 years. School attendance is compulsory
for children from the age of four. The literacy rate is
given as 99%.
According to its 1972 constitution, the Democratic
People's Republic of Korea is a socialist state. In
fact, power is exercised by the Kim dynasty and its
confidants. The Korean Labor Party (PdAK) and the
military are also influential. The de facto head of
state is Kim Jong-un as 1st Secretary of the PdAK and
Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces (since April
At the same time, the constitutional organs exist:
the parliament (Supreme People's Assembly) has 687
seats; the people are elected by the people for a term
of five years. The Head of Protocol is the Chairman of
the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly (Kim
Yong-nam, since 1998). The Defense Committee and the
Cabinet of Ministers are further state organs. The head
of government is Pak Pong-ju (since April 2013).
Opposition movements in the country are not tolerated.
All North Koreans have the right to vote on their 17th
North Korea is divided into nine provinces and three
"special administrative regions". There are two "special
cities", and the capital Pyongyang is directly
administered by the government.
With the collapse of the Eastern Bloc, North Korea
lost its most important trading partners and their
economic aid. There are always famines that are
triggered by the socialist planned economy and poor
harvests. The country is dependent on extensive
international aid programs. In 2002, the subscription
certificate system that had existed in North Korea was
abolished; Businesses and private households were
converted to money management. The currency reform in
2009 further weakened the economy.
Around 20% of the land area can be used for
agriculture, and around a third of the workforce is
employed in this sector. The main crops are rice, corn,
potatoes, soybeans, cereals, tobacco and vegetables.
Pigs, cattle and chickens are kept in cattle breeding.
Fishing is very important for the supply of the
population. Although the population's own needs cannot
be met, food is also exported.
The industrialization of North Korea was already
being promoted at the time of the Japanese occupation,
today many of the factories are outdated and suffer from
a chronic lack of energy or spare parts. Significant
sectors are steel and iron production, machine and
vehicle construction and the chemical industry. The
country's mineral resources include hard coal and brown
coal, iron, copper, tungsten, lead, graphite and gold.
The cost of imports far exceeds the proceeds from
exports. Mining products, machinery, electrotechnical,
electronic and chemical products, foodstuffs,
fertilizers and vehicles are mainly imported to North
Korea. The main trading partners here are China and
South Korea. When it comes to exports (anthracite coal,
iron ore, textiles, fish and seafood, electrical
engineering and electronics), China is also the most
important trading partner, followed by South Korea.
The transport network is only moderately developed.
The railways are of the greatest importance here, with a
network of around 5 200 km. Of the approximately 31,000
km of roads, just under 2,000 km are paved. Significant
trading ports are Chongjin, Wonsan and Hungnam. There is
an international airport near the capital Pyongyang.
Currency is the North Korean won.