Political Status: Independent republic established August 15, 1948; present constitution approved in national referendum of October 27, 1987, effective February 25, 1988.

Area: 38,309 sq. mi. (99,221 sq. km.).

Population: 47,254,000 (2005C); 48,616,000 (2008E). The 2005 figure does not include an adjustment for underenumeration.

Major Urban Centers (2005E): SEOUL (9,572,000), Pusan (3,566,000), Taegu (2,625,000), Inchon (2,567,000), Taejon (1,467,000), Kwangju (1,451,000), Ulsan (928,000).

Official Language: Korean.

Monetary Unit: Won (market rate December 1, 2009: 1,161.10 won = $1US).

President: LEE Myung Bak (Grand National Party); elected December 19, 2007, and sworn in for a five-year term on February 25, 2008, succeeding ROH Moo Hyun (previously Uri Party; initially Millennium Democratic Party).

Prime Minister: CHUNG Un Chan (Grand National Party); nominated by the president on September 3, 2009, and confirmed by the National Assembly ...

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