South Korea, officially the Republic of Korea (or ROK) and often referred to as Korea (Korean: 대한민국, IPA: [tɛː.han.min.ɡuk̚], Hanja: 大韓民國), listen (help·info)) is a presidential republic in East Asia, occupying the southern half of the Korean Peninsula. Also known as the "Land of the Morning Calm", it is neighboured by China to the west, Japan to the east and North Korea to the north. South Korea's capital and largest city is Seoul, the world's second largest metropolitan city.
Korea is one of the oldest civilizations in the world, with its foundation dating back to 2333 BC by the legendary Dangun. Archaeological research shows that the peninsula was inhabited as early as the Lower Paleolithic. Following the unification of the Three Korean Kingdoms under Silla in AD 668, Korea went through the Goryeo and Joseon Dynasty as one nation until the end of the Korean Empire in 1910. After division, South Korea was established in 1948 and has since rapidly recovered from the Japanese invasion (1910–1945) and Korean war (1950–1953), operating a successful and stable democracy since the first direct election in 1987.
South Korea is a major economic power and one of the wealthiest countries in Asia. It had one of the world's fastest growing economies since the 1960s, now highly developed and one of the three largest in Asia and 13th largest in the world. Forming the G20 industrial nations and the world's top ten exporters, it is an APEC and OECD member, defined as a High Income Nation by the World Bank and an Advanced Economy by the IMF and CIA. A major non-NATO ally, it has the world's sixth largest armed forces and one of the ten largest defence budgets in the world. A leading Next Eleven country and an Asian Tiger, it is still among the world's fastest growing developed countries. Today, its success story is known as the "Miracle on the Han River", a role model for many developing countries.
South Korea is leading several key industries in the world, particularly in the fields of science and technology. It has a very advanced and modern infrastructure and is a world leader in information technology such as electronics, semiconductors, LCD displays, computers and mobile phones, led by Samsung and LG. Home of the world's third largest steel producer, POSCO, it is the world's largest shipbuilder, the world's fourth largest oil refiner and one of the top five automobile producers in the world, headed by Hyundai and Kia. It is also a leading country in engineering, construction, machinery, textiles, petrochemicals, biotechnology and robotics.