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South Korea Table of Contents

South Korea


Population: 1980 census reports total population of 37,448,836. January 1989 estimate 42.2 million. Population in 1985 of two largest cities, Seoul and Pusan, 9.6 million and 3.5 million, respectively. Population growth rate in late 1980s less than 1 percent.

Language: Korean the national language. No significant linguistic minorities. Regional dialects of Korean mutually intelligible with exception of that spoken on Cheju Island. Written language uses Chinese characters and Korean han'gul script, or han'gul alone.

Education and Literacy: Adult literacy rate in late 1980s approximately 93 percent. Primary school education compulsory (grades one through six). Approximately 95 percent of population age-group in secondary schools (middle and high schools); 83 percent in academic high schools; 17 percent in vocational high schools in 1987. About 35 percent of student agegroup attended colleges and universities in 1989--one of world's highest rates.

Religion: Great diversity of religious traditions include Buddhism, Confucianism, Ch'ondogyo, Catholicism, and Protestantism, and as many as 300 new religions incorporating elements of these mainstream religions. Shamanism oldest religious tradition.

Health: Increase in life expectancy from 51.1 years for men and 54.2 years for women in late 1950s to 66 years for men and 73 years for women in 1990 reflects dramatic improvements in health conditions. Death rate declined significantly from 13.8 deaths per 1,000 in late 1950s to 6 per 1,000 in 1990. Infant mortality 23 deaths per 1,000 live births as of mid-1990. Health personnel and facilities largely concentrated in large cities, particularly Seoul and Pusan. Serious public health problems caused by environmental pollution and poor sanitation. No unified national health insurance system but medical insurance benefits available to almost all South Koreans.

Data as of June 1990