As is true of all countries, Korea's geography was a major factor in shaping its history. Geography also influenced the manner in which the inhabitants of the peninsula emerged as a people sharing the common feeling of being Koreans.
The name "Korea" is believed derived from the phrase "high mountains and sparkling streams." Korea's other name, "Choson," is often translated as "the land of morning calm."
The Korean Peninsula is a landmass in northeastern Asia that extends southward from the northeastern corner of the Chinese mainland. South Korea, officially known as the Republic of Korea occupies the southern portion of the peninsula. The Korean peninsula is elongated, irregular in shape, and is surrounded on three sides by large expanses of water. It is bounded on the north by North Korea, on the east by the Sea of Japan, on the southeast and south by the Korea Strait (which separates it from Japan), and on the west by the Yellow Sea (which separates it from China). The peninsula is about 320 km (200 mi.) wide, 965 km (600 mi.) in length, and has a total land area of about 99,300 sq. km (119,700 sq. mi.), including numerous off-lying islands in the south and west. The largest of the islands is Cheju with an area of about 1829 sq. km. (2200 sq. mi.).
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