South Korea (listen), officially the Republic of Korea (Hangul: 대한민국; hanja: 大韓民國; RR: Daehanminguk, listen) and commonly referred to as Korea, is a sovereign state in East Asia, constituting the southern part of the Korean Peninsula. The name Korea is derived from the ancient Kingdom of Goguryeo, also known as Koryŏ. Highly urbanized at 92%, South Koreans lead a distinctive urban lifestyle with half of them living in the Seoul Capital Area, the world's third largest city with over 25 million residents and a leading global city with the fourth largest economy.
The earliest Korean pottery dates to 8000 BC, with three kingdoms flourishing at 1st century BC. One of them, Goguryeo, ruled Northeast China, parts of Russia and Mongolia under Gwanggaeto the Great. Since their unification into Silla and Balhae in the 7th century, Korea enjoyed over a millennium of relative tranquility under long lasting dynasties with innovations like Hangul, the unique alphabet created by Sejong the Great in 1446, enabling anyone to easily learn to read and write. Its rich and vibrant culture left 17 UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritages of Humanity, the third largest in the world, along with 12 World Heritage Sites. Korea was annexed by Imperial Japan in 1910, after whose surrender in 1945, it was divided into North and South Korea. A North Korean invasion led to the Korean War (1950–53). Peace has since mostly continued with the two agreeing to work peacefully for reunification and the South solidifying peace as a regional power.
South Korea's tiger economy soared at an annual average of 10% for over 30 years in a period called the Miracle on the Han River, rapidly transforming it into an advanced developed country with Asia's highest income equality and the world's 11th largest economy by 1995. A long legacy of openness and focus in innovation made it successful High civil liberties and freedom led to the rise of a globally influential pop culture such as K-pop and K-drama, a phenomenon called the Korean Wave, known for its distinctive fashionable and trendy style. Home of the UN Green Climate Fund and GGGI, South Korea is a leader in low carbon green growth, committed to helping developing countries as a major DAC contributor.
South Korea is known for high quality brands like Samsung, the world's leading smartphone and TV maker, LG and Hyundai-Kia, South Korea was named the world's most innovative country in the Bloomberg Innovation Index, ranking first in business R&D intensity and patents filed per GDP. It has the world's fastest Internet speed and highest smartphone ownership, ranking first in ICT Development, e-Government, 4G LTE coverage and IoT devices online.