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North Korea Country Guide

Explore North Korea in Asia

North Korea with the capital city Pyongyang is located in Asia (Eastern Asia, northern half of the Korean Peninsula bordering the Korea Bay and the Sea of Japan). It covers some 120,540 square kilometres (slightly smaller than Mississippi) with 22,912,177 citizens.

Interactive map of North Korea

The terrain features mostly hills and mountains separated by deep, narrow valleys with coastal plains wide in west, discontinuous in east. The average density of population is approximately 190 per km². The notable climate conditions in North Korea can be described as temperate with rainfall concentrated in summer. Potential natural disasters are late spring droughts often followed by severe flooding or occasional typhoons during the early fall.

To reach someone in North Korea dial +850 prior to a number. There are 1,180,000 installed telephones. And there are 0 registered mobile phones. The cellular networks commonly support frequencies of 900 MHz. Websites registered in this country end with the top level domain ".kp". If you want to bring electric equipment on your trip (e.g. laptop power supply), note the local power outlet of 110/220V - 50/60Hz.

About the flag and history of North Korea

North Korea Flag Icon

Three horizontal bands of blue (top), red (triple width), and blue; the red band is edged in white; on the hoist side of the red band is a white disk with a red five-pointed star; the broad red band symbolizes revolutionary traditions; the narrow white bands stands for purity, strength, and dignity; the blue bands signify sovereignty, peace, and friendship; the red star represents socialism.

An independent kingdom for much of its long history, Korea was occupied by Japan beginning in 1905 following the Russo-Japanese War. Five years later, Japan formally annexed the entire peninsula. Following World War II, Korea was split with the northern half coming under Soviet-sponsored Communist control. After failing in the Korean War (1950-53) to conquer the US-backed Republic of Korea (ROK) in the southern portion by force, North Korea (DPRK), under its founder President KIM Il Sung, adopted a policy of ostensible diplomatic and economic "self-reliance" as a check against outside influence. The DPRK demonized the US as the ultimate threat to its social system through state-funded propaganda, and molded political, economic, and military policies around the core ideological objective of eventual unification of Korea under Pyongyang's control. KIM Il Sung''s son, KIM Jong Il, was officially designated as his father''s successor in 1980, assuming a growing political and managerial role until the elder KIM''s death in 1994. KIM Jong Un was publicly unveiled as his father''s successor in September 2010. Following KIM Jong Il''s death in December 2011, the regime began to take actions to transfer power to KIM Jong Un and KIM has now assumed many his father''s former titles and duties. After decades of economic mismanagement and resource misallocation, the DPRK since the mid-1990s has relied heavily on international aid to feed its population. The DPRK began to ease restrictions to allow semi-private markets, starting in 2002, but then sought to roll back the scale of economic reforms in 2005 and 2009. North Korea''s history of regional military provocations; proliferation of military-related items; long-range missile development; WMD programs including tests of nuclear devices in 2006, 2009, and 2013; and massive conventional armed forces are of major concern to the international community.

Geography Quick-Facts

SummaryContinent: Asia
Neighbours: China, South Korea, Russia
Capital: Pyongyang
Size120,540 square kilometers (km² or sqkm) or 46,540 square miles (mi² or sqmi)
slightly smaller than Mississippi
CurrencyName Won, Currency Code:KPW
Country Top Level Domain (cTLD).kp
Telephone Country Prefix+850
Mobile Phone Connections0
Landline Phone Connections1,180,000

Country Position in World Rankings

Information about single country attributes and how these compare against the rest of the world. The information below is compiled with data from 2013. As such, it may differ a bit to the Information above in the text (which is from 2010).


Value nameValueWorld Rank
Area120,538 (sq km)99

People and Society

Value nameValueWorld Rank
Population24,720,407 49
Population growth rate0.53 (%)148
Birth rate14.49 (births/1,000 population)137
Death rate9.15 (deaths/1,000 population)64
Net migration rate-0.04 (migrant(s)/1,000 population)110
Maternal mortality rate81.00 (deaths/100,000 live births)82
Infant mortality rate25.34 (deaths/1,000 live births)76
Life expectancy at birth69.51 (years)155
Total fertility rate1.99 (children born/woman)131
Health expenditures2.00 (% of GDP)189
Obesity - adult prevalence rate3.90 (%)173
Children under the age of 5 years underweight20.60 (%)31


Value nameValueWorld Rank
GDP (purchasing power parity)40,000,000,000 104
GDP - real growth rate0.80 (%)167
GDP - per capita (PPP)1,800 197
Labor force12,200,000 44
Taxes and other revenues11.40 (% of GDP)205
Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)-0.40 (% of GDP)52
Exports4,707,000,000 115
Imports4,000,000,000 137
Debt - external12,500,000,000 92


Value nameValueWorld Rank
Electricity - production20,450,000,000 (kWh)72
Electricity - consumption17,120,000,000 (kWh)72
Electricity - installed generating capacity9,500,000 (kW)58
Electricity - from fossil fuels47.40 (% of total installed capacity)161
Electricity - from hydroelectric plants52.60 (% of total installed capacity)39
Crude oil - imports8,432 (bbl/day)78
Refined petroleum products - production9,133 (bbl/day)107
Refined petroleum products - consumption15,070 (bbl/day)144
Refined petroleum products - imports7,967 (bbl/day)136
Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy63,690,000 (Mt)52


Value nameValueWorld Rank
Telephones - main lines in use1,180,000 72
Telephones - mobile cellular1,000,000 155
Internet hosts8 227


Value nameValueWorld Rank
Airports81 71
Railways5,242 (km)33
Roadways25,554 (km)101
Waterways2,250 (km)38
Merchant marine158 37

Data based on CIA facts book 2010 & 2013, wikipedia, national statistical offices and their census releases

List of current world heritage sites

Complex of Koguryo Tombs
The property includes several group and individual tombs - totalling about 30 individual tombs - from the later period of the Koguryo Kingdom, one of the strongest kingdoms in nowadays northeast China and half of the Korean peninsula between the 3rd ...
Historic Monuments and Sites in Kaesong
Situated in Kaesong city, in the south of the country, the site consists of 12 separate components, which together testify to the history and culture of the Koryo Dynasty from the 10th to 14th centuries. The geomantic layout of the former capital cit ...