Few travelers to Korea would dispute that Korea is highly urban. Nevertheless, I was surprised that 9 out 10 Koreans now live in urban areas.
According to a report released by the Korean Ministry of Construction and Transportation (MOCT), about 43.9 million out of the Korean population of 48.5 million, or 90.2 percent, were found to live in cities, up from 88.3 percent in 2000 and 81.9 percent in 1990. The remaining 4.6 million, or 9.8 percent, reside in rural areas.
The ministry expected that Korea's population to reach its peak at 50 million in 2020 and decline afterwards.
The country ranked third in population density in the world with an average of 487 people per square kilometer, after Bangladesh and Taiwan. Persons aged 65 or older accounted for about 9.5 percent of the population, up 0.4 percentage points from a year ago, according to the ministry.
The country has a total of 99,646 square kilometers of land of which 64,805 square kilometers, or 65 percent, are categorized as forestland and 21,216 square kilometers, or 21.3 percent, are either farm or grassland.
The size of urbanized land used for factories and houses stood at 6,101 square kilometers, up 2.3 percent from 5,966 square kilometers in 2005.
Kyonggi Province has the largest urbanized land area among provinces at 3,131 square kilometers, while North Kyongsang Province possesses 11,565 square kilometers of farmland. Kangwon Province has the largest area of protected lands at 1,902 square kilometers.