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Geography—note: strategic location bordering China, South Korea, and Russia; mountainous interior is isolated, nearly inaccessible, and sparsely populated

total: 120,540 sq km
land: 120,410 sq km
water: 130 sq km

Area—comparative: slightly smaller than Mississippi

Coastline: 2,495 km

Climate: temperate with rainfall concentrated in summer

Terrain: mostly hills and mountains separated by deep, narrow valleys; coastal plains wide in west, discontinuous in east

Natural resources: coal, lead, tungsten, zinc, graphite, magnesite, iron ore, copper, gold, pyrites, salt, fluorspar, hydropower

Environment—current issues: localized air pollution attributable to inadequate industrial controls; water pollution; inadequate supplies of potable water 

Population: 21,234,387 (July 1998 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 26% (male 2,800,857; female 2,669,250)
15-64 years: 68% (male 7,089,039; female 7,406,901)
65 years and over: 6% (male 387,011; female 881,329) (July 1998 est.)

Population growth rate: -0.03% (1998 est.)

Birth rate: 15.3 births/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Death rate: 15.57 deaths/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 87.83 deaths/1,000 live births (1998 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 51.32 years
male: 48.88 years
female: 53.88 years (1998 est.)

Total fertility rate: 1.6 children born/woman (1998 est.)

Ethnic groups: racially homogeneous; there is a small Chinese community and a few ethnic Japanese

Religions: Buddhism and Confucianism, some Christianity and syncretic Chondogyo
note: autonomous religious activities now almost nonexistent; government-sponsored religious groups exist to provide illusion of religious freedom

Languages: Korean

definition: age 15 and over can read and write Korean
total population: 99%
male: 99%
female: 99% (1990 est.) 

National capital: P'yongyang

Independence: 9 September 1948 Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) Foundation Day
note: 15 August 1945, date of independence from the Japanese and celebrated in North Korea as National Liberation Day

National holiday: Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) Foundation Day, 9 September (1948)

Constitution: adopted 1948, completely revised 27 December 1972, revised again in April 1992

Suffrage: 17 years of age; universal

Political parties and leaders: major party—Korean Workers' Party (KWP), KIM Chong-il, General Secretary; Korean Social Democratic Party, KIM Pyong-sik, chairman; Chondoist Chongu Party, YU Mi-yong, chairwoman 

Economy—overview: More than 90% of this command economy is socialized; agricultural land is collectivized; and state-owned industry produces 95% of manufactured goods. State control of economic affairs is unusually tight even for a communist country because of the small size and homogeneity of the society and the strict rule of KIM Il-song in the past and now his son, KIM Chong-il. Economic growth during the period 1984-88 averaged 2%-3%, but output declined by an average of 4%-5% or more annually during 1989-97 because of systemic problems and disruptions in economic and technological links with the former USSR and China. The leadership has insisted on maintaining its high level of military outlays from a shrinking economic pie. Moreover, a serious drawdown in inventories and critical shortages in the energy sector have led to increasing interruptions in industrial production. Abundant mineral resources and hydropower have formed the basis of industrial development since World War II. Manufacturing is centered on heavy industry, including military industry, with light industry lagging far behind. Despite the use of improved seed varieties, expansion of irrigation, and the heavy use of fertilizers, North Korea is not yet self-sufficient in food production. Indeed, a shortage of arable lands, several years of poor harvests, systemic inefficiencies, a cumbersome distribution system, and extensive floods in 1995-96 followed by a severe drought in 1997 have resulted in increasingly serious food shortages. Substantial grain shipments from Japan and South Korea are offsetting a portion of the losses. North Korea remains far behind South Korea in economic development and living standards.

GDP—real growth rate: -3.7% (1997 est.)

GDP—composition by sector:
agriculture: 25%
industry: 60%
services: 15% (1995 est.)

Agriculture—products: rice, corn, potatoes, soybeans, pulses; cattle, pigs, pork, eggs

total value: $912 million (f.o.b., 1996 est.)
commodities: minerals, metallurgical products, agricultural and fishery products, manufactures (including armaments)
partners: China, Japan, South Korea, Germany, Hong Kong, Russia

total value: $1.95 billion (c.i.f., 1996 est.)
commodities: petroleum, grain, coking coal, machinery and equipment, consumer goods
partners: China, Japan, Hong Kong, Germany, Russia, Singapore

Debt—external: $12 billion (1996 est.)

Currency: 1 North Korean won (Wn) = 100 chon 

Military manpower—availability:
males age 15-49: 5,704,690 (1998 est.)

Military manpower—fit for military service:
males: 3,449,880 (1998 est.)

Military expenditures—dollar figure: $5 billion to $7 billion (1995 est.)

Military expenditures—percent of GDP: 25% (1995 est.)

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