Area: 122,762 sq. km. (47,918 sq. mi.), about the size of Mississippi.
Cities: Capital–Pyongyang. Other cities–Hamhung, Chongjin, Wonsan, Nampo, Sinjuiju, and Kaesong.
Terrain: About 80% of land area is moderately high mountains separated by deep, narrow valleys and small, cultivated plains. The remainder is lowland plains covering small, scattered areas.
Climate: Long, cold, dry winters; short, hot, humid, summers.


Population (July 2011 est., CIA World Factbook): 25.5 million.
Annual population growth rate: About +0.42%.
Ethnic groups: Korean; small ethnic Chinese and Japanese populations.
Religions: Autonomous religious activities have been virtually nonexistent since 1945. Buddhism, Confucianism, Shamanism, Chongdogyo, and Christianity existed previously and have influenced the country.
Language: Korean.
Education: Years compulsory–11. Attendance–3 million (primary, 1.5 million; secondary, 1.2 million; tertiary, 0.3 million). Literacy–99%.
Health (1998): Medical treatment is free; one doctor for every 700 inhabitants; one hospital bed for every 350; there are severe shortages of medicines and medical equipment. Infant mortality rate–47/1,000 (2010 est., UN Population Fund–UNFPA). Life expectancy–males 65.5 years, females 69.7 years (2010 est., UNFPA).


Type: Highly centralized communist state.
Independence: August 15, 1945–Korean liberation from Japan; September 9, 1948–establishment of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (D.P.R.K., or North Korea), marking its separation from the Republic of Korea (R.O.K., or South Korea).
Constitution: 1948; revised in 1972, 1992, 1998, and 2009.
Branches: Executive–President of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly (chief of state); Chairman of the National Defense Commission (head of government). Legislative–Supreme People’s Assembly. Judicial–Central Court; provincial, city, county, and military courts.
Subdivisions: Nine provinces; two province-level municipalities (Pyongyang, Nasun, also known as Najin-Sonbong free trade zone); one special city (Nampo), 24 cities.
Political party: Korean Workers’ Party (Communist).
Suffrage: Universal at 17.


GDP (2009 est., CIA World Factbook): $28 billion; 46.9% in industry, 32.1% in services, 20.9% in agriculture.
Per capita GDP, purchasing power parity (2009 est., CIA World Factbook): $1,800.
Agriculture: Products–rice, corn, potatoes, soybeans, cattle, pigs, pork, and eggs.
Mining and manufacturing: Types–military products, machine building, electric power, chemicals, mining (coal, iron ore, limestone, magnesite, graphite, copper, zinc, lead, and precious metals), metallurgy, textiles, food processing, tourism.
Trade (2009): Exports–$1.997 billion (CIA World Factbook): minerals, metallurgical products, manufactures (including armaments), textiles, agricultural and fishery products. The D.P.R.K. is also thought to earn hundreds of millions of dollars from the unreported sale of missiles, narcotics, and counterfeit cigarettes and currency, and other illicit activities. Imports–$3.096 billion: petroleum, coking coal, machinery and equipment, textiles, grain.
Major trading partners (2009): (1) China, (2) R.O.K., (3) Singapore, and (4) India.