One of the few countries still under communist rule and one of the most secretive nations in the world, North Korea is located in East Asia, forming the northern part of the Korean peninsula. Pyongyang is the country’s capital and its largest city. After the Japanese surrender during WWII, Korea was divided into two zones, where the north was occupied by the Soviet Union, and the south by the United States of America (creating the Republic of Korea). The subsequent Korean War led to formal divisions and no peace treaty has ever been signed between the two nations. Both the 20th and 21st centuries thus far have not resulted in North Korea’s ability to integrate into the global social, political or economic systems and they remain at odds with most nations.
The majority of North Korean territory is composed of mountains and uplands, separated by deep and narrow valleys. The vast majority of the population lives in the plains and lowlands. With the exception of a small Chinese community and a few ethnic Japanese, most of North Korea’s 25 million people are ethnically homogenous Koreans. It remains a very poor country beset by famines and poor health of its citizens.