Gangwon-do is a province of South Korea, with its capital at Chuncheon. Before the division of Korea in 1945, Gangwon and its North Korean neighbour Kangwŏn formed a single province.
Area: 7,942 mi²
Population: 1.542 million (Oct 2014)
Gangwon-do was one of the Eight Provinces of Korea during the Joseon Dynasty. The province was formed in 1395, and derived its name from the names of the principal cities of Gangneung (강릉; 江陵) and the provincial capital Wonju (원주; 原州).
In 1895 Gangwon-do was replaced by the Districts of Chuncheon (Chuncheon-bu; 춘천부; 春川府) in the west and Gangneung (Gangneung-bu; 강릉부; 江陵府) in the east. (Wonju became part of ChungjuDistrict.)
In 1896 Korea was redivided into thirteen provinces, and the two districts were merged to re-form Gangwon-do Province. Although Wonju rejoined Gangwon-do province, the provincial capital was moved to Chuncheon, where it remains today.
In 1945 Gangwon-do (along with the rest of Korea) was divided by the 38th parallel north in 1945 into U.S. American and Soviet zones of occupation in the south and north respectively, which led to Wonsan joining the province's northern half in 1946 to serve as its administrative center. In 1948, the southern half of the province became part of the new Republic of Korea. As a result of the Korean War Armistice Agreement of 1953, the boundary between the South and North Korean portions of the province was shifted northward to the Military Demarcation Line.
Gangwon-do is bounded on the west by Gyeonggi-do province, on the south by the provinces of Chungcheongbuk-do and Gyeongsangbuk-do.To the north lies the province's North Korean counterpart, Kangwŏn province. The province's landscape is dominated by the Taebaek Mountains (Taebaek Sanmaek) which almost reaches the sea. As a consequence the coast is steep.
The area of Gangwon-do is 20,569 km2 (7,941.74 sq mi), of which four fifths are woodland. Edible alpine plants and mushrooms are harvested in these forests. The province is renowned for its agricultural produce, in particular potatoes and fish (cuttlefish and pollock). Mineral resources of the province include iron, coal, fluorite, limestone and tungsten. There are hydroelectric and thermoelectric power plants.
Seoraksan, one of the best-known mountains of Gangwon-do.
Cities and parks
The main cities in the province are Chuncheon (the provincial capital), Gangneung, Sokcho, Wonju, and Donghae. Seoraksan (mountain; 1,708 m) and Mt. Odae (1,563 m) with its ski run, attract a large number of international tourists. Both are located in national parks in the Taebaek Mountains. South Korea's largest limestone cave, Hwanseongul, receives over one million visitors a year.
Gangwon-do and its North Korean counterpart Kangwŏn are together referred to as the Gwandong region. The region west of the Taebaek Mountains is called Yeongseo, while the region east of the mountains is called Yeongdong. The term "Yeongdong" is frequently used in reference to transportation services from Seoul, the national capital. Thus, one might catch a bus or train on the "Yeongdong Line," or drive to Gangneung on the Yeongdong Expressway.
The climate of Gangwon-do is influenced by the latitude. In summer along with the higher temperature there is high humidity, but in winter the weather can be very cold owing to high pressure from the east of the Asian continent.
The climate of Gangwon-do can have many differences between Yeongseo and Yeongdong. Yeongdong's average temperature is higher than Yeongseo's, and Yeongseo's average amount of precipitation is lower than Yeongdong's. Violent winds are common in winter and spring, so Gangwon-do's average wind speed is faster than in other provinces. Sometimes huge amounts of snow can fall, especially in Yeongdong.
Religion in Gangwon Not religious (52.3%), Buddhism (23%), Protestantism (15.6%), Catholicism (9.1%)
According to the census of 2005, of the people of Gangwon 23% follow Buddhism and 24.7% follow Christianity (15.6%Protestantism and 9.1% Catholicism). 52.3% of the population is mostly not religious or follow Muism and other indigenous religions.
Gangwon-do is divided into 7 cities (si) and 11 counties (gun).