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The Seoul National Capital Area (SNCA) is a region located in the north-west of South Koreamarker. It is generally referred to as Sudogwon in Korean, and contains three different administrative districts; Seoulmarker, Incheonmarker and a large part of Gyeonggi-domarker.

The SNCA is technically distinct from the Seoul Metropolitan Area (SMA), as the former is a fixed entity, while the latter refers to places currently considered under the economic, industrial and cultural influence of Seoul. Since the extension of the Seoul Metropolitan Subway to Cheonan in Chungcheongnam-domarker, some have classified Cheonan as now within the SMA, but not within the SNCA. However, the terms SNCA, SMA and Sudogwon are largely analogous and used interchangeably.

The Seoul National Capital Area has a population of 24.5 million (as of 2007) . It forms the cultural, commercial, financial, industrial, and residential center of South Korea. The largest city is Seoulmarker, with a population of approximately 10.2 million people, followed by Incheonmarker, with 2.6 million.

Geography and climate

The National Capital Area occupies a broad area of relatively flat land around the Han Rivermarker valley. It contains some of the most fertile land on the Korean peninsula, although relatively little of it is now used for agriculture. The Gimpo Plain, one of the country's larger expanses of level arable land, covers much of the area of the cities of Gimpomarker and Gurimarker.

History

The National Capital Area has been home to a Korean capital for around 2,000 years. Its central location and relatively gentle landscape have given it a central role in the country's affairs.

The first capital to be constructed in the region was that of Baekje, one of the Three Kingdoms of Korea. The country's first capital was built in 19 BC and was named Wiryeseong. This is believed to have been constructed near the modern-day boundary of Seoulmarker and Gwangju City. However, Baekje was unable to hold this territory, and surrendered the Han River valley to Goguryeo in the 5th century. The land was then taken over by Silla in the 6th century, at which point it came to play a critical role in helping Silla to establish ties with Chinamarker.

After the fall of Silla, Taejo of Goryeo established the capital of his kingdom in Kaesŏng, now just north of the Demilitarized Zone. During the Mongol invasions of Korea in the 12th century, the seat of government briefly shifted to Ganghwa Islandmarker, now just south of the DMZ in Incheonmarker metropolitan city, where the Mongol naval attacks were repelled for about a decade before the king voluntarily surrendered to stop the carnage the Mongols committed in the peninsula, in order to lure the king out.

After the fall of Goryeo in 1394, the capital moved to Seoul (then called Hanseong or Hanyang), staying within the same region. During the new dynasty's rule, extensive road systems, administrative buildings, royal palaces, and new ports were built, quickly attracting wealth from all over the kingdom. During the Korean Empiremarker period, Hanseong's public transportation was improved with the installation of streetcars and manually-drawn trolleys similar to taxis. Horse carriage systems similar to the ones in Europe were also established.

Following the Japanese annexation of Korea in 1910, Hanseong was renamed Keijo (Gyeongseong) and served as colonial Korea's capital. Upon Korea's liberation from Japan in 1945, the former colonial capital was renamed Seoul and became capital of South Korea.

In the Korean War (1950-1953), the Capital Metropolitan Area became the focus of battles so destructive that most of Seoul and the surrounding regions were eradicated. Seoul was especially hit hard, since it exchanged hands four times during the course of the war.

During the latter half of the 20th century, the Capital Metropolitan Area began to rapidly develop as South Korea's economic wealth expanded. Population expanded fourfold since the Korean War. In 2001, the new Incheon International Airportmarker took over all international flights to Seoul.

Demographics

Covering only about 12% of the country's area, the Seoul metropolitan area is home to more than 48.2% of the national population, and is the world's 7th largest urban area. This percentage has risen steadily since the mid-20th century, and the trend is expected to continue. Currently more than half of the people who move from one region to another are moving to the capital area. By 2020, it is projected that more than 52% of South Korea's population will live within the area, or 25,520,450.8 people.

Government

Various agencies have been set up to deal with the intergovernmental problems of the region. Proposals for consolidating some or all of the cities of the capital area into a handful of metropolitan cities have thus far not been implemented.

Development in the area is currently governed by the Capital Region Readjustment Planning Act (수도권정비계획법), first passed in 1982 and last revised in 1996.

Subdivisions

The Seoul national capital area is divided among the special city of Seoulmarker, the metropolitan city of Incheonmarker, and province of Gyeonggi-domarker. Seoul has 25 gu (local government wards), Incheon has 10 gu and counties, and Gyeonggi-do has 31 cities and counties as the subdivisions.

Seoul

The 25 gu of Seoul.







Incheon

The 10 gu and counties of Incheon.







Gyeonggi-do

The 31 cities and counties of Gyeonggi-do.







Transportation

The cities of the capital area are tightly interconnected by road and rail. Many of the country's railroad lines, most notably the Gyeongbu Line, terminate in the region. In addition, the needs for commuter rail are served by the Seoul Metropolitan Subway, which passes not only through Seoul and Incheon, but also through most of the outlying cities.

In addition, the region is a nexus for travel by air and water. The country's two largest airports, Incheon International Airportmarker and Gimpo Airportmarker, are both located in the metropolitan area. International and domestic ferries depart from Incheon's various ferry terminals several times a day; in addition, massive volumes of international freight pass through the container terminals of Incheon (primarily bound to and from Chinamarker).

Seoul Ring Expressway (Expressway No.100) connects satellite cities around Seoul, Ilsan, Toegyewon, Hanammarker, Pyeongchon, Songnae, Bundang, Pangyo and Gimpomarker.

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