Where is it?:
Bordered by China on the north and South Korea to the south, with the Sea of Japan to the east and the Korea Bay/Yellow Sea to the west. The country also shares a small part of its border with Russia on the northeastern tip.
Pyongyang, which has a population of about 3.5 million.
As a communist nation, the red star is prominent on the national flag. The national coat of arms also features the red star along with a hydroelectric power plant and ears of rice. Pyonyang features the Juche Tower, a tribute to Kim Il-Sung, and the Arch of Reunification.
North Korea is a politically insulated country and an ethnically homogeneous as well, with just a few Chinese and Japanese represented in the population of more than 23 million. Life expectancy for men is just about 61 years. All religious activities operate under government control, though the population is traditionally Buddhist and Confucianist with some Christians.
The Korean Empire governed the region until the Japanese took control in 1905. In 1945, Korea was split with the north being under Soviet control. Claims over the whole of the territory by both the north and south led to the Korean War a few years later. Kim Il-Sung, father of current leader Kim Jong-Il, was president of North Korea since its official 1948 founding and held the nation to strict Stalinism.
Because of its international isolation and fear of letting international aid organizations operate in the country, the rates of poverty and starvation clearly put North Korea into the ranks of the undeveloped world. One of the leading industries is in the production of military products.
North Korea has the most citizens per capita serving full time in the military than any other country in the world. Both males and females begin serving at age 17, giving the country about 12.4 million ready for military service at any given time. The country's dictatorship is notorious for saber-rattling with nuclear tests and missile tests.
Type of government:
One-man communist rule, with the Korean Workers' Party representing ruler Kim Jong-Il.