North Korea, officially the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), is a state in East Asia, occupying the northern half of the Korean Peninsula. Its capital and largest city is Pyongyang. The border between North Korea and South Korea is called the Korean Demilitarized Zone. The Amnok River is the border between North Korea and China. The Tumen River in the extreme north-east is the border with Russia.
The peninsula was governed by the Korean Empire until it was occupied by Japan following the Russo-Japanese War of 1905. It was divided into Russian and U.S. occupied zones in 1945, following World War II. North Korea refused to participate in a United Nations-supervised election held in the south in 1948. This led to the creation of separate Korean governments for the two occupation zones. Both North and South Korea claim sovereignty over the entire peninsula and both were accepted as members of the UN in 1991.
North Korea occupies the northern portion of the Korean Peninsula, covering an area of 120,540 square kilometres (46,541 sq mi) (roughly the size of the American state Pennsylvania). North Korea shares land borders with People's Republic of China and Russia to the north, and borders South Korea along the Korean Demilitarized Zone. To its west are the Yellow Sea and Korea Bay, and to its east lies Japan across the Sea of Japan (East Sea of Korea). The highest point in North Korea is Paektu-san Mountain at 2,744 metres (9,003 ft). The longest river is the Amnok River which flows for 790 kilometres (491 mi).
North Korea's climate is relatively temperate, with precipitation heavier in summer during a short rainy season called changma, and winters that can be bitterly cold. On August 7, 2007, the most devastating floods in 40 years caused the North Korean Government to ask for international help. NGOs, such as the Red Cross, asked people to raise funds because they feared a humanitarian catastrophe.
The capital and largest city is Pyongyang; other major cities include Kaesong in the south, Sinuiju in the northwest, Wonsan and Hamhung in the east and Chongjin in the north.