Seoul (/soʊl/, like soul; Korean: 서울 [sʌ.ul] ( listen); lit. ”Capital”), officially the Seoul Special City, is the capital and largest metropolis of South Korea. With surrounding Incheon metropolis and Gyeonggi province, Seoul forms the heart of the Seoul Capital Area, home to roughly half of the country’s population. Seoul is ranked as the fourth largest metropolitan economy in the world and is larger than London and Paris.
Strategically situated on the Han River, Seoul’s history stretches back over two thousand years, when it was founded in 18 BC by the people of Baekje, one of the Three Kingdoms of Korea. The city was later designated the capital of Korea under the Joseon dynasty. Seoul is surrounded by a mountainous and hilly landscape, with Bukhan Mountain located on the northern edge of the city. As with its long history, the Seoul Capital Area contains five UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Changdeok Palace, Hwaseong Fortress, Jongmyo Shrine, Namhansanseong and the Royal Tombs of the Joseon Dynasty. More recently, Seoul has been a major site of modern architectural construction–major modern landmarks include the N Seoul Tower, the 63 Building, the Lotte World Tower, the Dongdaemun Design Plaza, Lotte World, Trade Tower, COEX, and the Parc1 Tower. Seoul was named the 2010 World Design Capital. Also the birthplace of K-pop and the Korean Wave, Seoul received over 10 million international visitors in 2014, making it the world’s 9th most visited city and 4th largest earner in tourism