Land and Resources, Environmental Issues
industrialized country, Rapid urbanization, marine pollution, endangered species, tropical forests
Rapid urbanization and population growth pose the most immediate threats to the environment of South Korea. The heavily industrialized country has a high rate of carbon dioxide emissions, releasing an average of 9 metric tons (1996) per capita each year. Air pollution is causing health problems in Seoul and other major cities. Deforestation and urban development have diminished natural animal habitats, threatening the survival of many large mammals native to the Korea Peninsula. Of the animal species inhabiting the country, 26 are threatened with extinction. Protected areas make up about 7 percent (1997) of South Korea, including more than a dozen national parks.
South Korea has ratified international treaties protecting biodiversity, endangered species, tropical forests, and the ozone layer. The country has also signed treaties limiting hazardous waste, marine pollution, and desertification.
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