Gwangju City is located in central Honam, which is in the southwest of the Korean Peninsula, the center of Northeast Asia. It borders Damyang County on the northeast, Jangseong County on the north, Hampyeong County on the west, Naju City on the south and Hwasun County on the southeast. Gwangju is the largest metropolitan city that represents the southwestern region.
Gwangju extends from Nam-gu Seungchon-dong (35˚03´13˝ north latitude) in the south to Sanpo-myeon, Youngsan River to Buk-gu Yongkang-dong (35˚15´22˝ north latitude) in the north. On the east side of Biseonggul, Buk-gu Chunghyo-dong forms the eastern boundary (127˚00´34˝ east longitude) of the city. The city extends 34.3 km. from east to west and 23.1 km. from north to south. Cities located on similar latitude lines are Busan and Jinhae in Korea, Tokyo in Japan, Jungsen in China, Algiers in Algeria and Oklahoma City in the U.S. Seoul is located on a similar longitude.
Geographically, Gwangju is situated in the north of Jeollanam-do, centered in Honnam province, serving as a hub of economy, administration, education and culture, including some parts of Jeonbuk. Surrounding Gwangju, there has been development toward Mokpo going through agricultural areas and towards Wando in terms of the bounty of agricultural products, towards Yeosu extending to Gwangyang international container ports and towards Namwon connecting Yeongnam. Likewise, Gwangju is located in the center of the six directions of the Honnam region, providing opportunity for geographical development into the hub of Honnam province.
The city is located in the median latitude maritime temperate climate zone. Its climate is somewhere in-between the west coast climate and the continental climate but is more similar to the west coast climate, which means that the city is warm and has sufficient rainfall. Winter is cold and dry, while summer is hot and humid. It has four distinct seasons. Recently, due to climate change, spring and fall have been shorter, presenting characteristics of a semi-tropical climate.
In terms of accessibility, Gwangju City has excellent transportation infrastructure, such as flights, rails and expressways, which enable a round trip to major cities, including Seoul, Incheon, and Busan within a day. The distance between Gwangju and Seoul is 290.9km (182 miles) which takes 55 minutes by plane, 1.5 hours by KTX (Korean High Speed Rail), and 3.5 hours by car. The distance between Gwangju and Incheon, a gateway to Korea, is 311.4km (194 miles), which takes 4 hours, 10 minutes by car, whereas the distance between Gwangju and Busan is 286.8km (178 miles), which takes 3 hours, 50 minutes by car.
Historically, Gwangju has cultivated a philosophical and cultural environment as a city of spirit, art and taste. It is a city of democracy, human rights and peace which has shown its spirit in many movements, including those in the late Joseon Dynasty, the Gwangju Students Independence Movement during the Japanese occupation of Korea and the May 18th Gwangju Democratic Uprising. In addition, Gwangju is a city of art and is moving forward as a hub of culture in Asia, following the hosting of the Gwangju Biennale and Design Biennale, which are international cultural festivals. Along these lines, Gwangju has developed as a 21st century Northeast Asian country by nurturing the next generation of strategic industries represented by the LED industry, New Energy industry and the cultural content industry.
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