The terrain slopes downward from the Kangnam Mountains in the south to the Yalu River in the north. The highest peak is Namhaetaesan (남해태산, 1,079 m). Some 20% of the land is arable, with animal husbandry and beekeeping playing important roles. 76.1% of the land is forested, and thus logging also contributes to the local economy.
The climate is continental, with hot summers and cold winters. The highest temperature recorded in North Korea, 41 °C, was recorded in the county in July 1961.
During the Korean War on October 26, 1950, Republic of Korea forces reached the Yalu River at Chosan, shortly before the massive Chinese counterattack.
In 1999, a complex of Koguryo tombs was excavated in Chosan.