One of the world's oldest civilizations, Korea has a recorded history dating back to approximately 2,333 B.C. It enjoyed long periods of relative peace throughout its history. In 1910, Korea was annexed by the Empire of Japan, becoming a colony until 1945. Following World War II, the country was devastated in the Korean War and divided into two political entities as a result, North Korea and South Korea.
Gyeongju is a city and prominent tourist destination in eastern South Korea. It lies in the far southeastern corner of North Gyeongsang Province, on the coast of the Sea of Japan. Numerous low mountains, outliers of the Taebaek range, are scattered throughout the city. Gyeongju was the capital of the ancient kingdom of Silla, a fact to which it owes its present-day prominence. The Silla kingdom arose at the turn of the 1st millennium, and ruled most of the Korean Peninsula from the 7th to the 9th centuries. A vast number of sites from this period remain in the city today. After the kingdom fell, the city gradually declined in importance. Today Gyeongju is a typical medium-sized city, having shared in the economic, demographic, and social trends that have shaped modern South Korea. However, amidst these trends the city has retained a distinctive identity. In tourism, it is one of South Korea's most well-known destinations. In manufacturing, it profits from its proximity to major industrial centers such as Ulsan. Gyeongju is connected to nationwide rail and expressway networks, which facilitate both industrial and tourist traffic.