Seoul ( listen (help·info) Korean pronunciation: [sʌ.ul]) is the capital and largest city of South Korea. The Seoul National Capital Area, which includes the major port city of Incheon and satellite towns in Gyeonggi-do, has 24.5 million inhabitants and is the world's second largest metropolitan area. Almost half of South Korea's population live in the Seoul National Capital Area, making it the country's chief economic, political and cultural center. As a special city, Seoul is administered directly by the national government and is divided into 25 major districts.
The city is located on the basin of the Han River in the country's northwest. The North Korean border lies about 50 km to the north. Seoul first appears in history in 18 BC, when the Baekje, one of the Three Korean Kingdoms, established its capital Wirye-seong in what is now south-east Seoul. Modern Seoul descends from the Goryeo-era city of Namgyeong, which then became the capital of Korea during the Joseon dynasty. The Seoul National Capital Area includes three World Heritage sites: Changdeokgung, Hwaseong Fortress and the Jongmyo Shrine.
The city has hosted the 1988 Summer Olympics and the 2002 FIFA World Cup. Seoul's influence as a leading business and cultural center contributes to its status as a major global city, and is one of the world's top ten financial and commercial cities. It is also the fifth most expensive city in the world and the second most expensive city in Asia. In recent years, the Seoul Metropolitan Government has undertaken major environmental projects, including the nearly $1 billion restoration of Cheonggyecheon. At the same time, the city has promoted the Seoul Digital Media City, the world's first complex for high-tech digital technologies in IT, multimedia and entertainment.