What Are the Physical Features of North Korea?

Mountain ranges are the dominant physical feature of North Korea's landscape as roughly 80 percent of the country consists of mountains, hills and highlands. Wide coastal plains in the west are home to the majority of the country's population.

The Kangnam Mountains separate the Korean Peninsula from China to the north while another range, the Baekdu-Daegan, runs through both North and South Korea along the western coast. The volcanic Baekdu Mountain is the highest in point in North Korea, and the Baekdu-Daegan as a whole have an important place in Korean folklore. Other notable mountain ranges include the Hamyong range to the northeast, the Taebaek Range that extends into South Korea and the Rangrim Mountains that cut through the northern and central parts of the country. The latter hinder communication and travel between the eastern and western parts of the country.

While the plains along the western coast of the country are sporadic and extremely narrow, the Pyonyang and Chaeryong counties in the west are about 310 square miles each. The Amnok and Daedong rivers, the first- and third-longest rivers in North Korea, respectively, both flow toward the west, as do most rivers in the country. The Duman River is one of the few exceptions. While this river is the second-longest in the country, it is largely unnavigable because of mountains in the area.