Seoul (/ soʊl /, like soul; Korean: 서울 [sʌ.ul] (About this soundlisten); lit. 'Capital'), officially the Special City of Seoul, is the capital and largest metropolis of South Korea. of 9.7 million inhabitants, and forms the heart of the Seoul capital region with the surrounding metropolis of Incheon and the province of Gyeonggi. Ranked as the world's alpha city, Seoul was the world's fourth largest metropolitan economy with a GDP of US $ 635 billion in 2014 after Tokyo, New York and Los Angeles. International visitors typically reach Seoul via AREX from Incheon International Airport, notable for having been rated top airport for nine consecutive years (2005-2013) by the Airports Council International. In 2015, Arcadis ranked the most livable city in Asia with the second best quality of life in the world, with a GDP per capita (PPP) in Seoul of around 40,000 dollars. In 2017, the cost of living in Seoul was 6th in the world. In 2020, the Seoul real estate market was ranked 3rd in the world for the price of apartments in the city center. Seoul was one of the host cities for the official 2002 FIFA World Cup tournament, co-hosted by South Korea and Japan.
With major technology hubs centered in Gangnam and Digital Media City, the Seoul capital region is home to 15 Fortune Global 500 companies, including Samsung, LG and Hyundai. Ranked seventh in the Global Power City Index and the Global Financial Centers Index, the metropolis exerts a major influence on world affairs as one of the top five hosts of global conferences. Seoul hosted the 1986 Asian Games, the 1988 Summer Olympics, the 2002 FIFA World Cup, and most recently the 2010 Seoul G-20 Summit.
Seoul was the capital of various Korean states including Baekje, Joseon, the Korean Empire, Goryeo (as a secondary capital), and currently South Korea. Strategically located along the Han River, Seoul's history dates back over two thousand years, when it was founded in 18 BC by the people of Baekje, one of the Three Kingdoms of Korea. The city was later designated the capital of Korea during the Joseon Dynasty. Seoul is surrounded by a hilly, mountainous landscape, with Bukhan Mountain located at the north end of the city. As with its long history, the Seoul Capital Region contains five UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Changdeok Palace, Hwaseong Fortress, Jongmyo Shrine, Namhansanseong and the Royal Tombs of the Joseon.
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