Introduction to Jeollanam-do
Jeollanam-do, which is known as South Jeolla Province in English, is located in the southwestern part of the country. Based on population at over 1.9 million people, Jeollanam-do is the fifth largest province. As for area, it’s the third largest. Jeollanam-do borders Jeollabuk-do to the north, Gyeongsangnam-do to the northeast, and Jeju-do to the southwest across the Korea Strait. Also, the city of Gwangju, which formerly belonged to Jeollanam-do, is situated in the centre of the province with some 1.5 million people.
In 995 A.D., the region was called Haeyang-do. However, in 1018, and along with present-day Jeollabuk-do, the region was known as Jeolla-do. Jeolla-do was eventually divided in 1896 into Jeollanam-do and Jeollabuk-do. And during Japanese Colonization (1910-1945), Jeollanam-do was called Zenra-nan. After Korean liberation, Jeollanam-do would form as a province of South Korea in 1946. And in 1986, Gwangju separated from Jeollanam-do to become a Directly Governed City and then a Metropolitan city in 1995. Gwangju was the historical capital of Jeollanam-do; but in 2005, the provincial capital was relocated to Muan-gun.
In total, Jeollanam-do consists of almost 2,000 islands along its extended coastline. Of these nearly 2,000 islands, about three quarters are uninhabited. The Jeollanam-do coastline stretches some 6,100 km in length. And because the province is only partially mountainous, it allows for both marine products and large scale agriculture.
Jeollanam-do is divided into 5 cities and 17 counties. The largest of these cities is Yeosu at 290,000 people. The smallest of the province’s cities is Naju at just over 100,000. As for the largest county, and also the capital of the province, it’s Muan at 71,000 people. The smallest county is Gurye in the northeastern part of the province at almost 28,000.
Religiously, the majority of the Jeollanam-do population are irreligious at 53.4%. This population also includes Korean shamanism. This is followed by Christianity at 30.5% (21.8% Protestant and 8.7 % Catholic). And the third largest religious demographic is Buddhism at 16.1%.
Jeollanam-do has two of the ten most significant temples in Korea. They are Hwaeomsa Temple and Songgwangsa Temple. In addition, there are numerous other temples like the beautifully situated Hyangiram Hermitage in Yeosu. There are other historic temples in Jeollanam-do like Seonamsa Temple, Daeheungsa Temple, and Dogapsa Temple. This list certainly isn’t exhausted, and the temples listed below prove that.