Geography of Korea: VI. Chungcheong-do
The name “Chungcheong” was coined in the early fifteenth century as a fusion of the names of the province’s two largest cities: Chungju and Cheongju. The region that constitutes Cheungcheong-do province is also known as Hoseo, meaning literally “west of the lake” (“ho” meaning lake) though what lake this refers to is uncertain. Some posit that is in reference to the Jecheon River, while others consider it to refer to the Geum River, which in the region of Buyeo was once referred to as the Baekho River. As with Jeolla-do and Gyeongsang-do provinces, in 1896 Chungcheong-do was split into southern (Chungcheongnam-do) and northern (Chungcheongbuk-do) provinces.
As of 2013, the population of Chungcheong-do (including here both Chungcheongnam-do and Chungcheongbuk-do) was 3.6 million (or about 7.1 percent of the national population), making it the third least populace province (after Jeju-do and Gangwon-do, which contain 1.2 percent and 3 percent of the population, respectively). Its total land mass is 15,612 sq. km. (or 15.6 percent of the national total), making it after Jeju-do (1.8 percent) the second smallest of the provinces. This said, due to its small size the province’s population density is relatively high at 231.9 persons/sq. km., placing it third in terms of population density behind the extremely dense Gyeonggi-do (1,203 persons/sq. km.) and Jeju-do (321.1 persons/sq. km.).
One reason for the this relative population density is that Chungcheong-do, with the exception of Jeju-do, has the lowest ratio of forested land and the least territory of any province. The province’s terrain is largely flat and low-lying and so from the ancient period it has been settled and developed, and though these settlements were small in scale they were widespread. The forested area of Chunghcheong-do comprises 14.2 percent of the total forested land of South Korea, while its dry and wet (paddy) fields constitute 20.4 percent and 18.4 percent, respectively, of the national total of such fields. Forested land constitutes 67.9 percent of the land of Chungcheongbuk-do, and 50.5 percent in Chungcheongnam-do. Chungcheongnam-do’s percentage of forested land is exceeded slightly by Gyeonggi-do (53.4%), making it second in terms of least forested provinces after Jeju-du (47.5%).