Korea is a historical country in East Asia; since 1945, it has been divided into two distinct sovereign states: North Korea (officially the "Democratic People's Republic of Korea") and South Korea (officially the "Republic of Korea"). Located on the Korean Peninsula, Korea is bordered by China to the northwest and Russia to the northeast. It is separated from Japan to the east by the Korea Strait and the Sea of Japan(East Sea).
Korea is the modern spelling of "Corea", a name attested in English as early as 1614. Korea was transliterated as Cauli in The Travels of Marco Polo, based on the kingdom of Goryeo (Hangul: 고려; Hanja: 高麗; MR: Koryŏ), which ruled most of the Korean peninsula during Marco Polo's time. Korea's introduction to the West resulted from trade and contact with merchants from Arabic lands, with some records dating back as far as the 9th century.[Goryeo's name was a continuation of Goguryeo (Koguryŏ) the northernmost of the Three Kingdoms of Korea, which was officially known as Goryeo beginning in the 5th century. The original name was a combination of the adjective go ("high, lofty") with the name of a local Yemaek tribe, whose original name is thought to have been either *Guru (溝樓, "walled city," inferred from some toponyms in Chinese historical documents) or *Gauri (가우리, "center"). With expanding British and American trade following the opening of Korea in the late 19th century, the spelling "Korea" appeared and gradually grew in popularity; its use in transcribing East Asian languages avoids the issues caused by the separate hard and soft Cs existing in English vocabulary derived from the Romance languages. The name Korea is now commonly used in English contexts by both North and South Korea.
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