Korean Demilitarized Zone
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Korean Demilitarized Zone

July 28, 2003
On July 27, 1953, an armistice agreement brought fighting, though not the war itself, to an end in Korea. One legacy of that 50-year-old ceasefire has been the 250-km-long (148-mile) truce line bisecting the Korean Peninsula into northern and southern halves. The armistice provided for a 4-km-wide (2.5-mile) buffer zone running west to east roughly along the 38th parallel. This buffer zone contains river deltas and grasslands toward its western end, but is mostly mountainous terrain in the east.

An interesting and unintended consequence of the armistice is that this swath of land has been protected from urbanization and cultivation for the past 50 years while populations on both sides of the zone have grown tremendously. Among the species making their homes in the DMZ are endangered Asian cranes, black-faced spoonbills, angora goats, Amur leopards, and even bears. These animals have learned to live peacefully under the watchful eyes of soldiers in a land strewn with mines.

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