The capital of Chungcheongnam-do, Daejeon is the fifth-largest city in the country and its industrial heart, producing everything from tires to textiles to pharmaceuticals. Only about 2 hours from Seoul by car, it is a major transportation hub and one of South Korea's main centers for science and technology. In fact, the city's Daedeok Valley has been nicknamed the "Silicon Valley of Korea" and Daedeok Science Town, which lies just northwest of Daejeon, is home to dozens of private and government agencies devoted to research and education.
The area around Daejeon was traditionally called hanbat (large field), but today it looks less and less rural. The city sits on a large plain surrounded by mountain ranges -- Gyeoryongsan, Gyejoksan, Sikjangsan, and Maninsan -- and its rapid growth has led it to incorporate neighboring towns. The three major rivers that pass through Daejeon (their paths largely determined the city's district divisions) and which all converge into the country's most impressive and biggest river, the Geumgang (Geum River), have been dammed and now provide both electricity and drinking water. Daejeon may be industrial, but there is still much for visitors to see here, including the famed Yuseong hot springs, which are rumored to have been used by ancient royalty. In fact, Daejeon is a former capital of the ancient Baekje Kingdom, likely starting in the 4th century, and it is home to relics and artifacts dating from that time, as well as the Stone and Bronze ages.