Most of the land in Gangwon-do consists of mountainous areas. Gangwon-do is largely divided into Yeongdong on the east side of the Taebaek summit, the backbone of Korean Peninsula, and Yeongseo on the west side of that ridgeline.
Lands lower than 100 meters above sea level only account for 5.6% of the total land size of Gangwon-do, even less than the 9.6% of South Hamgyeong Province. The low mountainous regions between 100 m and 500 m make up 46%, and middle-low mountainous regions between 500 m and 1,000 m for 43.4%, which is the highest rate in the nation, while high mountainous regions over 1,000 m represent 5%.
There are no large areas of flat land in this province at all. Some significant narrow coastal plains are found in the Gangneung, Donhae and Sokcho coastal areas between the Taebaek Mountain Range and the East Sea. Various-sized valleys are found around Bukpyeong and Cheorwon in the Yeongbuk region, and around Chuncheon and Wonju.
Ground transportation between the Yeongdong and Yeongseo regions is sometimes inconvenient (especially in the winter), since it requires going over high mountains passes such as the Daegwanryeong Misiryeong, Jinburyeong and Hangyeryeong. However, the views, from these thousand-meter passes, of the high mountains and deep valleys are truly beautiful sights. Gangwon-do's highway infrastructure is constantly being upgraded, so that driving the trans-Taebaek routes is getting safer and faster.
The Taebaek Mountain Range steeply inclines on its eastern side, which results in narrow plains along the seaside, while the western slopes of the Taebaek gently incline towards the lowland Seoul and Gyeonggi-do regions. The highlands of Yeongseo (west of the range) are mostly developed with high-altitude-type farm fields, which are different than sea-level fields.
Many small springs rise up in the many high-mountain villages and gorges in this province, they collect into clean streams and the origins of great rivers like the Han-gang and Nakdonggang, the main water sources of the Korean nation. This is why our province was granted the auspicious name "Gangwon," which means "Origin of the Rivers."
Most importantly for Gangwon-do, the twin great waterways Namhangang [South Han River] and Bukhangang [North Han River] gather in the Taebaek Mountain Range and flow westwards, uniting just before Seoul. The upper reaches of these rivers run through narrow scenic gorges that are ideal for tourism activities, while their lower reaches have naturally become densely developed.
The upstream watershed of the Bukhangang is in or near the DMZ, and the ordinary population is not permitted to live there, because of the current south-north conflict. There, various species of fish are living (including some that are unique to Korea), and the stream's ecological system is well preserved, as the quality of water is kept clean by careful observation and strict regulations.
It flows into the Dam of Peace, the Hwacheon-Chuncheon Dam, Soyanggang Multipurpose Dam and Euiam Dam, and then down to various dams in Gyeonggi Province, and is the source of clean drinking water for tens of millions of people. In addition, the Namhan-gang is a source of industrial electricity at the Yeongwol Thermal Power Station.