The city has been established a long time ago and has been a centre of trade ever since. It was the administrative centre of the Three Kingdoms of Korea about 57 BC
With the construction of a railway to Seoul in 1914 modern industry was established. This includes cotton textiles, rice mills and breweries. With the construction of a designated industrial zone in 1967 industry in Gwangju grew markedly, especially owing to the automobile industry.
In May 1980 an armed uprising against the newly installed government of Chun Doo Hwan took place in Gwangju. The suppression of which caused at least 140 civilian deaths.
Choson University was established in 1946 and there are several colleges in the city. There are several old temples in and around the city.
Population: 1,100,000 (1990, estimate)