Dokdo is known as the Liancourt Rocks in English and Takeshima Island in Japanese. It consists of 2 main islets and 90 islets, rocks and reefs in the surrounding area. A total of 37 of these islets are recognized as permanent land.
The total area of the islets is about 187,450 square metres (46.32 acres), with their highest point at 169 metres (554 ft) on the West Islet. The West Islet is about 88,640 square metres (21.90 acres); the East Islet is about 73,300 square metres (18.1 acres).
The West Islet consists of a single peak and features many caves along the coastline. The cliffs of the East Islet are about 10 to 20 metres (33 to 66 ft) high. There are two large caves giving access to the sea, as well as a crater.
Dokdo is located 215 kilometres (116 nautical miles) from mainland Korea and 211 kilometres (114 nautical miles) from the main island of Japan (Honshu).
Due to their location and extremely small size, the islets sometimes have harsh weather. During the winter, ships are sometimes unable to dock because of strong northwestern winds. Overall, the climate is warm and humid, and heavily influenced by warm sea currents. Precipitation is high throughout the year (annual average—1,324 millimetres or 52.1 inches), with occasional snowfall. Fog is also a common sight. In the summer, southerly winds dominate. The water around the islets is about 10°C (50°F) in spring, when the water is coolest. It warms to about 25°C (77°F) in August.
The islets are a point of heated contention, alongside other Japan–Korea disputes. The Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs considers its position unalterable. South Korea, for its part, maintains a nationwide educational program which sends students from 62 elementary, middle, and high schools on field trips to the rocks on a regular basis. The government has also written a textbook about the rocks, intended to be used in elementary schools across the country, and manages a year-round national educational tour. When Japan's Shimane prefecture announced a Takeshima Day in 2005, Koreans reacted with demonstrations and protests throughout the country, extreme examples of which included a mother and son slicing off their own fingers, and a man who set himself on fire. On 10 August 2012, President of South Korea Lee Myung-Bak visited which marked the first South Korean President to visit.
Popular Korean singer Kim Jang-Hoon and teammates reportedly swam 48 hours 30 minutes from the Korean peninsula to Dokdo on 14 August 2012.