Jeolla replaced the former Goryeo-era provinces of Gangnam and Haeyang (modern-day North and South Jeolla respectively). The province took its name from the cities of Jeonju (전주; 全州) and Naju (나주; 羅州; the "n" (ㄴ) in "Naju" and the second "l" (ㄹ) in "Jeolla" are related due to a phonetic rule in Korean). The two cities were both former Mok (administrative divisions in early Goryeo), and became the provincial capitals of North and South Jeolla respectively in 1896. (During the Japanese Colonial Period, the capital of South Jeolla was moved to Gwangju.) During the Joseon Dynasty, the provincial capital of Jeolla was located at Jeonju.
The Jeolla region as a whole is often referred to by the regional name of "Honam." Jeolla Province was situated on the southwest tip of the Korean Peninsula, and was bounded on the north by Chungcheong Province, on the east by Gyeongsang Province, on the south by Jeju Strait, and on the west by the Yellow Sea. The region is bordered on the east by the Sobaek Mountains and is drained by the Nakdong River. The largest city in the region is Gwangju. Other cities of note are Iksan (formerly Iri), Gunsan, Mokpo, Suncheon, and Yeosu.