Geographical divisionthailand beaches

 North - The mystical mountains and forests

Central - The vast green rice fields

Northeast - The breathtaking vistas from the plateaus

South - Jubilant tropical islands and beaches in the peninsula

Located: In the heart of Southeast Asia, a natural gateway to Indochina, Myanmar and Southern China

Provinces: 76 further divided into districts, sub-districts and villages

Capital city : Bangkok - The center of political, commercial, industrial and cultural activities

Monarch : His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej also known as King Rama IX, the ninth king of the Chakri Dynasty.Head of State, Head of the Armed Forces, Upholder of the Buddhist religion, Upholder of all religions.

Thailand is a constitutional monarchy with His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej, or King Rama IX, the ninth King of the Chakri Dynasty, the present King. The King has reigned for more than half a century, making him the longest reigning Thai monarch. Thailand embraces a rich diversity of cultures and traditions. With its proud history, tropical climate and renowned hospitality, the Kingdom is a never-ending source of fascination and pleasure for international visitors.

Neighbouring countries: Myanmar - west and north,Lao P.D.R. - north and northeast, Cambodia - southeast and Malaysia - south.

Area : 513,115 sq. km.

Population: Thais are well-known for their friendliness and hospitality. A large majority of over 62 million citizens of Thailand are ethnic Thai, along with strong communities whose ethnic origins lie in China, India and elsewhere. About 7 million people reside in the capital city of Bangkok.

 PeopleThai (80%), Chinese (10%), Malay (3%) and the rest are minorities (Mons, Khmers, hill tribes). Ethnic Thais form the majority, though the area has historically been at migratory crossroads, and has thus produced a degree of ethnic diversity.

History

Throughout its 800-year history, Thailand can boast the distinction of being the only country in Southeast Asia never been colonised. Its history is divided into five major periods -

The Nanchao Period (650-1250 A.D.)

The Thai people founded their kingdom in the southern part of China, which are Yunnan, Kwangsi and Canton today. A great number of people migrated south as far as the Chao Phraya Basin and settled down over the Central Plain under the sovereignty of the Khmer Empire, whose culture they probably accepted. The Thai people founded their independent state of Sukhothai around 1238 A.D., which marks the beginning of the Sukhothai Period.

The Sukhothai Period (1238-1378 A.D.)

Thais began to emerge as a dominant force in the region in the 13th century, gradually asserting independence from existing Khmer and Mon Kingdoms. Called by its rulers "the dawn of happiness", this is often considered the golden era of Thai history, an ideal Thai state in a land of plenty governed by paternal and benevolent Kings, the most famous of whom was King Ramkamhaeng the Great. However in Thai's Dancer1350, the mightier state of Ayutthaya exerted its influence over Sukhothai.

The Ayutthaya Period (1350-1767)

The Ayutthaya Kings adopted Khmer cultural influences from the very beginning. No longer the paternal and accessible rulers that the Kings of Sukhothai had been, Ayutthaya's sovereigns were absolute monarchs and assumed the title Devaraja (God-King). The early part of this period saw Ayutthaya extend its sovereignty over neighbouring Thai principalities and come into conflict with its neighbours.

The Ayutthaya Kings adopted Khmer cultural influences from the very beginning. No longer the paternal and accessible rulers that the Kings of Sukhothai had been, Ayutthaya's sovereigns were absolute monarchs and assumed the title Devaraja (God-King). The early part of this period saw Ayutthaya extend its sovereignty over neighbouring Thai principalities and come into conflict with its neighbours.

The Thon Buri Period (1767-1772)

General Taksin, as he is popularly known, decided to transfer the capital from Ayutthaya to a site nearer to the sea which would facilitate foreign trade, ensure the procurement of arms and make defense and withdrawal easier in case of a renewed Burmese attack. He established his new capital at Thon Buri on the west bank of the Chao Phraya River. The rule of Taksin was not an easy one. The lack of central authority since the fall of Ayutthaya led to the rapid disintegration of the Kingdom and Taksin's reign was spent reuniting the provinces.

The Rattanakosin Period (1782 - the Present)

After Taksin's death, General Chakri became the first King of the Chakri Dynasty, Rama I, ruling from 1782 to 1809. His first action as King was to transfer the royal capital across the river from Thon Buri to Bangkok and build the Grand Palace. Rama II (1809-1824) continued the restoration begun by his predecessor. King Nang Klao, Rama III (1824-1851) reopened relations with Western nations and developed trade with China.

King Mongkut, Rama IV, (1851-1868) of "The King and I" concluded treaties with European countries, avoided colonialisation and established modern Thailand. He made many social and economic reforms during his reign.

King Chulalongkorn, Rama V (1869-1910) continued his father's tradition of reform, abolishing slavery and improving the public welfare and administrative system. Compulsory education and other educational reforms were introduced by King Vajiravudh, Rama VI (1910-1925).

During the reign of King Prajadhipok, (1925-1935) Thailand changed from an absolute monarchy to a constitutional monarchy. The King abdicated in 1933 and was succeeded by his nephew, King Ananda Mahidol (1935-1946).

Religion and Culturethailandculture

Thailand is one of the most strongly Buddhist countries in the world. The national religion is Theravada Buddhism, a branch of Hinayana Buddhism, practiced by more than 90 % of all Thais.

The remainder of the population adheres to lslam, Christianity, Hinduism and other faiths. All of which are allowed full freedom of expression. Buddhism continues to cast strong influence on daily life. Senior monks are highly revered. Thus, in towns and villages, the temple (wat) is the heart of social and religious life.

Meditation, one of the most popular aspects of Buddhism, is practiced regularly by numerous Thai as a means of promoting inner peace and happiness. Visitors, too, can learn the fundamentals of this practice at several centres in Bangkok and elsewhere in the country.

Thailand is a country of scenic diversity and ancient traditions, of tranquil temples and modern urban excitement. With an independent history going back more than seven centuries, it has managed to absorb a variety of cultural influences and blend them into something uniquely and memorably Thai.

Each of its four major regions offers a distinctive experience for the traveler in search of discovery.

Misty mountains in the north shelter verdant valleys and exotic hill tribes, while in centers like Chiang Mai traditional customs and crafts have been preserved over generations.

Along the picturesque coastlines of the east and south lie some of the world's most beautiful Thailand beaches and off-shore islands, each with its own beauty.

Scattered over the northeastern plateau are superb Khmer monuments from the time of Angkor Wat and natural parks teeming with wild life.

In the Central Region can be found the evocative ruins of ancient Thai capitals and bustling Bangkok with its dynamic and countless pleasures.

Weather & Climate

Best described as tropical and humid, the majority of Thailand has a lush spread of verdant greenery during most of the year. The area of Thailand north of Bangkok has a climate determined by three seasons whilst the southern peninsular region of Thailand has only two.

In northern Thailand the seasons are clearly defined. Between November and May the weather is mostly dry, however this is broken up into the periods November to February and March to May. The later of these two periods has the higher relative temperatures as although the northeast monsoon does not directly effect the northern area of Thailand, it does cause cooling breezes from November to February.

The other northern season is from May to November and is dominated by the southwest monsoon, during which time rainfall in the north is at its heaviest.

The southern region of Thailand really has only two seasons -- the wet and the dry. These seasons do not run at the same time on both the east and west side of the peninsular. On the west coast the southwest monsoons bring rains and often heavy storms from April through to October, whilst on the east coast the rains fall between September and December.

Overall the southern parts of Thailand gets by far the most rains with around 2,400 millimetres every year, compared with the central and northern regions of Thailand, both of which get around 1,400 millimetres.

Languagethailand girls

The official national language, spoken by almost 100 per cent of the population is, THAI, classified by linguists as belonging to a Chinese-Thai branch of the Sino-Tibetan family. It is a tonal language, uninflected and predominantly monosyllabic.

Most polysyllabic words in the vocabulary have been borrowed, mainly from Khmer, Pali or Sanskrit. Dialects are spoken in rural areas. Other principal languages are Chinese and Malay. English, a mandatory subject in public schools, is widely spoken and understood, particularly in Bangkok and other major cities.

The Thai language is liberally sprinkled with words from Pali and Sanskrit (the classical languages, respectively, of Theravada Buddhism and Indian Hinduism).

Written Thai employs an alphabet of 44 consonants and 32 vowels that combine to form syllabic sounds. Thai is a tonal monosyllabic language. The same word can be said in five different ways - normal or middle tone, high and low, rising and falling.

In Thai, the meaning of single syllable may alter in five different tones.

Thai is one of the oldest languages in East and South-East Asia. According to linguists, it may event pre-date Chinese, at least in its prototypical form. Many of the so-called ‘loan-words’ thought to be borrowed from Chinese by the Thais actually have an Austro-Thai origin. At any rate, Chinese and Thai have many similarities, since both are monosyllabic tonal languages.


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