is roughly an area of 513,115 sqkm (198,404sq m), located between
6° and 21° north latitude and 97° and 106° east
longitude. It is bordered by Laos to the northeast, Myanmar to the
north and west, Cambodia to the east, and Malaysia to the south.
The longest north-south distance is about 1500km (930 miles), the
longest east-west distance about 800km (500 miles). The topography
is flat alluvial plains intersected by winding rivers and streams
in central Thailand, a plateau in the northeast, forest-covered
mountains and hills in the north and mostly hills in the south.
The captial is Bangkok (Krung Thep).
is naturally divided into four topographic regions: 1) the North,
2) the Central Plain, or Chao Phraya River basin, 3) the Northeast,
or the Korat Plateau, and 4) the South, or Southern Isthmus.
North is a mountainous region characterized by natural forests,
ridges, and deep, narrow, alluvial valleys.
Thailand, the basin of the Chao Phraya River, is a lush, fertile
valley. It is the richest and most extensive rice-producing area
in the country and has often been called the Rice Bowl of
Asia. Bangkok, the capital of Thailand, is located in this
Northeastern region, or Korat Plateau, is an arid region characterized
by a rolling surface and undulating hills. Harsh climatic conditions
often result in this region being subjected to floods and droughts.
Southern region is hilly to mountainous, with thick virgin forests
and rich deposits of minerals and ores. This region is the center
for the production of rubber and the cultivation of other tropical
coastline is approximately 3,219 kilometers in length. Forest covers
some 32 percent of the country's total area, while cultivation occupies
about 40 percent.
Thailand is a warm and rather humid tropical country. The climate
is monsoonal, marked by a pronounced rainy season lasting from about
May to September and a relatively dry season for the remainder of
the year. Temperatures are highest in March and April and lowest
in December and January. The average temperature is 23.7 to 32.5
Thailand has a combined
population of 61,230,874
(estimated July 2000), the growth rate is roughly 1.5%, infant mortality
24 in 1,000 live births. The most important ethic minority is Chinese.
About 36% of people lives in urban areas. Life expectancy for males
is 58 years, females 64 years. Forty-five percent of the population
is under 30 years old.
greet each other with a prayer-like gesture called a Wai. Generally,
a younger person Wais an older person, who will then return it.
Thais address each other (and usually foreigners) by their first
names (which is also how they are listed in the telephone directory
followed by their family name) This is prefixed by the polite word
Khun. Public displays of affection, shouting and wild gesticulation
are to be avoided as they are considered impolite.
head is considered the highest part of the body, while the feet
are considered the lowest, both literally and figuratively. Touching
someone's head or pointing at people or things with the feet are,
therefore, considered extremely rude. As with entering temples,
shoes are removed before entering somebody's home.
national language of Thailand is Thai (spoken by 85% of population).
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.
Ramkhamhaeng the Great who ruled the Sukhothai Kingdom from 1279-1298
initiated the Thai inscription in 1292. The inscription is considered
to be a seminal source of Sukhothai history as well as a masterpiece
of Thai literature.
is a tonal monosyllabic language. The same word can be said in five
different ways - normal or middle tone, high, low, rising and falling.
English, it is read from left to right, but that is where the similarities
end. Some English sounds like "th", "v" and
"z" do not appear at all, while some Thai sounds are not
commonly used in English either. Further, it should be noted that
in transcribing Thai sounds into English phonetics some consonants
(e.g., b, p, l, n, d, and t) can be used interchangeably.
are no plurals in Thai, nor are there tenses as such. A word or
two is usually added to determine the past, present or future.
Thailand's major cities, the level of English can be quite good,
but visitors will find that the Thais' ability to speak English
diminishes as one moves further away from the population centers.
Thai there is a "politening" word attached to the end
of anything you say. For men it is "khrap," for women
it is "kha."
is widely understood in the cities.
of the Theravada confession is the principal religion of the country.
95% of the countrys population adheres to it. Schools teach
Buddhist tenets and morals as part of the curriculum except in Muslim
areas in the South. The remainder of the poplulation are 4% Muslim
and 1% other (includes Christian, Hindu). There is total religious
freedom and all major religions can be found in practice.
1932, the Government of Thailand has been a democratic constitutional
monarchy. The Royal Family is highly revered in Thailand, and images
such as statues, photographs, pictures, etc., should be shown due
respect. In a cinema, everybody is expected to stand during the
playing of the Royal Anthem and a portrait of the King is shown
on the screen. The head of state is His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej
who has been there since since 1946.
The Head of Government is Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra (since
national flag, ceremoniously raised each morning in every town and
village, is composed of five horizontal bands of red, white, and
blue. Outer bands of red representing the nation enclose equal inner
bands of white, evoking religion. The blue band, occupying the central
one - third of the total area, symbolizes the monarchy. The harmony
of design expresses the complementary nature of these three pillars
of the Thai nation.
This tri-colored flag, called in Thai the "trirong," first
introduced by King Vajiravudh (Rama VI) in 1917, succeeded an earlier
design that placed a white elephant (emblem of the absolute monarch)
on a red background.
Thai national and royal symbol is the Garuda, a mythical half-bird
half-human figure (steed of the Hindu god Vishnu) that adorns King
Bhumibol Adulyadejs scepter and royal standard. Many ministries
and departments have incorporated the Garuda into their insignias.
Moreover, the Garuda signifies By Royal Appointment,
and is awarded, at the personal discretion of His Majesty the King,
as a sign of royal approval to companies that have rendered outstanding
economic and charitable services to Thailand.