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Prathet Thai, literally translated meaning: “Land of The Free”, is the most popular tourist destination in Southeast Asia. Known as Siam until 1939, The Kingdom of Thailand – the official name – covers an approximate area of about 514,000 sq km (slightly smaller than France at 551,000 sq km) and is home to over 65 million people.
The country is bordered by Burma to the west and north, Laos to the northeast, Cambodia to the east, and Malaysia to the south. Standard Thai is the official language and is widely spoken, but in many areas regional dialects are the 1st language, such as Issan – a region in the Northeast of the country, where the locals speak a dialect more closely related to the languages of Laos and Cambodia; regional dialects are also spoken in the south of the country and the north.
Thailand has four distinct topographical regions: the ‘mountainous north‘, the ‘fertile central plains’, the ‘semi-arid plateau of the northeast‘, and the ‘southern peninsula‘ – distinguished by its many beautiful tropical beaches and offshore islands.
Full country name: Kingdom of Thailand
Location: Southeast Asia
Capital city: Bangkok
Area: 514,000 sq km – about the same size as France
Border Countries: Burma, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia
Ethnic groups: Thai 75%, Chinese 14%, other 11%
Religion: Theravada Buddhism 95%, Muslim 3.8%, Christianity 0.5%, Hinduism 0.1%, other 0.6%
Government: Democratic constitutional monarchy
Prime Minister: Prayut Chan-o-cha (2016)
Head of state: King Bhumibol Adulyadej (Rama IX)
Currency: Baht (THB) – 1 Baht = 100 Satang
Exchange rates: 1$ (USD) = Baht (THB) ฿34.79 (2016)
Health risks: HIV/AIDS, cholera, dengue fever, Japanese encephalitis, malaria, rabies
HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate: 1.1% (2012 est.)
Electricity: 220V, 50 Hz
The ten largest cities in Thailand
1 Krung Thep (Bangkok) 10,000,000+
2 Samut Prakan 402,000
3 Nonthaburi 309,200
4 Udon Thani 234,100
5 Nakhon Ratchasima (Korat) 217,000
6 Hat Yai 197,000
7 Chon Buri 193,900
8 Chiang Mai 178,100
9 Phra Pradaeng 177,100
10 Lampang 156,900
Note: The unofficial figures for Bangkok stand at around 9,000,000+
Calendar in Thailand
This year “2016” is the year “2559 B.E.” (Buddhist Era) in Thailand. The reference point is Lord Buddha’s birth 543 years before the birth of Jesus Christ.
Time Zone in Thailand
Thailand is 7 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). During British Summertime (BST), Thailand is 6 hours ahead of the UK.
Climate in Thailand
Thailand is a warm and 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 28.1 o C.
Recommended Vaccinations for Thailand
Most travelers to Thailand will need vaccinations for hepatitis A and typhoid fever, as well as medications for travellers’ diarrhea. Malaria prophylaxis is recommended for certain regions, in conjunction with insect repellents and other measures to prevent mosquito bites. Additional immunizations may be necessary depending upon the circumstances of the trip and the medical history of the traveler. All travelers should visit either a health clinic or their personal physician 4-8 weeks before departure.
Industry in Thailand
Tourism; textiles and garments, agricultural processing, beverages, tobacco, cement, light manufacturing, such as jewelry; electric appliances and components, computers and parts, integrated circuits, furniture, plastics; world’s second-largest tungsten producer and third-largest tin producer.
Copyright © 2016 Raymond Carroll