Facts and Information About Thailand

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Thailand is a South East Asian country situated in the Indo China peninsular. The official name is Ratcha Anachak Thai. Thailand is known for its palaces, beaches, nightlife, temples and massive statues of the Buddha.

Thailand is a small nation, about as large as Spain or France. Thailand has a population of approximately 68 million. The official currency is the Bhatt.

Thailand lies completely in the tropics stretching from 60   N to 180 N. It lies on longitude 1000 E. The Standard Time is about seven hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time.

The climate is tropical with the influence of the monsoon in summer. The three seasons are summer, monsoon and winter. Despite the seasons there is little variation in temperature. It is generally hot and humid all the year round.

There are four main eco systems in Thailand. They are the hilly forested areas of the north, the fertile rice fields of the central plateau, the rugged plateau of the North East and the coasts of the Southern Peninsular.

Thailand shares a border with Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia. The tip of the Southern Peninsular belongs to Malaysia. The Gulf of Thailand in the South lies in the Indian Ocean.

During the colonial era, the Europeans established their presence in all the neighbouring countries. Thailand was then called Siam. It was ruled by an absolute monarchy that firmly repelled all intruders.

Thailand remained a monarchy the revolution of 1932, where an elected parliament was made mandatory. Thailand officially became a Constitutional Monarchy. However political authority rests with the military who stage coups at regular intervals. The King is Bhumibol Adulyadej.

Bangkok is the capital of Thailand. There is no official religion in this land of highly religious people. Buddhism is the most widely practised religion and a temple-monastery is found in every settlement. Before the advent of urbanisation and industrialization, young men spent the period of Phansa, the Buddhist Lent (corresponding to the monsoon) in the monastery. However modern times see less and less young men donning the sacred yellow robes of a Buddhist monk.

Thailand has close cultural and religious ties with India. Hinduisn is commonly practised and Brahman priests were employed at the courts to oversee royal rituals. Hindu shrines are found everywhere and the shrine to Brahma in Bangkok has hundreds of devotees flocking to worship every day.

A Muslim majority lives in the Southern Peninsular. Though the Christian missionaries came to Thailand in the early 1600’s, they were unable to convert more than a handful of Thai people. Christian influence is strong however as many Thai children study in Christian schools.

Tribal people who have been converted to Buddhism or Christianity continue to adhere to their time honoured traditions of worship.

Thailand has always been known for its street food. Restaurants in Thailand however always served Chinese food. Good Thai food was cooked only in the people’s homes. Thai cooking impacted international cuisine as late as the close of the 20th century. Today Thai restaurants are found in North America, Europe, the Middle East and Asia. Fish sauce, which stands today in the kitchens of all aspiring cooks, is the Thai equivalent of Soya sauce. Coconut curries, shrimp paste, coriander, lemon grass and Kaffir lime leaves are integral to this exquisite cuisine that encompasses the sweet, the sour and the spicy in its dishes.

Thailand, the land of Buddhist shrines, Hindu temples and sky scrapers, forests and cities, street food and elegant restaurants, traditional rituals and wild night life, beaches and hills is today a popular tourist destination and has become an important convention centre.

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