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  • About Thailand
  • THAILAND

    The earliest mention of the Thai, as a nation in south China call NAN-JOA, comes from Chinese records dating back to the sixth century BCE. These early Thai emanated out of the Yunnan region and dispersed into the general area of what is today Thailand. These Thai peoples arrived in various waves and displaced the earlier native Mon and Khmer populations as they settled the region with a large group settling in Thailand during the Sung period of China roughly around 960 CE. The related Lao people split off from the early Tai-Kadai peoples and moved into Southeast Asia, mainly Laos, while another kindred people, the Shan, made their way into Myanmar.

    The founding of the Sukhothai kingdom culminated in the emergence of the first Thai nation-state founded in 1238. Various conflicts in the Chinese-dominated region of Nanchao facilitated increased migration of the Thai, especially mercenaries fleeing from the Mongol conquest of China, and helped establish the Thai as a regional power. Successful wars with the Mon helped to establish the kingdom of Lan Na as the Thai increased their hold in Southeast Asia. The early Thai brought their Buddhist and Chinese traditions, but also assimilated much of the native Khmer and Mon culture of Southeast Asia. (See Thai Chinese for more details)

    A new city-state known as Ayutthaya, named after the Indian city of Ayodhya, was founded by Ramathibodi (a descendant of Chiang Mai) and emerged as the center of the growing Thai Empire starting in 1350. Inspired by the then Hindu-based Khmer Empire (Cambodia), the Ayutthaya Empire\\\\\\\'s continued conquests led to more Thai settlements as the Khmer Empire weakened after their defeat at Angkor in 1444. During this period, the Thai developed a feudal system as various vassal states paid homage to the Thai kings. Even as Thai power expanded at the expense of the Mon and Khmer, the Thai Ayutthaya faced setbacks at the hands of the Malay at Malacca and were checked by the Toungoo of Burma.

    Though sporadic wars continued with the Burmese and other neighbors, Chinese wars with Burma and European intervention elsewhere in Southeast Asia allowed the Thai to develop an independent course by trading with the Europeans as well as playing the major powers against each other in order to remain independent. The Chakkri dynasty under Rama I held the Burmese at bay, while Rama II and Rama III helped to shape much of Thai society, but also led to Thai setbacks as the Europeans moved into areas surrounding modern Thailand and curtailed any claims the Thai had over Cambodia, in dispute with Burma and Vietnam. The Thai learned from European traders and diplomats, while maintaining an independent course. Chinese, Malay, and British influences helped to further shape the Thai people who often assimilated foreign ideas, but managed to preserve much of their culture and resisted the European colonization that engulfed their neighbors.Thailand is also the only country that was not colonized in Southeastern Asia area in the early history

    The word "Thai" means "free", and therefore "Thailand" means "Land of the Free." Thailand, often called the "Land of Smiles" because its people have a tendency to do just that, literally means "Land of the Free". As an established tourism destination, Thailand has something for every taste plus surprises for even the most sophisticated traveler. Thailand, being known as the land of smiles, the land of elephants and the land of Buddhism, is unique for its fascinating cultures, tradition, and philosophical attitude towards the world and life, making the country shrouded with mystery waiting for the wide-opened eyes and opened mind to explore its charming distinctiveness.


    The Mekong flows from Thailand\\\'s top -- the Golden Triangle where Myanmar, Laos and Thailand touch -- to its northeast border, an area steeped in the stories of history. Each year Thailand is discovered by millions of visitors, drawn to its pristine beaches and aquamarine seas, as well as its rich culture, glitzy shopping malls, chic boutiques and colorful markets crammed with bargains.
    With its enticing mixture of established destinations such as Phuket and Hua Hin, and out-of-the-way palm-fringed islands, Thailand appeals to the most varied of travelers, whether they are craving barefoot luxury or hippy chic. From staying on a converted rice barge, clambering into a jungle tree house or bedding down in a hill tribe village, Thailand offers a wealth of choice for every taste and budget.
    GEOGRAPHY

    The kingdom of Thailand lies in the heart of Southeast Asia, making it a natural gateway to Indochina, Myanmar and Southern China. Its shape and geography divide into four natural regions : the mountains and forests of the North; the vast rice fields of the Central Plains; the semi-arid farm lands of the Northeast plateau; and the tropical islands and long coastline of the peninsula South.

    The country comprises 76 provinces that are further divided into districts, sub-districts and villages. Bangkok is the capital city and centre of political, commercial, industrial and cultural activities. It is also the seat of Thailand\\\\\\\'s revered Royal Family, with His Majesty the King recognised as Head of State, Head of the Armed Forces, Upholder of the Buddhist religion and 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. 
    WEATHER

    Thailand can best be described as tropical and humid for the majority of the country 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 monsoon brings rain and often heavy storms from April through to October, whilst on the east coast the most rain falls between September and December.
    Overall the southern parts of Thailand get by far the most rain with around 2,400 millimetres every year, compared with the central and northern regions of Thailand, both of which get around 1,400 millimetres.
    Language

    The official language of Thailand is Thai, a Kradai language closely related to Lao, Shan in Burma, and numerous smaller languages spoken in an arc from Hainan and Yunnan south to the Chinese border. It is the principal language of education and government and spoken throughout the country. The standard is based on the dialect of the central Thai people, and it is written in the Thai alphabet, an abugida script that evolved from the Khmer script. Several other dialects exist, and coincide with the regional designations. Southern Thai is spoken in the southern provinces, and Northern Thai is spoken in the provinces that were formally part of the independent kingdom of Lannathai

    Thailand is also host to several other minority languages, the largest of which is the Lao dialect of Isan spoken in the northeastern provinces. Although sometimes considered a Thai dialect, it is a Lao dialect, and the region in where it is traditionally spoken was historically part of the Lao kingdom of Lan Xang. In the far south, Yawi, a dialect of Malay, is the primary language of the Malay Muslims. Chinese dialects are also spoken by the large Chinese population, Teochew
    Being the dialect best represented.

    Numerous tribal languages are also spoken, including those belonging to the Mon-Khmer family, such as Mon, Khmer, Viet, Mlabri; Austronesian family, such as Cham, Moken, and Orang Asli, Sino-Tibetan family such as Lawa, Akhan, and Karen; and other Tai languages such as Nyaw, Phu Thai, and Saek. Hmong is a member of the Hmong-Mien languages, which is now regarded as a language family of its own.
    English is a mandatory school subject, but the number of fluent speakers remains very low, especially outside the cities.
    Religion
    Main article: Religion in Thailand
    Thailand religiosity         Percent
    Religion                                               
    Buddhism                           94.6%
    Islam                                      4.6%
    Christianity                            0.7%
    Others                                    0.1%

    Thailand has a prevalence of Buddhism that ranks among the highest in the world. The national religion is Theravada Buddhism. According to the last census (2000) 94.6% of the total population are Buddhists of the Theravada tradition. Muslims are the second largest religious group in Thailand at 4.6%. Thailand\\\\\\\'s southernmost provinces – Pattani, Yala, Narathiwat and part of Songkhla, Chumphon have dominant Muslim populations, consisting of both ethnic Thai and Malay.

    The southern tip of Thailand is mostly ethnically Malay, and most Malays are Sunni Muslims. Christians represent 0.5% of the population. A tiny but influential community of Sikhs in Thailand and some Hindus also live in the country\\\\\\\'s cities, and are heavily engaged in retail commerce. There is also a small Jewish community in Thailand, dating back to the 17th century.

    Culture


    Main article: Culture of Thailand
    See also: Music of Thailand and Isan
    Theravada Buddhism is highly respected in Thailand.
    Thai culture has been shaped by many influences, including Chinese, Lao, Burmese, Cambodian, and Indian.
    Its traditions incorporate a great deal of influence from India, China, Cambodia, and the rest of Southeast Asia. Thailand\\\\\\\'s national religion Theravada Buddhism is important to modern Thai identity. Thai Buddhism has evolved over time to include many regional beliefs originating from Hinduism, animism as well as ancestor worship. The official calendar in Thailand is based on the Eastern version of the Buddhist Era, which is 543 years ahead of the Gregorian (western) calendar. For example, the year AD 2010 is 2553 BE in Thailand.

    Several different ethnic groups, many of which are marginalized, populate Thailand. Some of these groups overlap into Burma, Laos, Cambodia, and Malaysia and have mediated change between their traditional local culture, national Thai and global cultural influences. Overseas Chinese also form a significant part of Thai society, particularly in and around Bangkok. Their successful integration into Thai society has allowed for this group to hold positions of economic and political power.

    The traditional Thai greeting, the wai, is generally offered first by the younger of the two people meeting, with their hands pressed together, fingertips pointing upwards as the head is bowed to touch their face to the hands, usually coinciding with the spoken word "Sawasdee khrap" for male speakers, and "Sawasdee ka" for females. The elder then is to respond afterwards in the same way. Social status and position, such as in government, will also have an influence on who performs the wai first. For example, although one may be considerably older than a provincial governor, when meeting it is usually the visitor who pays respect first. When children leave to go to school, they are taught to wai to their parents to represent their respect for them. They do the same when they come back. The wai is a sign of respect and reverence for another, similar to the namaste greeting of India and Nepal.

    Muay Thai, or Thai boxing, is the national sport in Thailand and its native martial art call "Muay". In the past "Muay" was taught to royal soldiers for combat on battlefield if unarmed. After they retired from the army, these soldiers often became Buddhist monks and stayed at the temples. Most of the Thai people\\\\\\\'s lives are closely tied to Buddhism and temples; they often send their sons to be educated with the monks. ”Muay” is also one of the subjects taught in the temples.Muay Thai achieved popularity all over the world in the 1990s. Although similar martial arts styles exist in other Southeast Asian countries, few enjoy the recognition that Muay Thai has received with its full-contact rules allowing strikes including elbows, throws and knees.

    Association football, however, has possibly overtaken Muay Thai\\\\\\\'s position as most widely viewed and liked sport in contemporary Thai society and it is not uncommon to see Thais cheering their favourite English Premier League teams on television and walking around in replica kits. Another widely enjoyed pastime, and once a competitive sport, is kite flying.

    Thai seafood curry, an example of Thai cuisine.


    Thai cuisine blends five fundamental tastes: sweet, spicy, sour, bitter and salty. Some common ingredients used in Thai cuisine include garlic, chillies, lime juice, lemon grass, and fish sauce. The staple food in Thailand is rice, particularly jasmine variety rice (also known as Hom Mali rice) which is included in almost every meal. Thailand is the world\\\\\\\'s largest exporter of rice, and Thais domestically consume over 100 kg of milled rice per person per year Over 5000 varieties of rice from Thailand are preserved in the rice gene bank of the International Ric Research Institute (IRRI), based in the Philippines. The king of Thailand is the official patron of IRRI.

    Like most Asian cultures, respect towards ancestors is an essential part of Thai spiritual practice. Thais have a strong sense of hospitality and generosity, but also a strong sense of social hierarchy. Seniority is an important concept in Thai culture. Elders have by tradition ruled in family decisions or ceremonies. Older siblings have duties to younger ones.

    Taboos in Thailand include touching someone\\\\\\\'s head or pointing with the feet, as the head is considered the most sacred and the foot the dirtiest part of the body.Thai society has been influenced in recent years by its widely available multi-language press and media. There are some English and numerous Thai and Chinese newspapers in circulation; most Thai popular magazines use English headlines as a chic glamor factor. Many large businesses in Bangkok operate in English as well as other languages.

    Thailand is the largest newspaper market in Southeast Asia with an estimated circulation of at least 13 million copies daily in 2003. Even upcountry, out of Bangkok, media flourishes. For example, according to Thailand\\\\\\\'s Public Relations Department Media Directory 2003-2004, the nineteen provinces of Isan, Thailand\\\\\\\'s northeastern region, hosted 116 newspapers along with radio, TV and cable.

     

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