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The Tourist Authority of Thailand website is packed full of information about the country. Here are some interesting facts and figures that you may or may not know about Thailand.
Thailand, the only Southeast Asian nation never to have been colonized by European powers, is a constitutional monarchy whose current head of state is HM Bhumibol Adulyadej. A unified Thai kingdom has existed since the mid-14th century, and Thailand was known as Siam until 1939 when it officially became the Kingdom of Thailand.
Thailand is the 50th largest country in the world; most nearly equal in size to Spain. Located just 15 degrees north of the equator, Thailand has a tropical climate and temperatures typically range from 19 to 38 degrees C (66-100 F). Thailand’s largest peak, Doi Inthanon, is 2,565 meters (8,415 ft) tall. Thailand covers 510,890 sq km of land and 2,230 sq km of water. The coastline of Thailand is 3,219 km long. Thailand’s longest shared border is with Myanmar (Burma), stretching 1,800 km.
The population of Thailand comprises of roughly 65 million citizens, the majority of whom are ethnically Thai, though peoples of Chinese, Indian, Malay, Mon, Khmer, Burmese, and Lao origin are also represented to varying degrees. Approximately 7 million citizens live in the capital city, Bangkok, though this number varies seasonally and is otherwise difficult to accurately count.
The economy of Thailand is reliant on exports, which account for 60% of Thailand’s approximately US$ 200 billion GDP. The economy of Thailand is the 2nd largest in Southeast Asia. Thailand’s exports consist primarily of agricultural products including fish and rice, of which it is the largest exporter in the world, as well as textiles, rubber, automobiles, computers and other electronic appliances, and jewelry. While one of the premier tourist destinations in the world, Thailand relies on tourism to provide only 7 % of its GDP.
From: Sydney, Australia 4679.57 m. / 7530.84 km Tokyo, Japan 2860.65 m. / 4603.65 km Beijing, China 2294.22 m. / 3692.08 km Hong Kong 1071.22 m. / 1723.91 km New Delhi, India 1811.73 2915.63 km Dubai, UAE 3034.04 m. / 4882.68 km Rome, Italy 4882.68 m. / 8825.12 km Madrid, Spain 6322.51 m. / 10174.82 km Paris, France 5865.21 m. / 9438.89 km Berlin, Germany 5343.29 m. / 8598.95 km Stockholm, Sweden 5135 m. / 8263.76 km London, UK 5919.32 m. / 9525.96 km Moscow, Russia 4387.52 m. / 7060.83 km New York, USA 8651.33 m. / 13922.59 km Los Angeles, USA 8260.17 m. / 13293.1 km Vancouver, Canada 7331.48 m. / 11798.55 km
Thailand is a constitutional monarchy, not dissimilar to England’s, whereby an elected Prime Minister is authorized to be the head of government and a hereditary Thai King is head of state. The constitution of Thailand allows for the people of Thailand to democratically elect their leaders in the form of a parliament, with a bicameral legislature consisting of a Senate and House of Representatives, and executive authority in the hands of the Prime Minister. A Judiciary, overseen by the Supreme Court, was designed to act independently of the executive and the legislature.
1 Jan: New Year’s Day Feb-Mar: Makha Bucha Day: Buddhist holiday on full moon of fourth lunar month. 6 Apr: Chakri Memorial Day: Honoring the dynasty of the reigning royal family. 13-15 April: Songran, Thai new years celebration. May: Royal Ploughing Ceremony: To honor farming season; date determined by royal astrologer May: Visakha Bucha: Buddhist holiday on full moon of the 6th lunar month. 1 May: Labor Day 5 May: Coronation Day: Commemorating the coronation of present King of Thailand. July: Asanha Bucha Day: Buddhist Holiday on full moon of 8th lunar month Vassa: beginning of Buddhist lent on first waning moon of 8th lunar month 12 Aug: Queen’s Birthday-Mothers Day 23 Oct: Chulalongkorn Day: Honoring a former King of Thailand. 5 Dec: King’s Birthday-Father’s Day 10 Dec: Constitution Day: celebrating the kingdom’s first constitution. 31 Dec: New Year’s Eve Other important holidays: Jan: Chinese New Year Nov: Loy Kratong
Thai Police are generally trustworthy; in fact, in 1982 the Tourist Police was set up to coordinate with the Tourism Authority of Thailand in order to provide safety for tourists. Its responsibilities are receiving and acknowledging claims and complaints, conducting subsequent investigations, and acting as co-coordinator of tourist security protection. At present, some 500 tourist policemen are stationed in major tourist areas around Bangkok, such as the Grand Palace, Pat Pong, and Lumphini Park. Bi-lingual Tourist Police are attached to Tourism Authority of Thailand offices in Bangkok, Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya, Pattaya, Kanchanaburi, Nakhon Ratchasima, Udon Thani, Khon Kaen, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Mae Hong Son, Phitsanulok, Nakhon Sawan, Surat Thani, Phuket and Songkhla to provide speedy assistance to visitors.
Celebrations and Festivals
Thailand celebrates many events and festivals that have become popular all over Thailand and the entire world. Two of the most popular annual celebrations are Songkran water festival and Loy Krathong, when candle-lit offerings are floated in the rivers, canals, lakes, and the sea. The following are the festivals celebrated in Thailand categorized according to the months in which they occur:
January: New Year’s Day, Umbrella and Handicraft’s Fair in Chiang Mai District, Chinese New Year (occasionally in February)
February: Chiang Mai Flower Festival, Bangkok International film Festival
March: Makha Bucha Day (the day when 1,250 monks gathered to hear Lord Buddha give a sermon), Pattaya Music Festival (for 3 days on the beach).
April: Songkran Festival (Traditional Thai New Year Celebration during which the main ritual is throwing water on eachother. The festival is celebrated with much gaiety and joy.), Pattaya Festival (food festival)
May: Rocket Festival (Farmers pray for cultivation of their paddy fields.), Visakha Bucha Day (a UN World Heritage Day)
June: Hua Hin Jazz Festival, Phi Ta Khon Festival in Loei Province (The event is based on a famous Buddhist tale, and many young men throng the streets wearing grotesque and funny ghost masks).
July: Khao Phalsa or Candle Festival (marking the beginning of the Buddhist Rain Retreat observed by monks.)
August: H.M. the Queen’s Birthday.
September: Long Boat Races at Phichit, Phisanulok, and Narathiwat
October: Vegetarian Festival (9 days without having meat and alcohol, especially popular in Phuket), Chonburi buffalo races (including contests pitting buffalo against man.)
November: Loy Krathong Festival (romantic ceremony of floating banana leaf “boats” decorated with candles and flowers), Surin Elephant Round Up Show (the commemoration of the fact that elephants are very important in the lives of the Thais.), River Bridge Kwai Week (marks the death of all those who built the bridge on the River Kwai.)
December: H.M. the King’s birthday, Phuket King’s Regatta Cup (celebrated annually and many races take place. The regatta sees many parties after the Races.)