Located in the heart of Southeast Asia and occupying an area of just over 510,000 Square kilometers, Thailand has rapidly become the main hub for visitors traveling to the region. In addition to its prime location, breathtaking natural scenery, delectable cuisine, and kind hearted people, this is also the result of Thailandís swiftly emerging economy, which has in turn lead to a vastly improved infrastructure. This, together with an intensive tourism strategy laid down by the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), has put Thailand firmly on the tourist map.
Thailand shares its border with four countries; Myanmar to the North and North-West, Laos to the North and North-East, Cambodia to the South-East and Malaysia to the South.
Geographically Thailand is made up of six main regions. These include the temperate Northern mountains which feature large climatic fluctuations, in winter sometimes reaping havoc by dipping below freezing on the highest peaks, the North-East, in many parts dissected by the majestic meandering Maekong River having just crossed the border from Laos, the central plains where the majority of the rice and fruit is cultivated, the East, characterized by dense forests and fine sandy beaches, the West with its rugged mountainous terrain spreading across to Myanmar, and the South, an important region not only for its booming tin, rubber, coconut and fishing industries but also its contributions to tourism. Blessed with spectacular coastal scenery on both sides of the peninsular, the South is home to an array of stunning beachside resort hotels in addition to some outstanding tourist attractions.
Featuring a diverse mix of cultures and traditions, the Kingdom of Thailand is home to just over 63 million people, of whom 15% reside in Bangkok, the nationís capital. Although predominantly of Buddhist faith (90%), Thailand also has a wide mix of religious minority groups which include Muslims, Christians, Hindus and Sikhs.
Due to its geographical location, Thailandís culture has always been greatly influenced by India and China as well as the cultures of its Southeast Asian neighbors. Having experienced a constant stream of ethnic absorption, there isnít a typical Thai physiognomy or physique to speak of, on the contrary, Thaiís come in a range of shapes, skin colors and sizes. Dark skin, light skin, round or slim faces, tall, short, broad or slender, similarities with the characteristics of its multiple Asian neighbors is evident throughout the Kingdom.
Thailand is made up of 76 provinces. Within each province is a district, a sub-district and a village. Bangkok, the Kingdoms capital is home to some 9 million people spread throughout an area of 1,500 square kilometers and is the commercial, political, industrial and cultural heart of the country.
Thailand is a constitutional monarchy, the present King his Royal Highness King Bhumibol Adyinadej or Ramma IX is the 9th King of the Chakri Dynasty and the longest reigning Thai monarch. The vast significance of the King is forever evident in ones day to day life. In addition to the large roadside photos, monuments and statues of the King and Queen, the royal color (yellow) can be seen everywhere, mainly on Mondays as this denotes the official day of respect but also on most other days, as large numbers of Thaiís and sometimes foreigners wear yellow colored shirts to demonstrate their reverence.