THE OVERVIEW OF THAILAND
The kingdom of Thailand lies in the heart of Southeast Asia, making it a natural gateway to Indochina, Myanmar and Southern China. Thailand is a predominantly Buddhist kingdom almost equidistant between India and China. For centuries known by outsiders as Siam, Thailand has been something of a Southeast Asian migratory, cultural and religious cross-roads. With an area of some 510,000 square kilometres and a population of some 57 million, Thailand is approximately the same size as France, and shares borders with Myanmar to the west and north, Laos to the north-east, Kampuchea to the west, and Malaysia to the south. Geographically speaking, Thailand is divided into six major regions: the mountainous north where elephants work forests and winter temperatures are sufficiently cool to permit cultivation of temperate fruits such as strawberries and peaches; the sprawling north-east plateau, largely bordered by the Mekong River, where the world’s oldest Bronze Age civilisation flourished some 5,000 years ago; the central plain, one of the world’s most fertile rice and fruit-growing areas; the eastern coastal plain, where fine sandy beaches support the growth of summer resorts; western mountains and valleys, suitable for the development of hydro-electric power: and the peninsular south where arresting scenic beauty complements economically vital tin mining, robber cultivation and fishing.
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.
THAILAND FAST FACTS
Krung Thep Maha Nakhon (Bangkok)13°44’N 100°30’E
Constitutional Monarchy under Military junta
HM The King Bhumibol Adulyadej
President of the Council of National Security
General Sonthi Boonyaratglin
– Sukhothai kingdom 12381368
– Total: 514,000 km² (49th)
– July 2005 estimate: 65,444,3711 (19th)
GDP (PPP) 2005 estimate
– Total: $560.7 billion (21st)
0.784 (medium) (74th))