Thailand, The Land of Smiles
Thailand, known as Siam until 1939, is one of the world’s premier tourst detinations, with over 20 million visitors planning to visit the Kingdom in 2012. Most come for the tropical weather and exotic coastline but the country has far more to offer from the bustling capital city of Bangkok to remote highland areas, a fascinating history and culture to all the attractions and entertainment of a modern, cosmopolitan society.
Population and Language
The official and main language is Thai, spoken by more than 90% of the population, though there are a variety dialects in both Thai and Chinese. English is used within commerce and education and in the cosmopolitan capital and established tourism destinations, English is widely spoken.
Geography and Climate
Thailand is the world’s 50th largest country, approximately equal in size to France. The country boasts a coastline of over 3000 km and is bordered by Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia and Malaysia. Just 15 degees north of the equator, Thailand has a typically tropical climate and temperatures, in the most, range from between 20 and 34 degrees centigrade, though the northern mountain areas are usually much cooler. The mean average temperature in Bangkok is around 28C. The months from March to May see the highest temperatures and humidity with June to September being the monsoon season, though there are still plentiful sunny periods. October to February is cooler and dryer, with north east winds and is generally considered the best time to visit the country.
Culture and Religion
Thailand is a constitional monarchy and though fully democratic, the Royal family of Thailand has more influence than those of Europe. Today King Bhumiphol – Rama IX is the world’s longets serving monarch, with over 60 years on the throne, and is well loved and respected by the Thai people. The great reverence in which he is he held can be seen everywhere, with his picture displayed in most homes, hotels and public buildings.