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 weather in Thailand is generally hot and humid: typical of its location within the tropics. Generally speaking, Thailand can be divided into three seasons: “hot” season, rainy season, and “cool” season, though Thailand’s geography allows visitors to find suitable weather somewhere in the country throughout the year.
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.
Thailand has a rough geographical area of 514,000 sq km (200,000 sq miles). This makes Thailand roughly equivalent in size to France or Texas.
The vast majority (roughly 80%) of Thailand’s nearly 65 million citizens are ethnically Thai. The remainder consists primarily of peoples of Chinese, Indian, Malay, Mon, Khmer, Burmese, and Lao decent. Of the 7 million citizens who live in the capital city, Bangkok, there is a greater diversity of ethnicities, including a large number of expatriate residents from across the globe. Other geographic distinctions of the population include a Muslim majority in the south near the Malaysian border, and hill tribe ethnic groups, such as the Hmong and Karen, who live in the northern mountains.
More than 92% of the population speaks Thai or one of it’s regional dialects. While the Thai language is the official language of Thailand, as a result of its cosmopolitan capital city and established tourism infrastructure, English is spoken and understood throughout much of Thailand.
94.6% of Thais are Buddhist, 4.6% of Thais are Muslim 0.7% of Thais are Christian
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.
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)
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
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
The currency of Thailand is the Thai Baht. Baht come in both coin and banknote form. The size of Thai currency, both coins and bills increases with value and varies in color.
Thai bank hours are generally Monday through Friday, 9:30 am to 3:30 pm, though certain banks have shorter Saturday hours and currency exchange booths are open considerably longer hours in Bangkok and other tourist destinations.
The Thailand postal service is efficient and reliable with branches in most major towns throughout the Kingdom. Thailand post offices are open M-F 8am-4:30pm and Sa-Su 9am-1pm. However, The Central GPO in Bangkok, located on New Road, is open until 6pm M-F and Sa-Su 9am-1pm. All Thai post offices are closed on public holidays, though most major hotels can arrange to mail letters and parcels on your behalf. In addition to domestic and international mail services, both land and air, standard and registered, the Thailand postal service also provide telegram service.
Thailand Standard time is GMT +7. Thailand does not observe daylight savings.
Weights & Measures
Thailand uses the metric system for all weights and measurements, with the exception of area, which Thais divide into wa and rai.
Electrical outlets in Thailand are charged to 220v at 50 cycles per second, which is compatible with appliances from the U.K. but not those from the US and many other nations. While most computer cables have adaptors for voltage, visitors from the U.S. and those not on the 220/50 v. will have to bring adapters to run most other appliances. Outlets in Thailand generally feature flat, two pronged plugs, though some feature holes for round plug ends. Few outlets feature three holes (grounded outlets) so it is often necessary to have a three to two prong adapter for using notebook computers in Thailand.
Thailand hotels are some of the finest in the world, whether they are five star luxury spa retreats or quaint family-run beachfront bungalows. There is a hotel in Thailand for every type of traveler on every budget. That said, the best prices are during Thailand’s off-peak season (May – Aug), while the most expensive prices are typically during the cool season (Dec – Feb). Whether your accommodation choice is a homestay with local villagers, a guesthouse in a backpacker district, a beach bungalow, or a five star hotel in Thailand, unless you have booked ahead, settle for nothing less than the warmest “land of smiles” hospitality.
The Thai phone system is both modern and widespread, with comprehensive coverage for cell phones and reliable pay phones found throughout the kingdom. Purchasing a second-hand Thai phone is inexpensive and convenient, and calling from Thailand on a public phone is easy with a phone card available at most convenience stores. Emergency numbers are often three or four digit numbers, including Tourist Police, which is 1155.