This amazing Thai kingdom, once known as the Kingdom of Siam, has long been
and still remains a major gateway to the mysterious and exciting world of the Orient.
Renowned for its rich ethnic heritage and distinctive social traditions, this truly exotic Oriental kingdom greatly enjoys its unique look with spicy smells, sweet sounds, and above all, the smiling nature and welcoming hospitality of its charming people. Imparted with the fascinating deeply rooted culture, delicious Thai cuisine, outstanding cooking flavors, exquisite dining experiences, abundance of delightful tropical fruits, hard-to-resist shopping bargains, pristine golden sand beaches, and superb golf courses, set apart so many incomparable nightlife festivities. Amidst many other utmost temptations are the far-famed Muay Thai Boxing and renowned Thai massages, much relaxing the body and mind. For further details, refer to the pages entitled Pattaya and Massage Parlors in Pattaya.
Thailand Profile, Demography, and Geography
The Kingdom of Thailand (Ratcha Anachak Thai) is located right in the heart of Southeast Asia in the Gulf of Thailand (formerly Siam) covering an area of 513,120 km², roughly the size of France. Thailand's population is estimated at 65 million (in 2009), the vast majority of whom are of Thai ethnicity. An ethnic group, as presumed by historians, had originated in the northern areas of Asia and then steadily migrated further south. Being detached from external civilizations for most of its two-and-a-half millennia-long and mysterious history, in recent times, the Kingdom of Thailand has widely opened its gates, transforming into a prominent tourist destination in Southeast Asia.
Broadly speaking, Thailand borders troubled countries of the region ౼ see the Regional Map. Myanmar (formerly Burma) is located in the northwest of Thailand. To the south is Malaysia, which stretches along the Malay Peninsula. To the southeast is Cambodia, and to the east is Laos, situated alongside the magnificent Mekong River.
Far and away, infamous in the past for its opium-growing activities, the Golden Triangle converges Thailand's northernmost jungle area at the border point with Laos and Myanmar (Burma). Golden Triangle lies on the spit of land formed by the joins of the Ruak River and the mighty Mekong River. Myanmar lies across the Ruak River and Laos is across the Mekong. Opium poppies started growing in September-October and are harvested during February-March. After flowering, the bulbs are scribed with a razor at ~20 cuts per bulb. Milky sap seeps out and blackens as it oxidizes. Rub off some with a spoon and it is ready for smoke. It only takes about a gram of that substance to make a smoke. Five kilograms of sap will extract some five grams of heroin.
Thailand ClimateBeing located in the tropical climatic zone (merely two fingers above The Equator), there are only two major seasons that can be distinguished in Thailand:
These two seasons, the wet and the dry, rule the year. And despite the fact that the Al Nino effect had altered the climate patterns, making rains less predictable, the temperature in central and southern regions is above 30 °C (~86 °F) most of the time, it doesn't matter what season. So, there is no need for warm clothing.
For current weather conditions in Thailand's main cities & regions visit our Weather page.
On the whole, the weather is always perfect in Thailand with April and May being the hottest months. Visitors used to colder climates may be forgiven for assuming that from May to November it is hot and wet. The truth is the warm glow covering the perfect landscape is occasionally broken by gentle raindrops falling to earth-like petals to enrich the fertile soil. This is called the low tourist season because there are fewer tourists and business is dormant. There are several advantages to traveling during that time, as the rains are just cooling and refreshing. And it gets especially pleasant on the beaches, where the water temperature is around 25 °C. Moreover, one can enjoy a broad variety of seasonable fruits, vegetables, and other sea and land delicacies at great savings.
The Thai language doesn't resemble any other language except maybe the Lao (Laotian) language. It is a rather complex tonal language with its unique alphabet (consisting of 44 consonants and 32 vowels) and numbering. Even the concept of timing in Thai is different. In written Thai, there are no spaces between words, just between phrases or sentences. Also, it is important to mention that the choice of spoken language (wording and lexicon), partially establishes the class, position, and respectability of the person. Thailand is very much a class-conscious society, and there are different ways of saying the same thing in Thai. A lower-status choice of words, phrases, and pronunciations often heard on the streets (street lexicon), or the high-class choice of language, well-mannered and polite.
|Traditional Founding Date
|Head of State
|Head of Government
|Constitutional, Justice, and Administrative Courts
|Thailand's First Permanent Constitution
|People's Constitution was promulgated in 1997*
|The 2007 Constitution
|Promulgated and enacted in 2007
|National Assembly (bicameral)
|Major Cities & Tourist Destinations
|Chiang Mai, Korat, Khon Kaen, Pattaya, Phuket
|Thailand Time Zone
|+7 GMT (Greenwich Mean Time)
|Thai Baht ౼ ฿
* ౼ The 1997 Constitution was drafted by the popularly-elected Constitutional Drafting Assembly (CDA), and thus, called the "People's Constitution". It stipulated a bicameral legislature, and for the first time in Thai history, both houses are elected. Several human rights were explicitly acknowledged, and measures were defined to increase the stability of elected governments.
Although the direct powers of the monarch have also varied considerably, the deemed invariable lése-majesté laws have been purposely designed to protect the country's revered monarchy. Lése-majesté laws in Thailand have been in the Thai criminal code since 1908, and have also been enshrined in every Constitution the Kingdom has ever had.
The 2007 charter simply reads: "The King shall be enthroned in a position of revered worship and shall not be violated. No person shall expose the King to any sort of accusation or action." Thailand's Criminal Code further states in article 112: "Whoever defames, insults or threatens the King, Queen or the Heir-apparent, shall be punished with imprisonment of up to 15 years." Nowhere, however, does it state what constitutes 'defames' or 'insults'.
Time and again, lése-majesté laws have been misused or abused to silence dissent, intimidate business competition, and financial rivalry, and punish political enemies. A powerful tool to subdue criticism and restrain the critics, the law had also been employed to press charges against foreigners.
The real danger is not merely saying the wrong thing, but in being perceived so by police or other powerful interests who themselves do not have the real concern for the monarchy or national interests at stake. The higher up your accusers, the better they are connected with the military or police, and most importantly, with the powerful politico, the more chance you stand of being convicted, justice and fairness aside.
It is important to note however that neither the King nor a member of the Royal Family has ever personally filed any charges. In fact, in 2005, King Bhumibol Adulyadej told the Thai nation that he was not a perfect being and only human: "Actually, I must also be criticized. I am not afraid if the criticism concerns what I do wrong because then I know." He further stated: "But the King can do wrong."
For the substance on Thai politics, political bosses, leaders, and governments take a look at: