Area : approximately 514,000sq. km. (198,000 sq. miles)
Capital : Bangkok
Population : approximately 62 millions
Language : Thai
Religion : Buddhism
Time Zone : GMT plus 7 hours
Currency : Baht
Weight and Measures : Metric
Electricity : 220 volts, 50 cycles. Used either flat-pronged or
International dialing code : 00 66
Lying between 7 degrees and 21 degrees latitude, Thailand has a
total area almost the size of France, and is said to resemble an
elephant's head with its trunk forming the southern peninsula. Bangkok
is sited at its geographic center, approximately at the elephant's
mouth. The country is bordered by Malaysia to the south, Burma to
the west, Laos across the Mekong river to the northeast and Cambodia
to the east.
The north is marked by low hills and contains the country's tallest
peak, Doi Intanon, standing 2,590 meters ( 8,500 ft. ) tall. A range
of hills divides Thailand from Burma and forms the western boundary
of the broad alluvial central plains, the country's principal growing
rice area. To the east, the plains rise to the Khorat Plateau, which
covers much of the northeast.
The spine of the southern peninsula is the same range of hills that
separate Thailand from Burma, sloping down to the Andaman Sea on
the west and the Gulf of Thailand on the east. Thailand has a total
of 2,600 km (1,600 miles) of coastline.
Bangkok is situated at 14 degrees north latitude. It is a city divided
into halves by a river, the Chao Phraya, which separates central
Bangkok and Thonburi. The city covers a total area of 1,565 sq.
km. (605 sq.miles) of delta land, of which there is no natural area
is more than 2 meters (7ft) above any other.
Chiang Mai lies 700 km (435 miles) north of Bangkok. It sits 300
meters (1,000 ft) above sea level, and is crowned by Doi Suthep,
which rises to a height of 1,675 meters (5,495 ft). The city is
home to over 150,000 people.
Phuket, an island in the Andaman Sea, lies 890 km (550 miles) or
a 70 minutes flight south of Bangkok. Measuring 50 km (30 miles)
long by 20 km (13 miles) wide, it is approximately the size of Singapore.
There are three seasons Thailand : hot, rainy and cool. But to the
tourist winging in from anywhere north or south of the 30th parallel,
Thailand has only one temperature - hot. The temperature drops only
a few degrees during the night and is accompanied 24 hours by humidity
above 70 percent. Only air conditioned only make Bangkok and other
major towns tolerable during hot season. The countryside is somewhat
cooler, but surprisingly, the northern regions can be hotter in
March and April than in Bangkok.
Adding together the yearly daytime highs and the nighttime lows
for major world cities, the World Meteorological Organization has
declared Bangkok to be the world hottest city. When the monsoon
rains fall, the country swelters.
Chiang Mai enjoys a cooler climate. In the cool season, temperatures
range between 13C and 28C (55F and 82F) and are lower in the hills.
As in Bangkok, the heaviest rain falls in September.
In Phuket, the monsoon begins in early May, and generally ends in
late October. Temperatures range from 34C (93F) in the hot season
to night time temperature of 21C (70F) in the cool season. The water
temperature never drops below 20C (67F).
Nearly 70 percent of the population are farmers, who still alluvial
land so rich that Thailand is the world leader in the export of
tapioca, rice, rubber and canned pineapple. The country is also
a major exporter of tuna, shrimp, sugar, maize and tin. Increasingly,
Thailand is turning to manufacturing, especially in clothing, machinery
Thailand is a constitutional monarchy headed by His Majesty, King
Bhumibol. The royalty's power has been reduced considerably since
the period before the 1932 revolution. However, the present King
can, by the force of his moral authority, influence important decisions.
Although he no longer rules as did the absolute monarchs of previous
centuries, he is still regarded as one of the three pillars of the
society - monarchy, religion, and the nation. This concept is represented
by the five-banded national flags : the outer red bands symbolizing
the nation; the inner white bands the purity of the Buddhist religion
; and the thick blue band at the center, the monarchy.
Along with Her Majesty Queen Sirikit and other members of the royal
family, the King has long been active in promoting the interests
of Thais in the lower economic strata, earning the royal family
genuine respect from their people.
The structure of the government is defined by the constitution and
its enabling ordinances. A new constitution, designed to place power
in the hand of people, was passed in 1997. Despite its frequent
revisions, it has remained true to the spirit of the original.
The Thai government consists of three branches : legislative, executive
and judiciary, each in theory acting independently of the others
in a system of checks and balances.