Joni G. ~ 6th Period

"Thailand ~ Love it or Leave it" "ประเทศไทย ~ รักหรือปล่อยให้มัน"


Welcome to Thailand! Thailand draws more visitors than any other country in Southeast Asia, with its irresistible combination of breathtaking natural beauty, inspiring temples, renowned hospitality, mouthwatering cuisine, and ruins of fabulous ancient kingdoms. Thailand still connects with its own unique culture and history, and is the only Southeast Asian country that has never been conquered by European power. From the stupa-studded mountains of Mae Hong Son and the verdant limestone islands of the Andaman Sea, to the pulse-pounding dance clubs of Bangkok and the tranquil villages moored along the Mekong River. Thailand offers something for every type of traveler.

The Geography and Climate of Thailand

The kingdom of Thailand lies in the heart of Southeast Asia, making it a natural gateway to Indochina, Myanmar and Southern China. Its shape and geography divide into four natural regions : the mountains and forests of the North; the vast rice fields of the Central Plains; the semi-arid farm lands of the Northeast plateau; and the tropical islands and long coastline of the peninsula South. Bangkok is the capital city and center of political, commercial, industrial and cultural activities. Tall palms hang over feathery sand and coral gardens flourish in the shallow seas. Thailand varied beaches is because of the water surrounding the Malay Peninsula. Thailand is largely tropical, so it's hot and humid all year around with temperatures in the 28-35°C range (82-95°F), a degree of relief provided only in the mountains in the far north of Thailand. From November to the end of February, it doesn't rain much and temperatures are at their lowest. From March to June, Thailand swelters in temperatures as high as 40°C (104°F). From July to October, although it only really gets underway in September, tropical monsoons hit most of the country.

The People and Culture of Thailand

80% of the population of Thailand consists of ethnic Thais. Roughly 10% of the population is Chinese, with Malays adding an additional 4% to the blend. Lao, Mon, Khmers, Indians, and Burmese make up a very small percentage of Thailand, making up 69,518,555 of the people who live in Thailand.

Thai's have a very respectful way of greeting people. They greet each other with a prayer-like gesture called a Wai. Generally, a younger person Wai's an older person, who will then return it. Shouting and wild movement are to be avoided as they are considered impolite. The modern Thai alphabet consists of forty-four consonants, twenty-four vowels, and four diacritical tone markers. The language is written from left to right.

Neat and respectful dresses should be worn in all religious shrines. It is not considered polite to visit religious monuments in shorts, miniskirts or hot pants. Trousers and jeans are looked at as unsuitable attire for women visiting a temple. Show respect for religious symbols and rituals, and avoid touching spirit houses and household alters. Thai people, particularly those in rural areas, can be highly superstitious and may feel the need for lengthy ritual should you ‘contaminate’ their sacred areas. Meditation is a very important ritual to do, to help let out all of your stress and anger, so you can focus on Buddha. Many practices and rituals were inspired or influenced by the existing religious cultures of India, China, Japan, Tibet, and many other parts of Southeast Asia.

Thailand is known for its cuisine, which combines Chinese, Indian, and Southeast Asian influences. Food is cheap, plentiful, and delicious. In every town and city, food stalls line the streets and can make stir-fried noodle dishes, soups, and rice dishes. From personally eating these exotic foods, Thailand serves a wide variety of unusual foods including: Giant water bugs, locusts, and my personal favorite, maggots!!!

Thai culture is changing with time because of the contact with Western civilization. Although most Thai's stick to their own culture, some are influenced by what they see on television and from tourists visiting the wonderful country.

Government and Citizenship of Thailand

Thailand’s government was not always a constitutional monarchy. Thailand was originally a government that was run completely by the power and rule of Kings. In 1932, the country of Thailand moved to change their government to a constitutional government. Since that decision the Thai government has had over 17 different constitutions. There has also been a lot of unrest when it comes to the government in Thailand. Various sides and political parties all have a vested interested in the type of government that Thailand has. For this reason, there have been several dozen coups and various constitutions drawn up. The issue of corrupt government officials, laws and rulings do come up while writing constitutions. The latest and most current constitution was drawn up in 2007 and addressed some of these issues that are common in the government of Thailand.

Economy of Thailand

Thailand has a well developed infrastructure, a free-enterprise economy, and welcomes foreign investment. Thailand has fully recovered from the 1997-98 Asian Financial Crisis and was one of East Asia's best performers in 2002-04. Increased consumption and investment spending and strong export growth pushed GDP growth up to 6.9% in 2003 and 6.1% in 2004 despite a sluggish global economy. The highly popular government's expansionist policy, including major support of village economic development, has raised concerns about fiscal discipline and the health of financial institutions. Bangkok has pursued preferential trade agreements with a variety of partners in an effort to boost exports and maintain high growth, and in 2004 began negotiations on a Free Trade Agreement with the US. In late December 2004, a major tsunami took 8,500 lives in Thailand and caused massive destruction of property in the southern provinces of Krabi, Phangnga, and Phuket.