Thailand, the Land of Smiles,is a fascinating and exotic country where tradition and modernity mingle in perfect harmony. 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 has a land area of 513,115 sq.km.(approx. 127,008 acres) bordered by Malaysia (South), Myanmar (West & North), Laos (North & East) and Cambodia (Southeast). The country's east coast borders the Gulf of Thailand and the west coast abuts the Andaman Sea. The country is divided geographically into four main zones-the fertile central plains, dominated by the Chao Phraya River; the 300-metre-high northeast plateau, the kingdom's most barren region ; the mountainous North; and the tropical southern peninsula.
The weather in Thailand is generally hot and humid: typical of its location within the tropics. The temperature varies from 38°C to 19°C with the annual average at about 29°C. The humidity is from 66% to 82.8%.
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.
The national language is Thai, a tonal language with a unique script. Thai proves challenging for most foreigners to learn well, but a rudimentary understanding of Thai will make your trip more enjoyable.
Most Thais do not speak English, but those you're likely to encounter — hotel clerks, waiters, guides — will know enough English to get their job done. In return, it's helpful if you follow certain guidelines (see link below) for being understood. Note that cab drivers may speak no English; it's best to have a card or advertisement showing where you want to go; have someone write it out in Thai, or have a dispatcher translate your instructions to the driver.In airports, major cities, and resort areas, most signs will be in both Thai and English.
Bangkok is one of Southeast Asia’s largest and most vibrant
cities. It contains the lion’s share of Thailand’s wealth and is ten times
bigger than the country’s next biggest city. It is also the seat of Government
and usual residence of Thailand’s Royal family.
Bangkok has a tropical
type of climate.
While it is known for shopping and nightlife, it also has distinct traces of heritage and spirituality. This unique blend of western excesses and local culture makes it a popular tourist destination.
Thailand Standard time is GMT +7. Thailand does not observe daylight savings.
The Thai unit of currency is the baht. One US dollar = approximately 31 baht (Dec'11)
The electric current is 220 volt AC (50 cycles).