Michael A. Stecker

Home   Slide Show (PDF)   Slide Show (ProShow)   People Index   APP   Astroimage Index
Photo Album   Links  
digiphoto   photomas 

Places Index
Antarctica   Asia   Astronomical Sites   Australia   Egypt   Europe   Polynesia   New Zealand   North America   Scenic Treasures


Thailand Home Page

Asia Index   Thai HP   Bangkok1989   Bangkok2012   Chiang Mai   Northern Thailand


The Thai kingdom, established in the mid-14th century, was known as Siam until 1939 when it received its current name of the Kingdom of Thailand. Situated in Southeast Asia, Thailand is a predominantly Buddhist kingdom covering an area of 510,000 sq. km (slightly more than twice the size of Wyoming). Shaped like an elephant's head, it is bordered by Myanmar (Burma) to its north and west, Laos on its northeast, Cambodia and the Gulf of Thailand on its southeast and by Malaysia and Myanmar on its south and southwest, respectively. The country is rich in tradition, archetecture, fine food, natural resources and tropical flora and fauna.

Country name
Kingdom of Thailand

Southeastern Asia, bordering the Andaman Sea and the Gulf of Thailand,
southeast of Burma

514,000 sq km (slightly more than twice the size of Wyoming)

3,219 km

Thailand has a moist, tropical climate, influenced chiefly by monsoon winds that vary in direction according to the season. In spring and summer the winds are moisture laden and temperatures are higher, ranging from 78 to 98 degrees F, while in the remainder of the year the temperature range is from 56 to 92 F.

Elevation extremes
lowest point: Gulf of Thailand 0 m
highest point: Doi Inthanon 2,576 m

Natural resources
tin, rubber, natural gas, tungsten, tantalum, various gem stones, timber, lead, fish, gypsum, lignite, fluorite, arable land

Approx. 61 million

Ethnic groups
Thai 75%, Chinese 14%, other 11%

Buddhism 95%, Muslim 3.8%, Christianity 0.5%, Hinduism 0.1%, other 0.6% (1991)

Thai, English (secondary language of the elite), ethnic and regional dialects

constitutional monarchy




Thailand lies at the heart of southeast Asia, in the western section of the Indochinese Peninsula. The country can be divided into four geographic regions:

1. Northwest: Mountainous, alternating with plains along narrow valleys. The highest mountain in Thailand is Doi Inthanon (2,565 m. or 8,417 ft.) in the Thanon Thongchai range of the province of Chiang Mai.

2. The Central Plain: A vast plain made up of Chao Phraya River basin and several other rivers, it is the prime food producing region and home of Bangkok Thailand's capital and largest city. The land is elevated only a little higher than mean sea level. As it has fertile soil and water, the Central Plain has become the agricultural, economic and political center of the country today.

3. The Khorat Plateau: This is in the northeastern part of Thailand and makes up about one-third of the country's land area. Mountain ranges separate the plateau from central Thailand to the west and Cambodia to the south. The Mekong River forms the region's northern and eastern boundaries. Generally, the area is dry with sandy soil that makes poor farmland.

4. The Southern Peninsula: Thailand's Southern Peninsula forms the northern part of the Malay Peninsula and begins from the Kra Isthmus down to the Malay border. The area is made up of long stretches of mountain ranges with narrow strips of land on the Gulf of Thailand and the Andamam Sea coasts. The long coastlines offer scenic attractions, particularly on the beaches of Surat Thani, Songkhla, Phangnga, Phuket, Trang and Satun.

Natural Resources
Among the known mineral deposits are coal, gold, lead, tin, tungsten, manganese, zinc, and precious stones. In addition, the country has many large forests that produce teak for export. The rich alluvial soil along the Chao Phraya and other rivers of the Central Plain form a rich agricultural zone where rice and tropical fruits are grown.

Flora and Fauna
Jungles and swamps, scattered through the coastal areas of Thailand, have extensive stands of tropical trees, including mangrove, rattan, ironwood, ebony, and rosewood. The upland areas are also heavily wooded in teak and oak. In addition, a wide variety of tropical plants and fruit trees, including orchid, gardenia, hibiscus, banana, mango, and coconut, grow in Thailand. Elephants, widely used as beasts of burden, are abundant. Other large animals include the rhinoceros, tiger, leopard, water buffalo, gibbon and Siamese cat. Thailand has more than 50 species of snakes, including several poisonous varieties. Crocodiles are numerous, as are various species of fishes

Thailand has thousands of monasteries, temples and shrines. Bangkok, alone, has over four hundred Buddhist buildings such as Wat Traimit, Wat Arun -- the Temple of Dawn, which is the tallest religious building in the capital. Other architecture of note is the Grand Palace and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha.

Points of Interest
Bangkok or Krung Threp (means "City of Angeles") is the political, commercial and cultural capital of Thailand. It lies on the east side of the Chao Phraya River in the Central Plain. Must sees include Wat Phra Kaew and the Grand Palace, Wat Pho and Wat Traimit (Temple of the Golden Buddha) which houses the impressive 3 meter tall, 5 1/2-ton solid-gold Buddha. Other sights to see include the Wat Sai floating market in Thonburi, a boat trip through the city's extensive network of canals (klongs) and the renowned Oriental Hotel (rated number one in the world when I stayed there).

The temple ruins at Ayuthaya, 86 km north of Bangkok, date from the most flourishing period of Thai history (1350 - 1767 AD). Thirty-three kings of various Siamese dynasties reigned here until the city was conquered by the Burmese in 1767. By the end of the 17th century, Ayuthaya's population had reached one million and virtually all visiting foreigners claimed it to be the most illustrious city they had ever seen. Ayuthaya's scattered temples and ruins have been declared a World Heritage Site. The list includes the 14th century Wat Phra Si Sanphet, the largest in Ayuthaya, which once contained a 16m standing Buddha that was covered in gold. The 16th-century, fortress-like Wat Phra Meru boasts an impressive carved wooden ceiling, a splendid Ayuthaya-era 6 meter high crowned sitting Buddha and a 1300-year-old green-stone Buddha from Ceylon. Wat Phra Chao Phanan Choeng was built in the early 14th century (possibly by Khmers). It contains a highly revered 19 meter Buddha image from which the wat derives its name.

Chiang Mai
Thailand's second-largest city and the gateway to the country's north was founded in 1296. There are 300 wats, including Wat Chiang Man (home of the 1800-year-old 10-cm-high Crystal Buddha), Wat Phra and Wat Chedi Luang. The 1676 meter high Doi Suthep, topped by one of Thailand's holiest wats, offers a dramatic view of the city. Modern Chiang Mai is well-known for its restaurants and a starting point for mountain treks.

Dubbed the "Pearl of the South", Phuket is Thailand's largest island and lies in the Andaman Sea off the south-western coast. It retains a distinct atmosphere derived from its Chinese, Portuguese and native Chao Naam sea-faring cultures. It has good beaches, tropical vegetation and a relaxed atmosphere.