A little about our
host country - The Kingdom of Thailand
The origins of the Thais is a
much debated topic among academics. Three decades ago it could be said
with presumed certainty that the Thais originated in northwestern
Szechuan in China about 4,500 years ago and later migrated south to
their present homeland. However, this theory has been altered by the
discovery of remarkable prehistoric artifacts in the village of Ban
Chiang in the Nong Han District of Udon Thani Province in the Northeast
of Thailand. These include evidence of bronze metallurgy dating back
3,500 years, as well as other indications of a culture far more
sophisticated than previously believed by archaeologists. It now appears
that Thais might have originated here in Thailand and later scattered to
various parts of Asia, including some parts of China.
is the name by which the
country was known to the world until 1939 and again between 1945 and
1949. On May 11, 1949, an official proclamation declared that the
country would henceforth be known as "Thailand.
word "Thai" means "Free,"
and therefore "Thailand"
means "Land of the Free."
Situated in the heart of the Southeast Asian mainland and
covering an area of 513,115 sq. km., from North 5 o30"
to 21o and from East 97 o30" to 105o
30", Thailand borders the Lao People's Democratic Republic,
Cambodia and the Gulf of Thailand to the east, Myanmar and the Indian
Ocean to the west, and Malaysia to the south. Thailand has maximum
dimensions of about 2,500 kilometers north to south and 1,250 kilometers
east to west, with a coastline of approximately 1,840 kilometers on the
Gulf of Thailand and 865 kilometers along the Indian Ocean.
|Thailand is divided into four natural
a mountainous region comprising natural forests, ridges and deep, narrow,
alluvial valleys. The major city in the region is Chiang Mai.
- Central Thailand, the basin of the Chao Phraya
River, is a lush, fertile valley. It
is the richest and most extensive rice-producing area in the country and
has often been called the "Rice Bowl of Asia." Bangkok, the
capital of Thailand, is located in this region.
- The Northeast
region is arid, characterized by rolling surfaces and undulating hills. Harsh
climatic conditions often result in this region being subjected to
floods and droughts.
- The Southern
ranges from hilly to mountainous, with thick virgin forests and rich
deposits of minerals and ores. The region is the center for production
of rubber and cultivation of other tropical crops.
Thailand is a warm and rather humid tropical
country. The climate is monsoonal, marked by a pronounced rainy season
lasting from about May to September and a relatively dry season for the
remainder of the year. Temperatures are highest in March and April and
lowest in December and January. The average temperature is 28.1o
Dive Site Weather conditions
The population of
62.9 million in 1999, includes ethnic Chinese, Malays, Cambodians,
Vietnamese, Indians, and others. Immigration is controlled by a quota
Buddhism, the national
religion, is the
professed faith of 95 percent of the population. Islam, Christianity,
Hinduism, and other creeds are embraced by the rest of the population.
There is absolute religious freedom. The King of Thailand, under the
constitution and in practice, is patron of all major religions.
The official national language is Thai. It is
tonal, uninflected, and predominantly uses monosyllabic words. Most
polysyllabic words in the vocabulary have been borrowed, mainly from
Khmer, Pali and Sanskrit. Dialects are spoken in rural areas. Other
languages are Chinese and Malay. English, a compulsory subject in public
schools, is widely spoken and understood, particularly in Bangkok and
other major cities.
words of the Thai Royal Anthem, performed at most official ceremonies
and before the start of every movie, may strike a Western ear as
After all, the system of absolute monarchy ended in 1932, following a
revolution staged by a small group of disaffected civil servants and
military men. Since then, Thai kings have ruled under a constitution;
their powers theoretically no greater than those of European monarchs.
Yet, since he was officially crowned in 1946, His HRH Majesty King Bhumibol
Adulyadej has assumed the role of constitutional monarch and has worked
tirelessly on behalf of his people, gaining a measure of personal
devotion that is probably more intense than that felt for any of his all-powerful
ancestors. It has been said that Their Majesties King Bhumibol and Queen
Sirikit are the hardest working royal couple in the world with a work
load once estimated to be equal to at least one function every day of
the year. Of the several institutions that form the foundation of modern
Thai life, the one His Majesty represents is not only the most visible
but also the most revered.
His Majesty has
devoted himself to public service and made enduring contributions to
Thailand's development, initiating vital "royally-suggested"
projects such as crop rotation, fish breeding, irrigation, natural
watershed programs, dairy farming, reforestation, road building, and the
establishment of self-help villages.
His Majesty has traveled countrywide by
helicopter, jeep, train, boat
and on foot, often to the remotest corners of his Kingdom, in pursuit of
his projects. He is held in high esteem nationwide for his profound
interest in his people's welfare.
Her Majesty Queen Sirikit frequently accompanies His Majesty and
shares a close interest in the welfare of rural Thais. Her Majesty has
wholeheartedly helped establish foundations such as SUPPORT which
assists Thailand's rural population to produce and sell traditional
craft products for supplementary income.
The Thai monarchy is revered and regarded as the
element in the pillars of the nation. King Bhumibol was born on December
5, 1927, ascended the throne on June 9, 1946, and married Her Majesty
Queen Sirikit on April 28, 1950.
Their Majesties have four
children; Their Royal Highnesses Princess
Ubol Ratana, (presently residing in the United States); Crown Prince
Maha Vajiralongkorn, Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, and Princess
The Royal Couple are conscientiously assisted by their
frequently accompany them and represent Their Majesties at official
functions and ceremonies.
raised each morning at 08.00 hrs and lowered at 18.00 hrs in every town
and village, is composed of five horizontal bands of red, white, and
blue. Outer bands of red representing the nation enclose equal inner
bands of white evoking religion. The blue band, occupying the central
one-third of the total area, symbolizes the monarchy. The harmony of
design expresses the complementary nature of these three pillars of the
Thai nation. The tri-colored flag, first introduced by King Vajiravudh (Rama
VI) in 1917, replaced an earlier design which featured a white elephant
on a red background. National Day - December 5 is the birthday of His Majesty King Bhumibol
Adulyadej and is the Thai National Day. It is a public holiday. Most national holidays and festivals are of a
religious nature and serve to evoke a sense of devotion to the monarchy,
the religion, and the nation. Some are celebrated by the lunar calendar
and thus vary in date from year to year, while others are celebrated
according to the solar calendar.
is governed by a constitutional monarchy with a
parliamentarian form of government. The Bangkok Metropolitan
Administration, BMA, is administered by an elected governor and is
divided into 38 districts. The country is divided into 76 provinces,
each administered by an appointed governor. The provinces are sub-divided
into districts, sub-districts, tambons (groups of villages), and