There are conflicting opinions as to the origins of the Thais. Only a few decades ago, it could be said with presumed certainty that they originated in northwestern Szechuan in China about 4,500 years ago and later migrated down 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 northeastern province of Udon Thani. These include evidence of bronze metallurgy going back 3,500 years, as well as other indications of a far more sophisticated culture than any previously suspected. It now appears that the Thais might have originated here in Thailand and later scattered to various parts of Asia, including some parts of China.
“Siam” is the name by which the country was known to the world until 1949. On 11 May 1949, an official proclamation changed the name of the country to “Prathet Thai”, or Thailand. The 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° 30″ to 21° and from East 97° 30″ to 105°, Thailand borders the Lao People’s Democratic Republic and Myanmar to the north, 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 km. north to south and 1,250 km. east to west, with a coastline of approximately 1,840 km. on the Gulf of Thailand and 865 km. along the Andaman Sea adjacent to the Indian Ocean.
Thailand is divided into four natural regions: the North; the Central Plain, or the Chao Phraya River Basin; the Northeast, or the Korat Plateau; and the South, or the Southern Peninsula.
The North is a mountainous region comprising natural forests, ridges, and deep, narrow alluvial valleys. The leading city of this 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 city of Thailand, is located in this region.
The Northeastern region is an arid region characterized by a rolling surface and undulating hills. Harsh climatic conditions often result in this region being subjected to floods and droughts.
The Southern region is hilly to mountainous, with thick forests and rich deposits of minerals and ores. This region is centre for the production of rubber and the cultivation of other tropical crops.
Climate 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 23.7°C and 37.5°C.
The population of Thailand is approximately 68 million (2016), with an annual growth rate of about 0.28 percent. The population includes descendents of ethnic Chinese, Malay, Khmer, Lao, Vietnamese, Indian and others.
The official national language is Thai. It is a tonal language, uninflected and predominately monosyllabic. Most polysyllabic words in the vocabulary have been borrowed, mainly from Khmer, Pali, or Sanskrit. Dialects are spoken in rural areas. Other languages are Chinese and Malay. English is also widely spoken and understood in Thailand, particularly in Bangkok and other major cities.
Thailand is governed by a constitutional monarchy with a bicameral parliamentarian form of government. The country is divided into 77 provinces, each administered by an appointed governor, and subdivided into districts, sub-districts, tambons (groups of villages), and villages. The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration is administered by an elected governor and divided into 50 districts.
Thailand’s national flag, ceremoniously raised each morning at 08:00 hours and lowered in the evening at 18:00 hours in every town and village is composed of five horizontal bands of red, white and blue. Outer bands of red represent the nation. The white bands represent religion and the central blue band symbolizes the monarchy. The harmony of the design expresses the complementary nature of these three pillars of the Thai nation.
This tricolor flag was first introduced by King Vajiravudh (Rama VI) in 1917, when it replaced an earlier design in which a white elephant was placed against a red background
National Colors :
Thailand has no official national colors – although red, white and blue, which are inspired by Thai flag, are used by Thai international sporting teams, as well as on other appropriate occasion.
National Anthem :
The national anthem is played on all ceremonial occasions of national importance and while the national flag is being raised and lowered. Its music was composed in 1932 by Professor Phra Jenduriyang, while the lyrics were written in 1939 by Colonel Luang Saranuprabhandh.
Royal Anthem :
The royal Thai anthem is played during state occasions and public meetings, such as sporting events, cinema shows, concerts, etc. Sentiments expressed in the royal Thai anthem mirror the feelings of the Thai people towards their King.
National Emblem :
The Thai national and royal emblem is the Garuda, a mythical half-bird half-human figure that adorns King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s scepter and royal standard. Many ministries and departments have incorporated the Garuda into their insignias.
Moreover, the Garuda signifies “By Royal Appointment” and is awarded at the personal discretion of His Majesty the King, a sign of royal approval to companies that have rendered outstanding economic and charitable services to Thailand. Such an award is rarely bestowed and is considered a great honor.
National Dress :
Although there is no official national dress, the traditional dress has been adopted as the unofficial national costume and can be seen on both formal and informal occasions.
For women, it is a full-length pasin, a rectangular piece of cloth worn like a skirt or sarong and generally made of Thai silk. The pasin can be of any color and generally has contrasting bands around the hem. It is worn with a long-sleeved silk blouse. On formal occasions a sash may be worn across the breast from the left shoulder to the right part of the waist.
For men, the traditional dress consists of trousers with a sua phra ratchathan, a short-sleeved shirt (long-sleeves for formal occasions) with a high collarless neck. On formal occasions, a cummerbund is tied around the waist.
National Day :
December 5, the birthday of His Majesty the Late King Bhumibol Adulyadej, is the Thai national day and Thailand's Father Day.