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Thailand Information - Page 1
Geography
The Kingdom of Thailand, formerly known as Siam, is in South East Asia. Its land borders are with Myanmar (Burma), Laos, Cambodia and Malaysia. Its sea borders are with the Andaman Sea and the Gulf of Thailand.

Bangkok, a major port, is also the capital city. Chiang Mai is the second largest city.

Thailand has a central plain, the Khorat Plateau in the east, and mountains in the north and west. The Chao Phraya is Thailand's most important river and flows through Bangkok.

The climate is tropical with rains brought with the southwest monsoon in mid May.

Environment
In 1961 the National Park Act was passed to protect Thailand's natural resources. A number of parks including Doi Luang National Park and the Tarutao National Marine Park were established.

The Dong Phayayen-Khao Yai Forest Complex, which contains important tropical forest ecosystems, was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 2005.

Forests cover over a quarter of the country and trees include teak, mangrove, rattan and palm. Bright yellow bua tong flowers grow in the mountains; other flowering plants are the hibiscus and orchids.

Elephants are a symbol of Thailand; the white elephant being highly prized. Today, due to loss of habitat, the elephant population has fallen substantially. Animals in the National Parks and sanctuaries are tigers, leopards, bears, panthers, monkeys and barking deer.

Architecture
Thailand has many monasteries, temples and shrines. Bangkok, alone, has over four hundred Buddhist buildings such as Wat Phra Kaeo and Wat Arun. Other architecture of note is the Grand Palace and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha.

Wood and stone have traditionally been used in construction but most of the wooden buildings have perished with time. Some ancient carved wooden buildings still exist in Chang Mai, famous for its beautiful temples - the most sacred is Wat Phra That Doi Suthep. Examples of Thai architecture can also be seen in the historic towns of Sukhothai and Ayutthaya.

Population
Thailand's population was estimated at 65,493,296 in 2008.

Languages
Thai is the official language. English is also used in business.

Religion
The majority of the people are Buddhist. Less than five percent are Muslim. There is still a following in the animist religion that believes there is a spirit in everything.

Food
Thai cuisine is spicy using ingredients such as coriander, turmeric, mint, ginger, chilli pepper, garlic and coconut milk. Seafood and shredded meat, often chicken, is eaten with rice or noodles. Favourite sauces are fish sauce and satay. Salad, sometimes sprinkled with peanuts, is served with the main meal.

Thailand has a variety of tropical fruit including the durian, jack fruit, bananas and mangoes. Fruit carving is an art form and is practised for special occasions.

Popular drinks are iced water, tea and coffee. Alcoholic drinks are beer and rice-based whiskey.

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