Thailand, city if wonders

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The official name is the Kingdom of Thailand. This country, centered

around its capital Bangkok, has 198,456 square miles. Within these

boundaries there are 54,862,000 people which roughly is 276.4 people per

square mile. 19.8% is urban and 80.2% is rural. This country is divided into

72 provinces.

Thai is the language that is spoke throughout this country and

Buddhism is officially taught. 88.8% of Thailand's people are literate. The

governing body consists of a constitutional monarchy and is run by the king.

The legislature is organized by a national assembly.

Geographically, the biggest peak is Doi Inthanon and the lowest point

of elevation is sea level. The major rivers that flow through Thailand are the:

Chao Phyraya, Chi, Mekong, Mun, and the Ping.

Thailand is 985 miles north to south and 510 miles east to west.

Burma borders Thailand on the north and west (across the Salween River),

on the north and east by Laos (across the Mekong River), and on the south

(across the Isthmus of Kra) by Malaysia.

There is 1200 miles of coastline

along the gulf of Thailand, which leads into the south China Sea. The

western side of the Malay Peninsula is by the Andaman Sea. The Thai

people describe their land as:

'An elephants head'

- The trunk is in the south.

- The ears in the north.

- The mouth is in the delta and harbor of the Chao Phyraya

River.

- The central plains of the river basis is where the eyes and

brains are located.

The vegetation of Thailand contains such plants as; rice, 250 varieties

of bamboo, coconut palm, banana plants, orchards of durain, mango,

rambutan, litchi, mangosteen, papaya, and a variety of other fruit plants.

The entire region is formed by sediment deposits by the Chao Phyraya

River. This river provides irrigation water and fertile soil for rice. The crops

of the region: tapioca in the southeast, corn in the bordering hills, and

although the plains product no mineral wealth, the mountainous borders

produce such goods as sapphires, fluorite, and tungsten.

The valleys of the northern highlands were stripped of there natural

vegetation and replaced with rice, fruits and tobacco. The mountain land was

cleared by lumbering and farming. These mountain offer teak as well as

other tropical woods.

The northeast is in the Khorat Plateau. These include the low hills and

the central plains by the Mekong River. The mountains that separate the

plateau from Cambodia is the scene for a lot of guerrilla warfare. This land

is know for its livestock production. Animals were once breed for aid in the

rice crops and to plow fields. Elephants are still used in the transportation of

lumber. The main mineral in the northeast is rocksalt.

The south is on the mountains of the Malay Peninsula and extends

through the Isthmus of Kra. There is a massive amount of people that farm

rice in the river valleys and along the eastern river plains. Thailand fishing

fleet is very modernized and this results in major export of shrimp, squid, and

cuttlefish. the one problem that has arose with all of this is the over fishing

along the coast of Thailand.

The climate of Thailand is a monsoon, or a wet / dry climate. From

May to October there is seasonal wind, monsoon, which produces hot and

humid days and at least 40 inches of rain. This is 90% of the years total

rainfall. In October the monsoon brings a cool dry season, which is a

favorite of the Thai people. Starting in March the sun gets warm and the

weather starts to get dry.

In the southern regions there are more than 1,000,000 Malay speaking

Muslims. In the mountainous Myanmar border the Karens live in isolation.

There are other hill tribes, among them the Hmong and Yao, that live in the

northern mountains. In the northeast, near the Cambodian border, thousands

of Khmers live there and have for centuries. Most of the people in the

northeast are Lao, a separate group of Thai people. Every village in the Thai

culture has a Wat, or temple complex. It is similar to a Christian Church,

there is a gathering hall and a living place for the Monks. This Wat is where

they have festivals, sports programs and social 'get togethers'.

The Thai new year is in April and is celebrated by symbolically

washing sins away and blessing friends with water. Young people celebrate

by getting people and vehicles wet with garden hoses.

Thailand is a competitor in major sports events. They are active in

such sports as: soccer, boxing, and field hockey. Bangkok has hosted the

Asian games several times. A very popular sport in Thailand is the art of kite

flying. This is where male and small female kites do acrobats in the pre-

monsoon winds.

India and China have a lot of influence on the Thai culture. There are

dancers that dance to classic stories ,such as the Indian tale 'Ramayana', but

the music used in this epic is not of Indian origin, it originates from the

stringed instruments of China. There are many traditional arts which are kept

alive by tourism such as: enameling and etching silver, and dying silk. The

most intriguing cultural tradition, that is kept alive by tourism must be the

age old tradition of placing rings around women's necks. This is done as a

sign of age and growing maturity. This practice was stopped for awhile

because over the years, as more rings are added, the pressure pushes down on

the collar bones and finally breaks them, which usually results in death.

Tourists pay good money to come see this popular attraction and merchandise

is even marketed to keep this tradition alive.

Bangkok is the center of this country and acts as the economic and

political capital also. This capital city contains 12% of the countries

population and acts as a major port. This city is also 'a center for higher

learning, medical services, banking, and religion.' This city has its down

sides too with air pollution and traffic jams. Overcrowding and poor slums

are also a problem, as with any major city. Bangkok is also the center of

transportation and communication. As far as transportation, there is 'a

network of navigable rivers and canals' that transport such goods as: logs,

rice, and charcoal. Railroads are also used as a form of transportation five

main lines branching out from Bangkok.

In Thailand there is approximately 56% of the population that is

employed. Half of which is women.

-One third of the people are employed in forestry, hunting, and fishing

-9% works in manufacturing

-another 9% in commerce

-10% in the service industry

It is necessary that all children between the ages of seven and fourteen

be enrolled in the education system. There are 16 universities and technical

institutes in Thailand. Children learn about their Thai culture which dates

back to about the 13th century with the first written literature and the

introduction of Thai writing. In this centuries the arts started to become a big

part of the culture which is now reflected in the many temples.

There are many health issues in Thailand. AIDS has become an

epidemic all throughout Thailand. As recorded in 1988 there are 102,374

hospital beds and 11,260 physicians.

The life expectancy among the Thai people is:

-Women live until approximately seventy one

-Men live until approximately sixty seven

The infant mortality is thirty five out of 1000 live births

Thailand's major trade partners are:

-Japan

-The United States

-Singapore

-Germany

The currency exchange is 1 Baht = 100 Satangs

Thailand has many interesting features and cultures that are very intriguing to

many people. Thailand is becoming a major tourist attraction for many of

the Asian countries. They are now promoting the beauty of the land in the

hopes to bring foreign dollars in through the tourist.

I hope one day I will have the opportunity to visit Thailand and

exexperience the culture first hand.

Bibliography

-Grolier's 1993 Encyclopedia

-Collier's Encyclopedia Vol.#22

-Compton's Encyclopedia Vol.

#23