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ABOUT THAILAND

General Info

Thailand is an incredible destination with palaces, temples, markets, shopping, spas, friendly people, fine dining and some of the best hotels in the world. The word 'Thai' means freedom, so literally Thailand is the land of freedom.
Thailand is also often referred to as a golden land, not because there is precious metal buried underground but because the country gives off a certain lustre, it the fertile rice fields of the central plains, white sandy beaches or the warm hospitality of its people. With an independent history going back more than seven centuries, it has managed to absorb a variety of cultural influences and blend them into something uniquely and memorably Thai. Thailand is described by travelers as "the west exotic country in Asia", and with good reason. It is colored by a distinct culture, with a rich and varied heritage, and it posses a remarkable range of scenic beauty. Whatever your interests you'll find this a unique land, a place of kaleidoscopic wonders unseen elsewhere.

History
Thailand (previously known as Siam) has been populated ever since the dawn of civilization in Asia. There are conflicting opinions of the origins of the Thais. It presumed that about 4,500 years. Thais originated in northwestern Szechuan in China and later migrated down to Thailand along the southern part of China. They split into two main groups. One settled down in the North and became the kingdom of "Lanna" and the other one is in further south, which afterward was defeated by the Khmers and became the kingdom of "Sukhothai".

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Geography & Climate
Located in the center of Southeast Asia, Thailand is truly at the heart of the region. Looking over a map of Thailand will reveal a country whose borders form the rough shape of an elephant’s head: the head and ears forming the mostly landlocked northern and eastern provinces and the trunk extending down the Malaysian peninsula between the Andaman Sea and the Gulf of Thailand.
The geography of Thailand features many natural borders with neighboring countries: a mountainous border with Myanmar (Burma) to the north and west; a long stretch of the Mekong River separating Thailand from Laos to the north and east; and the Mekong River and the Dongrak Mountains delineating the border of Cambodia to the east.

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People
The Thai people, or Siamese, are the main ethnic group of Thailand and are part of the larger Tai ethnolinguistic peoples found in Thailand and adjacent countries in Southeast Asia as well as southern China. Their language is the Thai language, which is classified as part of the Tai–Kadai family of languages, and the majority of Thai are followers of Theravada Buddhism. The term Thai people may also refer to the population of Thailand in general, and not only to ethnic Thais.

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Language
hai, more precisely Central Thai or Siamese, is the national and official language of Thailand and the native language of the Thai people, Thailand's dominant ethnic group. Thai is a member of the Tai group of the Tai–Kadai language family. Some words in Thai are borrowed from Pali, Sanskrit and Old Khmer. It is a tonal and analytic language. Thai also has a complex orthography and relational markers. Thai is mutually intelligible with Lao.

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Religion and belief
Religion plays a very important role in Thai life. Religion is considered an essential pillar of society, it is not only the major moral force of Thai family and community but has also contributed to the molding of freedom loving, individualistic, and tolerant people for many centuries. Theravada or Hinayana Buddhism is the national religion of Thailand but there is total religious freedom and all major religions can be found in practice.

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Arts and literature
Thai art and literature are deeply rooted in Buddhist heritage with influences from China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia and Cambodia... Despite outside factors having helped shaped Thai art and literature, these two essential aspects of Thai culture have until recent decades remained uniquely Thai. Although the country is not noted for its literary achievements, it certainly does hold its own for unique and commendable art and architectural form.

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Cuisine
Thai cuisine is the national cuisine of Thailand. Blending elements of several Southeast Asian traditions, Thai cooking places emphasis on lightly prepared dishes with strong aromatic components. The spiciness of Thai cuisine is well known. As with other Asian cuisines, balance, detail and variety are of great significance. Thai food is known for its balance of three to four fundamental taste senses in each dish or the overall meal: sour, sweet, salty, and bitter.

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Festivals and holidays
Public holidays in Thailand are regulated by the government, and most are observed by both the public and private sectors. There are usually sixteen public holidays in a year, but more may be declared by the cabinet. Since 1996, if a holiday falls on a weekend, the following workday(s) is (are) observed as a compensatory non-workday, subject to the cabinet's declarations. Other observances, both official and non-official, local and international, are observed in varying degrees throughout the country.

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