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The ancient kingdom of Thailand is sometimes called the rice grannary of Southeast Asia. In recent decades Thailand was the only country that was able to export large quantities of rice to other countries year after year. Known to foreigners for hundreds of year as Siam, the country change its name in the 20th century to Thailand, which means "Land of the free".
Most travellers retain in their memory different impressions of the place they have visited. Some are impressed by the hospitality of its people. Some are struck by the scenic beauty. Others fall in love with specific local cultures or with the food.
Thailand, formerly known as Siam, occupies a small area on this globe, but its history is immense. From a small community it has grown in so many directions. Diversity is a charminh aspect of the country.
Thailand's national flag,ceremoniously 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, symbolizez the monarchy. The harmony of design expresses the complementary nature of these three pillars of the Thai nation.
Thailand is located in the center of continental Southeast Asia. About 90 percent of the people live on the floodplains and delta plains built up by Thailand's rivers. The two largest river systems are the Chao Phraya
Northwestern Thailand is mostly mountainous and includes Thailand's highest point, Inthanon Peak. Northeastern Thailand is a high plain with mountains along its western and southern borders. Much of the soil is sandy and cannot hold water for crop growth.
The part of Thailand situated on the Malay Peninsula is known as Peninsular Thailand. This region is mostly mountainous and covered with forests and is not a good place for people to live. But there are some small areas of good land along the eastern coast.
Nestled in the hearh of Southeast Asia with Cambodia , Laos ,Myanmar and Malaysia as neighbours, Thailand spreads over 513,115 square kilometres of land and stretches some 1,620 km from north to south and 755 km from east to west. The climate is tropical, with an average low temperature of 20�o C. There are three overlapping seasons :the rainy season normally lasts from July to October, then the weather turns moderate to cool until February, and gradually warms up to sweltering heat until June.
The recorded history of the Thai people goes back eight centuries, through three main eras : Sukhothai (circa 1257-1350), Ayutthaya (1350-1767) and Rattanakosin (Bangkok). After a brief interlude in Thon Buri, the founding of Bangkok in 1782 marked the beginning of the Chakri Dynasty. The current king , His Majesty Bhumibol Adulyadej, crowned in 1946, is the ninth Chakri monarch (Rama IX). Before the Second World War, Thailand was known to foreigners as Siam.