Thailand is one of the most beautiful countries with its lush, tropical landscape and friendly people. It lies in the heart of Southeast Asia. The local climate is tropical and characterized by monsoons.
It is an independent country. Thailand is a constitutional monarchy with King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the ninth king of the House of Chakri, as the ruling monarch. The capital and largest city of the Kingdom of Thailand is Bangkok. Bangkok was founded in 1782 by the first monarch of the present Chakri dynasty. It is also the county's center of commercial, political, industrial and cultural activities. Bangkok is known in Thai as Krung Thep Mahanakorn, meaning City of Angels. It is home to approximatlely ten million people or more than 10% of the county's population. Thailand is the world's 51st-largest country, roughly equal in size to Spain. It has approximately 63 million people. About 75% procent of the population is ethnically Thais, 14% is of Chinese origin and 3% is ethnically Malay, the rest belond to minority groups including Khmers, Mons and various hill tribes.
The country's official language is Thai language. It is the principal language of education and government and spoken throughout the country. The standard is based on the dialect of the Central Thai people. It is written in the Thai alphabet, an abugida script that evolved from the Khmer script. Numerous tribal languages are also spoken. English is a mandatory school subject.
The most of the population are Buddhists of the Theravada tradition. Muslims are the second largest religious group in Thailand. The culture incorporates a great deal of influence from India, Cambodia, China and the rest of the Southeast Asia. An essential part of Thai spiritual practice is respect towards ancestors. Seniority is an important concept in Thai culture.
The national sport in Thailand is Muay Thai or Thai boxing.
The diversity of Thailand's flowers reflects its range of natural habitats. Most famous of all are its orchids.
Thai cuisine blends five fundamental tastes: spicy, sweet, sour, salty and bitter. The staple food in Thailand is rice, particulary jasmine variety rice, which is included in almost every meal.
Wai is the traditional Thai greeting. Generally is offered first by the youngest of the two people meeting, with theri hands pressed together, fingertrips pointing upwards as the head is bowed to touch their face to the hands. Usually is coinciding with the spoken word Sawat-dii khrap for male speakers and Sawat-dii ka for females. The wai is a sign of respect and reverence for another, similar to the namaste greeting of India.
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