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Tuesday 24th October
Thailand Information - Page 2
History
Early man settled in a number of areas in Thailand. Ban Chiang is the site of one of the oldest civilizations in Southeast Asia. Archaeological evidence shows that the ancient town of Sri Thep was also inhabited from prehistoric times. These early people were followed by the Mon, the Khmer (Cambodians) and the Thai.

The first Thai city of Sukhothai was built in the early thirteenth century. This was followed by the founding of Lanna Thai, Chiang Mai and Ayuthaya. The city of Ayuthaya survived for over four hundred years but was destroyed by Burmese invaders in the eighteenth century.

From the thirteenth to the nineteenth century the Thai kings had close ties with China. The Portuguese, Spanish, Dutch, French, English and Japanese all traded with Thailand. The French tried to take control of the country but Thailand resisted European control. In 1826 the British negotiated the Treaty of Amity and Commerce with Thailand increasing British influence in the country until the end of the century.

Thailand was an absolute monarchy until 1932 when a bloodless coup led to the country becoming a constitutional monarchy.

During the Second World War Thailand was occupied by the Japanese. By the end of the War Thailand had established a relationship with the USA and was used as an aircraft base by the Americans during the Vietnamese War (1961-1975).

Thailand is a member of the United Nations and ASEAN, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

Economy
Thailand's industrial sector provides a greater proportion of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) than agriculture. The services sector is the largest producer of GDP.

Agricultural employs a large percentage of the working population. Products are rice, cassava, corn, sugarcane, soybeans, coconuts and fruits. Thailand is a major world supplier of orchids. The fishing industry provides food for the population as well as exports.

Thailand is an important world producer of tungsten and tin. Other resources include rubber, timber and natural gas.

Industries are cement, light manufacturing, computers and electronics, furniture, plastics, textiles, clothes, tobacco, food processing and beverages. Tourism is an important earner of foreign currency. (2008)

Arts
Art in Thailand has developed from the country's religion, for example, sculptures of the Buddha and the murals in the Temple of the Emerald Buddha.

Crafts include weaving, wood carving, pottery, lacquerware, nielloware (made from sheets of metal) and silverware.

Thai theatre relies on epic stories such as The Ramayana. Shadow puppets or Nang Yai are a traditional art form.

Sport
Thai boxing (Muey Thai) is accompanied by traditional music, usually an ensemble consisting of a drum, small brass cymbals and a Thai clarinet.

The game of takraw is played with a wicker ball that has to be kept in the air using any part of the body except the hands.

Kite fighting involves teams of kite flyers and is a popular spectator sport.

Long boat racing, another traditional sport, takes place on rivers near towns and cities.

The Thai coastline provides opportunities for water-sports such as swimming, sailing and sail boarding. Deep-sea fishermen fish for tiger sharks, tuna and sailfish.

Holidays
Independence Day is in memory of the traditional founding of Siam in 1238.

The King's birthday is celebrated as a national holiday.

Buddhist holy days are observed and there are a number of regional festivals including the Vegetarian Festival on Phuket when islanders of Chinese origin eat vegetarian food for nine days.

News
News from Thailand is available in Newslink.

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