Wednesday, January 16, 2013

So what is a Thailand, anyway?

Aroon Sawat!

I want to take a couple minutes today to talk about Thailand as a country, for your sake as well as mine.  I didn't do too much research before coming, so I'm still learning lots of things about Thailand as a political entity and about its demographics.

Let's get started.  Thailand is in southeast asia:

It's capital is Bangkok, and the country has about 67 million people in it, making it the 20th most populous country in the world.  It's about 200,000 square miles, making it about 20% larger than California (I didn't realize it was so large!)

Thailand used to be referred to as Siam (ergo Siamese), but hasn't been called that since 1949.  The language of Thailand is Thai, although the region I'm in has a dialect which could almost be called its own language, called Isan.  Isan is almost closer to Laotian than to Thai.

I would say that it's hard to get around in Thailand as an American because the standard English proficiency is so low (ranked 54 out of 56 countries globally), but Thais are extremely patient and even xenophillic- they don't mind trying to talk to you, and will help you out however they can.

Thailand has a tropical climate and has rainy and dry seasons.  It's always at least warm and often hot- although I haven't really experienced that yet.  So far temperatures have been in the 60-85 degree range for me, and always sunny.

Thailand has a parliamentary constitutional monarchy, and they love their king very much.  His image is everywhere in the country, and I haven't yet heard anyone say a bad word about him.  He seems like a very good man.
This dude

As Thailand is a newly industrialized country, most of the amenities we're used to can be found here.  The local currency is the Baht, and as a rough rule of thumb about 30 baht equal a dollar.  Things are very very cheap by American standards (and even cheaper by European standards)- it's not a problem at all to get a meal for about a buck.  

The economy grew very rapidly in the 80s and 90s and continues to grow strongly today.  Nonetheless, about half the country still works in agriculture, and Thailand's greatest export is rice--it's actually the world's largest rice exporter.

About 95% of Thais are Buddhist and 4% are Muslims.  Christians and Hindus make up the other 1%.  

I'll keep you posted as I learn more!


  1. Oh, so remember how I said that Bangkok's full name is really long? Here it is:

    Krungthepmahanakhon Amonrattanakosin Mahintharayutthaya Mahadilokphop Noppharatratchathaniburirom Udomratchaniwetmahasathan Amonphimanawatansathit Sakkathattiyawitsanukamprasit

    If you go to the wikipedia page, you can also hear someone read it.

  2. wow! I did go to the wikipedia page and started to hear some of this, but it was too long and I got bored XD You were right!

  3. Looking forward to hearing about your trip!! Your doing some good work! Uncle Matthew.