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ThailandThailand is referred to in numerous ways in the Thai language, with names that mean "Kingdom of the Thais," "nation of Thais," and others. All names are similar in that they all include the word "Thai," which means "independence," but is almost certainly in reference to the ethnic Thai people in the name of the country.

ประเทศไทย

Introduction:

The way of life in Thailand began thousands of years ago as the people called themselves "water lords;" even today the people still rely on the waterways as the true heart of Thai culture. Although the people living on this land have changed over time, the way of life has been slowly transferred from people to people, with the current Thai people turning this past way of life into their modern day culture. As in the past, the land that Thailand now covers is covered with rivers running from north to south and in the country's south there are numerous lakes and an incredibly long coastline. It was these waterways and the reliance on water that Thai culture is built upon.

As people settled in the region that is today Thailand, and later immigrants settled in the region, communication and transportation were based on access to the water and later canals were constructed to give the people access to more land as civilizations arose while languages and foods became more wide spread. Water became more than a means to move, it became the center of trade and organized culture; the waterways united the people under one government, while they gained access to more and more outside influences.

Thailand's flag includes the color red, which represents the nation and the blood of life, white, which symbolizes religion and the purity of Buddhism, and blue, which represents the monarchy.

Name: Kingdom of Thailand
Independence: 1238
Capital: Bangkok
Currency: Thai Baht
Population: 67,448,120 (2013 estimate)
Ethnicity: Thai & others
Language: Thai
Religion: Buddhism

Thai culture arose over time due to their vast networks both inland and to outside lands via the ocean. The economy blossomed with a stable government and the people shifted from focusing solely on food and survival to arts, construction, and budding economies. Powerful cities arose, art flourished, and the food became a focus of the people who slowly gained the resources and money to expand their palates, forming a unique and world-famous cuisine that still exists today.

Along with foreign foods and spices, Buddhism arrived from settlers in the west. Buddhism quickly became the prominent religion and even today much of Thailand's legal system and ideologies are rooted in Buddhism. Other ideas from lands abroad also arrived and changed the people; the Khmers, Mon, and Burmese among others took over many parts of the country, changing some aspects of the cultures, but also forcing the Thai people to cling to their past as both the cities of Chiang Mai and Ayutthaya became centers of cultural growth. This cultural growth is even more magnified in the 1500-1900s when the Europeans arrived in large numbers and the people sought to maintain their history and independence.

With the Europeans came fear, but also outside influences and a growing sense of national and ethnic identity as the people clung to each other and their royal family to maintain sovereignty. They kept independence by wisely working with the foreign powers. This governmental stability allowed the country to maintain their culture and continue their economic growth instead of warring; in this way these outside influences helped the country introduce new health and learning standards as Thailand quickly became one of the best educated and wealthiest countries in the region.

Today Thailand's culture and way of life are a result of their past as they maintain high economic, educational, and health standards. They remain the diplomatic leader in the region, yet they take great pride in their culture and past, which has been threatened at so many times. In many ways, Thailand has kept their traditions alive, however in other ways they have adopted the outside influences by introducing new technologies and items from other countries. Often times these external introductions have magnified their culture while making life a bit easier. Today Thailand truly is a mix of past and present.

Learn More About Thailand:

The Land:
Geography WeatherWildlife

The Past:
History Architecture

The Food:
FoodSpecialtiesDining Etiquette Drinks

The Culture:
Way of Life EthnicityLanguage ReligionDress BehaviorIdentity

Map of Thailand:

Thailand Map

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Information for Thailand was last updated: October, 2012 ● View our: Sources & Special Thanks