Thailand is an Asian country whose territory covers 514 000 square kilometers and has approximately 65 million inhabitants (2008).
Thailand has a rich and colorful culture along with many exotic monuments and stunning beaches, which attract millions of visitors each year, from those with a minimum budget to those who can afford to spoil themselves in luxury. The country is often called the "land of smiles", as you will never meet so many smiling people as here.
Only in Thailand you can take a cruise on a converted rice barge, you can yell upstream in a boat or go with a bamboo raft in a dizzying ride, then stay in the jungle in tree houses of villagers or floating houses on the river. Equally memorable are the trails leading to the rain forests, passing by stunning waterfalls, and the beauty of the endless sea. Do not miss the dynamic city of Bangkok, with its futuristic buildings overlaid on the bright image of the Grand Palace.
Early in the morning, the monks leave the sanctuary of the temples dressed in robes to receive offerings from the people, either in a dusty village or on the crowded streets of the city. Here, Buddhism is a style of life and, with the respect of people for the monarchy, a dynasty that has maintained the independence of the country for centuries, resulting in a blend of tradition and contemporary lifestyle.
His Majesty King Bhumibol is the longest reigning monarch in the world, ruling since 1946. Aiming at absolute monarchy, Thailand moved to democracy, but this move was thwarted by the military as to protest against government policies. The most recent strike took place in September 2006 when a bloody revolt ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, replacing it with an interim prime minister.
Thailand has surpassed the 1997 economic collapse, SARS, bird flu and the devastating tsunami of December 2004 to become a popular destination for tourists, with its many natural beauties and rich cultural heritage. Thailand is a tropical country, so it is warm all year round, but the best time for tourists is from November to March, in the dry season.
By Maria Morari
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