“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page. ”– Saint Augustine

Until 1939, The Kingdom of Thailand was called Siam. Today the land of Thai people is known for having never been conquered or occupied by a European power, for housing the oldest democracy in the world, and for staging the most coups d’état over the last century.

The country’s origin goes back to 1238. The first inhabitants came from Vietnam and China. Throughout the ensuing centuries, it swallowed the peripheral cities to grew into a powerful regional power.

During both World Wars, Thailand aligned against the Allied Forces and lost twice. But twice, it was quickly forgiven. In the 1960s and 70s, it was a reliable anti-communist force, and a secure pied-a-terre for the Americans fighting in Vietnam.

Over the last three decades, it has followed the steps of its northern neighbors, Singapore, Taiwan, Malaysia, with a relishing emerging economy based on tourism and manufacturing.

The country measures 513,000 sq. km. It is as large as France or Spain, but about three times the size of Florida. It is inhabited by 69 million people. The literacy rate is 93%. The official language is Thai, spoken by 91% of the population. Note that 94% of Thais are Buddhist, and only 1% Christian.

GDP is $1.2 trillion, growing at 3.9%. The unemployment rate is very low, at 0.7%. One (1) dollar is exchanged for Baht. GINI coefficient is 44%.

Life expectancy at birth is 75 years. The infant mortality rate is 9 per 1,000 live births. Obesity rate is 10% (US: 36%). AIDS is prevalent in the sector of the sex industry (18,000 deaths a year).

The climate is tropical, the vegetation luxurious, the beaches gloriously sandy.

Thailand is one of the most visited countries.

The Traveller

(O. Robert Jeanlouie, Wednesday, October 9, 2019)
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