Thailand is a kingdom located in Southeast Asia. The country has an area of approximately 200,000mi², by which it holds the 50th spot on the list of the largest countries. However Thailand sits on the list “Number of residents” at the 20th with almost 66.7 million inhabitants (2011).
Thailand is divided into 77 provinces. The 77th (BungCan) province was founded on March 22, 2011 by splitting the northeastern province of Nong Khai. The capital of each province in Thailand has the same name as the province itself but with the addition Mueang in front of it (which means "city").
Thailand borders the following countries:
- Myanmar (North and West)
- Laos (North and North-East)
- Cambodia (East)
- Malaysia (South)
Thailand also borders the Gulf of Thailand in the south and the Andaman Sea in the west.
In northern Thailand lies the mountain Doi Inthanon, with its highest point at 2.576m above sea level. This is the highest mountain in Thailand. In this region there are several tribes who are originally not Thai, including the famous "long necks" near the city of Chiang Rai. For nature lovers, there are vast forests where all kinds of flora and fauna can be found. In this region the tripoint "the Golden Triangle" is located, which connects the three countries of Myanmar, Laos and Thailand. The name originated in the period that this area was the center of the opium trade between these countries.
In northeastern Thailand lies the Phetchabun mountain range. Here are several national parks. Eastern Thailand is bordered by Laos, but is separated by a natural border in the form of the Mekong River. The Mekong River reaches eastern Thailand at the height of Loei province and runs through until a few kilometers from the border with Cambodia. The rest of Eastern Thailand consists of the very dry and infertile Khorat Plateau. This area is also known as the "Weeping Plain" and is among the poorest regions of Thailand. This region is also called the Isaan.
Big woods in this region had to make way for agriculture in the past years. As a result, there are many small areas of forest between the fields and villages. Because of these deforestation and the many rice fields, this region looks quite rural. For the traveler who is going to Thailand for the first time it is best to leave this area aside. However if you have several weeks available to spend or have seen the rest of Thailand, the eastern part of Thailand can be a good addition.
The soil of central Thailand is mostly deposited by the river Mae Nam. As you go further north it gets more hilly. The south of central Thailand borders on the Gulf of Thailand. In this region, on the banks of Chao Phraya River which flows into the Gulf of Thailand, lies the capital Bangkok. This is also the most populous region of Thailand, with the highest concentration in and around the capital. The soil of this region is deposited from the river Mae Nam which makes it highly of fertile. For this reason there are beautiful forests in this region. These forests, among others, can be seen in the Khao Yai National Park northeast of Bangkok and the Erawan National Park in Kanchanaburi.
Southern Thailand is located on the narrow Peninsula of Malacca, between the Gulf of Thailand and the Andaman Sea. It is an area of approximately 27,500mi². The north of southern Thailand is formed by the Isthmus of Kra, where the narrowest part is only 12km wide. In the west of southern Thailand there is a steep coastline of limestone rock, while the east is relatively flat and full of rivers.
The largest river in the region, with a length of 133mi, is the Tapi river located in Surat Thani. Along with the Phum Duang River the Tapi river is the most important river in the region. The largest natural lake in this region is the Songkhla lake. This lake has a surface of over 385 mi². Running through the south are several mountain ranges with the highest point at 1.1 mi altitude (Khao Luang in the province of Nakhon Si Thammarat). From Kra to Phuket runs the Phuket mountain chain. Almost parallel to this chain runs the Banhat mountain chain that begins in Surat Thani and extends to the border of Malaysia.
The Natural border with Malaysia is formed by the Sankalakhiri mountains, which can be divided into three parts; Pattani, Taluban and Songhkla Mountains. Erosion since the ice age has created a lot of steep limestone cliffs, where islands arose such as Koh Phi Phi. Koh Tapu (Nail Island) is the most famous island. On this island the James Bond movie "The man with the golden gun" was filmed, thus often called the "James Bond Island".