Kingdom of Thailand

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Flag of Thailand Flag of Thailand
Five horizontal bands of red (top), white, blue (double width), white, and red.

A unified Thai kingdom was established in the mid-14th century. Known as Siam until 1939, Thailand is the only Southeast Asian country never to have been taken over by a European power. A bloodless revolution in 1932 led to a constitutional monarchy. In alliance with Japan during World War II, Thailand became a US ally following the conflict. Thailand is currently facing armed violence in its three Muslim-majority southernmost provinces. - CIA World Factbook.

Map of Thailand

Thailand - Fotw
The story goes that during the 1916 flood the king of Siam saw the national flag hanging upside down... Because of the distress a new flag was adopted that could not be hung upside down.

Thailand -
The country's official name was Siam until June 24, 1939. The region known today as Thailand has been inhabited by human beings since the paleolithic period (about 500,000 - 10,000 years ago). Due to its geographical location, Thai culture has always been greatly influenced by India and China as well as the indigenous cultures of Southeast Asia.

Thailand - U.S. Department of State
Thailand's population is relatively homogeneous. More than 85% speak a dialect of Thai and share a common culture. This core population includes the central Thai (33.7% of the population, including Bangkok), Northeastern Thai (34.2%), northern Thai (18.8%), and southern Thai (13.3%).
        The language of the central Thai population is the language taught in schools and used in government. Several other small Thai-speaking groups include the Shan, Lue, and Phutai.
        Up to 12% of Thai are of significant Chinese heritage, but the Sino-Thai community is the best integrated in Southeast Asia. Malay-speaking Muslims of the south comprise another significant minority group (2.3%). Other groups include the Khmer; the Mon, who are substantially assimilated with the Thai; and the Vietnamese. Smaller mountain-dwelling tribes, such as the Hmong and Mein, as well as the Karen, number about 788,024.
        The population is mostly rural, concentrated in the rice-growing areas of the central, northeastern, and northern regions. However, as Thailand continues to industrialize, its urban population--31.6% of total population, principally in the Bangkok area--is growing.
        Thailand's highly successful government-sponsored family planning program has resulted in a dramatic decline in population growth from 3.1% in 1960 to less than 1% today. Life expectancy also has risen, a positive reflection of Thailand's efforts at public health education. However, the AIDS epidemic has had a major impact on the Thai population. Today, over 600,000 Thais live with HIV or AIDS--approximately 1.5% of the adult population. Each year until at least 2006, 30-50,000 Thais will die from AIDS-related causes. Ninety percent of them will be aged 20-49, the most productive sector of the workforce. The situation could have been worse; an aggressive public education campaign in the early 1990s reduced the number of new HIV infections from over 100,000 annually.
        The constitution mandates 12 years of free education, however, this is not provided universally. Education accounts for 16.6% of total government expenditures.
        Theravada Buddhism is the official religion of Thailand and is the religion of about 95% of its people. The government permits religious diversity, and other major religions are represented. Spirit worship and animism are widely practiced.