Thailand

Known as Siam until 1939, Thailand is the only Southeast Asian country which has never been colonized by a western country.  An official proclamation changed the name of the country to “Thailand” which means “ Land of the Free”

There are conflicting opinions as to the origins of the Thais. Three decades ago it could be said with presumed certainty that the Thais originated in the Northwestern Szechuan province of China about 4,500 years ago, and later migrated to their present homeland. However, this theory has been altered by the discovery of remarkable prehistoric artifacts in the village of Ban Chiang, Udon Thani Province in the Northeast of Thailand. These include evidence of bronze metallurgy going back 3,500 years as well as other indications of sophisticated culture more than previously suspected by archaeologists. Thus, it appears that the Thais might have originated in Thailand and latter scattered to various parts of Asia, including some parts of China.

Thailand shares borders with four neighboring countries, namely Myanmar (Burma) to the North and West, Laos to the Northeast, Cambodia to the East, and Malaysia to the South.

The population of Thailand is approximately 65,493,296 ( July 2008 ) which consists of Thai (80 %),  Chinese (10%), Malay  (3 %), and the rest are ethnic minorities.
The official language  is Thai and the literacy rate in Thailand  is approximately 90%.

Nearly ninety five percent of Thais are Buddhists of the Theravada tradition. Muslims are the second largest religious group in Thailand at 4.5%.  Christianity, mainly Catholics, represent only 0.7 % of the population.

Thailand is well known for its historical architecture, Thai silk,  Thai cuisine, teakwood products and pottery.

Government: Constitutional Monarchy

Major Cities;   Bangkok ( Capital), Ayuthaya,  Chiang Mai  , Kon  Kaen, Nakorn Ratchasima, Chonburi and  Sonkhla.

THAI COMMUNITY IN THE USA:  There are 5,436 Thais in the Commonwealth of Virginia, and  150,273 Thais are currently living in the United States.

RESOURCES          
Contact us: Damkerng Sepdham : thasala@comcast.net
Suwattana Sugg: ssugg@richmonddiocese,org
Thai  Embassy:  www.thaiembdc.org
Tourism Authority of Thailand:  www.tourismthailand.org
Thai Temples     www.watthaidc.org
www.watpa.iirt.net
www.watyarn.com