⇐ Geography

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Culture / Religion

The culture of Thailand is deeply imbued with Theravada Buddhism, the official religion practiced by most of the population (4% Muslim and less than 1% Christian). Much of the arts - painting, sculpture, architecture, dance and music - undergoes this influence and serves traditional representations of Buddhism and its derivatives. In accordance with the teachings of Buddha, monks practice asceticism. Every morning, they will get their food from residents and traders around 6 am (even in the capital metropolis, Bangkok - Krung Thep in Thai).

There is also a great sustainability of animist beliefs. They manifest themselves in the belief in magic amulets and the domestic worship of the “local spirits " (chao thi), to which are devoted houses of spirits, small shrines present at homes or shops (where possible), that Thais thank and pray every day if they can by offerings (flower necklaces and food).

In Thailand, we speak of "cultures" rather than "culture", namely: Buddhist culture, traditional secular culture and Muslim culture. Muslims live in the south on the peninsula, near the border with Malaysia, in the three provinces of Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat.

Originally, the Thais would have come from southern China (Yunnan Province) from the eleventh century. However, the Thai language has no relationship with the Chinese. It belongs to the Tai group of the said branch Kam-Tai of the family of Taies- Kadaïes languages.

Buddhist and traditional culture encompasses the entire Thailand, and has basically two types of crops: Lao culture in the provinces of Northeast and North (formerly called "Lanna-Lao" and "Lanna Thai"), and proper Thai culture (known as Siamese). When the power was established in Bangkok in 1782, after the destruction of Ayutthaya by the Burmese in 1767, Siamese leaders appealed to the Lao artists and artisans to build the city itself. The pagoda of the Emerald Buddha "Wat Prakao" (pronounced "Ouat Prakeo") in Bangkok was built by them, forcibly taken by the Siamese, after the sack of Vientiane (capital of the Lao Kingdom) by the Siamese army around 1778.

Northeast or Isan, is inhabited by populations close to Lao, called "Thai Isan". They have a distinct culture (now heavily influenced by Thai television) because this territory was part of the Lao kingdom of Lan Xang, before the arrival of the French in 1893. Annexed definitively by Siam in the 1900s, after the Franco-Siamese Treaty of October 3, 1893, the territory took the name of Isane (“Northeast") around 1907-1910. Since then, the North East Lao or "Lao isane" lose their ethnic identity, now under the name "Thai isane" (the isane food is very specific to the region and now sought after and recognized throughout Thailand), speaking Lao and are still struggling to preserve their culture. In the 1930s, the Lao from Northeast were oppressed by those in power (under P. Pribun-Sangkhrama): they did not have the right to speak Lao, chewing betel, wearing skirts for Lao women, etc.

The Thai is the official language and is spoken by at least 85% of the population. It is close to the two Lao dialects spoken in Laos (the largest of which is the Lao Soung before the Lao Soum) The second native language is Chinese language has two dialects (between 1 and 2 million speakers), of which Hakka, with about 70,000 speakers. English is the second language of administration and business language and is spoken as a second language by 3.5 million real or partial speakers. But English tends to par with the Chinese, who, however, has always been important as a trade language. The French, who was the third administrative language after the Thai and English, from 1885 to 1945, and the second diplomatic language, after English, is spoken by very few Thais nowadays (les than 2 000 francophone) but many French, Belgian, or French Canadian live in the south of Thailand in tourist areas. The king speaks Thai, English and French, which was the standard of education of a prince before 1946, Thailand, being then bordering Burma and British India and French Indochina in the East.

Public holidays

Date

English Name

Local Name

Remarks

January 1

New Year

Wan Pee Mai

February 5

Wan Makha Bucha

According to Thai Lunar Calendar

April 6

King Chakri Day

Wan Chakri

Celebrates famous King Rama I, founder of the Chakri Dynasty

April 13

Thaï New Year

Songkran

Start of rainy season

May

Wan Vaisakh Bucha

According to Thai Lunar Calendar

May

Royal Ploughing Ceremony

Government Holiday

May 1st

Labour Day

Wan rang kjang

Banks are closed

May 5

Coronation Day

Wan chattra mongkhon

Celebrates the coronation of King Bhumibol Adulyadej (Rama IX) In 1950

July

Wan Asarnha Bucha

According to Thai Lunar Calendar

July

Buddhist Lent

Wan Khao Phansa

According to Thai Lunar Calendar

July 1st

Day of mid-year

Banks are closed

August 12

Mother's Day

Wan Mea

Celebrates the Queen’s birthday

October 23

King Chulalongkorn Day

Wan Piyamaharat

Celebrates the anniversary of the death of King Chulalongkorn (Rama V)

First full moon of November

Festival of Lights

Loy Kratong

End of rainy season

December 5

Father’s Day

Wan phor

Celebrates the birthday of King Bhumibol Adulyadej

December 10

Day of Wan Constitution

Wan Ratthathammanoon

Celebrates the le change in constitutional monarchy 1932

December 31

New Year's Eve

Sports

Muay Thai (Thai: มวยไทย, RTGS: Muai Thai. "Thai boxing") is a native form of kickboxing and Thailand's signature sport. It incorporates kicks, punches, knees and elbow strikes in a ring with gloves similar to those used in Western boxing and this has led to Thailand gaining medals at the Olympic Games in boxing.

Association football has overtaken muay Thai as the most widely followed sport in contemporary Thai society. Thailand national football team has played the AFC Asian Cup six times and reached the semifinals in 1972. The country has hosted the Asian Cup twice, in 1972 and in 2007. The 2007 edition was co-hosted together with Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam. It is not uncommon to see Thais cheering their favorite English Premier League teams on television and walking around in replica kit. Another widely enjoyed pastime, and once a competitive sport, is kite flying.

Volleyball is rapidly growing as one of the most popular sport. The Women team has often participated Championship, World, and World Grand Prix Asian Championship. They also won Asian Championship twice and Asian Cup once. By the success of the women team, the men team has been growing as well.

Takraw (Thai: ตะกร้อ) is a sport native to Thailand, in which the players hit a rattan ball and are only allowed to use their feet, knees, chest, and head to touch the ball. Sepak takraw is a form of this sport which is similar to volleyball. The players must volley a ball over a net and force it to hit the ground on the opponent's side. It is also a popular sport in other countries in Southeast Asia. A rather similar game but played only with the feet is Buka ball.

Snooker has enjoyed increasing popularity in Thailand in recent years, with interest in the game being stimulated by the success of Thai snooker player James Wattana in the 1990s.Other notable players produced by the country include Ratchayothin Yotharuck, Noppon Saengkham and Dechawat Poomjaeng

Rugby is also a growing sport in Thailand with the Thailand national rugby union team rising to be ranked 61st in the world.Thailand became the first country in the world to host an international 80 kg welterweight rugby tournament in 2005. The national domestic Thailand Rugby Union (TRU) competition includes several universities and services teams such as Chulalongkorn University, Mahasarakham University, Kasetsart University, Prince of Songkla University, Thammasat University, Rangsit University, the Thai Police, the Thai Army, the Thai Navy and the Royal Thai Air Force. Local sports clubs which also compete in the TRU include the British Club of Bangkok, the Southerners Sports Club (Bangkok) and the Royal Bangkok Sports Club.

Thailand has been called the golf capital of Asia as it is a popular destination for golf. The country attracts a large number of golfers from Japan, Korea, Singapore, South Africa, and Western countries who come to play golf in Thailand every year.The growing popularity of golf, especially among the middle classes and immigrants, is evident as there are more than 200 world-class golf courses nationwide, and some of them are chosen to host PGA and LPGA tournaments, such as Amata Spring Country Club, Alpine Golf and Sports Club, Thai Country Club, and Black Mountain Golf Club.

Basketball is a growing sport in Thailand, especially on the professional sports club level. The Chang Thailand Slammers won the 2011 ASEAN Basketball League Championship.The Thailand national basketball team had its most successful year at the 1966 Asian Games where it won the silver medal.

Other sports in Thailand are slowly growing as the country develops its sporting infrastructure. The success in sports like weightlifting and taekwondo at the last two summer Olympic Games has demonstrated that boxing is no longer the only medal option for Thailand.

Sporting venues

Thammasat Stadium is a multi-purpose stadium in Bangkok. It is currently used mostly for football matches. The stadium holds 25,000. It is on Thammasat University's Rangsit campus. It was built for the 1998 Asian Games by construction firm Christiani and Nielsen, the same company that constructed the Democracy Monument in Bangkok.

Rajamangala National Stadium is the biggest sporting arena in Thailand. It currently has a capacity of 65,000. It is in Bang Kapi, Bangkok. The stadium was built in 1998 for the 1998 Asian Games and is the home stadium of the Thailand national football team.

The well-known Lumpini Boxing Stadium will host its final Muay Thai boxing matches on 7 February 2014 after the venue first opened in December 1956. Managed by the Royal Thai Army, the stadium was officially selected for the purpose of muay Thai bouts following a competition that was staged on 15 March 1956. From 11 February 2014, the stadium will relocate to Ram Intra Road, due to the new venue's capacity to accommodate audiences of up to 3,500. Foreigners typically pay between 1,000–2,000 baht to view a match, with prices depending on the location of the seating

Religion

Thailand's prevalent religion is Theravada Buddhism, which is an integral part of Thai identity and culture. Active participation in Buddhism is among the highest in the world. According to the 2000 census, 94.6% of the country's population self-identified as Buddhists of the Theravada tradition. Muslims constitute the second largest religious group in Thailand, comprising 4.6% of the population.

Islam is concentrated mostly in the country's southernmost provinces: Pattani, Yala, Satun, Narathiwat, and part of Songkhla Chumphon, which are predominantly Malay, most of whom are Sunni Muslims. Christians represent 0.7% of the population, with the remaining population consisting of Sikhs and Hindus, who live mostly in the country's cities. There is also a small but historically significant Jewish community in Thailand dating back to the 17th century.

Source : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thailand