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Buddhism is the religion for 94.6% of Thailand’s population. Of the remainder 4.6% are Muslims and 0.7% Christian. Though the king is designated the protector of all religions, the constitution stipulates that the king must be a Buddhist.


Buddhism is a central and unifying force in Thai society. The Thai regularly gain merit by giving gifts to the temple, attending festivals, and having their sons ordained. In Thailand, Buddhism is a syncretic religion: it incorporates a mixture of pre-Buddhist Hindu beliefs and practices, interwoven with animism and Theravada Buddhist philosophy and rituals. Signs of the religious tradition are everywhere in Bangkok and throughout the country.


Soon after dawn, Buddhist monks in robes (which vary in colour from dark saffron to bright orange) make their way along the canals and narrow streets. People wait to fill the monks’ bowls with food and provide other essentials, a practice that Buddhist teaching says will reward the giver with merit. Most young men become monks for a short time so that they can accumulate merit for their families. Almost every Thai house has its own "spirit house" to accommodate the spirits from the land on which the house stands.


The Thai people comprise 74% of Thailand’s 65.4 million population. Over 10 million people make their home in the vast sprawl of waterways and streets of Thailand’s capital, Bangkok. The amazing growth of Bangkok is primarily due to the heavy influx of poor rural migrants.


Four main dialects of the Tai language family are spoken: Central Thai, Northeastern Thai (Thai-Lao), Northern Thai and Southern Thai. It was conventional to refer to Tai-speaking peoples in Thailand as Thai with a regional qualifier. Strictly speaking, Thai, the language of officialdom and education, is the Central Thai dialect. Linguistic scholars mark the reign of King Narai (1657-88) as the point when this dialect was established as the standard. Central Thai became the required form used in modern Thailand for official business, academic and other daily transitions.



Wet-rice agriculture dominates the Thai economy, with about 50% of Thailand’s population living in rural agricultural communities. Rice is produced both as a dietary staple and for cash sales. Thai farmers also grow a variety of vegetables. Commercial crops include sugarcane, tobacco, rubber, coconut and cotton. Domestic animals include pigs, chickens, ducks, cattle and water buffalo.

Despite the 1997-98 Asian financial crisis, Thailand’s economy grew almost 6% each year, making it one of East Asia's best performers in 2002-2004. Bangkok is the heart of Thailand’s business sector and the center of the country’s service industries. Most of the country’s industry is located in and around the city, and Bangkok supports a far wider array of services than other towns in the country. Besides being the major metropolitan area, Bangkok is also the political, educational and religious centre of the nation.



The country is governed by a constitutional monarchy. Each province has a governor, and is divided into districts with a district head. There are further administrative divisions down to the village level.


Politics, Riots and Birthday celebrations

Sadly Bangkok was experiencing riots whilst we were there which were in the area of our hotel. Many streets were blocked off with barbed wire and there were plenty of police and military on the streets.


The protester stormed into many government buildings but left peacefully. They stormed the army headquarters, in an attempt to convince the military to join their efforts to topple the government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, who was elected in 2011. Her brother was toppled by a military coup in 2006 and later convicted of corruption. He has lived in exile to escape the charges, which he says were politically motivated. Many of the people think that the Prime Minister is merely a ‘puppet’ for her brother.


The demonstrations were triggered by an amnesty bill, proposed by the Prime Minister that would have allowed former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra to return home and avoid a two-year jail term for corruption. The Senate rejected the bill, but protests have continued. Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, survived a no-confidence vote in parliament  and refuses to step down. She vows not to use violence to stop the protests.


Thailand’s revered King Bhumibol Abulyadej celebrated his eighty sixth birthday on December 4th and there was a truce for the day whilst people celebrated his birthday. He asked for calm and renewed stability of the country. On his birthday most people wear some yellow and they are many stores decorated in yellow. There was a big celebration in the streets around the Royal Palace.

Loy Krathong Festival

This occurs on the full moon in the twelfth lunar month, which was 17th November, 2013. When the moon shines at night it makes the rivers clear and suitable for floating Kathrong, which are small floating rafts made of natural materials such as banana trunk and lotus that are then dressed with a candle, incense stick and flowers. As these are floated in the river the people ask for good luck and forgiveness from Pra Mae Knongkha.


A parade of illuminated festival boats go along the river for the Loy Krathong festival but you can also see them the previous few nights as they practise their timing. Public river transport is cancelled for the evening and the ferries are hired out for private functions. We went on the ferry booked by our hotel and watched as dining guests floated their rafts. Hundreds of lit lanterns were let off into the sky. Normally, there are fireworks but this was abandoned this year due to the recent death of the Thai Buddhism's Supreme Patriarch (aged 100). The country was in mourning for 3 months.