Thailand is known as the ‘land of smiles’, the Kingdom of Thailand, formerly called Siam, is renowned for its friendliness and breathtaking natural beauty. A much-loved tourist hot spot, it draws the largest number of tourists in south-east Asia.
Thailand is the only country in south east Asia to never been under colonial rule. During the 19th century Siam was disputed by both the French and the British but at the end of the century both countries agreed to leave the state independent. A constitutional monarch governs Thailand. The present monarch, King Bhimibol, came to the throne in 1946. The royal family is popular and greatly revered by the people.
The country has problems with government corruption, high rates of drug addiction and a highly-developed sex industry.
About 95% of the population is Buddhist. There is a small Muslim presence and a Christian community of just over 1% of the population. Around 75% of the country’s Christians are from the north of Thailand.