Thailand is often thought of only in terms of its food, tropical climate, and vacationing. But there is a lot more to this Southeast Asian country than meets the eye. So, get ready for the 10 things you didn’t know about Thailand.
10: Politically Volatile Country
Behind the smiles and sunshine offered to tourists, Thailand has been and continues to be a politically volatile country. Where things can change in a moment’s notice. Since the introduction of Thailand’s constitutional monarchy in 1932. The country’s armed forces have been the most powerful force in Thai political life. Regular coup d’état replaces elected governments to have gain legitimacy as part of the political process. In fact, from the year 1912 to 2014 there’d been no fewer than 21 coups involved in the overthrow of a leader no longer deemed worthy. The country might have been subjected to even more if not for the fact the military is ruled for extended periods.
Thailand’s propensity for coups stems largely from the fact that the military has always played a leading role in politics. And democracy has never really taken root. When such coups occur there often accompanied by claims that are being done with Thai law and tradition. The military then claims the goal is to restore stability. And not to take the country in a radically different direction. There are some distinct features of Thai military coups that contrast them with others that have taken place in the world in such areas as Africa or Latin America. They tend to be executed without heavy bloodshed. The king historically has been a stabilizing force as the military takes over and the government shifts. This allows a country to less function despite such instability.
Read Also: 10 Things You Didn’t Know About New York City
9: Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand
As mentioned previously the king has been a stabilizing force throughout all the political instability coups that have checkered about Thailand in the past century. Until recently the monarch Bhumibol Adulyadej had reigned the longest-ruling king in the world. One without support the various factions attempted to seize power and their coup d’état would likely be failed.
The death of Bhumibol Adulyadej in October of 2016 was regarded as a national tragedy. His passing was widely in deeply mourned even as his son Maha Vajiralongkorn took over to continue the dynasty. Due to the political fissures that constantly threaten the established order about Thailand. The king is more than just a monarch in the typical sense. He is a symbol of stability. For this reason, the Thai king is a truly beloved figure in the eyes of the Thai public. Held in far greater esteem and any politician or military ruler. It is perhaps for this reason that proper democracy as it is known in the west has never truly taken hold of Thailand and likely never will.
Buddhism has had a long history in Thailand and remains important today. It is by default the defect of a religion of the Thai monarchy as well as the Thai people. Specifically, Theravada Buddhism is the oldest type of Buddhism in the world. Buddhist traditions remain as important today in Thailand as they have for centuries in the past. So much so, that Thailand is often referred to as the land of Buddhism. These all throughout the culture from gesticulations to the day to day routines, Buddhism has left its mark.
Buddhism is so revered in Thai culture that is often considered a tradition for Thai men to become monks at one point in time in their lives. Even if only for a short period of time. More so than perhaps any other cultural or historical force, Buddhism is part of Thai society in the same way trees are part of a forest, completely inseparable.
Read Also: 10 Things You Should Never Do In Las Vegas
7: Language of Thailand
Like many languages in the region, the Thai language is a tonal language consisting of 5 tones in total. It is defined by whether they are low, mid, high, rising, or falling. In addition, the Thai language is written in a unique and vastly complex script that is not truly an alphabet. But rather a system where each consonant can invoke an inherent vowel sound. Within this system, there are 44 consonant letters, 15 vowel symbols that can be combined into 28 different vowel forms. And for so-called diacritic markers indicating the tone of the word.
6: Thai Food
Thai food is generally well known in the west for its spicy and aromatic nature. They make heavy use of chilies, curries, nuts, and often coconuts. That only scratches the surface of Thai cuisine, is what you get in the Thai restaurant in the US is not what you can get in Thailand. Entomology or the eating of insects is very common and an established food norm in Thailand. In the markets of Thai cities, you can find cricket, spiders, beetles and eggs, and much more. Insects are cheap to cultivate and produce and pound for pound have more protein than either beef or chicken. Thus, entomology remains a staple of Thai food culture and one which westerners should consider adopting too.
Read Also: 15 Things You Didn’t Know About Singapore
5: Elite Chinese Minority in Thailand
For generations, an elite Chinese minority has been in the upper echelons of Thai society. This was originally imported by the time monarchy to deal with accounting jobs. The Chinese have been a lasting presence and their descendants retain a strong Chinese identity. While remaining the economically most prosperous group in Thailand. Though at the same time being well simulated in matters of culture and language.
One of the great legacies of Buddhism is the now ubiquitous presence of temples in Thailand. There are thousands of them but some of them rightly at the reputation of being more famous than others and more visited. Chief among these, the Temple of the Emerald Buddha in Bangkok, and is 2000 years old. The Phnom Rung historical park is a Khmer temple complex that is located on an extinct volcano. It is located in the eastern region of Thailand. It was constructed out of sandstone and laterite between the 10th and 13th centuries. The Wat Arun or Temple of Dawn in Bangkok is considered to be one of the most beautiful temples in all of Thailand.
Read Also: 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Estonia
3: Animal Wildlife of Thailand
Thailand has a large range of animal wildlife accounting for one/tenth of all animal species in the world. 285 mammal species and a whopping 925 bird species called Thailand home. For the sake of comparison, the entirety of Europe only houses about 300 bird species. Some of the mammalian wildlife is quite impressive. Such as leopards and Tigers and the incredibly intelligent Asiatic elephant.
2: Avoided European Colonial Rule
Interestingly enough in contrast to all its surrounding neighboring countries. Thailand in all its history has never fallen under European colonial rule. It is the only country in Southeast Asia that has managed to avoid colonial rule. This was due to the attempt to mimic the European model of doing things. Because colonialism has brought these complications in other countries of Southeast Asia.
Read Also: 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Romania
1: Tourism in Thailand
Tourism accounted for 17.7% of GDP in Thailand in the year 2016. It is a vital and essential industry in Thailand. Thai people are very warm and welcoming. Fortunately for them, this mentality helps make the country the incredibly popular tourist destination that it is today. On various occasions in the past few decades, Bangkok the capital city has been the most visited city in all of Asia. It signals its importance as a tourist destination. That combined with wonderful wildlife, temples, and food makes Thailand a worthwhile place to visit for anyone with the time and inclination.
So, that was the list of 10 things you didn’t know about Thailand. Don’t forget to check out our other lists and thanks for staying with us for a while.