A land primarily housing Thai immigrants, the existence of Thailand in history can be traced back to the Mon, Malay, and Khmer kingdoms, which were contemporary to the bronze and iron age civilizations several thousand years ago. Establishing their own kingdoms (the Sukhothai and more lastingly the Ayutthaya kingdom), the Thais were under constant threat from Burma and Vietnam, as well as from Thai and Lao rivals.
Besides, there was threat from the European colonial powers in the 19th and early 20th centuries. However, despite various extrernal threats, Thailand managed to survive as the only south-east Asian state to avoid colonial rule. It is another notable aspect of the Thai history that after the end of the absolute Thai monarchy in 1932, Thailand has endured sixty years of military rule before a complete democratic system has prevailed in modern Thailand.
In 1992 massive popular protests have provoked the last military ruler, Suchinda Kraprayoon, to give up power. Since then, Thailand has been working with a functioning democracy along with constitutional changes of government from time to time. Since then, Thailand has been doing everything it can to grow into the nation it knows it can become. As time goes by, the world will start to recognize the potential and Thailand will once again be strong.
With an export-oriented economy, Thailand has been able to attain phenomenal economic success for itself with exports accounting for 60% of GDP. Depending on its strong manufacturing base, its abundant and inexpensive labor and natural resources, open foreign investment policies, and encouragement of the private sector, the nation enjoyed great economic success until 1996. Though the country had its share of economic crisis in the year 1997-98 (Asian financial crisis, which affected currencies, stock markets, and other asset prices in several Asian countries), it has recovered quickly, as its external demands from foreign markets, especially the United States, were great.
Some decisive steps taken by the Thaksin government in February 2001 has further taken the economic success of Thailand to the next level. With the intention of stimulating domestic demand, the Thaksin government in Thailand has stressed on reducing Thailand's reliance on foreign trade and investment. Since then, the Thaksin administration has virtually embraced a strategical economic policy. Such a policy strengthens domestic stimulus and also emphasizes on Thailand's traditional promotion of open markets and foreign investment. Popularly known as Thaksinomics, this economic policy has been proved to be a landmark in the history of Thai economy. The results were clearly shown in the year 2002-3, when the domestic stimulus and export revival fuelled a real GDP growth at 5.3% and 6.3% respectively.
Thailand, with its rich legacy of oriental culture, Buddhism, its extended family structure, and its traditional literature and mouth-watering delicacies, continues to enthrall the world. Being a country with one of the most distinct cultural identities of the orient, Thailand is home to 94% Buddhist Thai population. Whether it is the Thai visual arts, the Thai literature, the music or dance of Thailand, the influence of Buddhism is evident in all art forms of Thailand. Clearly flavored and influenced by the culture of Myanmar (Burma) and to some extent by the culture of Laos, Thailand’s cultural uniqueness and individuality can be largely attributed to the distinct customs and beliefs of the Thai people. They are said to be overtly religious, god-fearing, conservative and also superstitious to some extent. Hardly would they like to venture beyond their own lilting dialect, their own architectural traditions, their own cuisine and their own distinctive, indigenous handicrafts (like silverware, lacquer ware, textiles and pottery).
The colorful festivals, cuisine and beliefs of the various sub-cultures prevalent in the whole of Thailand undoubtedly represent a kaleidoscope of rich culture. Apart from those living in modern vibrant cities, there are various hill tribes who lend a great deal of character and color to the diversified cultural landscape. In addition, Thai women are considered among the most beautiful, effeminate and charming creatures in the whole Asian sub-continent and the people are considered the friendliest and politest in the country. Here, it must be noted down that Thailand is recognized in the world as the "Land of Smiles”.
One of the foremost attractions of travel/tourism in countries in South-east Asia like Thailand, Malaysia, and Maldives is the world-class health and beauty spas; a huge treasure trove waiting to be explored by foreign tourists each year. With the exclusive power to transform our world into a healing realm, the luxury spas over here are most "sought after" today as the ideal destinations for rejuvenation and meditation. Over the years, up-market urban tourists have adored the sprawling resorts and quiet retreats of these spas. Providing them with relaxation through the centuries-old healing art of Ayurveda, natural supplements and wellness herbs, their soothing warmth acts like heaven in a cup for those in search of extreme calm. Based on latest spa treatments offered including spiritual and holistic treatments (provided by spiritual gurus), Yoga sessions, aerobics, nature walks, flower essences, Reiki and aromatherapy, tourists have found greater length of life, vitality and harmony.
Thailand is also renowned as a health tourism hub. Every year, thousands of foreign tourists are flocking to the country with the intention to combine their health and beauty treatment with some world-class treatment. With state-of-the-art equipment and personnel, world class hospitals, clinics and spas, Thailand health care and spa tourism has been sought after by thousands of global tourists recently.
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