Formal Name: Kingdom of Thailand (Ratcha'anachak Thai). ราชอาณาจักรไทย
Short Form: Thailand (Prathet Thai—ประเทศไทย—Land of the Free, or, less formally, Muang Thai—เมืองไทย—also meaning Land of the Free; officially known from 1855 to 1939 and from 1946 to 1949 as Siam—Prathet Sayam, ประเทศสยาม, a historical name referring to people in the Chao Phraya Valley—the name used by Europeans since 1592).
Term for Citizen(s): Thai (singular and plural). พลเมือง
Capital: Bangkok (in Thai, Krung Thep, กรุงเทพ—City of Angels).
Major Cities: The largest metropolitan area is the capital, Bangkok, with an estimated 9.6 million inhabitants in 2002. According to the 2000 Thai census, 6.3 million people were living in the metropolitan area (combining Bangkok and Thon Buri). Other major cities, based on 2000 census data, include Samut Prakan (378,000), Nanthaburi (291,000), Udon Thani (220,000), and Nakhon Ratchasima (204,000). Fifteen other cities had populations of more than 100,000 in 2000.
Independence: The traditional founding date is 1238. Unlike other nations in Southeast Asia, Thailand was never colonized.
NATIONAL Public Holidays: New Year’s Day (January 1), Makha Bucha Day (Buddhist All Saints Day, movable date in late January to early March), Chakri Day (celebration of the current dynasty, April 6), Songkran Day (New Year’s according to Thai lunar calendar, movable date in April), National Labor Day (May 1), Coronation Day (May 5), Visakha Bucha Day (Triple Anniversary Day—commemorates the birth, death, and enlightenment of Buddha, movable date in May), Asanha Bucha Day (Buddhist Monkhood Day, movable date in July), Khao Phansa (beginning of Buddhist Lent, movable date in July), Queen’s Birthday (August 12), Chulalongkorn Day (birthday of King Rama V, October 23), King’s Birthday—Thailand’s National Day (December 5), Constitution Day (December 10), and New Year’s Eve (December 31). The Thai calendar has been adapted to the Western calendar of days, weeks, and months. Years are numbered according to the Buddhist era, which commenced 543 years before the Christian era. Therefore, 2005 is the year 2548 in the Buddhist era.
Flag: Five horizontal bands of red (on top), white, blue (double width), white,
and red. The red stripes represent unity of the nation, the white strips represent
purity of religion, and the blue stripe in the center represents the king.