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Thailand People

Thailand is often called the "land of smiles", and rightly so because you will see more smiling people here than anywhere else in the world. The Kingdom of Thailand has a population of about 60 million, with some 7 million of living in the Bangkok area.


Thailand is often called the "land of smiles", and rightly so because you will see more smiling people here than anywhere else in the world. The Kingdom of Thailand has a population of about 60 million, with some 7 million of living in the Bangkok area.
T
he origin of the Thai people is rather vague, but scholars believe migrations occurred from the Chinese province of Szechwan around the 1st century AD. However, recent discoveries suggest that a sophisticated Thai culture existed in Thailand that predates the Chinese.
M
igrations of the Mon from Burma and the Khmer from Cambodia contributed to the original ethnic mixture that today is called "The Thai people".

Thailand people Thai girl
 
Mai Pen Rai - Welcome to Thailand

Visitors to Thailand are understandably enraptured by her ornate temples, beautiful beaches and lush jungles. Yet the one natural resource that leaves the most lasting impression on everyone who has ever been to Thailand is her people. In general, Thai people are friendly, easy going and quick to smile. Their lives seem to revolve around "sanuk" (fun), and they give the impression that if something isn't sanuk, then why bother with it?  This attitude transcends into another vital phrase in the Thai psyche, "mai pen rai" (never mind). Being non confrontational by nature, most awkward situations are dealt with by a shrug, a smile or "mai pen rai". Thais address each other by their first names, no matter if they are addressing their neighbor or the governor. In formal situations, the word "khun" is put before the name, much as Westerners might say "Mr." or "Mrs." Thai people often have personal first names such as Arun ( Dawn ), Boon (Good Deeds), Som (Fulfillment) or Porn (Blessings).
M
ore often than not, however, these first names are replaced by affectionate nicknames, usually given to them at a young age, such as Ngo (Rat), Moo (Pig), Phung (Bee), Lek (Small) or Goong (Shrimp).

Thai girls, people of Thailand
 
Thai girls, chatting

This easy going, tolerant lifestyle sounds euphoric, but can be a little disconcerting for newcomers to business in Thailand. Thais' emphasis on sanuk also means that they refuse to be fanatical about deadlines, goals and productivity. Whereas in the West honest criticism might be accepted as an important tool towards improvement, direct criticism in Thailand is often considered a personal attack that causes another often used phrase in Thailand, "loss of face". Causing someone to lose face is a major faux pas and may lead to retribution. It is also important to remember that Thai people are deeply religious, and that for most of them, Buddhism plays an important role in their lives. Buddhism and traditional values place great importance on family, friends and social harmony. This, too, transcends into the workplace. More often than not, Thai people need to work in groups, chatting, passing snacks and joking around to keep both their spirits and productivity up.

Bangkok people China Town Thailand
 
China Town in Bangkok

Thai people are fiercely independent and take great pride in relating the fact that theirs is the only nation in the region that has never been colonized. This is due, in part, to Thailand's long history of diplomacy, which, over hundreds of years, has instilled a unique tolerance in Thai people. This is best illustrated by the fact that even though Thailand may be one of the most racially homogenous nations in the world (at least 80% of the population is ethnic Thai), they have successfully and willingly assimilated into their culture large numbers of Chinese, Khmers, Burmese and Mons. For instance, at the turn of the 20th Century, millions of Chinese migrated into Thailand. Instead of resenting them, the Thais welcomed them and their keen business acumen. Instead of trying to control Chinese business growth, the Thais encouraged it. They then became part of it by intermarrying with the Chinese and reaping the benefits. Today, Thai Chinese families control the bulk of major businesses in Thailand, many of which are run by women.

Hill tribe people Thailand
 
Karen hill tribe people - Golden Triangle

Thailand's most unique human inhabitants are the hill tribes that have been migrating into Thailand from Tibet, Burma and China. There are currently about half a million hill tribe people in Thailand, although the number is growing slightly due their escaping persecution in surrounding countries.About 20 different hill tribes live inside Thai borders, but six principal groups make up the bulk of the Thai Hilltribe population: the Karen, Hmong, Yao, Lahu, Akha and Lisu Hill Tribes.

 
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