Thailand is a monarchy in Southeast Asia. It is a little larger than Spain. About 95 out of every 100 people are Buddhists. The Wat Phra Khaew ( the temple of the Emerald Buddha ) in Bangkok is the Royal Temple, where the king performs his religious duties.
Bangkok is a mixture of old and new buildings. It was a tiny village until 1782, but it is now Thailand's leading commercial, cultural and industrial city. It is also the seat of government. Its local name is Krung Thep. This name is Thai for City of Angels.
Bangkok has many temples. The oldest and largest, Wat Pho, contains the Reclining Buddha, a statue 46 m ( 151 ft ) long and 15 m ( 49 ft ) high. It is covered with gold leaf.
Ching Mai, the second largest city, is in a mountain valley in Thailand's northern highland region. Here a group of farmers takes part in a parade before their king. Chiang Mai, which was founded in 1296, is famed for its many handicraft shops.
Pattaya is a resort off the Gulf of Thailand, southeast of Bangkok. A few years ago it was a tiny fishing village. It now attracts many foreign tourists, who enjoy various water sports, such as "parasailing".
Ayuttaya, which is about 70 km ( 43 miles ) north of Bangkok, was founded in 1350. It became the second capital of the Thai kingdom, but the Burmese destroyed it in 1767. It was replaced as the capital by Thon Buri. Thon Buri is now part of the city of Bangkok.