The South of Thailand
The Southern region is hilly to mountaineous, with thick virgin forests and rich deposits of minerals and ores. This region is teh center for the production of rubber and the cultivation of other tropical crops.
Apart from being geographically different from the rest of Thailand, with its thick jungles, dramatically shaped mountains and countless beautiful islands, the South has its own economic, ethnic and political features.
The south, which is flanked on two sides by the Andaman Sea and the Gulf of Thailand, is lined with sandy beaches and palm-fringed islands lying just offshore. Some of the finest beaches in the country are to found in Phuket, Samui, and the islands in Phangnga Bay, while inland are mountain scenery, caves, waterfalls, and steamy tropic jungles. The region was noce a part of the mighty Srivijaya Empire and many significant ruins dating from that period have been discovered, such as the Chedi Wat Maha That in Nakorn Si Thamarat, more than a thousand years old.
The south is rich in culture and festivals such as Chak Phra and Tenth Month festivals. Unique to the region is the sport of bull fighting,while iocal products of interest include ornaments made from sea shells, pearl oysters and hand-woven cloth.
The south's wealth has been based for centuries on its rubbber and tin industries. This is changing with the advent of tourism; it is now the fastest growing tourist region in Thailand. This is being spear headed by the island of Phuket, now an international tourist destination, with such places as Koh Samui, Krabi, Hatyai and Songkla playing supporting roles.