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Phuket
ภูเก็ต
—  Province  —
Map of Thailand highlighting Phuket Province
Country  Thailand
Capital Phuket City
Government
 - Governor Wichai Phraisa-ngop (since March 2009)
Area
 - Total 543.0 km2 (209.7 sq mi)
Area rank Ranked 75th
Population (2007)
 - Total 321,802
 Density 592.63/km2 (1,534.9/sq mi)
Population rank Ranked 68th
Population density rank Ranked 6th
Time zone Thailand Standard Time (UTC+7)
ISO 3166 code TH-83

Phuket (Thai: ภูเก็ต, IPA: [pʰuːkɛt]; formerly known as Tha-Laang or Talang, or Junk Ceylon in Western sources, a distortion of the Malay Tanjung Salang, i.e. "Cape Salang")[1] is one of the southern provinces (changwat) of Thailand. Neighbouring provinces are (from north clockwise) Phang Nga and Krabi, but as Phuket is an island there are no land boundaries.

Phuket, which is approximately the size of Singapore, is Thailand’s largest island. The island is connected to mainland Thailand by a bridge. It is situated off the west coast of Thailand in the Andaman Sea. Phuket formerly derived its wealth from tin and rubber, and enjoyed a rich and colorful history. The island was on one of the major trading routes between India and China, and was frequently mentioned in foreign ship logs of Portuguese, French, Dutch and English traders. The region now derives much of its income from tourism.

Contents

Name

The name Phuket (of which the ph sound is an aspirated p) is apparently derived from the word bukit (Jawi: بوكيت) in Malay which means hill, as this is what the island appears like from a distance. The region was formerly referred to as "Thalang," derived from the old Malay "Telong" (Jawi: تلوڠ) which means "Cape." The northern district of the province, which was the location of the old capital, still uses this name.

History

The French ambassador Chevalier de Chaumont with king Narai.

In the 17th century, the Dutch, the English, and from the 1680s the French, competed with each other for trade with the island of Phuket (the island was named Junk Ceylon at that time), which was valued as a very rich source of tin. In September 1680, a ship from the French East India Company visited Phuket and left with a full cargo of tin. In 1681 or 1682, the Siamese king Narai, who was seeking to reduce Dutch and English influence, named Governor of Phuket the French medical missionary Brother René Charbonneau, a member of the Siam mission of the Société des Missions Etrangères. Charbonneau held the position of Governor until 1685.[2]

In 1685, king Narai confirmed the French tin monopoly in Phuket to a French ambassador, the Chevalier de Chaumont.[3] Chaumont's former maître d'hôtel Sieur de Billy was named governor of the island.[4] The French were expelled from Siam in 1688 however, following the 1688 Siamese revolution. On April 10, 1689, the French general Desfarges led an expedition to re-capture the island of Phuket in an attempt to restore some sort of French control in Siam.[5] The occupation of the island led nowhere, and Desfarges returned to Pondicherry in January 1690.[6]

The Burmese attacked Phuket in 1785. Captain Francis Light, a British East India Company captain passing by the island, sent word to the local administration that he had observed Burmese forces preparing to attack. Than Phu Ying Chan, the wife of the recently deceased governor, and her sister Mook(คุณมุก) then assembled what forces they could. After a month-long siege, the Burmese were forced to retreat March 13, 1785. The two women became local heroines, receiving the honorary titles Thao Thep Krasatri and Thao Si Sunthon from King Rama I. During the reign of King Chulalongkorn (Rama V), Phuket became the administrative center of the tin-producing southern provinces. In 1933 Monthon Phuket (มณฑลภูเก็ต)was dissolved and Phuket became a province by itself. Old names of the island include Ko Thalang.

2004 Tsunami

Patong Beach on Phuket affected by the tsunami disaster of December 2004.
Tsunami at Kata Noi beach.

On December 26, 2004, Phuket and other nearby areas on Thailand's western coast suffered extensive damage when they were struck by the Boxing Day tsunami caused by the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake. The waves destroyed several highly populated areas in the region, killing as many as 5,300 people nationwide, and tens of thousands more throughout the wider Asian region. As many as 250 people were reported dead in Phuket including foreign tourists and as many as a thousand unreported deaths of illegal Burmese workers building new beach resorts in the Khao Lak area. Almost all the major beaches on the west coast, especially Kamala, Patong, Karon and Kata, sustained major damage, with some damage also being caused to resorts and villages on the island's southern beaches.

By February 2005 many damaged and most undamaged resorts were back in business, and throughout 2005 life slowly returned to normal for the people of Phuket. As of November 2005, following strenuous recovery programs, there is little obvious remaining tsunami damage other than at the most remote beaches, and the tourist industry, which drives the Phuket economy, has now almost fully recovered.[citation needed]

In the beginning of December 2006, Thailand launched the first of 22 U.S.-made tsunami-detection buoys to be positioned around the Indian Ocean as part of a regional warning system against giant waves caused by earthquakes under the sea. The satellite-linked deep-sea buoy will float 1,000 km (620 miles) offshore, roughly midway between Thailand and Sri Lanka.[citation needed]

Geography

Phuket
PhuketMap.png
Map of Phuket (beaches in brown)
Geography
Location Andaman Sea
Coordinates 7°53′24″N 98°23′54″E / 7.89°N 98.39833°E / 7.89; 98.39833
Area 543.0 square kilometres (209.7 sq mi)
Length 50 kilometres (31 mi)
Width 20 kilometres (12 mi)
Highest point Mai Thao Sip Song (529 metres (1,740 ft))
Country
Thailand
Demographics
Ethnic groups Thai, Malay
Looking north from Kata View Point over Kata Noi Beach, Kata Beach and Karon Beach

Phuket is the biggest island in Thailand, located in the Andaman Sea of southern Thailand. The island is mostly mountainous with a mountain range in the west of the island from the north to the south. The mountains of Phuket form the southern end of the Phuket mountain range, which ranges for 440 km from the Kra Isthmus. The highest elevation of the island is Mai Thao Sip Song (Twelve Canes), at 529 m above sea level.

It is estimated that Phuket has a total area of approximately 570 square kilometers (including the provinces other islands). Phuket is approximately 536 miles (862 kilometers) south of Bangkok, and covers an area of approximately 134,178 acres (543 square kilometers) excluding small islets. It is estimated that if all its 39 other small islands are included, Phuket Province will cover an area of approximately 145,792 acres (590 square kilometers). The island total length, from north to south, is estimated at 30 miles (48.7 kilometers) and 13 miles (21.3 kilometers) wide.[7]

Phuket's topology is exceptional with 70 percent of its area covered with mountains which stretch from north to south and the remaining 30 percent being plains located in the central and eastern parts of the island. The island does not have any major rivers except for a total of 9 brooks and creeks.

Forest, rubber and palm oil plantations cover 60% of the island.[citation needed] The western coast has several sandy beaches, while on the east coast beaches are more often muddy. Near the southernmost point is Laem Promthep (Brahma's Cape), which is a popular sunset viewing point. In the mountainous north of the island is the Khao Phra Thaeo Non-hunting Area, protecting more than 20 km² of rainforest. The three highest peaks of this reserve are the Khao Prathiu (384 m), Khao Bang Pae (388 m) and Khao Phara (422 m). The Sirinat National Park on the northwestern coast was established in 1981 and protects an area of 90 km² (68 km² marine area), including the Nai Yang beach where sea turtles lay their eggs.

One of the most popular tourist areas on Phuket is Patong Beach on the central western coast, perhaps owing to the easy access to its wide and long beach. Most of Phuket's nightlife and its cheap shopping is located in Patong, and the area has become increasingly developed. Patong means "the forest filled with banana leaves" in Thai. Other popular beaches are located south of Patong. In a counterclockwise direction these include Karon Beach, Kata Beach, Kata Noi Beach, and around the southern tip of the island, Nai Harn Beach and Rawai. To the north of Patong are Kamala Beach, Surin Beach and Bang Tao Beach. These areas are generally much less developed than Patong, and sought out by individuals, families and other groups with a preference for more relaxed and less crowded environs than Patong. There are many islands to the southeast, including Bon Island, just a short boat trip away. There are several coral islands to the south of Phuket, the Similan Islands lie to the north west, and Phi Phi Islands to the south east. Islanders engage in a lively tourist trade, catering to snorkellers and scuba divers.

Administrative divisions

Map of Amphoe, or the three districts of Phuket

Phuket is divided into 3 districts (Amphoe), which are further subdivided into 17 subdistricts (tambon) and 103 villages (muban).

  1. Mueang Phuket
  2. Kathu
  3. Thalang

There are 9 municipal (thesaban) areas within the province. The capital Phuket has city (thesaban nakhon) status, and the main touristical town Patong as well as Kathu has town (thesaban mueang) status. There are further 6 subdistrict municipalities (thesaban tambon) - Karon, Thep Krasattri, Choeng Thale, Ratsada, Rawai and Wichit. The non-municipal areas are administrated by 9 tambon administrative organizations (TAO).

Climate

Phuket has a tropical climate with a dry season from November to April and a rainy season from May to October. Average temperatures are consistent year-round. Average highs range from 29 °C (84 °F) to 33 °C (91 °F); average lows range from 23 °C (73 °F) to 26 °C (79 °F).

Climate data for Phuket, Thailand
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 31
(88)
32
(90)
33
(91)
33
(91)
31
(88)
31
(88)
31
(88)
30
(86)
29
(84)
30
(86)
30
(86)
30
(86)
31
(88)
Average low °C (°F) 23
(73)
23
(73)
24
(75)
25
(77)
25
(77)
26
(79)
25
(77)
26
(79)
24
(75)
24
(75)
24
(75)
23
(73)
24
(75)
Precipitation mm (inches) 35.6
(1.4)
30.5
(1.2)
38.1
(1.5)
162.6
(6.4)
348.0
(13.7)
213.4
(8.4)
264.2
(10.4)
261.6
(10.3)
419.1
(16.5)
304.8
(12)
208.3
(8.2)
50.8
(2)
2,337.0
(92.01)
Source: The Weather Channel: Averages for Phuket, Thailand [8] 2009-12-05

Economy

Tin mining has been a major source of income for the island since the 16th century. Chinese businessmen and Chinese workers were employed in the mines. Most were Hakka Chinese, and their influence on Phuket culture and cuisine can still be felt today.[citation needed] With falling tin prices, the mining has now all but ceased. In modern times, Phuket's economy rests on two pillars: rubber tree plantations (making Thailand the biggest producer of rubber in the world) and tourism, with a thriving diving industry attracting thousands of divers each year. Sex tourism and prostitution, though illegal, take place in Phuket.[citation needed]

Since the 1980s, the sandy beaches on the western coast of the island have been heavily developed into tourist centers, with Patong, Karon and Kata being the most popular ones. Since the 2004 Tsunami, all damaged buildings and attractions have been restored. Phuket is currently going through an intensive period of leisure urbanization with many new hotels, apartments and houses under construction. In July 2005, Phuket was voted one of the World’s Top 5 retirement destinations by the acclaimed Fortune Magazine.[9] There are thousands of expatriates living in Phuket, many of them retirees. A favourite spot for them is Phuket Beach, as it is very convenient. Costs in Phuket have shot up over the past decade, making it one of Thailand's more expensive retirement destinations.

Demographics

As with most of Thailand, the majority of the population is Buddhist, but there is a significant number of Muslims (30%) in Phuket, mainly descendants of the island's original sea-dwelling people. Among the Muslims, many are of Malay descent.[10][11] People of Chinese ancestry make up an even larger populace, many of whom having descended from tin miners who migrated to Phuket during the 19th century.[12] Peranakans, known as "Phuket Babas" in the local tongue, constitute a fair share of members Chinese community, particularly among those who have family ties with the Peranakans of Penang and Malacca.[13]

Transportation

The Phuket International Airport is located in the north of the island. There are many scheduled flights and chartered flights from domestics and other countries in Asia, Australia, Europe and North America landing in Phuket.

There is no rail-line to Phuket, but the trains do run to nearby Surat Thani. Songthaews (passenger pick-up vehicles) are a common mode of transport on Phuket. Phuket’s songthaews are larger[citation needed] than those found in other areas of Thailand. They travel between the town and beaches. There are also conventional bus services and motorbike taxis. The latter are found in large numbers in the main town and at Patong Beach. The traditional Tuk-tuks have been replaced by small vans, mostly red or some are yellow. Songthaews are the cheapest mode of transportation for travel from town to town.

Attractions

  • Two Heroines Monument (อนุสาวรีย์วีรสตรี) Phuket’s most famous monument in Amphoe Thalang is the memorial statue of the heroines Thao Thepkasattri (Kunying Jan) and Thao Sisunthon (Mook), who rallied islanders in 1785 to repel Burmese invaders. As the island's governor has just passed away, organizing Phuket's defense against the Brumese invasion of 1785 was conducted by his widow, Thao Thepkasattri. With her sister's help, they assembled what forces they had, then cleverly disguised local women as male soldiers, thus appearing to increase Phuket's military manpower. After a month's siege, the Burmese tired, lost heart and left. King Tama I awarded Kunying Jan with the royal title of Thao Thepkasattri.[14]
  • Thalang National Museum (พิพิธภัณฑสถานแห่งชาติถลาง) This is located near the Two Heroines Monument. In 1985, on the 200th anniversary of the Thalang War, the Thalang National Museum was established. The museum contain permanent exhibition of life in old Phuket, ancient artefacts and remains discovered on the coast and, materials used during war with Burma (Myanmar).[15] It is open daily except national holidays from 8.30 a.m. – 4.30 p.m. Admission is 30 baht. For more information call 0 7631 1426, 0 7631 3397, 0 7631 1206.
  • Hat Patong (หาดป่าตอง) 15 kilometres from town, Patong is Phuket's most developed beach which offers numerous leisure, sporting, shopping and recreational options along its 3-kilometre long crescent bay. Windsurfing, snorkelling, sailing, swimming and sunbathing number among the many popular daytime activities. Patong is equally well known for its vibrant nightlife, among which seafood restaurants feature prominently.
  • Laem Phromthep (แหลมพรหมเทพ) Phromthep Cape is a headland forming the extreme south end of Phuket. "Phrom" is Thai for the Hindu term, "Brahma," signifying purity, and "Thep" means 'God.' Local villagers used to refer to the cape as "Laem Chao", or the God's Cape, and it was an easily recognizable landmark for the early seafarers traveling up the Malay Peninsula from the sub-continent.
  • Hat Karon (หาดกะรน) The second largest of Phuket's tourist beaches, some 20 kilometres from town. Large resort complexes line the road behind of the shoreline, but the long, broad beach itself has no development. The sand is very white, and squeaks audibly when walked upon. There are plenty of restaurants and tourist stores right across the street from the beach. The southern point has a fine coral reef stretching toward Kata and Bu Island. There is also its sister beach Karon Noi.
  • View Point (จุดชมวิว) This is located mid-point between Nai Han and Kata beaches. The scenic Kata Noi, Kata and Karon beaches, and Ko Pu Island can be viewed from this point.
  • Wat Chalong (วัดฉลองหรือวัดไชยธาราราม) This is where stands the cast statue of Luang Pho Cham, who helped the people of Phuket put down the Angyee, or Chinese Coolie Rebellion, in 1876 during the reign of Rama V. There are also statues of Luang Pho Chuang, and Luang Pho Cham, abbots of the temple during later times.
  • Khao Phra Thaeo Wildlife Conservation Development and Extension Centre (สถานีพัฒนาและส่งเสริมการอนุรักษ์สัตว์ป่าเขาพระแทว) Its duty is to promote, distribute and wildlife within Khao Phra Thaeo wildlife park. The park is full of virgin forest and also actively conserves a number of wild animals; they would otherwise be extinct in Phuket. It is a center for study of the environment and the forest vegetation is spectacular. Giant trees supported by huge buttresses are thick with creepers and climbers of every description.

Local Culture

Events and Festivals

  • Thao Thep Krasattri and Thao Si Sunthon Fair (งานท้าวเทพกระษัตรี - ท้าวศรีสุนทร) is held on March 13 every year to commemorate the two great heroines who rallied the Thalang people to repel Burmese invaders.
  • Vegetarian Festival (เทศกาลกินเจ(กินผัก-เจี๊ยะฉ่าย)) is held on the first day of the 9th lunar month (end Sept or early October). Phuket islanders of Chinese ancestry commit themselves to a 9-day vegetarian diet, a form of purification believed to help make the forthcoming year “trouble-free”. The festival is marked by several ascetic displays, including fire-walking and ascending sharp-bladed ladders.
  • Phuket King’s Cup Regatta (งานแข่งเรือใบชิงถ้วยพระราชทาน) is held in December. The Kata Beach Resort hosts international yachtsmen, largely from neighbouring countries who compete in the Kata Beach area for royal trophies.
  • Laguna Phuket Triathlon (ลากูน่าภูเก็ตไตรกีฬา) is held in each December. The triathlon (a 1,800 - metre swim, a 5.5 -kilometre bike race and a 12-kilometre run and a 6 –kilometre fun run) attracts many athletes from all over the world.[citation needed]
  • Phuket Travel Fair (เทศกาลเปิดฤดูการท่องเที่ยวจังหวัดภูเก็ต), starting from November 1, is usually called the Patong Carnival, from the place where celebrations occur. Colourful parades, sports events, and a beauty competition for foreign tourists are major activities.
  • Chao Le (Sea Gypsy) Boat Floating Festival (งานประเพณีลอยเรือชาวเล) falls during the middle of the sixth and eleventh lunar months yearly. The sea gypsy villages at Rawai and Sapam hold their ceremonies on the 13th; Ko Si-re celebrates on the 14th; and Laem La (east of the bridge on Phuket’s northern tip) on the 15th. Ceremonies, which centre around the setting adrift of small boats similar to the Thai festival of Loi Krathong, are held at night and their purpose is to drive away evil and bring good luck.

Cuisine

A Pong, Sri Lankan style dessert

Local dishes include:

  • Fried or Boiled Noodle Dishes (หมี่ผัดหรือหมี่น้ำแบบต่าง ๆ), usually with pork or chicken, are available at many noodle shops in the town such as Mi Ton Pho, Mi Sapam, Mi Ao Ke, Mi Hun Pa Chang, and etc.
  • Khanom Jeen (ขนมจีน), a version of noodles taken at breakfast, usually served with a spicy curry sauce and fresh vegetables.
  • Nam Phrik Kung Siap (น้ำพริกกุ้งเสียบ) is a mixture of dried chili and smoked shrimps taken with various fresh vegetables.
  • Cashew nuts and pineapples are rarely grown in Phuket but are available all year round. The nuts are available dried, fried or coated.
  • Pad Kanaa Moo Grob is a dish with sauteed leafy green (similar to kale) and crispy pork.
  • Kao Man Gai (ข้าวมันไก่) is a simple dish of chicken and rice (usually infused with padanus leaves) that is sold at many small stands.

Notes

  1. ^ Smithies, Michael (2002), Three military accounts of the 1688 "Revolution" in Siam, Itineria Asiatica, Orchid Press, Bangkok, ISBN 9745240052 , p.179
  2. ^ New Terrains in Southeast Asian History, p.294, Abu Talib
  3. ^ Smithies 2002, p.179
  4. ^ Smithies 2002, p.50
  5. ^ A History of South-east Asia p. 350, by Daniel George Edward Hall (1964) St. Martin's Press
  6. ^ Smithies 2002, p.185
  7. ^ Phuket Town Treasure Map www.phuket-maps.com
  8. ^ "Monthly Averages for Phuket, Thailand". The Weather Channel. http://www.weather.com/outlook/travel/businesstraveler/wxclimatology/monthly/THXX0018. Retrieved 2009-12-05. 
  9. ^ http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/fortune_archive/2005/07/11/8265242/index.htm
  10. ^ Tristan Jones. To Venture Further. Sheridan House Inc.. pp. 53. ISBN 157409064X. 
  11. ^ Walter Armstrong Graham. Siam: A Handbook of Practical, Commercial, and Political Information. F. G. Browne. pp. 115, 124. 
  12. ^ Annabelle Gambe. Overseas Chinese Entrepreneurship and Capitalist Development in Southeast Asia. LIT Verlag Berlin-Hamburg-Münster. pp. 108. ISBN 3825843866. 
  13. ^ The Peranakan trail MICHAEL D’OLIVEIRO, March 31, 2007, The Star
  14. ^ Phuket Town Treasure Map www.phuket-maps.com
  15. ^ Phuket Town Treasure Map www.phuket-maps.com

Sister cities

Phuket Province has a number of sister cities. They are:

External links

Coordinates: 7°53′24″N 98°23′54″E / 7.89°N 98.39833°E / 7.89; 98.39833








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