Phuket, a large island in the Indian Ocean, is
867 kms. from Bangkok. It is the only island having
provincial status, and was a regional headquarters
as well, with a rich and colorful history.
Known as the Pearl of the Andaman, it derived
much of its former glory and its enormous wealth
from tin production, which in Phuket dates back
over 500 year. Today, Phuket is the major tourist
attraction of Thailand. The surrounding waters
contain much varied marine life, and the town
is notable for its Sino-Portuguese architecture.
It is a very attractive island
for sightseeing, with lovely
seashores and forested hillsides. Its population
of 1.6 million people ranks sixth among all provinces.
Approximately 1.75 million Rai of the area is
forest land. The main occupation here is rice
farming. The average per capita income is 14,343
Location and Boundaries
Phuket is an island connected by bridges to southern
Thailand's Andaman Sea coast, in the Indian Ocean,
lying between 7'45" and 8'15" north
latitude, and from 98'15" to 98'40"
west longitude on the map. Phuket, Thailand's
largest islands, is surrounded by 32 smaller islands
that form part of the same administration, with
a total area of 570 square kilometers. Measured
at its widest point, Phuket is 21.3 kilometers;
at its longest, 48.7 kilometers. it is bounded
Lies The Pak Prah
strait, spanned by two bridges running side-by-side,
the older Sarasin Bridge, and the newer
Thao Thep Krasatri Bridge.
Is the Andaman
Is Phang-nga Bay
(In the jurisdiction mainly of Phang-nga
Is The Andaman
About 70 percent of Phuket is mountainous; a western
range runs from north to south from which smaller
branches derive. The highest peak is Mai Tha Sip
Song, or Twelve Canes, at 529 meters, which lies
within the boundaries of Tambon Patong, Kathu
District. The remaining 30 percent of the island,
mainly in the center and south, is formed by low
plains. Streams include the Khlong Bang Yai, Tha
Jin, Khlong Tha Rua, and Khlong Bang Rong, none
of which is large.
Phuket's weather conditions are dominated by monsoon
winds that blow year round. It is therefore always
warm and humid. There are two distinct seasons,
rainy and dry. The rainy season begins in May
and lasts till October, during which the monsoon
blows from the southwest. The dry season is from
November through April, when the monsoon comes
from the northeast. Highest average temperatures,
at 33.4 degree Celsius, prevail during March.
Lowest averages occur in January, when nightly
lows dip to 22 degree Celsius.
Since the early 1980's the tourist business has
been Phuket's chief source of income. Hotels,
restaurants, tour companies, and souvenir shops
are much in evidence on the west coast. However,
while once all-importance tin mining has ceased,
tourism is by no means the island's only activity.
Agriculture remains important to a large number
of people, and covers by far the most part of
the island. Principal crops are rubber, coconuts,
cashews, and pineapples.
Prawn farming has largly taken over the east and
south coasts. Pearl farming is also important.
Phuket's fishing port is at all time filled, and
processing of marine products, mainly fish, makes
a significant contribution to the economy. With
so many healthy industries supplying income, construction
has become a major factor in employment. This
range from massive public works projects, large
office buildings and hotels, and housing estates
with hundreds of units, down to single family
homes, apartments and additions.
Official population as of December, 1998, was
231,206. This figure numbers those who are registered
as living in Phuket. Phuket' s attraction as a
center of economic activity has resulted in many
living on the island whose registration is elsewhere.
The total population of Phuket varies considerably
depending on the time of year, through it is never
less than the figure given above.
The island is divided into three districts, Thalang
in the north, Kathu in the west, and Muang in
the south. Thailand's system of government relies
upon a strong central authority, thus the Provincial
Governor is a civil servant appointed by the Interior
Ministry in Bangkok, as are the Nai Amphoe, or
District Chief. The cities of Phuket and Patong
have their own city governments, with elected
city councils, the leading members of which serve
as mayor. There are also elected provincial, district,
and sub-district, or Tambon councils. The local
constabulary is part of the Interior Ministry.