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Thailand Environment
Thailand shares borders with Malaysia, Myanmar (Burma), Laos and Cambodia. The country's east coast borders the Gulf of Thailand and the west coast abuts the Andaman Sea. The country is divided into four main zones: the fertile, central plains of the Chao Phraya River; the poorer region of the 300m (985ft) high northeast plateau; the fertile valley and mountains of Northern Thailand; and the rainforested southern peninsula. The highest peak is the 2596m (8512ft) Doi Inthanon in Chiang Mai province.

One-fifth of Thailand is covered by monsoon forest or rainforest, and the country has an incredible array of fruit trees, bamboo and tropical hardwoods. There are freshwater swamp forests in the delta regions; forested crags amid the karst topography of both the north and south; mangroves in the south; and pine forests at higher altitudes in the north.

Over-development on Ko Phi Phi is starving the coral reefs of sunlight and smothering the surface in pollutants: the destruction of the reef is a micro-example of the problems occuring on a national scale, with the finger being pointed in the direction of tourism. In May 1999, protestors packed the beach where the filming of 'The Beach' was taking place: environmentalists were concerned that filming would destroy the delicate eco-balance of the beach. Ironically, the film was about the destruction of native cultures and environments by hordes of dropped-out, alternative lifestyle-seeking backpackers (curiously, the filmmakers were silent on the issue of hordes of filmmakers destroying delicate eco-balances). One of the main culprits according to Alex Garland, author of the best selling novel, is Lonely Planet.

Thailand is particularly rich in bird life, with over 1000 recorded resident and migrating species - approximately 10% of the world's bird species. Insect species number some 6000, and the country's rich marine environment counts tens of thousands of species. Indigenous mammals, mostly found in dwindling numbers within Thailand's national parks or wildlife sanctuaries, include tigers, leopards, elephants and Asiatic black bears.

Thailand's climate is ruled by monsoons that produce three seaons in northern, northeastern and central Thailand and two in southern Thailand. Generally the 'dry and wet monsoon climate' arrives sometime between May and July and lasts into November. It is followed by a dry season from November to May in which temperatures are relatively lower until February and then begin to soar from March to May.

Thailand is divided into 76 provinces.


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