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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
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 with hotels
of all price ranges.
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
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.
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
Prawn farming has largely 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
provided by T.A.T (Tourism Authority of Thailand)