Thailand: Kanchanaburi

Kanchanaburi (Thai: กาญจนบุรี, pronounced [kāːn.t͡ɕā.ná(ʔ).bū.rīː]) is a town municipality (thesaban mueang) in the west of Thailand and part of Kanchanaburi Province. In 2006 it had a population of 31,327. The town covers the complete tambon Ban Nuea and Ban Tai and parts of Pak Phraek and Tha Makham, all of Mueang Kanchanaburi district, and parts of the tambon Tha Lo of Tha Muang district. Kanchanaburi lies 123 km west of Bangkok.

Kanchanaburi, which is where the Khwae Noi and Khwae Yai Rivers converge into the Mae Klong River, spans the northern banks of the river and is a popular spot for travelers. Its location at the edge of a mountain range keeps it much cooler than the other provinces of central Thailand. The city has two major commercial districts: the downtown area consists of a grid of several streets with office buildings, shop fronts, and a shopping mall; and the riverfront area businesses are mostly further west along River Kwai Road. Once a year a carnival comes to town and is set up in the area next to the bridge. At night there is a small pyrotechnics display that re-enacts the wartime bombing of the bridge.

The province is in the west of Thailand, 129 km from Bangkok, and covers a total area of approximately 19,483 km². It is the country's third largest province, after Nakhon Ratchasima and Chiang Mai. Topographically, it is covered with timber and evergreen forests. The district covers the source valleys of the rivers Kwae Yai and Kwae Noi ("River Kwai"), which merge at Kanchanaburi city to form the Mae Klong River.

Bong Ti is a transnational border crossing point, which is expected to gain in importance if the planned Dawei deepwater port project goes ahead, along with a highway and a railway line between Bangkok and the port.

Several national parks are in the mountainous forest areas of the Tenasserim Hills of the province: the Erawan, Sai Yok, Khao Laem, Thong Pha Phum, Khuean Srinagarindra, and Chaloem Rattanakosin National Parks. The Thungyai Naresuan Wildlife Sanctuary is on the UNESCO world heritage list.

Thailand has had 20 constitutions and charters since 1932, including the latest and current 2017 Constitution. Throughout this time, the form of government has ranged from military dictatorship to electoral democracy, but all governments have acknowledged a hereditary monarch as the head of state. Thailand had the 4th most coup in the world. "Uniformed or ex-military men have led Thailand for 55 of the 83 years" between 1932 and 2009.

The legislative according to 2007 Constitution was the bicameral National Assembly composed of the Senate, the 150-member upper house, and House of Representatives, the 350-member lower house. Since 2014 coup, it was replaced by a rubber stamp, unicameral National Legislative Assembly.

The current King of Thailand is Vajiralongkorn (or Rama X) since October 2016. Under the constitution the king is given very little power, but remains a figurehead and symbol of the Thai nation. As the head of state, however, he is given some powers and has a role to play in the workings of government. According to the constitution, the king is head of the armed forces. He is required to be Buddhist as well as the defender of all faiths in the country. The king also retained some traditional powers such as the power to appoint his heirs, the power to grant pardons, and the royal assent. The king is aided in his duties by the Privy Council of Thailand.

Since the 2000s, two political parties dominated Thai general elections: one was Pheu Thai Party (which was a successor of People's Power Party and Thai Rak Thai Party respectively) and the other was Democrat Party. The political parties which support Thaksin Shinawatra won the most representatives every general election since 2001.

Thai provinces are administrated by regions. The regions that Thailand uses to divide the provinces is the four-region division system. It divides the country into the four regions: Northern Thailand, Northeastern Thailand, Central Thailand and Southern Thailand. Each region has its own different historical background, culture, language and people.

In contrast to the administrative divisions of the Provinces of Thailand, Thailand is a Unitary state, the provincial Governors, district chiefs, and district clerks are appointed by the central government. The regions themselves do not have an administrative character, but are used for geographical, statistical, geological, meteorological or touristic purposes.

According to the constitution, serving in the armed forces is a duty of all Thai citizens. However, only males over the age of 21, who have not gone through reserve training of the Territorial Defence Student, are given the option of volunteering for the armed forces, or participating in the random draft. The candidates are subjected to varying lengths of training, from six months to two years of full-time service, depending on their education, whether they have partially completed the reserve training course, and whether they volunteered prior to the draft date (usually 1 April every year).

Candidates with a recognised bachelor's degree serve one year of full-time service if they are conscripted, or six months if they volunteer with the military officer at their district office (สัสดี, satsadi). Likewise, the training length is also reduced for those who have partially completed the three-year reserve training course of the Territorial Defence Students (ร.ด., ro do). A person who completed one year out of three will only have to serve full-time for one year. Those who completed two years of reserve training will only have to do six months of full-time training, while those who complete three years or more of reserve training will be exempted entirely.

Royal Thai Armed Forces Day is celebrated on 18 January, commemorating the victory of Naresuan of the Ayutthaya Kingdom in battle against the crown prince of the Taungoo Dynasty in 1593.

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