South of Thailand an Introduction
Phuket, formerly known as Thalang (Tha-Laang) and, in Western sources, Junk Ceylon (a corruption of the Malay Tanjung Salang, i.e. “Cape Salang”), 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 it has no land boundaries. Phuket, which is approximately the size of Singapore, is Thailand’s largest island. The island is connected to mainland Thailand by two bridges. 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.