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Thailand, known as Siam in the past, is nowadays widely known as the “Land of Smiles”. It is about the same size as France. Ninety five per cent of us are Buddhists, 3% Christians and 2% Muslim. Although we have enjoyed more than 700 years of independence, our culture is very influenced by both India and China; more than 25% of Thais have Chinese ancestors, and although only a small percentage have an Indian origin, Indian culture has a great influence—particularly in religion, food, music, dancing and dressing. We have been very keen to adopt and adapt the best of both Indian and Chinese cultures in establishing our Thai way of life. Thus Thai people accept herbal medicine, ayuravedic medicine, massage, acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine. Western medicine has influenced our medical practice for only about 100 years, now being accepted by more than 90% of Thais (it was pioneered by Prince Mahidol, a Harvard graduate, who is regarded as the father of modern medicine in Thailand). These days, less than 10% of Thai people use Thai traditional medicine as their first choice of therapy.
A century ago 5 million people lived in Thailand, compared with 42 and 39 million in the UK and France respectively. Currently there are 65 million in Thailand whereas in the UK there are now …