Almost every country in the world has a nickname. For example, the Philippines is nicknamed the “The Pearl of the Orient Seas” while Afghanistan is colloquially known as the “Graveyard of Empires.” The same is also true for Thailand. Officially known as the Kingdom of Thailand, Thailand is also known as the "The Land of a Thousand Smiles." Initially known as Siam, the country is situated on the Asian continent.
History of the name
Thailand's nickname can be attributed to two things: tourism and the culture of the country. Looking at the name from a tourism perspective, it has been used by the Thai government in advertising the country to visitors. The tourism sector uses the country’s renowned hospitality, sandy beaches, and affordable costs in order to lure more tourists every year. Almost every promotional brochure from Thailand features a local Thai person smiling while selling wares in a market or doing something else. Regardless of the activity, the Thai person is always smiling. The advertisement is working since the sector generated around $80 billion, which was about 17.7% of Thailand’s gross domestic product in 2016. The total number of visitors in the same year was in excess of 32 million people from all around the world.
The name is even more descriptive from a cultural point of view. Culturally, Thai people love to smile (or yim) in almost every situation, which includes those that probably do not warrant a smile in most cultures in other parts of the world. Disagreements and any form of disputes are usually settled by a smile and as few words as possible. In some cases, the smile may be accompanied by the phrase “mai pen rai,” which is a signal for both parties to let go of a disagreement. The whole concept of settling disputes through smiles comes from the belief that life is supposed to be fun, which is a concept known as “sanuk.”
Naturally, a smile is also used in cases where there is genuine happiness and other mundane activities. A good example of such an activity is the “wai,” which is a greeting that varies depending on the statuses of the two parties. Usually accompanied by a smile, the greeting is based on a hand gesture known as the Añjali Mudrā, which is from the subcontinent of India. Aside from a smile, the greeting may also involve a gesture with the hands that resembles a prayer gesture.
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