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Encyclopedia > Phuket
Capital: Phuket city
Area: 543.0 kmē
Ranked 75th
Inhabitants: 287,587 (2004)
Ranked 68th
Pop. density: 529.63 inh./kmē
Ranked 6th
ISO 3166-2: TH-83
Map of Thailand highlighting Phuket province

Phuket (Thai ภูเก็ต) is one of the southern provinces (changwat) of Thailand. Neighboring provinces are (from north clockwise) Phang Nga and Krabi, but as Phuket is an island there are no land boundaries. The island is served by Phuket International Airport, located in the north of the island. In the name "Phuket", the p and the h are pronounced separately, as in "top hat".



Phuket is the biggest island in Thailand, located in the Andaman Sea on the west of Malay Peninsula. The island is mostly mountainous with a mountain range in the west of the island from the north to the south. The mountains of Phuket form the southern end of a mountain chain, which ranges for 440 km from the Kra Isthmus. The highest elevation of the whole Phuket chain is the Khao Phra Mi with an elevation of 1138 m, however the highest elevation on the island itself is Mai Tha Sip Song (Twelve Canes), at 529 m above sea level.

Looking north from Sunset View Point over Kata Noi Beach, Kata Beach and Karon Beach

70% of the island is covered by forest. The western coast has several sandy beaches, while on the east coast are more muddy beaches. Nearly the southernmost point is Laem Promthep, which is a popular sunset viewpoint.

The main tourist region in Phuket is Patong Beach, which also contains most of Phuket's nightlife and is the centre of cheap shopping on the island. Other popular beaches include Karon Beach, Kata Beach, Nai Harn Beach and Bang Tao Beach.


Tin mining has been a major source of income for the island since the 16th century. Many Chinese workers were employed in the mines, and their influence on Phuket culture can still be felt today. With falling tin prices, the mining has now all but ceased. Nowadays, Phuket's economy rests on two pillars: rubber tree plantations (making Thailand the biggest producer of rubber in the world) and tourism.

Since the 1980s Phuket has become one of the major tourist attractions of Thailand, and most of the sandy beaches on the western coast of the island have been developed into tourist centers, with Patong, Karon and Kata being the most popular ones.


The most significant event in the history of Phuket was the attack by the Burmese in 1785 after king Taksin had fought them back. Sir Francis Light, a British East India Company captain passing the island, sent word to the local administration that Burmese forces were preparing for an attack. Kunying Jan, the wife of the recently deceased governor, and her sister Mook then assembled forces. After one month of siege the Burmese had to turn back on March 13, 1785, and the two women became local heroines, receiving the honorary names Thao Thep Kasatri and Thao Sri Sunthon from King Rama I.

During the reign of King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) Phuket became the administrative center of the tin-producing southern provinces. In 1933 the Monthon Phuket was dissolved and Phuket became a province by itself.

Old names of the island include Ko Thalang, and Junk Ceylon, an English corruption of the Malay Tanjung Salang (Cape Salang).

Patong Beach on Phuket was one of the worst affected areas on Phuket in the tsunami disaster of December 2004.

Phuket and other areas of Thailand's west coast suffered extensive damage during the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and the resulting tsunami that struck on December 26, destroying some tourist sites in the region and killing as many as 5,300 people nationwide. There were reports of as many as 250 or more dead in Phuket, including some foreign tourists. The tsunami was caused by a giant earthquake off the coast of Sumatra, Indonesia, and also killed thousands in other parts of Asia as well. Relief efforts in the area were still ongoing as of the end of 2004.


As with most of Thailand, the majority of the population is Buddhist, but there are a significant number of Muslims (17%) in Phuket.


Provincial seal The provincial seal shows the two heroines of the province, Thao Thep Kasattri and Thao Sri Sunthon.

The provincial tree is the Burmese Rosewood (Pterocarpus indicus), and the provincial flower the Pepper Flower (Bougainvillea sp.).

Administrative divisions

Map of Amphoe

Phuket is divided into 3 districts (Amphoe), which are further subdivided into 17 communes (tambon) and 103 villages (mubaan).

  1. Mueang Phuket
  2. Kathu
  3. Thalang

External links

  • Province page from the Tourist Authority of Thailand (http://www.tourismthailand.org/province.php?id=74&region=south)
  • Golden Jubilee Network province guide (http://kanchanapisek.or.th/cgi-bin/kp8/oncc/province.cgi?prov=s9)
  • Phuket Gazette (http://www.phuketgazette.net/) - news

  Results from FactBites:
Phuket, Thailand and Patong beach hotels and travel information (439 words)
Phuket, Thailand, is commonly referred to as the ‘Pearl of South’ and is the largest island in Thailand.
Phuket Island runs 48 kilometers (34 miles) north to south and 21 kilometers (16 miles) east to west.
Phuket is broken by a chain of mountains and valleys mainly from a north-south range running down the west coast.
Phuket travel guide - Wikitravel (2307 words)
Phuket Town is the administrative centre of Phuket Province, and the island's main population centre.
Most beaches are on the west coast, with Phuket Town to the south-east and the airport in the north.
From Phuket Town there are frequent bus services to Patong Beach (20 baht) and less frequent services to the other beaches (15-30 baht), by both full-size buses and by songthaews.
  More results at FactBites »



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