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Phuket Province - General Information

Location and Boundaries

Phuket is an island connected by bridges to southern Thailand's Andaman Sea coast, in the Indian Ocean, lying between 7' 45" and 8' 15" north latitude, and from 98' 15" to 98' 40" west longitude on the map. Thailand's largest island, Phuket is surrounded by 32 smaller islands that form part of the same administration, with a total area of 570 square kilometers. Measured at its widest point, Phuket is 21.3 kilometers; at its longest, 48.7 kilometers. It is bounded thus:

On the north: Lies the Pak Prah Strait, spanned by two bridges running side-by-side, the older Sarasin Bridge, and the newer Thao Thep Krasatri Bridge.
On the South: Is the Andaman Sea.
On the East: Is Ao Phang-nga Bay (In the jurisdiction mainly of Phang-nga Province).
On the West: Is the Andaman Sea.

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Geography

About 70 percent of Phuket is mountainous; a western range runs from north to south from which smaller branches derive. The highest peak is Mai Tao Sip Song, or Twelve Canes, at 529 meters, which lies within the boundaries of Tambon Patong, Kathu District (no road go there yet). The remaining 30 percent of the island, mainly in the center and south, is formed by low plains. Streams in clued the Klong Bang Yai, Klong Ta Jin, Klong Ta Rua, and Klong Bang Rohng, none of which is large.

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Weather

Phuket's weather conditions are dominated by monsoon winds that blow year round. It is therefore always warm and humid. There are two distinct seasons, rainy and dry. The rainy season begins in May and lasts till October, during which the monsoon blows from the southwest. The dry season is from November through April, when the monsoon comes from northeast. Highest average temperatures, at 33.4 degrees Celsius, prevail during March. Lowest averages occur in January, when nightly lows dip to 22 degree Celsius.

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Economy

Since the early 1980's the tourist business has been Phuket's chief source of income. Hotels, restaurants, tour companies, and souvenir shops are much in evidence on the west coast. However, while once all-important tin mining has ceased, tourism is by no means the island's only activity. Agriculture remains important to a large number of people, and covers by far the most part of the island. Principal crops are rubber, coconuts, cashews, and pineapples. Prawn farming has largely taken over the east and south coasts. Pearl farming has largely taken over the east and south coasts. Pearl farming is also important. Phuket's fishing port is at all times filled, and processing of marine products, mainly fish, makes a significant contribution to the economy.

With so many healthy industries supplying income, construction has become a major factor in employment. This ranges from massive public works projects, large office buildings and hotels, and housing estates with hundreds of units, down to single family homes, apartments and additions.

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Population

Official population as of August, 2002, was 268,440. This figure numbers those who are registered as living in Phuket. Phuket's attraction as a center of economic activity has resulted in many living on the island whose registration is elsewhere. The total population of Phuket varies considerably depending on the time of year, though it is never less than the figure given above.

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Government

The island is divided into three districts, Talang in the north, Kathu in the west, and Muang in the south. Thailand's system of government relies upon a strong central authority, thus the Provincial Governor is a civil servant appointed by the Interior Ministry in Bangkok, as are the Nai Amper, or District Chief. The cities of Phuket and Patong have their own city governments, with elected city councils, the leading members of which serve as mayor. There are also elected provincial, district, and sub-district or Tambon councils. The local constabulary is part of the Interior Ministry.

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