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Phuket, The history of the Island

Phrae Province, Page 1, History, Geography, and Districts. Provincial Seal Phuket,  Page 2, Satellite map and video's of the drive from Phuket airport to Karon Beach.

Phuket - formerly known as Tha-Laang or Talang, 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 there are no land boundaries. Phuket is Thailand’s largest island, about the size of Singapore. The island is connected to mainland Thailand by a bridge. It is situated off the west coast of Thailand in the Andaman Sea. The region has an area of about 570 sq. km. and is made up of one large and thirty nine small islands. Phuket formerly derived its wealth from tin and rubber.The island was on one of the major trading routes between India and China, and was frequently mentioned in foreign trader’s ship logs. The region now derives much of its income from tourism.

On December 26, 2004, Phuket and other nearby areas on Thailand's western coast suffered extensive damage when they were struck by the Boxing Day tsunami caused by the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake. The waves destroyed several highly populated areas in the region, killing as many as 5,300 people nationwide, and tens of thousands more throughout the wider Asian region. As many as 250 people were reported dead in Phuket including foreign tourists and as many as a thousand unreported deaths of illegal Burmese workers building new beach resorts in the Khao Lak area. Almost all the major beaches on the west coast, especially Kamala, Patong, Karon and Kata, sustained major damage, with some damage also being caused to resorts and villages on the island's southern beaches. By February 2005 many damaged resorts were back in business, and throughout 2005 life slowly returned to normal for the people of Phuket. As of November 2005, following strenuous recovery programs, there is little obvious remaining tsunami damage other than at the most remote beaches, and the tourist industry, which drives the Phuket economy, has now almost fully recovered. One of the most popular tourist areas on Phuket is Patong Beach on the central western coast, perhaps owing to the easy access to its wide and long beach. Most of Phuket's nightlife and its cheap shopping is located in Patong, and the area has become increasingly developed. Patong means "the forest filled with banana leaves" in Thai. Other popular beaches are located south of Patong. In a counterclockwise direction these include Karon Beach, Kata Beach, Kata Noi Beach, and around the southern tip of the island, Nai Harn Beach and Rawai. To the north of Patong are Kamala Beach, Surin Beach and Bang Tao Beach.