Surat Thani Province
The area of Surat Thani was already inhabited in prehistoric times by Semang and Malayan tribes. Founded in the 3rd century, until the 13th century the Srivijaya kingdom dominated the Malay Peninsula. The city Chaiya contains several ruins from Srivijaya times, and was probably a regional capital of the kingdom. Some Thai historians even claim that it was the capital of the kingdom itself for some time, but this is generally disputed. Wiang Sa was another main settlement of that time.
After the fall of the Srivijaya it was divided into the cities (Mueang) Chaiya, Thatong (now Kanchanadit) and Khirirat Nikhom. While Chaiya was administrated directly from the capital, Thatong and Khirirat were controlled by the Nakhon Si Thammarat kingdom. In 1899 they were merged into one province named Chaiya. In 1915 also the court of the Monthon Chumphon was moved to Ban Don, which received its new name Surat Thani on July 29, 1915 during a visit of King Vajiravudh (Rama VI). The monthon was renamed to Surat accordingly. In 1926 it was abolished and incorporated into monthon Nakhon Si Thammarat. In 1933 the monthon was dissolved, so the province became the first level administrative subdivision.
The provincial administration was at first located in a building in Tha Kham (Amphoe Phunphin). It was moved to the city of Surat Thani directly at the shore of the Tapi river in World War II, but when the Japanese invaded Thailand on December 8, 1941 and landed in Surat Thani as well, the building caught fire during the short battle and burned down. It was reopened in 1954. On March 19, 1982 it was destroyed again by a bomb planted by communist rebels, killing 5 people. A new building was built in the south of the city, the former site of the provincial hall is now the city pillar shrine (Lak Mueang). Neighboring provinces are (from north clockwise) Chumphon, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Krabi, Phang Nga and Ranong.
Geographically the center of the province is the coastal plain of the Tapi river, mostly grassland interchanged with rubber tree and coconut plantings. In the west are limestone mountains of the Phuket range mostly covered with forests. The Khao Sok National Park is located in these mountains. To the east the hills of the Nakhon Si Thammarat (or Bantat) mountain range start to rise, protected in the Tai Rom Yen National Park. Many islands in the Gulf of Thailand belong to the district, including the tourist islands Ko Samui, Ko Pha-ngan and Ko Tao, as well as the Ko Ang Thong marine national park. The main rivers of the Surat Thani province are Tapi River and Phum Duang River, which join at the town Tha Kham shortly before they drain into the Ban Don Bay. The delta of these rivers, locally known as Nai Bang, is located directly north of the city Surat Thani. It consists of several channels with small islands mostly covered by mangrove or orchards.
Further protected areas in the province are the Khlong Phanom and Kaeng Krung national park, Than Sadet-Ko Pha-Ngan marine national park, the non-hunting areas Khao Tha Phet and Nong Thung Thong and the wildlife sanctuaries Khlong Phraya, Khlong Saeng and Khlong Yan. The Hat Khanom - Mu Ko Thale Tai, which will contain a few small island south of Ko Samui, is currently in process of creation.
In 2008 census, the province was had a GPP about 132,637.3 million Baht (4,019.31 million US$) and GPP per capita was 134,427 (4,073.54 US$) Compare with about 122,398 million Baht (3,599.94 million US$) and GPP per capita was 125,651 (3,695.62 US$) in 2007 census, the GPP was growth by 8.37% and per capita was growth by 6.98%. The main agricultural products of the province are coconut and rambutan. The coconuts are often picked from the tree by specially trained monkey, mostly Pig-tailed Macaques (Macaca nemestrina). The monkey school of late Somporn Saekhow is the most famous training center for these monkeys. The rambutan trees were first planted in Surat Thani in 1926 by the Chinese Malay Mr. K. Vong in Ban Na San. An annual rambutan fair is held in beginning of August, including a parade of highly decorated floats on the Tapi river. Also rubber tree planting are common in the province.
A notable local product is the hand-woven silk clothes from the coastal village Phum Riang in Chaiya district. Chaiya is also the most famous source of the red eggs, a local specialty. Ducks fed are with crabs and fish, and the eggs are then preserved by salinating them in a soil-salt mixture. Oysters from farms at the coast of Kanchanaburi district are another local specialty. Tourism is a major income at the four islands Ko Samui, Ko Pha Ngan, Ko Tao and Ko Ang Thong