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Religion in Thailand

Over 90 percent of Thais follow Theravada Buddhism (a branch of Hinayana Buddhism), and Buddhism is the most powerful force in the nation's culture. In keeping with Buddhist teaching, we are a peace-loving nation.

Muslims are the second-biggest religious group, but there are also Christians, Hindus and other faiths. Tolerance is total, and there is no history of religious conflict.

The Buddha was born Prince Siddhartha Gautama in India during the 6th century BC. He gave up his riches to seek enlightenment, and later he taught others to follow his path.

Buddhism first came to Thailand a few centuries after Buddha's death, and became a dominant force by the Sukhothai era. Statues of the Buddha and murals depicting his previous ten lives can be found throughout Thailand.

Buddhism continues to exert a strong influence on daily life. Senior monks are highly revered. In towns and villages the temple (wat) is the heart of social and religious life. Each wat is a cluster of buildings including a meeting hall, lodging for the monks, an ordination hall, and perhaps a library. The features of each building, and the overall layout, are governed by established principles. The architecture varies between historical periods.

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