Lighting candles on Vesak Day at the Phrabuddhachay Temple in Saraburi, Thailand 29 Jul 2016
About this photo
Thailand is an overwhelmingly Buddhist nation. Over 87% of the population follow Buddhism, and its influence is apparent throughout the country. About 12% of Thais are Muslims, and they live mainly in the far south, close to the border with Malaysia, while the remainder is made up of a sprinkling of Christian, Hindu and Sikh communities.
Over the centuries, Buddhism has played a profound role in shaping the Thai character. The Buddhist concept of the impermanence of life and possessions, and of the necessity to avoid extremes of emotion or behaviour, has done much to create the relaxed, carefree charm of the Thai people.