Thailand’s natural vegetation includes a wide range of forest types. In the south, tropical semievergreen rain forests are most common. In the north, two types of forests grow: monsoon forests, characterized by dense-growing, broadleaf deciduous trees, and savanna forests, in which grasses and sedges (grasslike flowering plants with triangular stems) grow beneath open stands of widely spaced trees. During the dry season, in both the monsoon and savanna forests, the trees shed their leaves and fires can occur.
The monsoon forests are particularly noted for their useful species of trees and plants, including teak, which is highly valued for its strength and durability, and many types of bamboo. The forests abound in orchids, which are widely collected and grown in gardens.
Many animal species inhabit Thailand’s forests. Elephants, traditionally used as beasts of burden, are raised in captivity but also live in the wild. Other large animals native to Thailand include the rhinoceros, tiger, leopard, gaur (wild ox), water buffalo, and gibbon. Thailand has more than 50 species of snakes, including several poisonous varieties. Crocodiles are numerous, as are fish and birds. Other animals, such as the Schomburgk’s deer of the central plain, have become extinct.
Thailand possesses a range of mineral resources. Tin is mined in the peninsula. Important gemstones, such as sapphires, are found in the southeast, and coal reserves, particularly lignite, are in the north. Fish are abundant in rivers and coastal waters. In addition to being consumed domestically, fish are also exported. Encarta "Thailand" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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