Phuket, formerly known as Thalang (Tha-Laang) and, in Western sources, Junk Ceylon (a corruption of the Malay Tanjung Salang, i.e. “Cape Salang”), 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 it has no land boundaries.
Phuket, which is approximately the size of Singapore, is Thailand’s largest island. The island is connected to mainland Thailand by two bridges. It is situated off the west coast of Thailand in the Andaman Sea. Phuket formerly derived its wealth from tin and rubber, and enjoyed a rich and colorful history. The island was on one of the major trading routes between India and China, and was frequently mentioned in foreign ship logs of Portuguese, French, Dutch and English traders. The region now derives much of its income from tourism.
The name Phuket (of which the ph sound is an aspirated p) is apparently derived from the word bukit in Malay which means “hill”, as this is what the island appears like from a distance. The region was formerly referred to as “Thalang,” derived from the old Malay “Telong” which means “Cape”. The northern district of the province, which was the location of the old capital, still uses this name.
In the 17th century, the Dutch, the English, and from the 1680s the French, competed with each other for trade with the island of Phuket (the island was named Junkseilon at that time), which was valued as a very rich source of tin. In September 1680, a ship from the French East India Company visited Phuket and left with a full cargo of tin. In 1681 or 1682, the Siamese king Narai, who was seeking to reduce Dutch and English influence, named Governor of Phuket the French medical missionary Brother René Charbonneau, a member of the Siam mission of the Société des Missions Etrangères. Charbonneau held the position of Governor until 1685.
In 1685, king Narai confirmed the French tin monopoly in Phuket to a French ambassador, the Chevalier de Chaumont. Chaumont’s former maître d’hôtel Sieur de Billy was named governor of the island. The French were expelled from Siam in 1688 however, following the 1688 Siamese revolution. On April 10, 1689, the French general Desfarges led an expedition to re-capture the island of Phuket in an attempt to restore some sort of French control in Siam. The occupation of the island led nowhere, and Desfarges returned to Pondicherry in January 1690.
The Burmese attacked Phuket in 1785. Captain Francis Light, a British East India Company captain passing by the island, sent word to the local administration that he had observed Burmese forces preparing to attack. Than Phu Ying Chan, the wife of the recently deceased governor, and her sister Mook (คุณมุก) then assembled what forces they could. After a month-long siege, the Burmese were forced to retreat March 13, 1785. The two women became local heroines, receiving the honorary titles Thao Thep Kasattri and Thao Si Sunthon from King Rama I. During the reign of King Chulalongkorn (Rama V), Phuket became the administrative center of the tin-producing southern provinces. In 1933 Monthon Phuket was dissolved and Phuket became a province by itself. Old names of the island include Ko Thalang.
Phuket has a tropical climate, more specifically a tropical monsoon climate, with a dry season from November to April and a rainy season from May to October. Average temperatures are consistent year-round. Average highs range from 29 °C (84 °F) to 33 °C (91 °F); average lows range from 23 °C (73 °F) to 26 °C (79 °F).
via Phuket Province