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Ko Tao (also often Koh Tao, Thai: เกาะเต่า, Thai pronunciation: [kɔ̀ʔ tàw], lit. “Turtle Island”) is an island in Thailand located near the western shore of the Gulf of Thailand. It covers an area of about 21 km². Administratively it forms a tambon within the district (Amphoe) Ko Pha Ngan of Surat Thani Province. As of 2006 its official population is 1,382.The main settlement is Ban Mae Hat.
The economy of the island is almost exclusively centred around tourism, especially scuba diving.
Ko Tao was named by its first settlers after the island’s turtle-like geographic shape. Coincidentally, the island is an important breeding ground for Hawksbill turtles and Green turtles. Development of tourism has negatively impacted the health of these grounds but a breeding programme organised in 2004 by the Royal Thai Navy and KT-DOC, a coalition of local scuba diving centres, has reintroduced hundreds of juvenile turtles to the island’s ecosystem.
About Surat Thani
Surat Thani (often in short Surat, Thai: สุราษฎร์ธานี) former name Chaiya Province is the largest of the southern provinces (changwat) of Thailand, on the western shore of the Gulf of Thailand. Surat Thani means City of Good People, the title given to the city by King Vajiravudh (Rama VI).
The largest province of the South, Surat Thani was once a provincial capital of the 10th century Indonesian Srivijaya Empire, and now covers an area of approximately 13,000 square kilometers of both low basins and high plateaus with forested mountains, as well as some of Thailand’s most famous islands including Koh Samui, Koh Phangan, Koh Tao, and the Mu Koh Ang Thong Marine National Park.
The name of Surat Thani may mean “City of the Good People” but Surat Thani is also known as “the province of a thousand islands” — many of which lay off the coast in the Gulf of Thailand, including the archipelago that contains Koh Samui, Koh Phangan, Koh Tao, and the Mu Koh Ang Thong Marine National Park. Once the refuge of backpackers, the islands of Surat Thani are now some of the most visited places in Thailand; however, there are a number of historical, cultural, and natural attractions on the Thai mainland to make a stop in Surat Thani province worthwhile on the way to or from the islands.
The largest province of the South, located 685 kilometers from Bangkok, Surat Thani means “City of the Good People”. A former capital of the Indonesian Srivijaya Empire, Surat Thani remains a vibrant city that is both a commercial and transportation hub and an area with many historical and cultural attractions. Surat Thani Province covers an area of approximately 13,000 square kilometers of high plateaus and forested mountains in the west of the province that diminish to low basins towards the eastern coast. This mountainous topography has created 14 river basins all of which flow east of the province to the Gulf of Thailand; similarly, almost all visitors to Surat Thani invariably head to the Gulf, where the islands of Koh Samui, Koh Phangan, Koh Tao, and the Mu Koh Ang Thong Marine National Park are located.