Phuket is one of the southern provinces (changwat) of Thailand. It consists of the island of Phuket, the countrys largest island, and another 32 smaller islands off its coast. It lies off the west coast of Thailand in the Andaman Sea. Phuket Island is connected by bridge to Phang Nga Province to the north. The next nearest province is Krabi, to the east across Phang Nga Bay.
Phuket Province has an area of 576 square kilometres (222 sq mi), somewhat less than that of Singapore, and is the second-smallest province of Thailand. It formerly derived its wealth from tin and rubber, and enjoys 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 relatively recent name Phuket (of which the digraph ph represents 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. An alternative suggestion is that the name originates from two Thai words, phu (mountain) of ket (jewel), and this is said to be recorded in a Thai chronicle.
Phuket was formerly known 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 Western sources and navigation charts, it was known as Jung Ceylon (a corruption of the Malay Tanjung Salang, i.e., Cape Salang),