Thais are often depicted as fun-loving, happy-go-lucky people. But they are also a proud and strong minded people with a fierce fighting spirit. They have struggled for centuries to retain their independence. Formerly known as Siam the country is now officially known as the Kingdom of Thailand (meaning the land of the free). Thailand has never been colonised by a foreign power. It has been influenced by foreign cultures and has developed to become a thoroughly modernised country. And yet, Thailand retains its own unique blend of contempory and traditional values and lifestyles. The ever-changing spirit of Thai culture remains dominant throughout the country. Around 65 million people live in Thailand. Thai is their primary language, while English is considered the secondary language of the elite. Other ethnic and regional dialects can also be found. About 75% of Thai citizens are ethnic Thai. Chinese (14%) and various other ethnic groups (11%) make up the rest. Thailand is predominantly Buddhist (95% of the population). Residing mainly in Thailand's deep south, close to the Malaysian border, a significant minority (around 4%) follow Islam. Other religions including Christianity, Hinduism, and other beliefs are practiced by the remaining 1% of the population.