Phuket is the biggest island in Thailand, in the Andaman Sea of southern Thailand. The island is mostly mountainous with a mountain range in the west of the island from the north to the south. The mountains of Phuket form the southern end of thePhuket mountain range, which ranges for 440 kilometres (270 mi) from the Kra Isthmus.
Although some recent geographical works refer to the sections of the Tenasserim Hills in the isthmus as the "Phuket Range", these names are not found in classical geographic sources. In addition, the name Phuket is relatively recent having previously been named Jung Ceylon and Thalang. The highest elevation of the island is usually regarded as Khao Mai Thao Sip Song (Twelve Canes), at 529 metres (1,736 ft) above sea level. However it has been reported by barometric pressure readings that there is an even higher elevation (with no apparent name), of 542 meters above sea level, in the Kamala hills behind Kathu waterfall.
Its population was 249,446 in 2000, rising to 525,709 in the 2010 decennial census, the highest growth rate of all provinces nationwide at 7.4 percent annually. Some 600,000 people reside on Phuket currently, among them migrants, international expats, Thais registered in other provinces, and locals. The registered population, however, includes only Thais who are registered in a 'tabien baan' or house registration book, which most are not, and the end of 2012 was 360,905 persons.
Phuket is approximately 863 kilometres (536 mi) south of Bangkok, and covers an area of 543 square kilometres (210 sq mi) excluding small islets. It is estimated that Phuket would have a total area of approximately 576 square kilometres (222 sq mi) if all its outlying islands were included. Other islands are: Ko Lone 4.77 square kilometres (1.84 sq mi), Ko Maprao 3.7 square kilometres (1.4 sq mi), Ko Naka Yai 2.08 square kilometres (0.80 sq mi), Ko Racha Noi 3.06 square kilometres (1.18 sq mi), Ko Racha Yai 4.5 square kilometres (1.7 sq mi), and the second biggest, Ko Sire 8.8 square kilometres (3.4 sq mi).
The island's length, from north to south, is 48 kilometres (30 mi) and its width is 21 kilometres (13 mi).
Seventy percent of Phuket's area is covered with mountains which stretch from north to south. The remaining 30 percent are plains in the central and eastern parts of the island. It has a total of 9 brooks and creeks, but does not have any major rivers.
Forest, rubber, and palm oil plantations cover 60 percent of the island. The west coast has several sandy beaches. The east coast beaches are more often muddy. Near the southernmost point is Laem Promthep ("Brahma's Cape"), a popular view point. In the mountainous north of the island is the Khao Phra Thaeo No-Hunting Area, protecting more than 20 km² of rainforest. The three highest peaks of this reserve are the Khao Prathiu (384 metres (1,260 ft)), Khao Bang Pae 388 metres (1,273 ft), and Khao Phara 422 metres (1,385 ft). The Sirinat National Park on the northwest coast was established in 1981 to protect an area of 90 square kilometres (35 sq mi) (68 kilometres (42 mi) marine area), including the Nai Yang Beach where sea turtles lay their eggs.
The most popular (and overcrowded) tourist area on Phuket is Patong Beach on the central west coast, perhaps owing to the easy access to its wide and long beach. Most of Phuket's nightlife and its shopping is in Patong, and the area has become increasingly developed. Patong means "the forest filled with banana leaves" in Thai. South of Patong lie Karon Beach, Kata beach, Kata Noi Beach, and around the southern tip of the island, Nai Harn Beach and Rawai. To the north of Patong areKamala Beach, Surin Beach, and Bang Tao Beach. These areas are generally much less developed than Patong. To the southeast is Bon Island and to the south are several coral islands. The Similan Islands lie to the northwest, and the Phi Phi Islands which are part of Krabi province, to the southeast.