Around 40,000 people live on Samui, and the majority are Thai, although the island is also home to a reasonably large Malaysian and Chinese community.
Settlers from the Malay Peninsula and the southern region of China first inhabited Samui around 15 centuries ago. The island remained fairly wild and separate from the mainland of Thailand until the 1970s, when roads were built and tourists began arriving from all over the globe.
Over the years a number of Westerners, mostly men from countries such as England, the USA, Germany and Australia have settled on Samui; most are married to Thai women and own businesses such as bars, restaurants and guesthouses.
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