Phuket has a large history for a small place. Its main industry boom was in the tin industry. This happened when someone figured out that copper and tin makes a harder metal called bronze and when they found out that the tin is also not (in that area) associated with arsenic, giving them more reason to mine it. Today one of there main sources of income is rubber.
In 2004 a tsunami hit mainly on Patong Beach and the western coast line. This affected the tourism industry a lot and Patong was almost gone by the end, but the people they rebuilt it and today it is back in its trading routines.