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Flag of Thailand
Map of Thailand
Introduction Thailand
A unified Thai kingdom was established in the mid-14th century. Known as Siam until 1939, Thailand is the only Southeast Asian country never to have been taken over by a European power. A bloodless revolution in 1932 led to a constitutional monarchy. In alliance with Japan during World War II, Thailand became a US ally following the conflict.
Geography Thailand
Southeastern Asia, bordering the Andaman Sea and the Gulf of Thailand, southeast of Burma
Geographic coordinates:
15 00 N, 100 00 E
Map references:
Southeast Asia
total: 514,000 sq km
water: 2,230 sq km
land: 511,770 sq km
Area - comparative:
slightly more than twice the size of Wyoming
Land boundaries:
total: 4,863 km
border countries: Burma 1,800 km, Cambodia 803 km, Laos 1,754 km, Malaysia 506 km
3,219 km
Maritime claims:
continental shelf: 200-m depth or to the depth of exploitation
exclusive economic zone: 200 NM
territorial sea: 12 NM
tropical; rainy, warm, cloudy southwest monsoon (mid-May to September); dry, cool northeast monsoon (November to mid-March); southern isthmus always hot and humid
central plain; Khorat Plateau in the east; mountains elsewhere
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Gulf of Thailand 0 m
highest point: Doi Inthanon 2,576 m
Natural resources:
tin, rubber, natural gas, tungsten, tantalum, timber, lead, fish, gypsum, lignite, fluorite, arable land
Land use:
arable land: 32.88%
permanent crops: 7%
other: 60.12% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land:
47,490 sq km (1998 est.)
Natural hazards:
land subsidence in Bangkok area resulting from the depletion of the water table; droughts
Environment - current issues:
air pollution from vehicle emissions; water pollution from organic and factory wastes; deforestation; soil erosion; wildlife populations threatened by illegal hunting
Environment - international agreements:
party to: Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Marine Life Conservation, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: Biodiversity, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Law of the Sea
Geography - note:
controls only land route from Asia to Malaysia and Singapore
People Thailand
note: estimates for this country explicitly take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality and death rates, lower population and growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected (July 2002 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 23.3% (male 7,404,227; female 7,121,083)
15-64 years: 69.9% (male 21,469,186; female 22,090,520)
65 years and over: 6.8% (male 1,868,632; female 2,400,754) (2002 est.)
Population growth rate:
0.88% (2002 est.)
Birth rate:
16.39 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Death rate:
7.55 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Net migration rate:
0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.97 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.78 male(s)/female
total population: 0.97 male(s)/female (2002 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
29.5 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 69.18 years
female: 72.51 years (2002 est.)
male: 66 years
Total fertility rate:
1.86 children born/woman (2002 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
2.15% (1999 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
755,000 (1999 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
66,000 (1999 est.)
noun: Thai (singular and plural)
adjective: Thai
Ethnic groups:
Thai 75%, Chinese 14%, other 11%
Buddhism 95%, Muslim 3.8%, Christianity 0.5%, Hinduism 0.1%, other 0.6% (1991)
Thai, English (secondary language of the elite), ethnic and regional dialects
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 93.8%
male: 96%
female: 91.6% (1995 est.)
Government Thailand
Country name:
conventional long form: Kingdom of Thailand
conventional short form: Thailand
former: Siam
Government type:
constitutional monarchy
Administrative divisions:
76 provinces (changwat, singular and plural); Amnat Charoen, Ang Thong, Buriram, Chachoengsao, Chai Nat, Chaiyaphum, Chanthaburi, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Chon Buri, Chumphon, Kalasin, Kamphaeng Phet, Kanchanaburi, Khon Kaen, Krabi, Krung Thep Mahanakhon (Bangkok), Lampang, Lamphun, Loei, Lop Buri, Mae Hong Son, Maha Sarakham, Mukdahan, Nakhon Nayok, Nakhon Pathom, Nakhon Phanom, Nakhon Ratchasima, Nakhon Sawan, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Nan, Narathiwat, Nong Bua Lamphu, Nong Khai, Nonthaburi, Pathum Thani, Pattani, Phangnga, Phatthalung, Phayao, Phetchabun, Phetchaburi, Phichit, Phitsanulok, Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya, Phrae, Phuket, Prachin Buri, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Ranong, Ratchaburi, Rayong, Roi Et, Sa Kaeo, Sakon Nakhon, Samut Prakan, Samut Sakhon, Samut Songkhram, Sara Buri, Satun, Sing Buri, Sisaket, Songkhla, Sukhothai, Suphan Buri, Surat Thani, Surin, Tak, Trang, Trat, Ubon Ratchathani, Udon Thani, Uthai Thani, Uttaradit, Yala, Yasothon
1238 (traditional founding date; never colonized)
National holiday:
Birthday of King PHUMIPHON, 5 December (1927)
new constitution signed by King PHUMIPHON on 11 October 1997
Legal system:
based on civil law system, with influences of common law; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
18 years of age; universal and compulsory
Executive branch:
chief of state: King PHUMIPHON Adunyadet (since 9 June 1946)
note: there is also a Privy Council
head of government: Prime Minister THAKSIN Chinnawat (since 9 February 2001) and Deputy Prime Ministers Gen. (Ret.) CHAWALIT Yongchaiyut, KON Thappharansi, SUWIT Khunkitti, CHATURON Chaisaeng, VISHANU Krua-ngam, and PROMMIN Lertsuridej (since 18 February 2001)
cabinet: Council of Ministers
elections: none; the monarch is hereditary; prime minister is designated from among the members of the House of Representatives; following national elections for the House of Representatives, the leader of the party that can organize a majority coalition usually is appointed prime minister by the king
Legislative branch:
bicameral National Assembly or Rathasapha consists of the Senate or Wuthisapha (200 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms) and the House of Representatives or Sapha Phuthaen Ratsadon (500 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms)
elections: Senate - last held 4 March, 29 April, 4 June, 9 July, and 22 July 2000 (next to be held NA March 2004); House of Representatives - last held 6 January 2001 (next to be held NA January 2005)
election results: Senate - percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - NA; House of Representatives - percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - TRT 248, DP 128, TNP 41, NAP 36, NDP 29, other 18
Judicial branch:
Supreme Court or Sandika (judges appointed by the monarch)
Political parties and leaders:
Democratic Party or DP (Prachathipat Party) [CHUAN Likphai]; Mass Party or MP [CHALERM Yoobamrung, SOPHON Petchsavang]; National Development Party or NDP (Chat Phattana) [KORN Dabbaransi]; Phalang Dharma Party or PDP (Phalang Tham) [CHAIWAT Sinsuwong]; Solidarity Party or SP (Ekkaphap Party) [CHAIYOT Sasomsap]; Thai Citizen's Party or TCP (Prachakon Thai) [SAMAK Sunthonwet]; Thai Nation Party or TNP (Chat Thai Party) [BANHAN Sinlapa-acha]; Thai Rak Thai Party or TRT [THAKSIN Chinnawat]
note: the Liberal Democratic Party or LDP (Seri Tham) and the New Aspiration Party or NAP (Khwamwang Mai) no longer exist as separate parties; elements of the two parties joined the Thai Rak Thai Party or TRT
Political pressure groups and leaders:
International organization participation:
Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador SAKTHIP Krairiksh
chancery: 1024 Wisconsin Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20007
FAX: [1] (202) 944-3611
consulate(s) general: Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York
telephone: [1] (202) 944-3600
Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Darryl N. JOHNSON
embassy: 120/22 Wireless Road, Bangkok
mailing address: APO AP 96546
telephone: [66] (2) 205-4000
FAX: [66] (2) 254-1171
consulate(s) general: Chiang Mai
Flag description:
five horizontal bands of red (top), white, blue (double width), white, and red
Economy Thailand
Economy - overview:
After enjoying the world's highest growth rate from 1985 to 1995 - averaging almost 9% annually - increased speculative pressure on Thailand's currency in 1997 led to a crisis that uncovered financial sector weaknesses and forced the government to float the baht. Long pegged at 25 to the dollar, the baht reached its lowest point of 56 to the dollar in January 1998 and the economy contracted by 10.2% that same year. Thailand entered a recovery stage in 1999, expanding 4.2% and grew 4.4% in 2000, largely due to strong exports - which increased about 20% in 2000. An ailing financial sector and the slow pace of corporate debt restructuring, combined with a softening of global demand, however, slowed growth in 2001 to 1.4%.
purchasing power parity - $410 billion (2001 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
1.4% (2001 est.)
GDP - per capita:
purchasing power parity - $6,600 (2001 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 11%
industry: 40%
services: 49% (2001)
Population below poverty line:
13% (1998 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: 3%
highest 10%: 32% (1998)
Distribution of family income - Gini index:
41 (1998)
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
1.6% (2001)
Labor force:
33.4 million (2001 est.)
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture 54%, industry 15%, services 31% (1996 est.)
Unemployment rate:
3.9% (2001 est.)
revenues: $19 billion
expenditures: $21 billion, including capital expenditures of $NA (2000 est.)
tourism; textiles and garments, agricultural processing, beverages, tobacco, cement, light manufacturing, such as jewelry; electric appliances and components, computers and parts, integrated circuits, furniture, plastics; world's second-largest tungsten producer and third-largest tin producer
Industrial production growth rate:
3% (2000 est.)
Electricity - production:
94.314 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 92%
hydro: 6%
other: 1% (2000)
nuclear: 0%
Electricity - consumption:
90.261 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - exports:
151 million kWh (2000)
Electricity - imports:
2.7 billion kWh (2000)
Agriculture - products:
rice, cassava (tapioca), rubber, corn, sugarcane, coconuts, soybeans
$65.3 billion f.o.b. (2001 est.)
Exports - commodities:
computers, transistors, seafood, clothing, rice
Exports - partners:
US 23%, Japan 14%, Singapore 8%, China 6%, Hong Kong 5%, Malaysia 4% (2000)
$62.3 billion f.o.b. (2001 est.)
Imports - commodities:
capital goods, intermediate goods and raw materials, consumer goods, fuels
Imports - partners:
Japan 24%, US 11%, Singapore 10%, Malaysia 6%, China 4%, Taiwan 4% (2000)
Debt - external:
$69.4 billion (2001 est.)
Economic aid - recipient:
$131.5 million (1998 est.)
baht (THB)
Currency code:
Exchange rates:
baht per US dollar - 43.982 (January 2002), 43.432 (2001), 40.112 (2000), 37.814 (1999), 41.359 (1998), 31.364 (1997)
Fiscal year:
1 October - 30 September
Communications Thailand
Telephones - main lines in use:
5.6 million (2000)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
3.1 million (2002)
Telephone system:
general assessment: service to general public adequate, but investment in technological upgrades reduced by recession; bulk of service to government activities provided by multichannel cable and microwave radio relay network
domestic: microwave radio relay and multichannel cable; domestic satellite system being developed
international: satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (1 Indian Ocean and 1 Pacific Ocean)
Radio broadcast stations:
AM 204, FM 334, shortwave 6 (1999)
13.96 million (1997)
Television broadcast stations:
5 (all in Bangkok; plus 131 repeaters) (1997)
15.19 million (1997)
Internet country code:
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
15 (2000)
Internet users:
1.2 million (2001)
Transportation Thailand
total: 4,071 km
narrow gauge: 4,071 km 1.000-m gauge (`2001)
total: 64,600 km
paved: 62,985 km
unpaved: 1,615 km (1996)
4,000 km
note: 3,701 km are navigable throughout the year by boats with drafts up to 0.9 meters; numerous minor waterways serve shallow-draft native craft
petroleum products 67 km; natural gas 350 km
Ports and harbors:
Bangkok, Laem Chabang, Pattani, Phuket, Sattahip, Si Racha, Songkhla
Merchant marine:
total: 297 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 1,661,314 GRT/2,564,820 DWT
note: includes some foreign-owned ships registered here as a flag of convenience: Germany 1, Greece 1, Indonesia 1, Japan 1, Norway 24, Panama 1, Singapore 1 (2002 est.)
ships by type: bulk 34, cargo 133, chemical tanker 3, combination bulk 1, container 14, liquefied gas 20, multi-functional large-load carrier 2, passenger 1, petroleum tanker 65, refrigerated cargo 16, roll on/roll off 2, short-sea passenger 2, specialized tanker 4
110 (2001)
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 62
over 3,047 m: 7
2,438 to 3,047 m: 10
914 to 1,523 m: 17
under 914 m: 5 (2002)
1,524 to 2,437 m: 23
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 49
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 17
under 914 m: 31 (2002)
2 (2002)
Military Thailand
Military branches:
Royal Thai Army, Royal Thai Navy (includes Royal Thai Marine Corps), Royal Thai Air Force, paramilitary forces (includes the Border Patrol Police [including Police Aerial Reinforcement Unit], Thahan Phran, Special Action Forces, Police Aviation Division, Thai Marine Police, and the Volunteer Defense Corps)
Military manpower - military age:
18 years of age (2002 est.)
Military manpower - availability:
males age 15-49: 17,766,501 (2002 est.)
Military manpower - fit for military service:
males age 15-49: 10,660,530 (2002 est.)
Military manpower - reaching military age annually:
males: 567,659 (2002 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure:
$1.775 billion (FY00)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:
1.4% (FY00)
Transnational Issues Thailand
Disputes - international:
a one km stretch of Malaysia-Thailand territory at the mouth of the Kolok river remains in dispute, despite overall success in boundary redemarcation; Cambodia accuses Thailand of moving or destroying boundary markers and encroachment, of not respecting its claims, and of sealing off access to the Preah Vihear temple ruin awarded to Cambodia by the ICJ in 1962; demarcation of boundary with Laos is nearing completion, but Mekong River islets remain in dispute; Laos also protests Thai squatters; despite renewed border committee talks, significant differences remain with Burma over boundary alignment and the handling of ethnic guerrilla rebels, refugees, smuggling, and drug trafficking in cross-border region
Illicit drugs:
a minor producer of opium, heroin, and marijuana; illicit transit point for heroin en route to the international drug market from Burma and Laos; eradication efforts have reduced the area of cannabis cultivation and shifted some production to neighboring countries; opium poppy cultivation has been reduced by eradication efforts; also a drug money-laundering center; minor role in amphetamine production for regional consumption; increasing indigenous abuse of methamphetamine

This page was last updated on 19 March 2003