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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 - as described in UNCLOS 1982 (see Notes and Definitions):
territorial sea: 12 NM
exclusive economic zone: 200 NM
continental shelf: 200-m depth or to the depth of exploitation
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: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: 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 2004 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 24.1% (male 7,985,724; female 7,631,337)
15-64 years: 68.7% (male 21,998,552; female 22,538,765)
65 years and over: 7.3% (male 2,167,421; female 2,543,724) (2004 est.)
Median age:
total: 30.5 years
male: 29.7 years
female: 31.2 years (2004 est.)
Population growth rate:
0.91% (2004 est.)
Birth rate:
16.04 births/1,000 population (2004 est.)
Death rate:
6.94 deaths/1,000 population (2004 est.)
Net migration rate:
0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2004 est.)
Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.98 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.85 male(s)/female
total population: 0.98 male(s)/female (2004 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
total: 21.14 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 19.73 deaths/1,000 live births (2004 est.)
male: 22.49 deaths/1,000 live births
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 71.41 years
male: 69.23 years
female: 73.71 years (2004 est.)
Total fertility rate:
1.89 children born/woman (2004 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
1.8% (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
670,000 (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
55,000 (2001 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: 96%
male: 97.5%
female: 94.6% (2003 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 CHAWALIT Yongchaiyut, Gen. (Ret.); PHOKIN Phalakun; SUWIT Khunkitti; CHATURON Chaisaeng; VISHANU Krua-ngam; PURACHAI Piamsombun; SOMKHIT Chatusiphithak (since 8 November 2003)
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 six-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 by March 2006); House of Representatives - last held 6 January 2001 (next to be held 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, NDP 29, other 54
Judicial branch:
Supreme Court or Sandika (judges appointed by the monarch)
Political parties and leaders:
Democratic Party or DP (Prachathipat Party) [BANTADTAN Banyat]; National Development Party or NDP (Chat Phattana) [SUWAT Lipataphanlop]; Thai Nation Party or TNP (Chat Thai Party) [BANHAN Sinlapa-acha]; Thai Rak Thai Party or TRT [THAKSIN Chinnawat]
Political pressure groups and leaders:
International organization participation:
Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador SAKTHIP Krairiksh
consulate(s) general: Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York
FAX: [1] (202) 944-3611
telephone: [1] (202) 944-3600
chancery: 1024 Wisconsin Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20007
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) 254-2990, 205-4131
consulate(s) general: Chiang Mai
Flag description:
five horizontal bands of red (top), white, blue (double width), white, and red
Economy Thailand
Economy - overview:
Thailand has a free-enterprise economy and welcomes foreign investment. Exports feature textiles and footwear, fishery products, rice, rubber, jewelry, automobiles, computers and electrical appliances. Thailand has recovered from the 1997-98 Asian Financial Crisis and was one of East Asia's best performers in 2002. Increased consumption and investment spending and strong export growth pushed GDP growth up to 6.3% in 2003 despite a sluggish global economy. The highly popular government has pushed an expansionist policy, including major support of village economic development.
purchasing power parity - $475.7 billion (2003 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
6.3% (2003 est.)
GDP - per capita:
purchasing power parity - $7,400 (2003 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 9%
industry: 42%
services: 49% (2002)
Population below poverty line:
10.4% (2002 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: 2.8%
highest 10%: 32.4% (1998)
Distribution of family income - Gini index:
41.4 (1998)
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
1.8% (2003 est.)
Labor force:
33.4 million (2001 est.)
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture 49%, industry 14%, services 37% (2000 est.)
Unemployment rate:
2.2% (2003 est.)
revenues: $21 billion
expenditures: $22 billion, including capital expenditures of $5 billion (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:
97.6 billion kWh (2001)
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 91.3%
hydro: 6.4%
other: 2.4% (2001)
nuclear: 0%
Electricity - consumption:
90.91 billion kWh (2001)
Electricity - exports:
200 million kWh (2001)
Electricity - imports:
350 million kWh (2001)
Oil - production:
173,800 bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil - consumption:
785,000 bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil - exports:
Oil - imports:
Oil - proved reserves:
600 million bbl (1 January 2003)
Natural gas - production:
18.73 billion cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - consumption:
23.93 billion cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - exports:
0 cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - imports:
5.2 billion cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - proved reserves:
368.2 billion cu m (1 January 2003)
Agriculture - products:
rice, cassava (tapioca), rubber, corn, sugarcane, coconuts, soybeans
$75.99 billion f.o.b. (2003 est.)
Exports - commodities:
computers, office machine parts, transistors, rubber, vehicles (cars and trucks), plastic, seafood (2002)
Exports - partners:
US 19.6%, Japan 14.5%, Singapore 8.1%, Hong Kong 5.4%, China 5.2%, Malaysia 4.1% (2002)
$65.3 billion f.o.b. (2003 est.)
Imports - commodities:
capital goods, intermediate goods and raw materials, consumer goods, fuels (2000)
Imports - partners:
Japan 23%, US 9.6%, China 7.6%, Malaysia 5.6%, Singapore 4.5%, Taiwan 4.4% (2002)
Debt - external:
$62.5 billion (2002 est.)
Economic aid - recipient:
$131.5 million (1998 est.)
baht (THB)
Currency code:
Exchange rates:
baht per US dollar - 41.48 (2003), 42.96 (2002), 44.43 (2001), 40.11 (2000), 37.81 (1999)
Fiscal year:
1 October - 30 September
Communications Thailand
Telephones - main lines in use:
6,499,800 (2002)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
16.117 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: country code - 66; 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 hosts:
100,132 (2002)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
15 (2000)
Internet users:
4.8 million (2002)
Transportation Thailand
total: 4,071 km
narrow gauge: 4,071 km 1.000-m gauge (2002)
total: 64,600 km
paved: 62,985 km
unpaved: 1,615 km (1999 est.)
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
gas 3,066 km; refined products 265 km (2003)
Ports and harbors:
Bangkok, Laem Chabang, Pattani, Phuket, Sattahip, Si Racha, Songkhla
Merchant marine:
total: 339 ships (1,000 GRT or over) 2,038,597 GRT/3,104,712 DWT
foreign-owned: Egypt 1, Germany 3, Indonesia 1, Japan 4, Norway 38, Panama 2, Singapore 3
registered in other countries: 43 (2003 est.)
by type: bulk 40, cargo 135, chemical tanker 5, combination bulk 2, combination ore/oil 1, container 19, liquefied gas 22, multi-functional large load carrier 2, passenger 1, petroleum tanker 79, refrigerated cargo 22, roll on/roll off 2, short-sea/passenger 2, specialized tanker 6, vehicle carrier 1
109 (2003 est.)
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 65
over 3,047 m: 7
2,438 to 3,047 m: 10
914 to 1,523 m: 19
under 914 m: 6 (2003 est.)
1,524 to 2,437 m: 23
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 44
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 15
under 914 m: 28 (2003 est.)
3 (2003 est.)
Military Thailand
Military branches:
Royal Thai Army, Royal Thai Navy (including Royal Thai Marine Corps), Royal Thai Air Force
Military manpower - military age:
20 years of age; males are registered at 18 years of age (2004 est.)
Military manpower - availability:
males age 15-49: 17,944,151 (2004 est.)
Military manpower - fit for military service:
males age 15-49: 10,735,354 (2004 est.)
Military manpower - reaching military age annually:
males: 531,511 (2004 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure:
$1.775 billion (FY00)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:
1.8% (2003)
Transnational Issues Thailand
Disputes - international:
a 1 kilometer segment at the mouth of the Golok River remains in dispute with Malaysia; demarcation with Laos complete except for certain Mekong River islets and complaints of Thai squatters; despite continuing border committee talks, significant differences remain with Burma over boundary alignment and the handling of ethnic rebels, refugees, and illegal cross-border activities; Cambodia accuses Thailand of moving boundary markers and obstructing access to Preah Vihear temple ruins awarded to Cambodia by ICJ decision in 1962; 2003 anti-Thai riots in Phnom Penh resulted in the destruction of the Thai Embassy and damage to 17 Thai-owned businesses and disputes over payments of full compensation persist; groups in Burma and Thailand express concern over China's construction of 13 hydroelectric dams on the Salween River in Yunnan Province
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