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Country Facts

Thailand

Map of Thailand


Geography

 

Location: Southeastern Asia, bordering the Andaman Sea and the Gulf of Thailand, southeast of Burma
Area: slightly more than twice the size of Wyoming
Total area: 514,000 sq km land area: 511,770 sq km
Climate: tropical; rainy, warm, cloudy southwest monsoon (mid-May to September); dry, cool northeast monsoon (November to mid-March); southern isthmus always hot and humid The average annual temperature is 28 degrees C (83 degrees F), ranging from 30 C in April to 25 C in December.
Terrain: central plain; Khorat plateau in the east; mountains elsewhere
Natural resources: tin, rubber, natural gas, tungsten, tantalum, timber, lead, fish, gypsum, lignite, fluorite


People

 

Population: 60,271,300 (July 1995 est.)

  • 0-14 years: 29% (female 8,545,362; male 8,866,271)
  • 15-64 years: 66% (female 19,733,773; male 20,185,392)
  • 65 years and over: 5% (female 1,636,426; male 1,304,076)
  • (July 1995 est.) 

Population growth rate: 1.24% (1995 est.) 

Nationality:

  • noun: Thai (singular and plural)
  • adjective: Thai 

Ethnic divisions:

Rich ethnic diversity - Thai 75%, Chinese 14%, other 11% (Mon. Khmer, Laotian, Malay, Persian and Indian) 

Religions:

Buddhism 95%, Muslim 3.8%, Christianity 0.5%, Hinduism 0.1%, other 0.6% (1991) 

Languages:

Thai, English the secondary language of the elite, ethnic and regional dialects 

Literacy:

  • age 15 and over can read and write (1990)
  • total population: 93% (male: 96% female: 91%)

History:

Archeological evidences suggest that some 5,600 years ago, the world's oldest Bronze Age civilization was flourishing in Thailand. Sucessive wave of immigrants, including Mons, Khmers and Thais, gradually entered the land mass now known as Thailand, most slowly traveling along fertile river valleys from southern China. Khmers ruled much of the area from Angkor by the 11th and 12th centuries.

By the early 1200s, Thais had established small northern city states of Lanna, Phayao and sukhothai. In 1238, two chieftains rebelled against Khmer suzerainty and established the first truly independent Thai kingdom in Sukhothai (Dawn of Happiness). Sukhothai kingdom established Theravada Buddhism as the paramount Thai religion, created the Thai alphabet and many more Thai art forms as well as the Thais' gradual expansion throughout the entire Chao Phraya River Basin. Sukhothai declined during the 1300s, followed by Ayutthaya as a vassal state. Ayutthaya remained the Thai capital under 33 kings, until 1767 when it was destroyed by Burmese invaders. During the Ayutthaya's 417 years as the capital, the Thai developed their distinctive culture, totally getting rid of Khmer presence and fostered contact with Arabian, Indian, Chinese, Japanese and European powers. The Burmese were expelled within a few months by King Taksin who later made Thon Buri his capital. In 1782, Rama I, the first king of the present Chakri dynasty, established his new capital on the site of a riverside halet called Bankok (Village of Wild Plums).

Unlike her neighboring countries, Thailand was not colonized by any western countries as two Chakri monarchs, Mongkut (1851-1868) and his son Chulalongkorn (1868-1910) through adroit diplomacy and selective modernization. Since 1932, Thailand has become a constitutional monarchy.


Government

 

Names:

  • conventional long form: Kingdom of Thailand
  • conventional short form: Thailand

Type: constitutional monarchy

Capital: Bangkok

Independence: 1238 (traditional founding date; never colonized)

National holiday: Birthday of His Majesty the King, 5 December (1927)

Constitution:

new constitution approved 7 December 1991; amended 10 June 1992

Flag:

five horizontal bands of red (top), white, blue (double width), white, and red


Economy

 

Overview:

Thailand's economy recovered rapidly from the political unrest in May 1992 to post an impressive 7.5% growth rate for the year, 7.8% in 1993, and 8% in 1994. One of the more advanced developing countries in Asia, Thailand depends on exports of manufactures and the development of the service sector to fuel the country's rapid growth. Much of Thailand's recent imports have been for capital equipment, suggesting that the export sector is poised for further growth. With foreign investment slowing, Bangkok is working to increase the generation of domestic capital. Prime Minister CHUAN's government - Thailand's fifth government in less than three years - is pledged to continue Bangkok's probusiness policies, and the return of a democratically elected government has improved business confidence. Even so, CHUAN must overcome divisions within his ruling coalition to complete much needed infrastructure development programs if Thailand is to remain an attractive place for business investment. Over the longer-term, Bangkok must produce more college graduates with technical training and upgrade workers' skills to continue its rapid economic development. 

National product: GDP - purchasing power parity - $355.2 billion (1994 est.)

National product real growth rate: 8% (1994 est.)

National product per capita: $5,970 (1994 est.) 

Exports: $46 billion (f.o.b., 1994 est.)

  • commodities: machinery and manufactures 83%, agricultural products and fisheries 16%, others 1% (1994 est.)
  • partners: US 22%, Japan 17%, Singapore 12%, Hong Kong 5%, Germany 4% (1993) 

Imports: $52.6 billion (c.i.f., 1994 est.)

  • commodities: capital goods 44%, intermediate goods and raw materials 37%, consumer goods 16%, other 3% (1994 est.)
  • partners: Japan 30%, US 12%, Singapore 6%, Germany 5%, Taiwan 5% (1993) 

Industries:

tourism is the largest source of foreign exchange; textiles and garments, agricultural processing, beverages, tobacco, cement, light manufacturing, such as jewelry; electric appliances and components, integrated circuits, furniture, plastics; world's second-largest tungsten producer and third-largest tin producer

Currency: 1 baht (B) = 100 satang

Exchange rates:

baht (B) per US$1 - 25.074 (January 1995), 25.150 (1994), 25.319 (1993), 25.400 (1992), 25.517 (1991), 25.585 (1990)


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