Nation at a Glance - Thailand

History

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 colonized by a European power. A bloodless revolution in 1932 led to the establishment of a constitutional monarchy. In alliance with Japan during World War II, Thailand became a US treaty ally in 1954 after sending troops to Korea and later fighting alongside the US in Vietnam. Thailand since 2005 has experienced several rounds of political turmoil including a military coup in 2006 that ousted then Prime Minister THAKSIN Chinnawat, followed by large-scale street protests by competing political factions in 2008, 2009, and 2010. THAKSIN's youngest sister, YINGLAK Chinnawat, in 2011 led the Puea Thai Party to an electoral win and assumed control of the government. A blanket amnesty bill for individuals involved in street protests, altered at the last minute to include all political crimes - including all convictions against THAKSIN - triggered months of large-scale anti-government protests in Bangkok beginning in November 2013. In early May 2014 YINGLAK was removed from office by the Constitutional Court and in late May 2014 the Royal Thai Army staged a coup against the caretaker government. Then head of the Royal Thai Army, Gen. PRAYUT Chan-ocha, was appointed prime minister in August 2014. The interim military government created several interim institutions to promote reform and draft a new constitution. Elections are tentatively set for mid-2017. King PHUMIPHON Adunyadet passed away in October 2016 after 70 years on the throne; his only son, WACHIRALONGKON Bodinthrathepphayawarangkun, ascended the throne in December 2016. Thailand has also experienced violence associated with the ethno-nationalist insurgency in its southern Malay-Muslim majority provinces. Since January 2004, thousands have been killed and wounded in the insurgency.

Location: Southeastern Asia, bordering the Andaman Sea and the Gulf of Thailand, southeast of Burma

Border Countries: Burma 2,416 km, Cambodia 817 km, Laos 1,845 km, Malaysia 595 km

Total Area: 513,120 sq km Land: 510,890 sq km Water: 2,230 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

Terrain: Central plain; Khorat Plateau in the east; mountains elsewhere

Natural resources: Tin, rubber, natural gas, tungsten, tantalum, timber, lead, fish, gypsum, lignite, fluorite, arable land

Land use: Agricultural land: 41.2% arable land 30.8%; permanent crops 8.8%; permanent pasture 1.6% Forest: 37.2% Other: 21.6% (2011 est.)

Ethnic groups: Thai 95.9%, Burmese 2%, Other 1.3%, Unspecified 0.9% (2010 est.)

Languages: Thai (official) 90.7%, Burmese 1.3%, Other 8%

Religions: Buddhist (official) 93.6%, Muslim 4.9%, Christian 1.2%, Other 0.2%, None 0.1% (2010 est.)

Population: 68,200,824

Literacy: 96.7%; Male: 96.6%; Female: 96.7% (2015 est.)

Administrative divisions: 76 provinces (changwat, singular and plural) and 1 municipality* (maha nakhon); Amnat Charoen, Ang Thong, Bueng Kan, Buriram, Chachoengsao, Chai Nat, Chaiyaphum, Chanthaburi, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Chon Buri, Chumphon, Kalasin, Kamphaeng Phet, Kanchanaburi, Khon Kaen, Krabi, Krung Thep* (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

Economy: With a relatively well-developed infrastructure, a free-enterprise economy, and generally pro-investment policies, Thailand is highly dependent on international trade, with exports accounting for about two-thirds of GDP. Thailand’s exports include electronics, agricultural commodities, automobiles and parts, and processed foods. The industry and service sectors produce about 90% of GDP. The agricultural sector, comprised mostly of small-scale farms, contributes only 10% of GDP but employs about one-third of the labor force. Thailand has attracted an estimated 3.0-4.5 million migrant workers, mostly from neighboring countries. Over the last few decades, Thailand has reduced poverty substantially. In 2013, the Thai Government implemented a nationwide 300 baht (roughly $10) per day minimum wage policy and deployed new tax reforms designed to lower rates on middle-income earners. Thailand’s economy is recovering from slow growth during the years since the 2014 coup. Thailand’s economic fundamentals are sound, with low inflation, low unemployment, and reasonable public and external debt levels. Tourism and government spending - mostly on infrastructure and short-term stimulus measures – have helped to boost the economy, and The Bank of Thailand has been supportive, with several interest rate reductions. Over the longer-term, household debt levels, political uncertainty, and an aging population pose risks to growth.

Agriculture - products: Rice, cassava (manioc, tapioca), rubber, corn, sugarcane, coconuts, palm oil, pineapple, livestock, fish products

Industries: Tourism, textiles and garments, agricultural processing, beverages, tobacco, cement, light manufacturing such as jewelry and electric appliances, computers and parts, integrated circuits, furniture, plastics, automobiles and automotive parts, agricultural

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