East & Southeast Asia :: 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 treaty ally in 1954 after sending troops to Korea and later fighting alongside the United States 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. Demonstrations in 2010 culminated with clashes between security forces and pro-THAKSIN protesters, elements of which were armed, and resulted in at least 92 deaths and an estimated $1.5 billion in arson-related property losses. THAKSIN's youngest sister, YINGLAK Chinnawat, in 2011 led the Puea Thai Party to an electoral win and assumed control of the government. YINGLAK's leadership was almost immediately challenged by historic flooding in late 2011 that had large swathes of the country underwater and threatened to inundate Bangkok itself. Throughout 2012 the Puea Thai-led government struggled with the opposition Democrat Party to fulfill some of its main election promises, including constitutional reform and political reconciliation. Since January 2004, thousands have been killed and wounded in violence associated with the ethno-nationalist insurgency in Thailand's southern Malay-Muslim majority provinces.

Geography ::Thailand

People and Society ::Thailand

Government ::Thailand

    conventional long form: Kingdom of Thailand
    conventional short form: Thailand
    local long form: Ratcha Anachak Thai
    local short form: Prathet Thai
    former: Siam
    constitutional monarchy
    name: Bangkok
    geographic coordinates: 13 45 N, 100 31 E
    time difference: UTC+7 (12 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
    77 provinces (changwat, singular and plural); 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 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)
    Birthday of King PHUMIPHON (BHUMIBOL), 5 December (1927)
    24 August 2007
    civil law system with common law influences
    has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; non-party state to the ICCt
    18 years of age; universal and compulsory
    chief of state: King PHUMIPHON Adunyadet, also spelled BHUMIBOL Adulyadej (since 9 June 1946)
    head of government: Prime Minister YINGLAK Chinnawat also spelled YINGLUCK Shinawatra (since 8 August 2011); Deputy Prime Minister KITTIRAT Na Ranong (since 28 October 2012); Deputy Prime Minister PHONGTHEP Therkanchana also spelled PHONGTHEP Thepkanchana (since 28 October 2012); Deputy Prime Minister PLODPRASOP Suraswadi (since 28 October 2012); Deputy Prime Minister PRACHA Promnok (since 24 March 2013); Deputy Prime Minister SURAPHONG Towijakchaikun also spelled SURAPONG Tovichakchaikul (since 28 October 2012); Deputy Prime Minister YUKHON Limiaemthong (since 25 March 2013)
    cabinet: Council of Ministers
    (For more information visit the World Leaders website Opens in New Window)
    note: there is also a Privy Council advising the king
    elections: the monarchy is hereditary; according to the 2007 constitution, the prime minister is elected from among members of the House of Representatives; following national elections for the House of Representatives, the leader of the party positioned to organize a majority coalition usually becomes prime minister by appointment by the king; the prime minister is limited to two four-year terms
    bicameral National Assembly or Rathasapha consisted of the Senate or Wuthisapha (150 seats; 77 members elected by popular vote representing 77 provinces, 73 appointed by judges and independent government bodies; members serve six-year terms) and the House of Representatives or Sapha Phuthaen Ratsadon (500 seats; 375 members elected from 375 single-seat constituencies and 125 elected on proportional party-list basis; members serve four-year terms)
    elections: Senate - last held on 2 March 2008 (next to be held in March 2014); House of Representatives - last election held on 3 July 2011 (next to be held by July 2015)
    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 - PTP 265, DP 159, PJT 34, CTP 19, others 23
    note: 74 senators were appointed on 19 February 2008 by a seven-member committee headed by the chief of the Constitutional Court; 76 senators were elected on 2 March 2008; elections to the Senate are non-partisan; registered political party members are disqualified from being senators
    highest court(s): Supreme Court of Justice (consists of the court president, 6 vice-presidents, and NA judges and organized into civil and criminal divisions); Constitutional Court (consists of the court president and 8 judges); Supreme Administrative Court (the number of judges determined by the Judicial Commission of the Administrative Courts)
    judge selection and term of office: Supreme Court judges selected by the Judicial Commission of the Courts of Justice and approved by the monarch; judges' terms NA; Constitutional Court justices - 3 judges drawn from the Supreme Court, 2 judges drawn from the Administrative Court, and 4 judge candidates selected by the Selective Committee for Judges of the Constitutional Court and confirmed by the Senate; judges appointed by the monarch to serve single 9-year terms; Supreme Administrative Court judges selected by the Judicial Commission of the Administrative Courts and appointed by the monarch; judge tenure NA
    subordinate courts: courts of first instance and appeals courts within both the judicial and administrative systems; military courts
    Chat Pattana Party or CPN (Nation Development Party [WANNARAT Channukul]
    Chat Thai Phattana Party or CTP (Thai Nation Development Party) [THAWORN Jampa-ngoen (acting)]
    Mahachon Party or Mass Party [APHIRAT Sirinawin]
    Matubhum Party (Motherland Party [SONTHI Bunyaratkalin]
    Phalang Chon Party (People [Chonburi] Power Party) [CHAO Maneewong]
    Phumjai (Bhumjai) Thai Party or PJT (Thai Pride) [ANUTIN Charnvirakul]
    Prachathipat Party or DP (Democrat Party) [ABHISIT Wechachiwa, also spelled ABHISIT Vejjajiva]
    Prachathipathai Mai Party (New Democrat Party) [SURATIN Phijarn]
    Puea Thai Party (For Thais Party) or PTP [CHARUPHONG Rueangsusan also spelled JARUPONG Ruangsuwan]
    Rak Prathet Thai Party (Love Thailand Party) [CHUWIT Kamonwisit]
    Rak Santi Party (Peace Conservation Party) [THAWIL Surachetphong]
    Multicolor Group
    People's Alliance for Democracy or PAD
    United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship or UDD
    ADB, APEC, ARF, ASEAN, BIMSTEC, BIS, CD, CICA, CP, EAS, FAO, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC (national committees), ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC (NGOs), MIGA, NAM, OAS (observer), OIC (observer), OIF (observer), OPCW, OSCE (partner), PCA, PIF (partner), UN, UNAMID, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNMOGIP, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU (NGOs), WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO
    chief of mission: Ambassador CHAIYONG Satchiphanon (also spelled CHAIYONG Satjipanon)
    chancery: 1024 Wisconsin Avenue NW, Suite 401, Washington, DC 20007
    telephone: [1] (202) 944-3600
    FAX: [1] (202) 944-3611
    consulate(s) general: Chicago, Los Angeles, New York
    chief of mission: Ambassador Kristie A. KENNEY
    embassy: 120-122 Wireless Road, Bangkok 10330
    mailing address: APO AP 96546
    telephone: [66] (2) 205-4000
    FAX: [66] (2) 254-2990, 205-4131
    consulate(s) general: Chiang Mai
    five horizontal bands of red (top), white, blue (double width), white, and red; the red color symbolizes the nation and the blood of life; white represents religion and the purity of Buddhism; blue stands for the monarchy
    note: similar to the flag of Costa Rica but with the blue and red colors reversed
    garuda (mythical half-man, half-bird figure); elephant
    name: "Phleng Chat Thai" (National Anthem of Thailand)

    lyrics/music: Luang SARANUPRAPAN/Phra JENDURIYANG
    note: music adopted 1932, lyrics adopted 1939; by law, people are required to stand for the national anthem at 0800 and 1800 every day; the anthem is played in schools, offices, theaters, and on television and radio during this time; "Phleng Sansasoen Phra Barami" (A Salute to the Monarch) serves as the royal anthem and is played in the presence of the royal family and during certain state ceremonies

Economy ::Thailand

    With a well-developed infrastructure, a free-enterprise economy, generally pro-investment policies, and strong export industries, Thailand achieved steady growth due largely to industrial and agriculture exports - mostly electronics, agricultural commodities, automobiles and parts, and processed foods. Thailand is trying to maintain growth by encouraging domestic consumption and public investment to offset weak exports in 2012. Unemployment, at less than 1% of the labor force, stands as one of the lowest levels in the world, which puts upward pressure on wages in some industries. Thailand also attracts nearly 2.5 million migrant workers from neighboring countries. The Thai government is implementing a nation-wide 300 baht ($10) per day minimum wage policy and deploying new tax reforms designed to lower rates on middle-income earners. The Thai economy has weathered internal and external economic shocks in recent years. The global economic crisis severely cut Thailand's exports, with most sectors experiencing double-digit drops. In 2009, the economy contracted 2.3%. However, in 2010, Thailand's economy expanded 7.8%, its fastest pace since 1995, as exports rebounded. In late 2011 growth was interrupted by historic flooding in the industrial areas in Bangkok and its five surrounding provinces, crippling the manufacturing sector. Industry recovered from the second quarter of 2012 onward with GDP growth at 5.5% in 2012. The government has approved flood mitigation projects worth $11.7 billion, which were started in 2012, to prevent similar economic damage, and an additional $75 billion for infrastructure over the next seven years with a plan to start in 2013.
    $662.6 billion (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 25
    $622.5 billion (2011 est.)
    $622 billion (2010 est.)
    note: data are in 2012 US dollars
    $365.6 billion (2012 est.)
    6.4% (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 39
    0.1% (2011 est.)
    7.8% (2010 est.)
    $10,300 (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 116
    $9,700 (2011 est.)
    $9,700 (2010 est.)
    note: data are in 2012 US dollars
    30.4% of GDP (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 24
    28.3% of GDP (2011 est.)
    29.1% of GDP (2010 est.)
    household consumption: 55.3%
    government consumption: 13.6%
    investment in fixed capital: 28.5%
    investment in inventories: 1.2%
    exports of goods and services: 75%
    imports of goods and services: -73.8%
    (2012 est.)
    agriculture: 12.3%
    industry: 43.6%
    services: 44.2% (2012 est.)
    rice, cassava (manioc), rubber, corn, sugarcane, coconuts, soybeans
    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; world's second-largest tungsten producer and third-largest tin producer
    7.2% (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 25
    39.41 million (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 17
    agriculture: 38.2%
    industry: 13.6%
    services: 48.2% (2011 est.)
    0.7% (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 4
    0.7% (2011 est.)
    7.8% (2010 est.)
    lowest 10%: 2.8%
    highest 10%: 31.5% (2009 est.)
    53.6 (2009)
    country comparison to the world: 12
    42 (2002)
    revenues: $71.4 billion
    expenditures: $88.03 billion (2012 est.)
    19.5% of GDP (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 168
    -4.6% of GDP (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 160
    44.5% of GDP (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 77
    40.3% of GDP (2011 est.)
    note: data cover general government debt, and includes debt instruments issued (or owned) by government entities other than the treasury; the data include treasury debt held by foreign entities; the data include debt issued by subnational entities, as well as intra-governmental debt; intra-governmental debt consists of treasury borrowings from surpluses in the social funds, such as for retirement, medical care, and unemployment; debt instruments for the social funds are sold at public auctions
    1 October - 30 September
    3% (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 92
    3.8% (2011 est.)
    2.75% (31 December 2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 101
    3.25% (31 December 2011 est.)
    7.1% (31 December 2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 127
    6.91% (31 December 2011 est.)
    $52.18 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 46
    $44.63 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
    $488.7 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 22
    $429.8 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
    $480.5 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 26
    $403.3 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
    $245 billion (31 December 2012)
    country comparison to the world: 32
    $230.9 billion (31 December 2011)
    $218.7 billion (31 December 2010)
    -$2.728 billion (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 147
    $5.889 billion (2011 est.)
    $226.2 billion (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 26
    $219.1 billion (2011 est.)
    electronics, computer parts, automobiles and parts, electrical appliances, machinery and equipment, textiles and footwear, fishery products, rice, rubber
    China 11.7%, Japan 10.2%, US 9.9%, Hong Kong 5.7%, Malaysia 5.4%, Indonesia 4.9%, Singapore 4.7%, Australia 4.3% (2012)
    $217.8 billion (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 25
    $202.1 billion (2011 est.)
    capital goods, intermediate goods and raw materials, consumer goods, fuels
    Japan 20%, China 14.9%, UAE 6.3%, Malaysia 5.3%, US 5.3% (2012)
    $181.6 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 17
    $175.1 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
    $133.7 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 42
    $104.6 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
    $159.1 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 28
    $150.5 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
    $51.59 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 37
    $40.65 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
    baht per US dollar -
    31.083 (2012 est.)
    30.492 (2011 est.)
    31.686 (2010 est.)
    34.286 (2009)
    33.37 (2008)

Energy ::Thailand

Communications ::Thailand

    6.661 million (2011)
    country comparison to the world: 28
    77.605 million (2011)
    country comparison to the world: 18
    general assessment: high quality system, especially in urban areas like Bangkok
    domestic: fixed line system provided by both a government-owned and commercial provider; wireless service expanding rapidly
    international: country code - 66; connected to major submarine cable systems providing links throughout Asia, Australia, Middle East, Europe, and US; satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (1 Indian Ocean, 1 Pacific Ocean) (2011)
    6 terrestrial TV stations in Bangkok broadcast nationally via relay stations - 2 of the networks are owned by the military, the other 4 are government-owned or controlled, leased to private enterprise, and all are required to broadcast government-produced news programs twice a day; multi-channel satellite and cable TV subscription services are available; radio frequencies have been allotted for more than 500 government and commercial radio stations; many small community radio stations operate with low-power transmitters (2008)
    .th
    3.399 million (2012)
    country comparison to the world: 31
    17.483 million (2009)
    country comparison to the world: 23

Transportation ::Thailand

    101 (2013)
    country comparison to the world: 56
    total: 63
    over 3,047 m: 8
    2,438 to 3,047 m: 12
    1,524 to 2,437 m: 23
    914 to 1,523 m: 14
    under 914 m: 6 (2013)
    total: 38
    2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
    1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
    914 to 1,523 m: 10
    under 914 m:
    26 (2013)
    7 (2013)
    condensate 2 km; gas 5,900 km; liquid petroleum gas 85 km; oil 1 km; refined products 1,097 km (2013)
    total: 4,071 km
    country comparison to the world: 42
    standard gauge: 29 km 1.435-m gauge (29 km electrified)
    narrow gauge: 4,042 km 1.000-m gauge (2008)
    total: 180,053 km (includes 450 km of expressways) (2006)
    country comparison to the world: 28
    4,000 km (3,701 km navigable by boats with drafts up to 0.9 m) (2011)
    country comparison to the world: 26
    total: 363
    country comparison to the world: 28
    by type: bulk carrier 31, cargo 99, chemical tanker 28, container 18, liquefied gas 36, passenger 1, passenger/cargo 10, petroleum tanker 114, refrigerated cargo 24, roll on/roll off 1, vehicle carrier 1
    foreign-owned: 13 (China 1, Hong Kong 1, Malaysia 3, Singapore 1, Taiwan 1, UK 6)
    registered in other countries: 46 (Bahamas 4, Belize 1, Honduras 2, Panama 6, Singapore 33) (2010)
    Bangkok, Laem Chabang, Map Ta Phut, Prachuap Port, Si Racha

Military ::Thailand

Transnational Issues ::Thailand

    separatist violence in Thailand's predominantly Malay-Muslim southern provinces prompt border closures and controls with Malaysia to stem insurgent activities; Southeast Asian states have enhanced border surveillance to check the spread of avian flu; talks continue on completion of demarcation with Laos but disputes remain over several islands in the Mekong River; despite continuing border committee talks, Thailand must deal with Karen and other ethnic rebels, refugees, and illegal cross-border activities; Cambodia and Thailand dispute sections of boundary; in 2011 Thailand and Cambodia resorted to arms in the dispute over the location of the boundary on the precipice surmounted by Preah Vihear temple ruins, awarded to Cambodia by ICJ decision in 1962 and part of a planned UN World Heritage site; Thailand is studying the feasibility of jointly constructing the Hatgyi Dam on the Salween river near the border with Burma; in 2004, international environmentalist pressure prompted China to halt construction of 13 dams on the Salween River that flows through China, Burma, and Thailand; 140,000 mostly Karen refugees fleeing civil strife, political upheaval and economic stagnation in Burma live in remote camps in Thailand near the border
    refugees (country of origin): 83,317 (Burma) (2012)
    IDPs: undetermined (resurgence in ethno-nationalist violence in south of country since 2004) (2011)
    stateless persons: 506,197 (2012); note - about half of Thailand's northern hill tribe people do not have citizenship and make up the bulk of Thailand's stateless population; most lack documentation showing they or one of their parents were born in Thailand; children born to Burmese refugees are not eligible for Burmese or Thai citizenship and are stateless; most Chao Lay, maritime nomadic peoples, who travel from island to island in the Andaman Sea west of Thailand are also stateless; stateless Rohingya refugees from Burma are considered illegal migrants by Thai authorities and are detained in inhumane conditions or expelled; stateless persons are denied access to voting, property, education, employment, healthcare, and driving
    current situation: Thailand is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking; victims, who are most often from neighboring countries, especially Burma, and also China, Vietnam, Russia, Uzbekistan, and Fiji, migrate to Thailand in search of economic opportunities but are forced, coerced, or defrauded into labor or commercial sexual exploitation; forced laborers are exploited in fishing, low-end garment production, domestic service, and some are forced to beg; some men forced to work on fishing boats have reportedly been kept at sea for years; sex trafficking of Thai and migrant children and sex tourism remain significant problems; Thailand is a transit country for victims from North Korea, China, Vietnam, Pakistan, and Burma destined for exploitation in third countries, including Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Russia, the Republic of Korea, the US, and Western European countries
    tier rating: Tier 2 Watch List - Thailand does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; the government investigated more trafficking-related cases but prosecuted and convicted fewer trafficking offender in 2012 than it did in the previous year; widespread corruption among law enforcement personnel creates an enabling environment for human trafficking; local authorities lack an awareness of the elements of trafficking and are deficient at identifying and protecting victims; weak law enforcement, inadequate human and financial resources, and fragmented coordination among regulatory agencies in the fishing industry contributes to overall impunity for exploitive labor practices in this sector; no labor recruitment companies have been punished for forced labor or trafficking allegations (2013)
    a minor producer of opium, heroin, and marijuana; transit point for illicit 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 methamphetamine production for regional consumption; major consumer of methamphetamine since the 1990s despite a series of government crackdowns