The Suhhthai Traimit Golden Buddha image is the largest Golden Buddha image in the world. Made of pure gold, it is 3 m (9.8 ft) tall and weighs 5.5 tons. The Buddha was probably constructed in the 13th or 14th centuries. At some point it was covered in plaster and painted to prevent its theft. Its origins were forgotten and it was brought to Bangkok from a ruined temple in Ayutthaya in the early 19th century. In 1955, the Buddha was dropped while being moved and part of its plaster covering broke revealing the gold underneath. In 2010, a new building was erected at the Wat Traimit Temple to house the Golden Buddha, which is valued at close to $300 million dollars.
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Introduction

Background

Two unified Thai kingdoms emerged in the mid-13th century. The Sukhothai, located in the south-central plains, gained its independence from the Khmer Empire to the east. By the late 13th century, Sukhothai’s territory extended into present-day Burma and Laos. Sukhotai lasted until the mid-15th century. The Thai Lan Na Kingdom was established in the north with its capital at Chang Mai. Lan Na was conquered by the Burmese in the 16th century. The Ayutthaya Kingdom (14th-18th centuries) succeeded the Sukhothai and would become known as the Siamese Kingdom. During the Ayutthaya period, the Thai/Siamese peoples consolidated their hold on what is present-day central and north-central Thailand. Following a military defeat at the hands of the Burmese in 1767, the Siamese Kingdom rose to new heights under the military ruler TAKSIN, who defeated the Burmese occupiers and expanded the kingdom’s territory into modern-day northern Thailand (formerly the Lan Na Kingdom), Cambodia, Laos, and the Malay Peninsula. The kingdom fought off additional Burmese invasions and raids in the late 1700s and early 1800s. In the mid-1800s, Western pressure led to Siam signing trade treaties that reduced the country’s sovereignty and independence. In the 1890s and 1900s, the British and French forced the kingdom to cede Cambodian, Laotian, and Malay territories that had been under Siamese control.

A bloodless revolution in 1932 led to the establishment of a constitutional monarchy. After the Japanese invaded Thailand in 1941, the government split into a pro-Japan faction and a pro-Ally faction backed by the king. Following the war, 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.

In early May 2014, after months of large-scale anti-government protests in Bangkok beginning in November 2013, YINGLAK was removed from office by the Constitutional Court and in late May 2014 the Royal Thai Army, led by Royal Thai Army Gen. PRAYUT Chan-ocha, staged a coup against the caretaker government. The military-affiliated National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), led by PRAYUT as the appointed minister, ruled the country for more than four years, during which time the NCPO drafted a new constitution guaranteeing military sway over Thai politics in future elections by allowing the military to appoint the entire 250-member Senate and requiring a joint meeting of the House and Senate to select the prime minister, effectively giving the military a veto over the top executive. King PHUMIPHON Adunyadet passed away in October 2016 after 70 years on the throne; his only son, WACHIRALONGKON Bodinthrathepphayawarangkun (aka King RAMA X), ascended the throne in December 2016. He signed the new constitution in April 2017. A long-delayed election in March 2019, disputed and widely viewed as skewed in favor of the party aligned with the military, allowed PRAYUT to continue his premiership. The country experienced large-scale pro-democracy protests in 2020.

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Geography

Location

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

Area

total: 513,120 sq km

land: 510,890 sq km

water: 2,230 sq km

Area - comparative

about three times the size of Florida; slightly more than twice the size of Wyoming

Area comparison map
Area comparison map

Land boundaries

total: 5,673 km

border countries (4): Burma 2,416 km; Cambodia 817 km; Laos 1,845 km; Malaysia 595 km

Coastline

3,219 km

Maritime claims

territorial sea: 12 nm

exclusive economic zone: 200 nm

continental shelf: 200-m depth or to the depth of exploitation

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

Elevation

highest point: Doi Inthanon 2,565 m

lowest point: Gulf of Thailand 0 m

mean elevation: 287 m

Natural resources

tin, rubber, natural gas, tungsten, tantalum, timber, lead, fish, gypsum, lignite, fluorite, arable land

Land use

agricultural land: 41.2% (2018 est.)

arable land: 30.8% (2018 est.)

permanent crops: 8.8% (2018 est.)

permanent pasture: 1.6% (2018 est.)

forest: 37.2% (2018 est.)

other: 21.6% (2018 est.)

Irrigated land

64,150 sq km (2012)

Major lakes (area sq km)

salt water lake(s): Thalesap Songkhla - 1,290 sq km

Major rivers (by length in km)

Mekong (shared with China [s], Burma, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam [m]) - 4,350 km; Salween (shared with China [s] and Burma [m]) - 3,060 km; Mun - 1,162 km
note – [s] after country name indicates river source; [m] after country name indicates river mouth

Major watersheds (area sq km)

Indian Ocean drainage: Salween (271,914 sq km)
Pacific Ocean drainage: Mekong (805,604 sq km)

Population distribution

highest population density is found in and around Bangkok; significant population clusters found througout large parts of the country, particularly north and northeast of Bangkok and in the extreme southern region of the country

Natural hazards

land subsidence in Bangkok area resulting from the depletion of the water table; droughts

Geography - note

controls only land route from Asia to Malaysia and Singapore; ideas for the construction of a canal across the Kra Isthmus that would create a bypass to the Strait of Malacca and shorten shipping times around Asia continue to be discussed

People and Society

Population

69,648,117 (2022 est.)

Nationality

noun: Thai (singular and plural)

adjective: Thai

Ethnic groups

Thai 97.5%, Burmese 1.3%, other 1.1%, unspecified <0.1% (2015 est.)

note: data represent population by nationality

Languages

Thai (official) only 90.7%, Thai and other languages 6.4%, only other languages 2.9% (includes Malay, Burmese); note - data represent population by language(s) spoken at home; English is a secondary language of the elite (2010 est.)

major-language sample(s):
สารานุกรมโลก - แหล่งข้อมูลพื้นฐานที่สำคัญ (Thai)

The World Factbook, the indispensable source for basic information.

Thai audio sample:

Religions

Buddhist 94.6%, Muslim 4.3%, Christian 1%, other <0.1%, none <0.1% (2015 est.)

Demographic profile

Thailand has experienced a substantial fertility decline since the 1960s largely due to the nationwide success of its voluntary family planning program.  In just one generation, the total fertility rate (TFR) shrank from 6.5 children per woman in 1960s to below the replacement level of 2.1 in the late 1980s.  Reduced fertility occurred among all segments of the Thai population, despite disparities between urban and rural areas in terms of income, education, and access to public services.  The country’s “reproductive revolution” gained momentum in the 1970s as a result of the government’s launch of an official population policy to reduce population growth, the introduction of new forms of birth control, and the assistance of foreign non-government organizations.  Contraceptive use rapidly increased as new ways were developed to deliver family planning services to Thailand’s then overwhelmingly rural population.  The contraceptive prevalence rate increased from just 14% in 1970 to 58% in 1981 and has remained about 80% since 2000. 

Thailand’s receptiveness to family planning reflects the predominant faith, Theravada Buddhism, which emphasizes individualism, personal responsibility, and independent decision-making.  Thai women have more independence and a higher status than women in many other developing countries and are not usually pressured by their husbands or other family members about family planning decisions.  Thailand’s relatively egalitarian society also does not have the son preference found in a number of other Asian countries; most Thai ideally want one child of each sex.

Because of its low fertility rate, increasing life expectancy, and growing elderly population, Thailand has become an aging society that will face growing labor shortages.  The proportion of the population under 15 years of age has shrunk dramatically, the proportion of working-age individuals has peaked and is starting to decrease, and the proportion of elderly is growing rapidly.  In the short-term, Thailand will have to improve educational quality to increase the productivity of its workforce and to compete globally in skills-based industries.  An increasing reliance on migrant workers will be necessary to mitigate labor shortfalls.

Thailand is a destination, transit, and source country for migrants. It has 3-4 million migrant workers as of 2017, mainly providing low-skilled labor in the construction, agriculture, manufacturing, services, and fishing and seafood processing sectors.  Migrant workers from other Southeast Asian countries with lower wages – primarily Burma and, to a lesser extent, Laos and Cambodia – have been coming to Thailand for decades to work in labor-intensive industries.  Many are undocumented and are vulnerable to human trafficking for forced labor, especially in the fisheries industry, or sexual exploitation.  A July 2017 migrant worker law stiffening fines on undocumented workers and their employers, prompted tens of thousands of migrants to go home.  Fearing a labor shortage, the Thai Government has postponed implementation of the law until January 2018 and is rapidly registering workers.  Thailand has also hosted ethnic minority refugees from Burma for more than 30 years; as of 2016, approximately 105,000 mainly Karen refugees from Burma were living in nine camps along the Thailand-Burma border.

Thailand has a significant amount of internal migration, most often from rural areas to urban centers, where there are more job opportunities.  Low- and semi-skilled Thais also go abroad to work, mainly in Asia and a smaller number in the Middle East and Africa, primarily to more economically developed countries where they can earn higher wages.

Age structure

0-14 years: 16.45% (male 5,812,803/female 5,533,772)

15-24 years: 13.02% (male 4,581,622/female 4,400,997)

25-54 years: 45.69% (male 15,643,583/female 15,875,353)

55-64 years: 13.01% (male 4,200,077/female 4,774,801)

65 years and over: 11.82% (male 3,553,273/female 4,601,119) (2020 est.)

2022 population pyramid
2022 population pyramid

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 41.9

youth dependency ratio: 23.5

elderly dependency ratio: 18.4

potential support ratio: 5.4 (2020 est.)

Median age

total: 39 years

male: 37.8 years

female: 40.1 years (2020 est.)

Population growth rate

0.23% (2022 est.)

Birth rate

10.14 births/1,000 population (2022 est.)

Death rate

7.76 deaths/1,000 population (2022 est.)

Net migration rate

-0.13 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2022 est.)

Population distribution

highest population density is found in and around Bangkok; significant population clusters found througout large parts of the country, particularly north and northeast of Bangkok and in the extreme southern region of the country

Urbanization

urban population: 52.9% of total population (2022)

rate of urbanization: 1.43% annual rate of change (2020-25 est.)

Major urban areas - population

10.900 million BANGKOK (capital), 1.436 Chon Buri, 1.342 million Samut Prakan, 1.198 million Chiang Mai, 992,000 Songkla, 988,000 Nothaburi (2022)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female

0-14 years: 1.05 male(s)/female

15-24 years: 1.04 male(s)/female

25-54 years: 0.97 male(s)/female

55-64 years: 0.89 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.68 male(s)/female

total population: 0.95 male(s)/female (2022 est.)

Mother's mean age at first birth

23.3 years (2009 est.)

Maternal mortality ratio

37 deaths/100,000 live births (2017 est.)

Infant mortality rate

total: 6.47 deaths/1,000 live births

male: 7.09 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 5.81 deaths/1,000 live births (2022 est.)

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 77.66 years

male: 74.65 years

female: 80.83 years (2022 est.)

Total fertility rate

1.54 children born/woman (2022 est.)

Drinking water source

improved: urban: 100% of population

rural: 100% of population

total: 100% of population

unimproved: urban: 0% of population

rural: 0% of population

total: 0% of population (2020 est.)

Current health expenditure

3.8% of GDP (2019)

Physicians density

0.95 physicians/1,000 population (2020)

Sanitation facility access

improved: urban: 99.9% of population

rural: 100% of population

total: 100% of population

unimproved: urban: 0.1% of population

rural: 0% of population

total: 0% of population (2020 est.)

Major infectious diseases

degree of risk: very high (2020)

food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea

vectorborne diseases: dengue fever, Japanese encephalitis, and malaria

Alcohol consumption per capita

total: 6.86 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

beer: 1.85 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

wine: 0.23 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

spirits: 4.78 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

other alcohols: 0 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

Tobacco use

total: 22.1% (2020 est.)

male: 41.3% (2020 est.)

female: 2.9% (2020 est.)

Child marriage

women married by age 15: 3%

women married by age 18: 20.2%

men married by age 18: 9.8% (2019 est.)

Education expenditures

3% of GDP (2019 est.)

Literacy

definition: age 15 and over can read and write

total population: 93.8%

male: 95.2%

female: 92.4% (2018)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)

total: 15 years

male: 15 years

female: 16 years (2016)

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24

total: 5.2%

male: 4.6%

female: 5.9% (2020 est.)

Environment

Environment - current issues

air pollution from vehicle emissions; water pollution from organic and factory wastes; water scarcity; deforestation; soil erosion; wildlife populations threatened by illegal hunting; hazardous waste disposal

Environment - international agreements

party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Climate Change-Paris Agreement, Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Life Conservation, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 2006, Wetlands

signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

Air pollutants

particulate matter emissions: 26.23 micrograms per cubic meter (2016 est.)

carbon dioxide emissions: 283.76 megatons (2016 est.)

methane emissions: 86.98 megatons (2020 est.)

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

Land use

agricultural land: 41.2% (2018 est.)

arable land: 30.8% (2018 est.)

permanent crops: 8.8% (2018 est.)

permanent pasture: 1.6% (2018 est.)

forest: 37.2% (2018 est.)

other: 21.6% (2018 est.)

Urbanization

urban population: 52.9% of total population (2022)

rate of urbanization: 1.43% annual rate of change (2020-25 est.)

Revenue from forest resources

forest revenues: 0.34% of GDP (2018 est.)

Revenue from coal

coal revenues: 0.03% of GDP (2018 est.)

Major infectious diseases

degree of risk: very high (2020)

food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea

vectorborne diseases: dengue fever, Japanese encephalitis, and malaria

Waste and recycling

municipal solid waste generated annually: 26,853,366 tons (2015 est.)

municipal solid waste recycled annually: 5,128,993 tons (2012 est.)

percent of municipal solid waste recycled: 19.1% (2012 est.)

Major lakes (area sq km)

salt water lake(s): Thalesap Songkhla - 1,290 sq km

Major rivers (by length in km)

Mekong (shared with China [s], Burma, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam [m]) - 4,350 km; Salween (shared with China [s] and Burma [m]) - 3,060 km; Mun - 1,162 km
note – [s] after country name indicates river source; [m] after country name indicates river mouth

Major watersheds (area sq km)

Indian Ocean drainage: Salween (271,914 sq km)
Pacific Ocean drainage: Mekong (805,604 sq km)

Total water withdrawal

municipal: 2.739 billion cubic meters (2017 est.)

industrial: 2.777 billion cubic meters (2017 est.)

agricultural: 51.79 billion cubic meters (2017 est.)

Total renewable water resources

438.61 billion cubic meters (2017 est.)

Government

Country name

conventional long form: Kingdom of Thailand

conventional short form: Thailand

local long form: Ratcha Anachak Thai

local short form: Prathet Thai

former: Siam

etymology: Land of the Tai [People]"; the meaning of "tai" is uncertain, but may originally have meant "human beings," "people," or "free people

Government type

constitutional monarchy

Capital

name: Bangkok

geographic coordinates: 13 45 N, 100 31 E

time difference: UTC+7 (12 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)

etymology: Bangkok was likely originally a colloquial name, but one that was widely adopted by foreign visitors; the name may derive from bang ko, where bang is the Thai word for "village on a stream" and ko means "island," both referencing the area's landscape, which was carved by rivers and canals; alternatively, the name may come from bang makok, where makok is the name of the Java plum, a plant bearing olive-like fruit; this possibility is supported by the former name of Wat Arun, a historic temple in the area, that used to be called Wat Makok;

Krung Thep Maha Nakhon, the city's Thai name, means "City of Angels, Great City" or simply "Great City of Angels" and is a shortening of the full ceremonial name: Krungthepmahanakhon Amonrattanakosin Mahintharayutthaya Mahadilokphop Noppharatratchathaniburirom Udomratchaniwetmahasathan Amonphimanawatansathit Sakkathattiyawitsanukamprasit; translated the meaning is: "City of angels, great city of immortals, magnificent city of the nine gems, seat of the king, city of royal palaces, home of gods incarnate, erected by Vishvakarman at Indra's behest"; it holds the world's record as the longest place name (169 letters); Krung Thep is used colloquially

Administrative divisions

76 provinces (changwat, singular and plural) and 1 municipality* (maha nakhon); Amnat Charoen, Ang Thong, Bueng Kan, Buri Ram, 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, Saraburi, Satun, Sing Buri, Si Sa Ket, Songkhla, Sukhothai, Suphan Buri, Surat Thani, Surin, Tak, Trang, Trat, Ubon Ratchathani, Udon Thani, Uthai Thani, Uttaradit, Yala, Yasothon

Independence

1238 (traditional founding date; never colonized)

National holiday

Birthday of King WACHIRALONGKON, 28 July (1952)

Constitution

history: many previous; latest drafted and presented 29 March 2016, approved by referendum 7 August 2016, signed into law by the king on 6 April 2017

amendments: amendments require a majority vote in a joint session of the House and Senate and further require at least one fifth of opposition House members and one third of the Senate vote in favor; a national referendum is additionally required for certain amendments; all amendments require signature by the king; Thailand's 2017 constitution was amended in November 2021 to increase the number of constituency members of parliament (MPs) from 350 to 400, reduce the number of party-list MPs from 150 to 100, and change the election to a two-ballot system

Legal system

civil law system with common law influences

International law organization participation

has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; non-party state to the ICCt

Citizenship

citizenship by birth: no

citizenship by descent only: at least one parent must be a citizen of Thailand

dual citizenship recognized: no

residency requirement for naturalization: 5 years

Suffrage

18 years of age; universal and compulsory

Executive branch

chief of state: King WACHIRALONGKON, also spelled Vajiralongkorn (since 1 December 2016)

head of government: Prime Minister PRAYUT Chan-ocha (since July 2019)

cabinet: Council of Ministers nominated by the prime minister, appointed by the king; a Privy Council advises the king

elections/appointments: the monarchy is hereditary; the House of Representatives and Senate approves a person for prime minister who must then be appointed by the King (as stated in the transitory provision of the 2017 constitution); the office of prime minister can be held for up to a total of 8 years

note:  PRAYUT Chan-ocha was appointed interim prime minister in August 2014, three months after he staged the coup that removed the previously elected government of Prime Minister YINGLAK Chinnawat; on 5 June 2019 PRAYUT (independent) was approved as prime minister by the parliament 

Legislative branch

description: bicameral National Assembly or Ratthasapha consists of:
Senate or Wuthisapha (250 seats; members appointed by the Royal Thai Army to serve 5-year terms)
House of Representatives or Saphaphuthan Ratsadon (500 seats; 375 members directly elected in single-seat constituencies by simple majority vote and 150 members elected in a single nationwide constituency by party-list proportional representation vote; members serve 4-year terms)

elections: Senate - last held on 14 May 2019 (next to be held in 2024)

House of Representatives - last held on 24 March 2019 (next to be held in 2023)

election results: Senate - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - NA; composition (248 members as of mid-2022) - men 222, women 26, percent of women 10.5%
House of Representatives - percent of vote by party in 2019 election- PPRP 23.7%, PTP 22.2%, FFP* 17.8%, DP 11.1%, PJT 10.5%, TLP 2.3%, CTP 2.2%, NEP 1.4%, PCC 1.4%, ACT 1.2%, PCP 1.2%,  other 5.1%; seats by party - PTP 136, PPRP 116, FFP 81, DP 53, PJT 51, CTP 10, TLP 10, PCC 7, PCP 5, NEP 6, ACT 5, other 20; composition (489 members as of mid-2022) - men 412, women 77, percent of women 15.8%; note(s) - total National Assembly percent of women 14%; the FFP was dissolved by the Constitutional Court in February of 2020 and its representatives moved to the newly-formed Move Forward Party or to other political parties

Judicial branch

highest court(s): Supreme Court of Justice (consists of the court president, 6 vice presidents, 60-70 judges, and organized into 10 divisions); Constitutional Court (consists of the court president and 8 judges); Supreme Administrative Court (number of judges determined by 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; judge term determined by the monarch; 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 serve single 9-year terms; Supreme Administrative Court judges selected by the Judicial Commission of the Administrative Courts and appointed by the monarch; judges serve for life

subordinate courts: courts of first instance and appeals courts within both the judicial and administrative systems; military courts

Political parties and leaders

Action Coalition of Thailand Party or ACT [ANEK Laothamatas]
Bhumjaithai Party (aka Phumchai Thai Party or PJT; aka Thai Pride Party) or BJT [ANUTIN Charnvirakul]
Chat Phatthana Party (National Development Party) [THEWAN Liptaphanlop]
Chat Thai Phatthana Party (Thai Nation Development Party) or CTP [VARAWUT Silpa-archa]
New Economics Party or NEP [MINGKHWAN Sangsuwan]
Move Forward Party or MFP [PHITHA Limcharoenrat] (formed in 2020 from the disbanded Future Forward Party or FPP) 
Palang Pracharat Party (People's State Power Party) or PPRP [PRAWIT Wongsuwan] (a pro-military party formed in 2018 by members of the military junta’s cabinet) 
Prachachat Party of PCC [WAN Muhamad NOOR Matha]
Prachathipat Party (Democrat Party) or DP [JURIN Laksanawisit]
Puea Chat Party (For Nation Party) or PCP [SARUNWUT Sarunket]
Puea Thai Party (For Thais Party) or PTP [CHONLANON Sikaew]
Puea Tham Party (For Dharma Party) [NALINI Thawisin]
Seri Ruam Thai Party (Thai Liberal Party or TLP) [SERIPHISUT Temiyawet]
Thai Civilized Party or TCL [MONGKOLKIT Suksintharanon]
Thai Local Power Party or TLP [CHATCHAWAI Kong-udom]
Thai People Power Party or TLPT [NIKHOM Bunwiset]
Thai Raksa Chat Party (Thai National Preservation Party) [PRICHAPHON Phongpanit]

International organization participation

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, UNOCI, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU (NGOs), WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO

Diplomatic representation in the US

chief of mission: Ambassador MANATSAWI Sisodaphon (since 17 February 2021)

chancery: 1024 Wisconsin Avenue NW, Suite 401, Washington, DC 20007

telephone: [1] (202) 944-3600

FAX: [1] (202) 944-3611

email address and website:
https://thaiembdc.org

consulate(s) general: Chicago, Los Angeles, New York

Diplomatic representation from the US

chief of mission: Ambassador Robert F. GODEC (since 7 October 2022)

embassy: 95 Wireless Road, Bangkok 10330

mailing address: 7200 Bangkok Place, Washington DC  20521-7200

telephone: [66] 2-205-4000

FAX: [66] 2-205-4103

email address and website:
acsbkk@state.gov

https://th.usembassy.gov/

consulate(s) general: Chiang Mai

Flag description

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, and blue stands for the monarchy

note: similar to the flag of Costa Rica but with the blue and red colors reversed

National symbol(s)

garuda (mythical half-man, half-bird figure), elephant; national colors: red, white, blue

National anthem

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 Sanlasoen 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

National heritage

total World Heritage Sites: 6 (3 cultural, 3 natural)

selected World Heritage Site locales: Historic City of Ayutthaya (c); Historic Sukhothai and Associated Historic Towns (c); Thungyai-Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuaries (n); Ban Chiang Archaeological Site (c); Dong Phayayen-Khao Yai Forest Complex (n); Kaeng Krachan Forest Complex (n)

Economy

Economic overview

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.

Real GDP (purchasing power parity)

$1,206,620,000,000 (2020 est.)

$1,284,830,000,000 (2019 est.)

$1,256,360,000,000 (2018 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

Real GDP growth rate

2.62% (2019 est.)

4.31% (2018 est.)

4.26% (2017 est.)

Real GDP per capita

$17,300 (2020 est.)

$18,500 (2019 est.)

$18,100 (2018 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

GDP (official exchange rate)

$543.798 billion (2019 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices)

0.7% (2019 est.)

1% (2018 est.)

0.6% (2017 est.)

Credit ratings

Fitch rating: BBB+ (2013)

Moody's rating: Baa1 (2003)

Standard & Poors rating: BBB+ (2004)

note: The year refers to the year in which the current credit rating was first obtained.

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 8.2% (2017 est.)

industry: 36.2% (2017 est.)

services: 55.6% (2017 est.)

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: 48.8% (2017 est.)

government consumption: 16.4% (2017 est.)

investment in fixed capital: 23.2% (2017 est.)

investment in inventories: -0.4% (2017 est.)

exports of goods and services: 68.2% (2017 est.)

imports of goods and services: -54.6% (2017 est.)

Agricultural products

sugar cane, cassava, rice, oil palm fruit, rubber, maize, tropical fruit, poultry, pineapples, mangoes/guavas

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 machinery, air conditioning and refrigeration, ceramics, aluminum, chemical, environmental management, glass, granite and marble, leather, machinery and metal work, petrochemical, petroleum refining, pharmaceuticals, printing, pulp and paper, rubber, sugar, rice, fishing, cassava, world's second-largest tungsten producer and third-largest tin producer

Labor force

37.546 million (2020 est.)

Labor force - by occupation

agriculture: 31.8%

industry: 16.7%

services: 51.5% (2015 est.)

Unemployment rate

0.99% (2019 est.)

1.06% (2018 est.)

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24

total: 5.2%

male: 4.6%

female: 5.9% (2020 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: 2.8%

highest 10%: 31.5% (2009 est.)

Budget

revenues: 69.23 billion (2017 est.)

expenditures: 85.12 billion (2017 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)

-3.5% (of GDP) (2017 est.)

Public debt

41.9% of GDP (2017 est.)

41.8% of GDP (2016 est.)

note: data cover general government debt and include 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 intragovernmental debt; intragovernmental 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

Taxes and other revenues

15.2% (of GDP) (2017 est.)

Fiscal year

1 October - 30 September

Current account balance

$37.033 billion (2019 est.)

$28.423 billion (2018 est.)

Exports

$258.42 billion (2020 est.) note: data are in current year dollars

$323.88 billion (2019 est.) note: data are in current year dollars

$328.58 billion (2018 est.) note: data are in current year dollars

Exports - partners

United States 13%, China 12%, Japan 10%, Vietnam 5% (2019)

Exports - commodities

office machinery/parts, cars and vehicle parts, integrated circuits, delivery trucks, gold (2019)

Imports

$233.75 billion (2020 est.) note: data are in current year dollars

$272.83 billion (2019 est.) note: data are in current year dollars

$283.66 billion (2018 est.) note: data are in current year dollars

Imports - partners

China 22%, Japan 14%, United States 7%, Malaysia 6% (2019)

Imports - commodities

crude petroleum, integrated circuits, natural gas, vehicle parts, gold (2019)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

$202.6 billion (31 December 2017 est.)

$171.9 billion (31 December 2016 est.)

Debt - external

$167.89 billion (2019 est.)

$158.964 billion (2018 est.)

Exchange rates

baht per US dollar -

30.03 (2020 est.)

30.29749 (2019 est.)

32.8075 (2018 est.)

34.248 (2014 est.)

32.48 (2013 est.)

Energy

Electricity access

electrification - total population: 100% (2020)

Electricity

installed generating capacity: 53.13 million kW (2020 est.)

consumption: 190,569,262,000 kWh (2019 est.)

exports: 2,617,583,000 kWh (2020 est.)

imports: 29,550,571,000 kWh (2020 est.)

transmission/distribution losses: 13.286 billion kWh (2019 est.)

Electricity generation sources

fossil fuels: 83.3% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

nuclear: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

solar: 2.8% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

wind: 1.7% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

hydroelectricity: 2.6% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

tide and wave: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

geothermal: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

biomass and waste: 9.6% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

Coal

production: 13.251 million metric tons (2020 est.)

consumption: 35.761 million metric tons (2020 est.)

exports: 63,000 metric tons (2020 est.)

imports: 23.899 million metric tons (2020 est.)

proven reserves: 1.063 billion metric tons (2019 est.)

Petroleum

total petroleum production: 438,200 bbl/day (2021 est.)

refined petroleum consumption: 1,284,800 bbl/day (2019 est.)

crude oil and lease condensate exports: 28,600 bbl/day (2018 est.)

crude oil and lease condensate imports: 979,800 bbl/day (2018 est.)

crude oil estimated reserves: 252.8 million barrels (2021 est.)

Refined petroleum products - production

1.328 million bbl/day (2015 est.)

Refined petroleum products - exports

278,300 bbl/day (2015 est.)

Refined petroleum products - imports

134,200 bbl/day (2015 est.)

Natural gas

production: 38,420,517,000 cubic meters (2019 est.)

consumption: 54,802,466,000 cubic meters (2019 est.)

exports: 0 cubic meters (2021 est.)

imports: 14,944,842,000 cubic meters (2019 est.)

proven reserves: 138.243 billion cubic meters (2021 est.)

Carbon dioxide emissions

305.273 million metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)

from coal and metallurgical coke: 58.78 million metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)

from petroleum and other liquids: 146.172 million metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)

from consumed natural gas: 100.321 million metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)

Energy consumption per capita

76.714 million Btu/person (2019 est.)

Communications

Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 5.003 million (2020 est.)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 7 (2020 est.)

Telephones - mobile cellular

total subscriptions: 129.614 million (2019)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 186.16 (2019)

Telecommunication systems

general assessment: Thailand’s telecom sector is relatively mature and hosts a mix of public and private sector players; the mobile market is highly developed and has experienced strong growth over the last seven years; the market returned to growth in 2021 after it contracted in 2020 driven by the Covid-19 pandemic, and a steep decline in inbound tourism; it remains highly saturated, owing to overall maturity and the popularity of multiple SIM card use, which has resulted in a particularly high penetration rate; in general, the sector retains considerable potential given the impetus of 5G, the recent spectrum auctions, and continued network deployments by the country’s network operators; further auctions of spectrum in the 700MHz band (being repurposed from digital TV broadcasting), and in the 3.6GHz range will further improve network capacity; in the wire line segment, the decline in fixed-line penetration is expected to continue as subscribers migrate to mobile networks for voice and data services; the emphasis among operators has been to bolster their fiber footprints in key high-value areas; the transition to fiber from DSL and cable has also been facilitated by changes to the regulatory structure that have removed some barriers to investment; this is supporting the cannibalization of older copper-based DSL lines by fiber; the returns from this investment remain a long-term prospect as consumers still favor entry-level packages; there is also strong interest from the government, as well as private vendors, in establishing Thailand as a data center hub to serve the region; the size, capacity and spread of existing data centers in the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) outside of Thailand is small; Thailand retains some advantages to attract investment, including improved fiber connectivity and international bandwidth; increasing submarine capacity, such as the SJC2 cable to come online later in 2022, will considerably improve Thailand’s potential as a regional hub (2022)

domestic: fixed-line system provided by both a government-owned and commercial provider; wireless service expanding; fixed-line over 7 per 100 and mobile-cellular nearly 167 per 100 (2020)

international: country code - 66; landing points for the AAE-1, FEA, SeaMeWe-3,-4, APG, SJC2, TIS, MCT and AAG submarine cable systems providing links throughout Asia, Australia, Africa, Middle East, Europe, and US; satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (1 Indian Ocean, 1 Pacific Ocean) (2019)

note: the COVID-19 pandemic continues to have a significant impact on production and supply chains globally; since 2020, some aspects of the telecom sector have experienced a downturn, particularly in mobile device production; progress toward 5G implementation has resumed, as well as upgrades to infrastructure; consumer spending on telecom services has increased due to the surge in demand for capacity and bandwidth; the crucial nature of telecom services as a tool for work and school from home is still evident, and the spike in this area has seen growth opportunities for development of new tools and increased services

Broadcast media

26 digital TV stations in Bangkok broadcast nationally, 6 terrestrial TV stations in Bangkok broadcast nationally via relay stations - 2 of the stations 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 (2017)

Internet users

total: 54,443,983 (2020 est.)

percent of population: 78% (2020 est.)

Broadband - fixed subscriptions

total: 11,478,265 (2020 est.)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 16 (2020 est.)

Transportation

National air transport system

number of registered air carriers: 15 (2020)

inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers: 283

annual passenger traffic on registered air carriers: 76,053,042 (2018)

annual freight traffic on registered air carriers: 2,666,260,000 (2018) mt-km

Airports

total: 101 (2021)

Airports - with paved runways

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 (2021)

Airports - with unpaved runways

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 (2021)

Heliports

7 (2021)

Pipelines

2 km condensate, 5,900 km gas, 85 km liquid petroleum gas, 1 km oil, 1,097 km refined products (2013)

Railways

total: 4,127 km (2017)

standard gauge: 84 km (2017) 1.435-m gauge (84 km electrified)

narrow gauge: 4,043 km (2017) 1.000-m gauge

Roadways

total: 180,053 km (2006) (includes 450 km of expressways)

Waterways

4,000 km (2011) (3,701 km navigable by boats with drafts up to 0.9 m)

Merchant marine

total: 839

by type: bulk carrier 26, container ship 27, general cargo 94, oil tanker 251, other 441 (2021)

Ports and terminals

major seaport(s): Bangkok, Laem Chabang, Map Ta Phut, Prachuap Port, Si Racha

container port(s) (TEUs): Laem Chabang (8,106,928) (2019)

LNG terminal(s) (import): Map Ta Phut

Military and Security

Military and security forces

Royal Thai Armed Forces (Kongthap Thai, RTARF): Royal Thai Army (Kongthap Bok Thai, RTA), Royal Thai Navy (Kongthap Ruea Thai, RTN; includes Royal Thai Marine Corps), Royal Thai Air Force (Kongthap Akaat Thai, RTAF); Office of the Prime Minister: Royal Thai Police; Internal Security Operations Command (ISOC) (2022)

note 1: the ISOC oversees counter-insurgency operations, as well as countering terrorism, narcotics and weapons trafficking, and other internal security duties; it is primarily run by the Army

note 2: official paramilitary forces in Thailand include the Thai Rangers (Thahan Phran or "Hunter Soldiers") under the Army; the Paramilitary Marines under the Navy; the Border Patrol Police (BPP) under the Royal Thai Police; the Volunteer Defense Corps (VDC or O So) and National Defense Volunteers (NDV), both under the Ministry of Interior; there are also several government-backed volunteer militias created to provide village security against insurgents in the deep south or to assist the ISOC

Military expenditures

1.3% of GDP (2021 est.)

1.4% of GDP (2020)

1.3% of GDP (2019) (approximately $14.6 billion)

1.3% of GDP (2018) (approximately $14.2 billion)

1.4% of GDP (2017) (approximately $13.8 billion)

Military and security service personnel strengths

estimated 300,000 active duty personnel (200,000 Army; 70,000 Navy; 30,000 Air Force); approximately 230,000 Royal Thai Police (2022)

Military equipment inventories and acquisitions

the RTARF has a diverse array of foreign-supplied weapons systems, including a large amount of obsolescent or second-hand US equipment; since 2010, Thailand has received military equipment from nearly 20 countries, including China, South Korea, Sweden, Ukraine, and the US; as of 2022, Thailand was making efforts to increase its domestic defense production capabilities in such areas as armored vehicles, unmanned aerial systems, and military technologies (2022)

Military service age and obligation

18 years of age for voluntary military service for men and women; 21 years of age for compulsory military service for men; men register at 18 years of age; volunteer service obligation may be as short as 6 or 12 months, depending on educational qualifications; conscript service obligation also varies by educational qualifications, but is typically 24 months (2022)

note 1: serving in the armed forces is a national duty of all Thai citizens; conscription was introduced in 1905; it includes women, however, only men over the age of 21 who have not gone through reserve training are conscripted; conscripts are chosen by lottery (on draft day, eligible draftees can request volunteer service, or they may choose to stay for the conscription lottery); approximately 75-100,000 men are drafted for military service each year and conscripts reportedly comprise as much as 50% of the armed forces

note 2: as of 2020, women comprised about 8% of active-duty military personnel

Military deployments

280 South Sudan (UNMISS) (May 2022)

Military - note

including the most recent in 2014, the military has attempted more than 20 coups since the fall of absolute monarchy in 1932

since 2004, the military has fought against separatist insurgents in the southern provinces of Pattani, Yala, and Narathiwat, as well as parts of Songkhla; the insurgency is rooted in ethnic Malay nationalist resistance to Thai rule that followed the extension of Siamese sovereignty over the Patani Sultanate in the 18th century; the insurgency consists of several armed groups, the largest of which is the Barisan Revolusi Nasional-Koordinasi (BRN-C): since 2020, the Thai military has been negotiating with BRN, and has parallel talks with an umbrella organization, MARA Pattani, that claims to represent the insurgency groups; since 2004, violence associated with the insurgency has claimed more than 7,300 lives (as of 2022); the Thai Government has had as many as 100,000 military and paramilitary forces deployed in the south to combat the insurgency

Thailand has Major Non-NATO Ally (MNNA) status with the US; MNNA is a designation under US law that provides foreign partners with certain benefits in the areas of defense trade and security cooperation; while MNNA status provides military and economic privileges, it does not entail any security commitments (2022)

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international

Thailand-Burma: in 2016, Thailand expressed its interest in investing in Burma’s Hatgyi Dam project on the Salween River near the Thai-Burma border; the dam has the potential to supply electricity and water during the drought season; approximately 100,000 mostly Karen refugees fleeing civil strife, political upheaval, and economic stagnation in Burma live in nine remote camps in Thailand near the border

Thailand-Cambodia: Cambodia and Thailand dispute sections of their border; 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; in 2013, the International Court of Justice ruled that the land with the temple was Cambodian territory but that a nearby hill belonged to Thailand

Thailand-Laos: talks continue on completion of demarcation with Laos but disputes remain over several islands in the Mekong River

Thailand-Malaysia: separatist violence in Thailand's predominantly Malay-Muslim southern provinces prompt border closures and controls with Malaysia to stem insurgent activities; disputed areas are the Bukit Jeli area at the headwaters of the Golok River and the continental shelf boundary in the Gulf of Thailand

Refugees and internally displaced persons

refugees (country of origin): 91,349 (Burma) (2022)

IDPs: 41,000 (2021)

stateless persons: 554,103 (mid-year 2021) (estimate represents stateless persons registered with the Thai Government; actual number may be as high as 3.5 million); 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

note: Thai nationality was granted to more than 23,000 stateless persons between 2012 and 2016 and more than 18,000 between 2018 and 2021; in 2016, the Government of Thailand approved changes to its citizenship laws that could make 80,000 stateless persons eligible for citizenship, as part of its effort to achieve zero statelessness by 2024 (2021)

Illicit drugs

a minor producer of opium, heroin, and cannabis products; major part of the illegal drug market for the Southeast Asia region and the interconnected markets in East Asia and Oceania; transit point for illicit heroin en route to the international drug market from Burma and Laos; “Yaba,” a tablet containing methamphetamine, caffeine, and other stimulants, is the most widely abused drug in Thailand