Photos of Thailand

Introduction

Background

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. 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. PRAYUT was appointed prime minister in August 2014. PRAYUT also serves as the head of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), a military-affiliated body that oversees the interim government. This body created several interim institutions to promote reform and draft a new constitution, which was passed in a national referendum in August 2016. In late 2017, PRAYUT announced elections would be held by November 2018; he has subsequently suggested they might occur in February 2019. As of mid-December 2018, a previoulsy held ban on campaigning and political activity has been lifted and per parliamentary laws, an election must be held within 150 days. 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. He signed the new constitution in April 2017. 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.

Visit the Definitions and Notes page to view a description of each topic.

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

country comparison to the world: 53

Area - comparative

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

Land boundaries

total: 5,673 km

border countries (4): Burma 2416 km, Cambodia 817 km, Laos 1845 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

mean elevation: 287 m

lowest point: Gulf of Thailand 0 m

highest point: Doi Inthanon 2,565 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)

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

Nationality

noun: Thai (singular and plural)

adjective: Thai

Ethnic groups

Thai 97.5%, Burmese 1.3%, other 1.1%, unspecified <.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) (2010 est.)

note: data represent population by language(s) spoken at home; English is a secondary language of the elite

Religions

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

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.)

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.)

country comparison to the world: 59

Birth rate

10.25 births/1,000 population (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 189

Death rate

7.66 deaths/1,000 population (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 99

Net migration rate

-0.03 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 94

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: 51.4% of total population (2020)

rate of urbanization: 1.73% annual rate of change (2015-20 est.)

Major urban areas - population

10.723 million BANGKOK (capital), 1.417 Chon Buri, 1.324 million Samut Prakan, 1.182 million Chiang Mai, 979,000 Songkla, 975,000 Nothaburi (2021)

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: 0.99 male(s)/female

55-64 years: 0.88 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.77 male(s)/female

total population: 0.96 male(s)/female (2020 est.)

Mother's mean age at first birth

23.3 years (2009 est.)

Maternal mortality rate

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

country comparison to the world: 103

Infant mortality rate

total: 6.58 deaths/1,000 live births

male: 7.2 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 5.92 deaths/1,000 live births (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 168

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 77.41 years

male: 74.39 years

female: 80.6 years (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 86

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 (2017 est.)

Physicians density

0.81 physicians/1,000 population (2018)

Hospital bed density

2.1 beds/1,000 population (2010)

Sanitation facility access

improved: urban: 100% of population

rural: 100% of population

total: 99.9% of population

unimproved: urban: 0% of population

rural: 0% of population

total: 0.1% of population (2017 est.)

Major infectious diseases

degree of risk: very high (2020)

food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea

vectorborne diseases: dengue fever, Japanese encephalitis, and malaria

Literacy

definition: age 15 and over can read and write

total population: 92.9%

male: 94.7%

female: 91.2% (2015)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)

total: 15 years

male: 15 years

female: 16 years (2016)

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.

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, the city's Thai name, means "City of the Deity" 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)

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 6 April 2017

amendments: proposed as a joint resolution by the Council of Ministers and the National Council for Peace and Order (the junta that has ruled Thailand since the 2014 coup) and submitted as a draft to the National Legislative Assembly; passage requires majority vote of the existing Assembly members and presentation to the monarch for assent and countersignature of the prime minister

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); note - King PHUMIPHON Adunyadet, also spelled BHUMIBOL Adulyadej (since 9 June 1946) died 13 October 2016 

head of government:  Prime Minister PRAYUT Chan-ocha (since 25 August 2014); Deputy Prime Ministers PRAWIT Wongsuwan (since 31 August 2014), WITSANU Kruea-ngam (since 31 August 2014), SUPHATTHANAPHONG Phanmichao (since August 2020), CHURIN Laksanawisit (since November 2019), ANUTHIN Chanwirakun (since November 2019), DON Pramudwinai (since August 2020)

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 - 498 votes to 244 for THANATHON Chuengrungrueangkit (FFP)

Legislative branch

description: bicameral National Assembly or Rathhasapha consists of:
Senate or Wuthissapha (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 - men 224, women 26, percent of women 10.4%
House of Representatives - percent of vote by party - 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 - men 421, women 79, percent of women 15.8%; note - total National Assembly percent of women 14%

Judicial branch

highest courts: 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 [TAWEESAK Na Takuathung (acting); CHATUMONGKHON Sonakun resigned June 2020]
Anakhot Mai Party (Future Forward Party) or FFP [THANATHON Chuengrungrueangkit] (dissolved, February 2020)
Chat Phatthana Party (National Development Party) [THEWAN Liptaphanlop]
Chat Thai Phatthana Party (Thai Nation Development Party) or CTP [KANCHANA Sinlapa-acha]
New Economics Party or NEP [MINGKHWAN Sangsuwan]
Phalang Pracharat Party or PPP [UTTAMA Sawanayon]
Phumchai Thai Party (Thai Pride Party) or PJT [ANUTHIN Chanwirakun]
Prachachat Party of PCC [WAN Muhamad NOOR Matha]
Prachathipat Party (Democrat Party) or DP [CHURIN Laksanawisit]
Puea Chat Party (For Nation Party) or PCP [SONGKHRAM Kitletpairot]
Puea Thai Party (For Thais Party) or PTP [WIROT Paoin]
Puea Tham Party (For Dharma Party) [NALINI Thawisin]
Seri Ruam Thai Party (Thai Liberal Party) or TLP [SERIPHISUT Temiyawet]
Thai Forest Conservation Party or TFCP [DAMRONG Phidet]
Thai Local Power Party or TLP [collective leadership]
Thai Raksa Chat Party (Thai National Preservation Party) [PRICHAPHON Phongpanit]

note: as of 5 April 2018, 98 new parties applied to be registered with the Election Commission in accordance with the provisions of the new organic law on political parties

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 (February 2021)

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

Diplomatic representation from the US

chief of mission: Ambassador (vacant); Charge d'Affaires Michael HEATH (since August 2019)

telephone: [66] 2-205-4000

embassy: 95 Wireless Road, Bangkok 10330

mailing address: APO AP 96546

FAX: [66] 2-205-4306

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

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 growth rate

2.62% (2019 est.)

4.31% (2018 est.)

4.26% (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 109

Inflation rate (consumer prices)

0.7% (2019 est.)

1% (2018 est.)

0.6% (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 56

Credit ratings

Fitch rating: BBB+ (2013)

Moody's rating: Baa1 (2003)

Standard & Poors rating: BBB+ (2004)

Real GDP (purchasing power parity)

$1,285,287,000,000 (2019 est.)

$1,255,719,000,000 (2018 est.)

$1,205,674,000,000 (2017 est.)

note: data are in 2010 dollars

country comparison to the world: 18

GDP (official exchange rate)

$543.798 billion (2019 est.)

Real GDP per capita

$18,460 (2019 est.)

$18,087 (2018 est.)

$17,421 (2017 est.)

note: data are in 2010 dollars

country comparison to the world: 96

Gross national saving

31.5% of GDP (2019 est.)

31.7% of GDP (2018 est.)

31.9% of GDP (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 31

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.)

Ease of Doing Business Index scores

Overall score: 80.1 (2020)

Starting a Business score: 92.4 (2020)

Trading score: 84.6 (2020)

Enforcement score: 67.9 (2020)

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 - by occupation

agriculture: 31.8%

industry: 16.7%

services: 51.5% (2015 est.)

Unemployment rate

0.99% (2019 est.)

1.06% (2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 7

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.)

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

country comparison to the world: 118

Fiscal year

1 October - 30 September

Current account balance

$37.033 billion (2019 est.)

$28.423 billion (2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 11

Exports

$291.169 billion (2019 est.)

$298.968 billion (2018 est.)

$289.239 billion (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 27

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

$257.873 billion (2019 est.)

$269.455 billion (2018 est.)

$248.698 billion (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 28

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.)

country comparison to the world: 12

Debt - external

$167.89 billion (2019 est.)

$158.964 billion (2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 44

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)

Communications

Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 2,580,166

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 3.75 (2019 est.)

country comparison to the world: 50

Telephones - mobile cellular

total subscriptions: 128,086,321

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 186.16 (2019 est.)

country comparison to the world: 13

Telecommunication systems

general assessment: high quality system, especially in urban areas like Bangkok; mobile and mobile broadband penetration are on the increase; Fiber-to-the-home (FttH) has seen strong growth in the major cities; 4G TD-LTE available and moving to 5G services; seven smart cities with the hope of 100 smart cities within its borders in the next two decades; one of the biggest e-commerce markets in Southeast Asia; fixed broadband remains relative compared to other developed Asian telecom markets and with the dominance of the mobile platform (2020)

domestic: fixed-line system provided by both a government-owned and commercial provider; wireless service expanding rapidly; fixed-line 4 per 100 and mobile-cellular 186 per 100 (2019)

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 outbreak is negatively impacting telecommunications production and supply chains globally; consumer spending on telecom devices and services has also slowed due to the pandemic's effect on economies worldwide; overall progress towards improvements in all facets of the telecom industry - mobile, fixed-line, broadband, submarine cable and satellite - has moderated

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: 38,987,531

percent of population: 56.82% (July 2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 21

Broadband - fixed subscriptions

total: 9.189 million

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 13 (2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 19

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 mt-km (2018)

Airports - with paved runways

total: 63 (2013)

over 3,047 m: 8 (2013)

2,438 to 3,047 m: 12 (2013)

1,524 to 2,437 m: 23 (2013)

914 to 1,523 m: 14 (2013)

under 914 m: 6 (2013)

Airports - with unpaved runways

total: 38 (2013)

2,438 to 3,047 m: 1 (2013)

1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2013)

914 to 1,523 m: 10 (2013)

under 914 m: 26 (2013)

Heliports

7 (2013)

Pipelines

2 km condensate, 5900 km gas, 85 km liquid petroleum gas, 1 km oil, 1097 km refined products (2013)

Railways

total: 4,127 km (2017)

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

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

country comparison to the world: 47

Roadways

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

country comparison to the world: 30

Waterways

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

country comparison to the world: 26

Merchant marine

total: 840

by type: bulk carrier 26, container ship 28, general cargo 87, oil tanker 257, other 442 (2020)

country comparison to the world: 28

Ports and terminals

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

container port(s) (TEUs): Laem Chabang (7,227,431) (2017)

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; includes Thai Rangers (Thahan Phrahan)), 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: Internal Security Operations Command (ISOC; oversees counter-insurgency operations, as well as countering terrorism, narcotics and weapons trafficking, and other internal security duties); Ministry of Interior: Volunteer Defense Corps (2021)

note: the Thai Rangers (aka Thahan Phrahan or 'Hunter Soldiers’) is a paramilitary force formed in 1978 to clear Communist Party of Thailand guerrillas from mountain strongholds in the country's northeast; it is a light infantry force led by regular officers and non-commissioned officers and comprised of both full‐ and part‐time personnel; it conducts counterinsurgency operations in the southern region; on the eastern border with Laos and Cambodia, the Rangers have primary responsibility for border surveillance and protection

Military expenditures

1.4% of GDP (2020 est.)

1.3% of GDP (2019)

1.4% of GDP (2018)

1.6% of GDP (2017)

1.6% of GDP (2016)

country comparison to the world: 99

Military and security service personnel strengths

estimates for the size of the Royal Thai Armed Forces (RTARF) vary widely; approximately 350,000 active duty personnel (240,000 Army; 65,000 Navy; 45,000 Air Force); est. 20,000 Thai Rangers; est. 5-6,000 Internal Security Operations Command (2020)

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 with China, South Korea, Sweden, Ukraine, and the US as the leading suppliers (2020)

Military deployments

275 South Sudan (UNMISS) (Jan 2021)

Military service age and obligation

21 years of age for compulsory military service; 18 years of age for voluntary military service; males register at 18 years of age; 2-year conscript service obligation based on lottery (2019)

Military - note

including the most recent in 2014, the military has attempted nearly 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 2018, the Thai military has been negotiating with an umbrella organization, MARA Pattani, that claims to represent the insurgency groups; since 2004, the fighting has claimed about 7,000 lives; as of mid-2020, an estimated 100,000 military and paramilitary forces were deployed in the south to combat the insurgency

 

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international

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; approximately 100,000 mostly Karen refugees fleeing civil strife, political upheaval and economic stagnation in Burma live in remote camps in Thailand near the border

Refugees and internally displaced persons

refugees (country of origin): 91,806 (Burma) (2020)

stateless persons: 475,009 (2019) (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; 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 (2018)

Trafficking in persons

current situation: Thailand is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking; victims from Burma, Cambodia, Laos, China, Vietnam, Uzbekistan, and India, migrate to Thailand in search of jobs but are forced, coerced, or defrauded into labor in commercial fishing, fishing-related industries, factories, domestic work, street begging, or the sex trade; some Thai, Burmese, Cambodian, and Indonesian men forced to work on fishing boats are kept at sea for years; sex trafficking of adults and children from Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, and Burma remains a significant problem; Thailand is a transit country for victims from China, Vietnam, Bangladesh, and Burma subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor in Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Russia, South Korea, the US, and countries in Western Europe; Thai victims are also trafficked in North America, Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East

tier rating: Tier 2 Watch List - Thailand does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking, and is not making significant efforts to do so; in 2014, authorities investigated, prosecuted, and convicted fewer traffickers and identified fewer victims; some cases of official complicity were investigated and prosecuted, but trafficking-related corruption continues to hinder progress in combatting trafficking; authorities’ efforts to screen for victims among vulnerable populations remained inadequate due to a poor understanding of trafficking indicators, a failure to recognize non-physical forms of coercion, and a shortage of language interpreters; the government passed new labor laws increasing the minimum age in the fishing industry to 18 years old, guaranteeing the minimum wage, and requiring work contracts, but weak law enforcement and poor coordination among regulatory agencies enabled exploitive labor practices to continue; the government increased efforts to raise public awareness to the dangers of human trafficking and to deny entry to foreign sex tourists (2015)

Illicit drugs

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