Photos of Thailand

Buddahs saying "sawatdee" or hello in Chiang Mai, which has over 300 Buddhist temples.

Introduction

Background

Two unified Thai kingdoms emerged in the mid-13th century. The Sukhothai Kingdom, 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. Sukhothai lasted until the mid-15th century. The Thai Lan Na Kingdom was established in the north with its capital at Chang Mai; the Burmese conquered Lan Na 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-Allied faction backed by the king. 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 and large-scale street protests led by competing political factions in 2008, 2009, and 2010. In 2011, THAKSIN's youngest sister, YINGLAK Chinnawat, led the Puea Thai Party to an electoral win and assumed control of the government.

In 2014, after months of major anti-government protests in Bangkok, the Constitutional Court removed YINGLAK from office, and the Royal Thai Army, led by Gen. PRAYUT Chan-ocha, then staged a coup against the caretaker government. The military-affiliated National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) ruled the country under PRAYUT for more than four years, drafting a new constitution that allowed the military to appoint the entire 250-member Senate and required a joint meeting of the House and Senate to select the prime minister -- which effectively gave the military a veto on the selection. King PHUMIPHON Adunyadet passed away in 2016 after 70 years on the throne; his only son, WACHIRALONGKON (aka King RAMA X), formally ascended the throne in 2019. The same year, a long-delayed election allowed PRAYUT to continue his premiership, although the results were disputed and widely viewed as skewed in favor of the party aligned with the military. The country again experienced major anti-government protests in 2020. The reformist Move Forward Party won the most seats in the 2023 election but was unable to form a government, and Srettha THRAVISIN from the Pheu Thai Party replaced PRAYUT as prime minister after forming a coalition of moderate and conservative parties.

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

comparison ranking: total 53

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)

Mae Nam Khong (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

total: 69,920,998

male: 34,065,311

female: 35,855,687 (2024 est.)

comparison rankings: female 20; male 20; total 20

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 92.5%, Muslim 5.4%, Christian 1.2%, other 0.9% (includes animist, Confucian, Hindu, Jewish, Sikh, and Taoist) (2021 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 the 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: 15.8% (male 5,669,592/female 5,394,398)

15-64 years: 69% (male 23,681,528/female 24,597,535)

65 years and over: 15.1% (2024 est.) (male 4,714,191/female 5,863,754)

2023 population pyramid:
2023 population pyramid

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 43.5

youth dependency ratio: 22.7

elderly dependency ratio: 18.4

potential support ratio: 4.8 (2021 est.)

Median age

total: 41.5 years (2024 est.)

male: 40.2 years

female: 42.7 years

comparison ranking: total 49

Population growth rate

0.17% (2024 est.)

comparison ranking: 180

Birth rate

9.9 births/1,000 population (2024 est.)

comparison ranking: 189

Death rate

8 deaths/1,000 population (2024 est.)

comparison ranking: 90

Net migration rate

-0.3 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2024 est.)

comparison ranking: 116

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: 53.6% of total population (2023)

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

total population growth rate v. urban population growth rate, 2000-2030

Major urban areas - population

11.070 million BANGKOK (capital), 1.454 Chon Buri, 1.359 million Samut Prakan, 1.213 million Chiang Mai, 1.005 million Songkla, 1.001 million Nothaburi (2023)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female

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

15-64 years: 0.96 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.8 male(s)/female

total population: 0.95 male(s)/female (2024 est.)

Mother's mean age at first birth

23.3 years (2009 est.)

Maternal mortality ratio

29 deaths/100,000 live births (2020 est.)

comparison ranking: 113

Infant mortality rate

total: 6.3 deaths/1,000 live births (2024 est.)

male: 6.9 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 5.6 deaths/1,000 live births

comparison ranking: total 165

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 78.2 years (2024 est.)

male: 75.2 years

female: 81.3 years

comparison ranking: total population 81

Total fertility rate

1.54 children born/woman (2024 est.)

comparison ranking: 197

Gross reproduction rate

0.75 (2024 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

4.4% of GDP (2020)

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: high (2023)

food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea

vectorborne diseases: dengue fever, Japanese encephalitis, and malaria

Obesity - adult prevalence rate

10% (2016)

comparison ranking: 140

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.)

comparison ranking: total 60

Tobacco use

total: 22.1% (2020 est.)

male: 41.3% (2020 est.)

female: 2.9% (2020 est.)

comparison ranking: total 71

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

3.2% of GDP (2020 est.)

comparison ranking: 148

Literacy

definition: age 15 and over can read and write

total population: 94.1%

male: 95.5%

female: 92.8% (2021)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)

total: 15 years

male: 15 years

female: 16 years (2016)

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

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: 53.6% of total population (2023)

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

total population growth rate v. urban population growth rate, 2000-2030

Revenue from forest resources

0.34% of GDP (2018 est.)

comparison ranking: 76

Revenue from coal

0.03% of GDP (2018 est.)

comparison ranking: 35

Air pollutants

particulate matter emissions: 24.64 micrograms per cubic meter (2019 est.)

carbon dioxide emissions: 283.76 megatons (2016 est.)

methane emissions: 86.98 megatons (2020 est.)

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)

Mae Nam Khong (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: 2.74 billion cubic meters (2020 est.)

industrial: 2.78 billion cubic meters (2020 est.)

agricultural: 51.79 billion cubic meters (2020 est.)

Total renewable water resources

438.61 billion cubic meters (2020 est.)

Geoparks

total global geoparks and regional networks: 2

global geoparks and regional networks: Khorat; Satun (2023)

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 SETTHA Thawisin (since 5 September 2023)

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; prime minister candidate approved by the House of Representatives and Senate and appointed by the king; starting in 2024, approval of prime minister needed only by the House of Representatives

note: following its May 2023 election win, the MJP formed an eight-party coalition and put forward its leader PITA Limjaroenrat for prime minister; however, the Senate blocked PITA from becoming prime minister in the first National Assembly vote in July 2023, and the Assembly subsequently voted that he could not submit his name again; the Constitutional Court also suspended PITA after accepting cases accusing him of violating election law; in August 2023, MJP handed over the lead in forming a new government to the second largest party in the coalition, PTP, which then formed a new coalition without MJP; PTP put forward SRETTHA Thavisin for prime minister, and he was approved by the National Assembly 482 votes out of a possible 747

Legislative branch

description: bicameral National Assembly or Ratthasapha consists of:
Senate or Wuthisapha (currently 250 seats; members appointed by the National Council for Peace and Order to serve 5-year terms; the Senate appointed in 2024 will consist of 200 members elected from various groups of professionals for a 5-year term)
House of Representatives or Saphaphuthan Ratsadon (500 seats; 400 members directly elected in single-seat constituencies by simple majority vote and 100 members elected in a single nationwide constituency by party-list proportional representation vote; members serve 4-year terms)

elections: Senate - last selections held on 14 May 2019 (next to be held in 2024)
House of Representatives - last held on 14 May 2023 (next to be held in May 2027)

election results: Senate - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - NA; composition - men 223, women 26, percentage women 10.4%

House of Representatives - percent of vote by party - MFP 36.2%, PTP 27.7%, UTN 11.9%, PJT 2.9%, DP 2.3%, PPRP 1.4%, PCC 1.5%, other 16%; seats by party - MFP 152, PTP 141, PJT 71, PPRP 41, UTN 36, DP 24, PCC 9, CTP 10, Thai Sang Thai 6, other 11; composition - 403 men, 97 women, percentage women 19.4%; total National Assembly percentage women 16.4%

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 Party or ACP [ANEK Laothammathast]
Bhumjaithai Party (aka Phumchai Thai Party or PJT; aka Thai Pride Party) or BJT [ANUTIN Chanwirakun]
Chat Phatthana Kla arty (National Development Party) [KON Chatikawanit]
Chat Thai Phatthana Party (Thai Nation Development Party) or CTP [VARAWUT Silpa-archa]
Move Forward Party or MFP [CHAITHAWAT Tulathon] 
New Economics Party or NEP [MANUN Siwaphiromrat]
Palang Pracharat Party (People's State Power Party) or PPRP [PRAWIT Wongsuwan] 
Pheu (Puea) Thai Party (For Thais Party) or PTP [PAETONGTARN Shinawatra (aka Ung In)]
Prachachat Party or PCC [THAWEE Sodsong]
Prachathipat Party (Democrat Party) or DP [CHALERMCHAI Sri-on]
Puea Chat Party (For Nation Party) or PCP [SARUNWUT Sarunket]
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 Sang Thai Party [SUDARAT Keyuraphan]
United Thai Nation (Ruam Thai Sang Chat) or UTN [PHIRAPHAN Saliratthawiphak]

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 TANEE Sangrat (since 12 December 2022)

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

telephone: [1] (202) 944-3600

FAX: [1] (202) 944-3611

email address and website:
thai.wsn@thaiembdc.org

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: 7 (4 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); The Ancient Town of Si Thep and its Associated Dvaravati Monuments (n)

Economy

Economic overview

upper middle-income Southeast Asian economy; substantial infrastructure; major electronics, food, and automobile parts exporter; globally used currency; extremely low unemployment, even amid COVID-19; ongoing Thailand 4.0 economic development

Real GDP (purchasing power parity)

$1.255 trillion (2022 est.)
$1.223 trillion (2021 est.)
$1.205 trillion (2020 est.)

note: data in 2017 dollars

comparison ranking: 23

Real GDP growth rate

2.6% (2022 est.)
1.49% (2021 est.)
-6.07% (2020 est.)

note: annual GDP % growth based on constant local currency

comparison ranking: 150

Real GDP per capita

$17,500 (2022 est.)
$17,100 (2021 est.)
$16,900 (2020 est.)

note: data in 2017 dollars

comparison ranking: 99

GDP (official exchange rate)

$495.423 billion (2022 est.)

note: data in current dollars at official exchange rate

Inflation rate (consumer prices)

6.08% (2022 est.)
1.23% (2021 est.)
-0.85% (2020 est.)

note: annual % change based on consumer prices

comparison ranking: 94

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.)

comparison rankings: services 153; industry 42; agriculture 99

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

sugarcane, rice, cassava, oil palm fruit, maize, rubber, tropical fruits, chicken, pineapples, fruits (2022)

note: top ten agricultural products based on tonnage

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

Industrial production growth rate

-0.67% (2022 est.)

note: annual % change in industrial value added based on constant local currency

comparison ranking: 176

Labor force

40.908 million (2022 est.)

note: number of people ages 15 or older who are employed or seeking work

comparison ranking: 16

Unemployment rate

0.94% (2022 est.)
1.21% (2021 est.)
1.1% (2020 est.)

note: % of labor force seeking employment

comparison ranking: 7

Youth unemployment rate (ages 15-24)

total: 7% (2021 est.)

male: 6.2%

female: 8.1%

comparison ranking: total 179

Population below poverty line

6.3% (2021 est.)

note: % of population with income below national poverty line

Gini Index coefficient - distribution of family income

35.1 (2021 est.)

note: index (0-100) of income distribution; higher values represent greater inequality

comparison ranking: 96

Average household expenditures

on food: 28.3% of household expenditures (2021 est.)

on alcohol and tobacco: 3.3% of household expenditures (2021 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: 3.2%

highest 10%: 27.3% (2021 est.)

note: % share of income accruing to lowest and highest 10% of population

Remittances

1.8% of GDP (2022 est.)
1.79% of GDP (2021 est.)
1.65% of GDP (2020 est.)

note: personal transfers and compensation between resident and non-resident individuals/households/entities

Budget

revenues: $104.689 billion (2020 est.)

expenditures: $128.581 billion (2020 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)

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

comparison ranking: 147

Public debt

58.56% of GDP (2021 est.)
50.32% of GDP (2020 est.)
40.14% of GDP (2019 est.)

note: central government debt as a % of GDP

comparison ranking: 81

Taxes and other revenues

14.32% (of GDP) (2021 est.)

note: central government tax revenue as a % of GDP

comparison ranking: 151

Current account balance

-$15.742 billion (2022 est.)
-$10.268 billion (2021 est.)
$20.933 billion (2020 est.)

note: balance of payments - net trade and primary/secondary income in current dollars

comparison ranking: 191

Exports

$324.063 billion (2022 est.)
$295.972 billion (2021 est.)
$257.981 billion (2020 est.)

note: balance of payments - exports of goods and services in current dollars

comparison ranking: 28

Exports - partners

US 17%, China 11%, Japan 8%, Vietnam 4%, Malaysia 4% (2022)

note: top five export partners based on percentage share of exports

Exports - commodities

machine parts, integrated circuits, cars, trucks, vehicle parts/accessories (2022)

note: top five export commodities based on value in dollars

Imports

$334.478 billion (2022 est.)
$296.115 billion (2021 est.)
$232.048 billion (2020 est.)

note: balance of payments - imports of goods and services in current dollars

comparison ranking: 25

Imports - partners

China 26%, Japan 11%, UAE 6%, US 5%, Malaysia 5% (2022)

note: top five import partners based on percentage share of imports

Imports - commodities

crude petroleum, integrated circuits, gold, natural gas, vehicle parts/accessories (2022)

note: top five import commodities based on value in dollars

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

$216.501 billion (2022 est.)
$246.025 billion (2021 est.)
$258.104 billion (2020 est.)

note: holdings of gold (year-end prices)/foreign exchange/special drawing rights in current dollars

comparison ranking: 13

Debt - external

$167.89 billion (2019 est.)
$158.964 billion (2018 est.)

comparison ranking: 44

Exchange rates

baht per US dollar -

Exchange rates:
35.061 (2022 est.)
31.977 (2021 est.)
31.294 (2020 est.)
31.048 (2019 est.)
32.31 (2018 est.)

Energy

Electricity access

electrification - total population: 100% (2021)

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.)

comparison rankings: imports 4; exports 45; installed generating capacity 25; transmission/distribution losses 187; consumption 23

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.)

comparison ranking: 14

Refined petroleum products - exports

278,300 bbl/day (2015 est.)

comparison ranking: 29

Refined petroleum products - imports

134,200 bbl/day (2015 est.)

comparison ranking: 44

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.)

comparison ranking: total emissions 20

Energy consumption per capita

76.714 million Btu/person (2019 est.)

comparison ranking: 79

Communications

Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 4.368 million (2022 est.)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 6 (2022 est.)

comparison ranking: total subscriptions 32

Telephones - mobile cellular

total subscriptions: 126.414 million (2022 est.)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 176 (2022 est.)

comparison ranking: total subscriptions 15

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 2023, will considerably improve Thailand’s potential as a regional hub (2022)

domestic: fixed-line is 19 per 100 and mobile-cellular is 176 per 100 (2022)

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)

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: 61.2 million (2021 est.)

percent of population: 85% (2021 est.)

comparison ranking: total 17

Broadband - fixed subscriptions

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

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 16 (2020 est.)

comparison ranking: total 18

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

108 (2024)

comparison ranking: 50

Heliports

5 (2024)

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

comparison ranking: total 43

Roadways

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

comparison ranking: total 29

Waterways

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

comparison ranking: 28

Merchant marine

total: 884 (2023)

by type: bulk carrier 28, container ship 28, general cargo 88, oil tanker 251, other 489

comparison ranking: total 28

Ports

total ports: 21 (2024)

large: 1

medium: 2

small: 3

very small: 15

ports with oil terminals: 14

key ports: Bangkok, Laem Chabang, Pattani, Phuket, Sattahip, Si Racha

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 (2024)

note 1: the Thai Internal Security Operations Command (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 (2023 est.)
1.3% of GDP (2022 est.)
1.3% of GDP (2021 est.)
1.4% of GDP (2020 est.)
1.3% of GDP (2019 est.)

comparison ranking: 100

Military and security service personnel strengths

estimated 350,000 active-duty personnel (250,000 Army; 70,000 Navy; 30,000 Air Force); approximately 230,000 Royal Thai Police (2023)

Military equipment inventories and acquisitions

the RTARF has a diverse array of foreign-supplied weapons systems, including a considerable amount of older US equipment; over the past decade, Thailand has received arms from nearly 20 countries, with China, South Korea, Ukraine, and the US being among the leading suppliers; in recent years, Thailand has been making efforts to increase its domestic defense production capabilities in such areas as armored vehicles, unmanned aerial systems, and other military technologies (2023)

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 (2023)

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) (2024)

Military - note

the RTARF’s missions include defending the country’s territory and sovereignty, protecting the monarchy, ensuring internal security, and responding to natural disasters; it also plays a large role in domestic politics and has attempted more than 20 coups since the fall of absolute monarchy in 1932, the most recent being in 2014; the Army, formed in 1874, is the dominant service and has 15 combat divisions spread across four military regions; ten of the divisions are infantry, while the others are armored/mechanized cavalry, special forces, and artillery; established in 1906, the Navy’s principal warships include a light aircraft/helicopter carrier, a landing platform dock (LPD) amphibious assault ship, and nearly 20 frigates, corvettes, and offshore patrol vessels; it also has a marine infantry division; the Air Force, established in 1913, is one of the oldest in Southeast Asia and has around 100 combat aircraft

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, Thai officials have 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 2023); 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, a designation under US law that provides foreign partners with certain benefits in the areas of defense trade and security cooperation; the Thai and US militaries host the annual "Cobra Gold" multinational military exercises in Thailand; the exercise is one of the largest multinational exercises in the Pacific region (2023)

Space

Space agency/agencies

Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency (GISTDA; created in 2000 from the Thailand Remote Sensing Center that was established in 1979; GISTDA is under the Ministry of Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovation); National Space Policy Committee (NSPC; advisory body to the prime minister) (2024)

Space launch site(s)

none; in 2023, announced intentions to build a spaceport with South Korean assistance (2024)

Space program overview

has an ambitious and growing space program focused on the acquisition and operation of satellites and the development of related technologies; operates communications and remote sensing (RS) satellites; manufactures scientific/research/testing cube satellites and developing the capabilities to produce RS satellites (has historically built satellites with foreign assistance); cooperates with a range of foreign space agencies and industries, including those of other ASEAN countries, China, France, India, the Netherlands, Pakistan, Russia, South Korea, and the US; founding member of the China-led Asia-Pacific Space Cooperation Organization (APSCO); has a growing space industry, including Southeast Asia’s first dedicated satellite manufacturing facility, which opened in 2021 (2024)

note: further details about the key activities, programs, and milestones of the country’s space program, as well as government spending estimates on the space sector, appear in Appendix S

Transnational Issues

Refugees and internally displaced persons

refugees (country of origin): 91,339 (Burma) (refugees and asylum seekers) (2023)

IDPs: 41,000 (2022)

stateless persons: 566,900 (2022) (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

not a cultivator or producer of significant quantities of opiates, methamphetamine, or other illicit drugs; not a significant source or transit country for drugs entering the United States; drugs smuggled through Thailand heading for Indo-Pacific region markets; large influx of methamphetamine and heroin from neighboring Burma to other markets, but also consumed domestically, most of which transits through Thailand to other markets, but is also consumed domestically; a major source of precursor or essential chemicals used in the production of illicit narcotics