Coordinates: 15°24′N 101°18′E / 15.4°N 101.3°E /
Kingdom of Thailand
Anthem: Phleng Chat Thai
(English: "Thai National Anthem")
Royal anthem: Sansoen Phra Barami
(English: "Glorify His prestige")
Location of Thailand (green)
in ASEAN (dark grey) – [Legend]
and largest city
13°45′N 100°29′E / 13.750°N 100.483°E / 13.750;
Ethnic groups (2009; 2011:95–99)
∟ 34.1% Central Thai
∟ 7.5% Southern Thai
14% Thai Chinese
12% Others (incl. Karen, Malay, Mon, Khmer, "Hill
Unitary parliamentary constitutional monarchy under a military junta
• Prime Minister
National Legislative Assembly (acting as National Assembly)
• Sukhothai Kingdom
• Ayutthaya Kingdom
• Rattanakosin Kingdom
6 April 1782
• Constitutional monarchy
24 June 1932
• Current constitution
6 April 2017
513,120 km2 (198,120 sq mi) (50th)
• Water (%)
0.4 (2,230 km2)
• 2016 estimate
• 2010 census
132.1/km2 (342.1/sq mi) (88th)
• Per capita
• Per capita
high · 87th
Baht (฿) (THB)
Drives on the
ISO 3166 code
You may need rendering support to display the Thai text in this
Thailand (/ˈtaɪlænd/ TY-land), officially the Kingdom of Thailand
and formerly known as Siam, is a unitary state at the center of the
Indochinese peninsula composed of 76 provinces. At
513,120 km2 and over 68 million people,
Thailand is the world's 50th
largest country by total area and the 21st-most-populous country. The
capital and largest city is Bangkok, a special administrative area.
Thailand is bordered to the north by
Myanmar and Laos, to the east by
Laos and Cambodia, to the south by the
Gulf of Thailand
Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia,
and to the west by the
Andaman Sea and the southern extremity of
Myanmar. Its maritime boundaries include
Vietnam in the Gulf of
Thailand to the southeast, and
India on the Andaman Sea
to the southwest. Even though constitutional monarchy and
parliamentary democracy form of government was established in 1932,
the most recent coup d'état in 2014 made
Thailand currently a de
facto military dictatorship.
Tai peoples migrated from southwestern
China to mainland Southeast
Asia since the 11th century. The oldest known mention of their
presence in the region by the exonym Siamese is in a 12th-century
inscription at the
Angkor Wat. Various
Indianised kingdoms such as the
Khmer Empire and Malay states ruled the region, competing
with Thai states such as Ngoenyang, the Sukhothai Kingdom,
Lan Na and
the Ayutthaya Kingdom, which rivalled each other. Before the end of
the 15th century,
Ayutthaya Kingdom was the new great power in the
region. Europeans contact began with a Portuguese diplomatic mission
to Ayutthaya in 1511. During cosmopolitan Narai's reign (1656–88),
Ayutthaya was very prosperous and Europeans recognized it as one of
the greatest kingdoms in the region. However, Ayutthaya then gradually
declined and was ultimately destroyed in 1767.
Taksin quickly unified
the fragmented territory and crowned king of short-lived Thonburi
Kingdom. In his final years, he and his sons was executed by his
companion Buddha Yodfa Chulaloke, the first monarch of reigning Chakri
dynasty and founder of
Rattanakosin Kingdom in 1782.
The ensuing centuries saw colonial powers pressure on Siam, but
remained the only South East Asian country not colonized by the West.
The country was modernized and centralized during Chulalongkorn's
reign (1868–1910). Siam joined the Allies in World War I. Bloodless
Siamese revolution of 1932
Siamese revolution of 1932 changed the kingdom into constitutional
monarchy. In the 1930s, the military dominated the politics and the
country turned into a fascism.
Thailand allied with
Thailand in World War II
Thailand in World War II but most Allied powers did not accept Thai
declaration of war.
Thailand allied with the
United States and led
anti-communist role in the region. Sarit's coup and premiership
revived the monarchy's role in politics. Popular uprising in 1973 was
a result of internal conflict
Thailand and leads to a brief period of
parliamentary democracy which ended in 1976.
Thailand is still
considered a "partial democracy" for many decades. Since the 2000s
seen the country pitted in a political crisis between supporters and
opponents of ex-Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, with two coups,
most recently in 2014. Its current and 20th constitution was ratified
on April 6, 2017, during military junta's watch.
Thailand is a founding member of
ASEAN and a long-time allied of the
Thailand is considered a regional power in Southeast
Asia and a middle power in global affairs. With a high level of
Thailand is classified as a newly industrialized
economy which was heavily dependent on exports. Manufacturing,
agriculture, and tourism are leading sectors of the economy.
Its economy is the second-largest in
Southeast Asia and the 20th
largest by PPP.
1.1 Etymology of "Siam"
1.2 Etymology of "Thailand"
2.2 Early states
2.3 Ayutthaya Kingdom
2.4 Modernization and centralization
2.5 Constitutional monarchy, World War II, and Cold War
2.6 Contemporary history
3 Politics and government
4 Administrative divisions
4.2 Southern region
5 Foreign relations
6 Armed forces
9 Science and technology
10.1 Recent economic history
10.2 Exports and manufacturing
11.1 Ethnic groups
11.2 Population centres
12.3 Units of measurement
13.1 Sporting venues
14 International rankings
15 See also
17 External links
Thailand (/ˈtaɪlænd/ TY-land or /ˈtaɪlənd/ TY-lənd; Thai:
ประเทศไทย, RTGS: Prathet Thai,
pronounced [pratʰêːt tʰaj] ( listen)), officially
the Kingdom of
ราชอาณาจักรไทย, RTGS: Ratcha-anachak
tʰaj] ( listen), Chinese: 泰国), formerly known as Siam
(Thai: สยาม, RTGS: Sayam [sajǎːm]), is a country
at the centre of the
Indochinese peninsula in Southeast Asia.
Etymology of "Siam"
The country has always been called
Mueang Thai by its citizens. By
outsiders prior to 1949, it was usually known by the exonym Siam
(Thai: สยาม RTGS: Sayam, pronounced [sajǎːm], also
spelled Siem, Syâm, or Syâma). The word Siam has
been identified[by whom?] with the
Sanskrit Śyāma (श्याम,
meaning "dark" or "brown"). The names Shan and A-hom seem to be
variants of the same word. The word Śyâma is possibly not its
origin, but a learned and artificial distortion.[clarification
needed] Another theory is the name derives from Chinese:
"Ayutthaya emerged as a dominant centre in the late fourteenth
century. The Chinese called this region Xian, which the Portuguese
converted into Siam." (Baker and Phongpaichit, A History of Thailand,
8) A further possibility is that Mon-speaking peoples migrating south
called themselves 'syem' as do the autochthonous Mon-Khmer-speaking
inhabitants of the Malay Peninsula.
Mongkut Rex Siamensium, King Mongkut's signature
The signature of
King Mongkut (r. 1851–1868) reads SPPM (Somdet Phra
Mongkut King of the Siamese, giving the name "Siam"
official status until 24 June 1939 when it was changed to
Thailand was renamed to Siam from 1946 to 1948, after
which it again reverted to Thailand.
Etymology of "Thailand"
According to George Cœdès, the word Thai (ไทย) means "free
man" in the Thai language, "differentiating the Thai from the natives
encompassed in Thai society as serfs." A famous Thai scholar
argued that Thai (ไท) simply means "people" or "human being",
since his investigation shows that in some rural areas the word "Thai"
was used instead of the usual Thai word "khon" (คน) for
people. According to Michel Ferlus, the ethnonyms Thai/Tai (or
Thay/Tay) would have evolved from the etymon *k(ə)ri: 'human being'
through the following chain: *kəri: > *kəli: > *kədi:/*kədaj
> *di:/*daj > *dajA (Proto-Southwestern Tai) > tʰajA2 (in
Siamese and Lao) or > tajA2 (in the other Southwestern and Central
Tai languages classified by Li Fangkuei). Michel Ferlus' work is
based on some simple rules of phonetic change observable in the
Sinosphere and studied for the most part by William H. Baxter
Thai people will often refer to their country using the polite
form prathet Thai (Thai: ประเทศไทย), they most
commonly use the more colloquial term mueang Thai (Thai:
เมืองไทย) or simply Thai, the word mueang, archaically
a city-state, commonly used to refer to a city or town as the centre
of a region. Ratcha Anachak Thai (Thai:
ราชอาณาจักรไทย) means "kingdom of
Thailand" or "kingdom of Thai". Etymologically, its components are:
Sanskrit राजन्, rājan, "king, royal, realm") ;
Pali āṇā "authority, command, power", itself from the
Sanskrit आज्ञा, ājñā, of the same meaning) -chak (from
Sanskrit चक्र cakra- "wheel", a symbol of power and rule). The
Thai National Anthem
Thai National Anthem (Thai: เพลงชาติ), written by
Luang Saranupraphan during the extremely patriotic 1930s, refers to
the Thai nation as: prathet Thai (Thai: ประเทศไทย).
The first line of the national anthem is: prathet thai ruam lueat nuea
chat chuea thai (Thai:
Thailand is the unity of Thai flesh and blood."
Main article: History of Thailand
Prehistoric Thailand and Early history of Thailand
Map showing geographic distribution of Tai-Kadai linguistic family.
Arrows represent general pattern of the migration of Tai-speaking
tribes along the rivers and over the lower passes.:27
There is evidence of continued human habitation in present-day
Thailand dated 20,000 years.:4 Earliest evidence of rice growing
was dated 2,000 BCE.:4 Bronze appeared during 1,250–1,000
BCE.:4 Iron appeared around 500 BCE.:5
Kingdom of Funan
Kingdom of Funan was
the first and most powerful South East Asian kingdom at the time (2nd
Mon people established principalities of Dvaravati
and kingdom of
Hariphunchai in the 6th century. Khmer people
Khmer empire centered in
Angkor in the 9th century.:7
Tambralinga, a Malay state controlling trade through Malacca Strait,
rose in the 10th century.:5 Indochina peninsula was heavily
influenced by the culture and religions of India, starting with the
Kingdom of Funan
Kingdom of Funan to the Khmer Empire.
Most scholars now believe that the
Tai people came from northern
Vietnam around the
Dien Bien Phu
Dien Bien Phu area.
Tai people settled along
river valleys, where they formed small settlements and engaged in
subsistence rice agriculture. Women could have high social status and
Tai people started inhabiting in present-day
Thailand in the 11th century, where Mon and Khmer kingdoms were
situated at the time.
According to French historian George Cœdès, "The Thai first enter
history of Farther
India in the eleventh century with the mention of
Syam slaves or prisoners of war in"
Champa epigraphy, and "in the
twelfth century, the bas-reliefs of
Angkor Wat" where "a group of
warriors" are described as Syam.
Main article: Initial states of Thailand
After the decline of the
Khmer Empire in the 13th century, various
states thrived there, established by the various Tai peoples, Mons,
Chams and Ethnic Malays, as seen through the numerous
archaeological sites and artefacts that are scattered throughout the
Siamese landscape. Prior to the 12th century however, the first Thai
or Siamese state is traditionally considered to be the Buddhist
Sukhothai Kingdom, which was founded in 1238.
Following the decline and fall of the
Khmer empire in the 13th–15th
century, the Buddhist Tai kingdoms of Sukhothai, Lanna, and Lan Xang
(now Laos) were on the rise. However, a century later, the power of
Sukhothai was overshadowed by the new Kingdom of Ayutthaya,
established in the mid-14th century in the lower
Chao Phraya River
Chao Phraya River or
Ayutthaya Kingdom and
According to the most widely accepted version of its origin, Ayutthaya
Kingdom rose from the earlier, nearby
Lavo Kingdom and Suvarnabhumi.
Uthong was its first king. Its initial expansion is through conquest
and political marriage. Before the end of the 15th century, Ayutthaya
Khmer Empire twice and sacked its capital Angkor. Ayutthaya
then became a regional great power in place of Khmer Empire.
Borommatrailokkanat brought about bureaucratic reforms which lasted
into the 20th century and create a system of social hierarchy called
Sakdina. Ayutthaya was interested in
Malay peninsula but failed to
Malacca Sultanate which was supported by Chinese Ming Dynasty.
Siamese envoys presenting letter to Pope Innocent XI, 1688
European contact and trade started in the early 16th century, with the
envoy of Portuguese duke
Afonso de Albuquerque
Afonso de Albuquerque in 1511, followed by
the French, Dutch, and English. Ayutthaya then at war with Burmese
Taungoo Dynasty. Multiple wars starting in 1540s were ultimately ended
with capture of the capital in 1570. Then was a period of brief
vassalage to Burma until
Naresuan proclaimed independence in 1584.
Ayutthaya was an important trade center which was known to trade with
China, India, Persia, and
Arab lands. The kingdom especially prospered
during cosmopolitan Narai's reign (1656–88). Some European travelers
regarded Ayutthaya as Asian great powers alongside
India.:ix However, growing French influence later in his reign was
met with nationalist sentiment and led to eventual revolution of 1688.
Trade with the West declined and the kingdom became poorer.
After that, there was a period of relative peace but its influence
gradually waned, partly because of bloody struggles each succession,
until the capital Ayutthaya was utterly destroyed in 1767 by Burmese
Anarchy followed destruction of the former capital, with its
territories split into five different factions, each controlled by a
Taksin rose the power and proclaim
Thonburi as temporary
capital in the same year. He also quickly subdue the other warlords.
His forces engaged in wars with Burma, Laos, and Cambodia, which
successfully drove the Burmese out of
Lan Na in 1775, captured
Vientiane in 1778 and tried to instate a pro-
Thonburi king in Cambodia
in the 1770s. In his final years there was a coup which was caused by
his supposedly "insanity" and eventually
Taksin and his sons was
executed by longtime companion General
Chao Phraya Chakri (future Rama
I). He was the first king of the ruling
Chakri Dynasty and founder of
Bangkok (Rattanakosin Kingdom) on April 6, 1782.
Modernization and centralization
Main article: Rattanakosin Kingdom
Siamese territorial concessions to Britain and
France by year
Under Rama I, Rattanakosin successfully defended Burmese attacks and
marks the end of Burmese invasion. He also created overlordship over
large portion of
Laos and Cambodia. In 1821,
John Crawfurd was sent on
a mission to negotiate a new trade agreement with Siam — the first
sign of an issue which was to dominate 19th century Siamese
European pressure mounted and in 1855, during Mongkut's reign, a
British mission led by the Governor of
Hong Kong Sir
John Bowring led
to conclusion of Bowring Treaty, first of many unequal treaties with
Western countries. However,
Thailand is the only Southeast Asian
nation to never have been colonized by any Western power, in part
because Britain and
France guaranteed of the
Chao Phraya valley as
their buffer state in 1896.
Western influence nevertheless led to many reforms in the 19th
Chulalongkorn introduced the
Monthon system, where
centralized officials were sent to oversee the entire land, thus
effectively ending the power of all local dynasties. He also abolish
corvée system and slavery in Siam, which he was best known for. There
were also major concessions to
France and Britain, most notably the
loss of a large protectorate territory east of the
Mekong composed of
Cambodia and the ceding of four Malay provinces
to Britain in Anglo-Siamese Treaty of 1909.
In 1917, Siam joined the Allies of
World War I
World War I and is counted as one
of the victors of World War I.
Constitutional monarchy, World War II, and Cold War
Thailand in World War II
Thailand in World War II and History of Thailand
The bloodless revolution took place in 1932 carried out by the Khana
Ratsadon group of military and civilian officials resulted in a
transition of power, when King
Prajadhipok was forced to grant the
people of Siam their first constitution, thereby ending centuries of
absolute monarchy. His conflicting view with the government led to
abdication. The government selected
Ananda Mahidol to be the new king.
Later that decade the military wing of
Khana Ratsadon became
dominating Siamese politics. Field Marshall Plaek Phibunsongkhram
built fascism, decreed cultural mandates which changed to name of the
kingdom to "Thailand" and affect many aspects of daily life. After
France was conquered by Nazi Germany in June 1940,
Thailand took the
opportunity to retake territories conceded to the French many decades
Thailand won the majority of the battles. The conflict
came to an end with a Japanese mediation.
On December 7, 1941, The Empire of
Japan launched an invasion of
Thailand and fighting broke out shortly before Phibun ordered an
Japan was granted free passage, and on December 21,
Japan signed a military alliance with a secret protocol,
wherein Tokyo agreed to help
Thailand regain territories lost to the
British and French. Subsequently,
Thailand declared war on the
United States and the United Kingdom on January 25, 1942, and while
the government undertook to "assist" Japan, some people launched an
active anti-Japanese Free Thai Movement. After the war, most Allied
powers did not recognized Thai declaration of war, with an exception
of the United Kingdom which
Thailand signed a treaty to end the
In June 1946, young King Ananda was found dead in mysterious
circumstances. His younger brother
Bhumibol Adulyadej succeeded the
Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO) to
became an active allies of the United States. Field Marshal Sarit
Thanarat launced a coup in 1957, which removed
Khana Ratsadon from
politics. He also revived the monarchy's role in politics. Military
dictatorships at the time was supported by US government and Thailand
joined anti-communist measures in the region alongside the US, most
notably participation in the
Vietnam War between 1965–71.
The period brought about increasing modernisation and westernisation.
Internal conflict regarding economic difficulties which began in 1968
led to 1973 Thai popular uprising, an important event in Thai modern
History of Thailand
History of Thailand since 1973
For most of the 1980s,
Thailand was ruled by prime minister Prem
Tinsulanonda, a democratically-inclined strongman who
restored parliamentary politics. Thereafter the country remained a
democracy, apart from a brief period of military rule from 1991 to
1992. The populist
Thai Rak Thai
Thai Rak Thai party, led by prime minister Thaksin
Shinawatra, governed from 2001 until 2006. In 2006 mass protests
Thai Rak Thai
Thai Rak Thai party's alleged corruption, prompting the
military to stage a coup d'état in September. A general election in
December 2007 restored a civilian government, but in May 2014 another
military coup returned absolute power to the army.
Politics and government
Main articles: Politics of Thailand, Constitutions of Thailand, Law of
Thailand, and Government of Thailand
Prior to 1932, all legislative powers were vested in the monarch. This
had been the case since the foundation of the
Sukhothai Kingdom in the
12th century as the king was seen as a "Dharmaraja" or "king who rules
in accordance with Dharma", (the Buddhist law of righteousness).
Modern absolute monarchy was established by
Chulalongkorn when he
transformed the decentralized protectorate system into a unitary
state. On 24 June 1932,
Khana Ratsadon (People's Party) carried out a
bloodless revolution which ended the absolute rule.
The politics of
Thailand is conducted within the framework of a
constitutional monarchy, whereby the Prime Minister is the head of
government and a hereditary monarch is head of state. The judiciary is
supposed to be independent of the executive and the legislative
branches, although judicial rulings are suspected of being based on
political considerations rather than on existing law. However,
since May 2014,
Thailand has been ruled by a military junta, the
National Council for Peace and Order.
Bangkok's Democracy Monument: a representation of the 1932
Constitution sits on top of two golden offering bowls above a turret.
Thailand has had 20 constitutions and charters since 1932, including
the latest and current 2017 Constitution. Throughout this time, the
form of government has ranged from military dictatorship to electoral
democracy, but all governments have acknowledged a hereditary monarch
as the head of state.
Thailand had the 4th most coup in the
world. "Uniformed or ex-military men have led
Thailand for 55 of
the 83 years" between 1932 and 2009.
The legislative according to 2007 Constitution was the bicameral
National Assembly composed of the Senate, the 150-member upper house,
and House of Representatives, the 350-member lower house. Since 2014
coup, it was replaced by a rubber stamp, unicameral National
The current King of
Vajiralongkorn (or Rama X) since
October 2016. Under the constitution the king is given very little
power, but remains a figurehead and symbol of the Thai nation. As the
head of state, however, he is given some powers and has a role to play
in the workings of government. According to the constitution, the king
is head of the armed forces. He is required to be Buddhist as well as
the defender of all faiths in the country. The king also retained some
traditional powers such as the power to appoint his heirs, the power
to grant pardons, and the royal assent. The king is aided in his
duties by the Privy Council of Thailand.
Since 2000s, two political parties dominated Thai general elections:
Pheu Thai Party
Pheu Thai Party (which was a successor of People's Power Party
Thai Rak Thai
Thai Rak Thai Party respectively) and the other was Democrat
Party. The political parties which support
Thaksin Shinawatra won the
most representatives every general election since 2001.
Organization of the government of Thailand
Organization of the government of Thailand and
Provinces of Thailand
Thailand is divided into 76 provinces (จังหวัด,
changwat), which are gathered into five groups of provinces by
location. There are also two specially-governed districts: the capital
Bangkok (Krung Thep Maha Nakhon) and Pattaya.
Bangkok is at provincial
level and thus often counted as a province.
Each province is divided into districts and the districts are further
divided into sub-districts (tambons). As of 2006[update] there were
877 districts (อำเภอ, amphoe) and the 50 districts of
Bangkok (เขต, khet). Some parts of the provinces bordering
Bangkok are also referred to as Greater Bangkok
(ปริมณฑล, pari monthon). These provinces include
Nonthaburi, Pathum Thani, Samut Prakan,
Nakhon Pathom and Samut
Sakhon. The name of each province's capital city (เมือง,
mueang) is the same as that of the province. For example, the capital
Chiang Mai Province
Chiang Mai Province (Changwat Chiang Mai) is
Chiang Mai or
A clickable map of
Thailand exhibiting its provinces.
Thailand four-region division
Main article: Regions of Thailand
Thai provinces are administrated by regions, the regions that Thailand
usually uses to division the provinces is four-region division system,
It divides the country into the four regions: Northern Thailand,
Central Thailand and Southern Thailand.
In each regions has it own different Historical Background, Culture,
Language and People.
Thai local people in the four regions ideally admire the
administration of the regions based on Administrative divisions in
Germany and British Devolved administrations such as Scotland, Wales
and Northern Ireland.
In contrast to the administrative divisions of the Provinces of
Thailand is Unitary state, the provincial Governors,
district chiefs, and district clerks are appointed by the central
government. the regions no longer have an administrative character,
but are used for geographical, statistical, geological, meteorological
or touristic purposes.
See also: South
Southern provinces of
Thailand showing the Malay-Muslim majority areas
Thailand controlled the
Malay Peninsula as far south as Malacca in the
15th century and held much of the peninsula, including Temasek
(Singapore), some of the Andaman Islands, and a colony on Java, but
eventually contracted when the British used force to guarantee their
suzerainty over the sultanate.
Mostly the northern states of the Malay Sultanate presented annual
gifts to the Thai king in the form of a golden flower—a gesture of
tribute and an acknowledgement of vassalage. The British intervened in
the Malay State and with the Anglo-Siamese Treaty tried to build a
railway from the south to Bangkok.
Thailand relinquished sovereignty
over what are now the northern Malay provinces of Kedah, Perlis,
Terengganu to the British. Satun and
were given to Thailand.
The Malay peninsular provinces were occupied by the Japanese during
World War II, and infiltrated by the
Malayan Communist Party
Malayan Communist Party (CPM)
from 1942 to 2008, when they sued for peace with the Malaysian and
Thai governments after the CPM lost its support from
Vietnam and China
subsequent to the Cultural Revolution. Recent insurgent uprisings may
be a continuation of separatist fighting which started after World War
II with Sukarno's support for the PULO. Most victims since the
uprisings have been Buddhist and Muslim bystanders.
Main article: Foreign relations of Thailand
Royal Thai Embassy in Washington, D.C.
Royal Thai Embassy in Wellington, New Zealand
The foreign relations of
Thailand are handled by the Minister of
Thailand participates fully in international and regional
organisations. It is a major non-NATO ally and Priority Watch List
Special 301 Report
Special 301 Report of the United States. The country remains an active
ASEAN Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
developed increasingly close ties with other
ASEAN members: Indonesia,
Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Brunei, Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar,
and Vietnam, whose foreign and economic ministers hold annual
meetings. Regional co-operation is progressing in economic, trade,
banking, political, and cultural matters. In 2003,
Thailand served as
Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation) host. Dr. Supachai
Panitchpakdi, the former Deputy Prime Minister of Thailand, currently
serves as Secretary-General of the United Nations Conference on Trade
and Development (UNCTAD). In 2005
Thailand attended the inaugural East
In recent years,
Thailand has taken an increasingly active role on the
international stage. When
East Timor gained independence from
Indonesia, Thailand, for the first time in its history, contributed
troops to the international peacekeeping effort. Its troops remain
there today as part of a UN peacekeeping force. As part of its effort
to increase international ties,
Thailand has reached out to such
regional organisations as the Organization of American States (OAS)
and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
Thailand has contributed troops to reconstruction efforts in
Afghanistan and Iraq.
Thaksin initiated negotiations for several free trade agreements with
China, Australia, Bahrain, India, and the US. The latter especially
was criticised, with claims that uncompetitive Thai industries could
be wiped out.
Thaksin also announced that
Thailand would forsake foreign aid, and
work with donor countries to assist in the development of neighbours
in the Greater
Mekong Sub-region. Thaksin sought to position
Thailand as a regional leader, initiating various development projects
in poorer neighbouring countries like Laos. More controversially, he
established close, friendly ties with the Burmese dictatorship.
Thailand joined the US-led invasion of Iraq, sending a 423-strong
humanitarian contingent. It withdrew its troops on 10 September
2004. Two Thai soldiers died in
Iraq in an insurgent attack.
Abhisit appointed Peoples Alliance for Democracy leader Kasit Piromya
as foreign minister. In April 2009, fighting broke out between Thai
and Cambodian troops on territory immediately adjacent to the
900-year-old ruins of Cambodia's Preah Vihear Hindu temple near the
border. The Cambodian government claimed its army had killed at least
four Thais and captured 10 more, although the Thai government denied
that any Thai soldiers were killed or injured. Two Cambodian and three
Thai soldiers were killed. Both armies blamed the other for firing
first and denied entering the other's territory.
Main article: Royal Thai Armed Forces
Royal Thai Army
Royal Thai Army firing M198 howitzer during training
The HTMS Chakri Naruebet, an aircraft carrier of the Royal Thai Navy
Royal Thai Air Force
Royal Thai Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon
Royal Thai Armed Forces
Royal Thai Armed Forces (จอมทัพไทย;
RTGS: Chom Thap Thai) constitute the military of the Kingdom of
Thailand. It consists of the Royal Thai Army
(กองทัพบกไทย), the Royal Thai Navy
(กองทัพเรือไทย), and the Royal Thai Air
Force (กองทัพอากาศไทย). It also
incorporates various paramilitary forces.
The Thai Armed Forces have a combined manpower of 306,000 active duty
personnel and another 245,000 active reserve personnel. The head
of the Thai Armed Forces (จอมทัพไทย, Chom Thap Thai)
is the king, although this position is only nominal. The armed
forces are managed by the Ministry of Defence of Thailand, which is
headed by the Minister of Defence (a member of the cabinet of
Thailand) and commanded by the
Royal Thai Armed Forces
Royal Thai Armed Forces Headquarters,
which in turn is headed by the Chief of Defence Forces of
Thailand. In 2011, Thailand's known military expenditure totalled
approximately US$5.1 billion.
According to the constitution, serving in the armed forces is a duty
of all Thai citizens. However, only males over the age of 21, who
have not gone through reserve training of the Territorial Defence
Student, are given the option of volunteering for the armed forces, or
participating in the random draft. The candidates are subjected to
varying lengths of training, from six months to two years of full-time
service, depending on their education, whether they have partially
completed the reserve training course, and whether they volunteered
prior to the draft date (usually 1 April every year).
Candidates with a recognised bachelor's degree serve one year of
full-time service if they are conscripted, or six months if they
volunteer at their district office (สัสดี, satsadi).
Likewise, the training length is also reduced for those who have
partially completed the three-year reserve training course (ร.ด.,
ro do). A person who completed one year out of three will only have to
serve full-time for one year. Those who completed two years of reserve
training will only have to do six months of full-time training, while
those who complete three years or more of reserve training will be
Royal Thai Armed Forces
Royal Thai Armed Forces Day is celebrated on 18 January, commemorating
the victory of
Naresuan of the
Ayutthaya Kingdom in battle against the
crown prince of the
Taungoo Dynasty in 1593.
Main article: Geography of Thailand
View of the Luang Prabang Range, which straddles the Thai-Lao border,
in Nan Province, Northern Thailand
A typical limestone island in Thailand
Phi Phi Islands
Totalling 513,120 square kilometres (198,120 sq mi),
Thailand is the 50th-largest country by total area. It is slightly
Yemen and slightly larger than Spain.
Thailand comprises several distinct geographic regions, partly
corresponding to the provincial groups. The north of the country is
the mountainous area of the Thai highlands, with the highest point
Doi Inthanon in the
Thanon Thong Chai Range
Thanon Thong Chai Range at 2,565 metres
(8,415 ft) above sea level. The northeast, Isan, consists of the
Khorat Plateau, bordered to the east by the
Mekong River. The centre
of the country is dominated by the predominantly flat Chao Phraya
river valley, which runs into the Gulf of Thailand.
Southern Thailand consists of the narrow
Kra Isthmus that widens into
the Malay Peninsula. Politically, there are six geographical regions
which differ from the others in population, basic resources, natural
features, and level of social and economic development. The diversity
of the regions is the most pronounced attribute of Thailand's physical
Chao Phraya and the
Mekong River are the indispensable water
courses of rural Thailand. Industrial scale production of crops use
both rivers and their tributaries. The
Gulf of Thailand
Gulf of Thailand covers 320,000
square kilometres (124,000 sq mi) and is fed by the Chao
Phraya, Mae Klong, Bang Pakong, and Tapi Rivers. It contributes to the
tourism sector owing to its clear shallow waters along the coasts in
the southern region and the Kra Isthmus. The eastern shore of the Gulf
Thailand is an industrial centre of
Thailand with the kingdom's
premier deepwater port in Sattahip and its busiest commercial port,
Andaman Sea is a precious natural resource as it hosts the most
popular and luxurious resorts in Asia. Phuket, Krabi, Ranong, Phang
Nga and Trang, and their islands, all lay along the coasts of the
Andaman Sea and, despite the 2004 tsunami, they are a tourist magnet
for visitors from around the world.
Plans have resurfaced for a canal which would connect the Andaman Sea
to the Gulf of Thailand, analogous to the Suez and the Panama Canals.
The idea has been greeted positively by Thai politicians as it would
cut fees charged by the Ports of Singapore, improve ties with China
and India, lower shipping times, and eliminate pirate attacks in the
Strait of Malacca, and support the Thai government's policy of being
the logistical hub for Southeast Asia. The canal, it is claimed, would
improve economic conditions in the south of Thailand, which relies
heavily on tourism income, and it would also change the structure of
the Thai economy by making it an
Asia logistical hub. The canal would
be a major engineering project and has an expected cost of US$20–30
Thailand map of Köppen climate classification
Satellite image of flooding in Thailand, Oct 2011 during the 2011
Thailand's climate is influenced by monsoon winds that have a seasonal
character (the southwest and northeast monsoon).:2 The southwest
monsoon, which starts from May until October is characterized by
movement of warm, moist air from the
Indian Ocean to Thailand, causing
abundant rain over most of the country.:2 The northeast monsoon,
starting from October until February brings cold and dry air from
China over most of Thailand.:2 In southern Thailand, the northeast
monsoon brings mild weather and abundant rainfall on the eastern coast
of that region.:2 Most of
Thailand has a "tropical wet and dry or
savanna climate" type (Köppen's Tropical savanna climate). The
south and the eastern tip of the east have a tropical monsoon climate.
Thailand is divided into three seasons.:2 The first is the rainy
or southwest monsoon season (mid–May to mid–October) which
prevails over most of the country.:2 This season is characterized
by abundant rain with August and September being the wettest period of
the year.:2 This can occasionally lead to floods.:4 In
addition to rainfall caused by the southwest monsoon, the
Intertropical Convergence Zone
Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) and tropical cyclones also
contribute to producing heavy rainfall during the rainy season.:2
Nonetheless, dry spells commonly occur for 1 to 2 weeks from June to
early July.:4 This is due to the northward movement of the
Intertropical Convergence Zone
Intertropical Convergence Zone to southern China.:4 Winter or the
northeast monsoon starts from mid–October until
mid–February.:2 Most of
Thailand experiences dry weather during
this season with mild temperatures.:2:4 The exception is the
southern parts of
Thailand where it receives abundant rainfall,
particularly during October to November.:2 Summer or the
pre–monsoon season runs from mid–February until mid–May and is
characterized by warmer weather.:3
Due to its inland nature and latitude, the north, northeast, central
and eastern parts of
Thailand experience a long period of warm
weather.:3 During the hottest time of the year (March to May),
temperatures usually reach up to 40 °C (104 °F) or more
with the exception of coastal areas where sea breezes moderate
afternoon temperatures.:3 In contrast, outbreaks of cold air from
China can bring colder temperatures; in some cases (particularly the
north and northeast) close to or below 0 °C (32 °F).:3
Southern Thailand is characterized by mild weather year-round with
less diurnal and seasonal variations in temperatures due to maritime
Most of the country receives a mean annual rainfall of 1,200 to
1,600 mm (47 to 63 in).:4 However, certain areas on the
windward sides of mountains such as
Ranong province in the west coast
Thailand and eastern parts of
Trat Province receive more
than 4,500 mm (180 in) of rainfall per year.:4 The
driest areas are on the leeward side in the central valleys and
northernmost portion of south
Thailand where mean annual rainfall is
less than 1,200 mm (47 in).:4 Most of
northeast, central and east) is characterized by dry weather during
the northeast monsoon and abundant rainfall during the southwest
monsoon.:4 In the southern parts of Thailand, abundant rainfall
occurs in both the northeast and southwest monsoon seasons with a peak
in September for the western coast and a peak in November–January on
the eastern coast.:4
Thailand has a mediocre but improving performance in the global
Environmental Performance Index (EPI) with an overall ranking of 91
out of 180 countries in 2016. This is also a mediocre rank in the Asia
Pacific region specifically, but ahead of countries like
China. The EPI was established in 2001 by the
World Economic Forum
World Economic Forum as
a global gauge to measure how well individual countries perform in
implementing the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals. The
environmental areas where
Thailand performs worst (i.e. highest
ranking) are air quality (167), environmental effects of the
agricultural industry (106) and the climate and energy sector (93),
the later mainly because of a high
CO2 emission per KWh produced.
Thailand performs best (i.e. lowest ranking) in water resource
management (66), with some major improvements expected for the future
too, and sanitation (68).
Main article: List of species native to Thailand
The population of
Asian elephants in Thailand's wild has dropped to an
The elephant is Thailand's national symbol. Although there were
100,000 domesticated elephants in
Thailand in 1850, the population of
elephants has dropped to an estimated 2,000. Poachers have long
hunted elephants for ivory and hides, and now increasingly for
meat. Young elephants are often captured for use in tourist
attractions or as work animals, although their use has declined since
the government banned logging in 1989. There are now more elephants in
captivity than in the wild, and environmental activists claim that
elephants in captivity are often mistreated.
Poaching of protected species remains a major problem. Hunters have
decimated the populations of tigers, leopards, and other large cats
for their valuable pelts. Many animals (including tigers, bears,
crocodiles, and king cobras) are farmed or hunted for their meat,
which is considered a delicacy, and for their supposed medicinal
properties. Although such trade is illegal, the famous
Chatuchak is still known for the sale of endangered species.
The practice of keeping wild animals as pets threatens several
species. Baby animals are typically captured and sold, which often
requires killing the mother. Once in captivity and out of their
natural habitat, many pets die or fail to reproduce. Affected
populations include the Asiatic black bear, Malayan sun bear,
white-handed lar, pileated gibbon and binturong.
Main article: Education in Thailand
Primary school students in Thailand
In 2014 the literacy rate was 93.5%. Education is provided by a
well-organized school system of kindergartens, primary, lower
secondary and upper secondary schools, numerous vocational colleges,
and universities. The private sector of education is well developed
and significantly contributes to the overall provision of education
which the government would not be able to meet with public
establishments. Education is compulsory up to and including age 14,
with the government providing free education through to age
Chulalongkorn University, established in 1917, is the oldest
university in Thailand.
Teaching relies heavily on rote learning rather than on
student-centred methodology. The establishment of reliable and
coherent curricula for its primary and secondary schools is subject to
such rapid changes that schools and their teachers are not always sure
what they are supposed to be teaching, and authors and publishers of
textbooks are unable to write and print new editions quickly enough to
keep up with the volatility. Issues concerning university entrance has
been in constant upheaval for a number of years. Nevertheless, Thai
education has seen its greatest progress in the years since 2001. Most
of the present generation of students are computer literate. Thailand
was ranked 54th out of 56 countries globally for English proficiency,
the second-lowest in Asia.
Students in ethnic minority areas score consistently lower in
standardised national and international tests.   This is
likely due to unequal allocation of educational resources, weak
teacher training, poverty, and low
Thai language skill, the language
of the tests.  
Extensive nationwide IQ tests were administered to 72,780 Thai
students from December 2010 to January 2011. The average IQ was found
to be 98.59, which is higher than previous studies have found. IQ
levels were found to be inconsistent throughout the country, with the
lowest average of 88.07 found in the southern region of Narathiwat
Province and the highest average of 108.91 reported in Nonthaburi
Province. The Ministry of Public Health blames the discrepancies on
iodine deficiency and steps are being taken to require that iodine be
added to table salt, a practice common in many Western countries.
In 2013, the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology
announced that 27,231 schools would receive classroom-level access to
high-speed internet.[dead link]
Science and technology
Main article: List of Thai inventions and discoveries
National Science and Technology Development Agency
National Science and Technology Development Agency is an agency of
the government of
Thailand which supports research in science and
technology and its application in the Thai economy.
The Synchrotron Light Research Institute (SLRI) is a Thai synchrotron
light source for physics, chemistry, material science, and life
sciences. It is at the
Suranaree University of Technology
Suranaree University of Technology (SUT), in
Nakhon Ratchasima, about 300 kilometres (190 miles) northeast of
Bangkok. The institute, financed by the Ministry of Science and
Technology (MOST), houses the only large scale synchrotron in
Southeast Asia. It was originally built as the SORTEC synchrotron in
Japan and later moved to
Thailand and modified for 1.2 GeV operation.
It provides users with regularly scheduled light.
In Bangkok, there are 23,000 free public
Thailand includes 10Gbit/s high speed fibre-optic
lines that can be leased and ISPs such as KIRZ that provide
Internet services.
Internet is censored by the Thai government, making some sites
unreachable. The organisations responsible are the Royal Thai
Police, the Communications Authority of Thailand, and the Ministry of
Information and Communication Technology (MICT).
Main article: Economy of Thailand
Thailand is an emerging economy and is considered a newly
Thailand had a 2013 GDP of US$673 billion (on
a purchasing power parity [PPP] basis).
Thailand is the 2nd
largest economy in
Southeast Asia after Indonesia.
midway in the wealth spread in
Southeast Asia as it is the 4th richest
nation according to GDP per capita, after Singapore, Brunei, and
Thailand functions as an anchor economy for the neighbouring
developing economies of Laos, Myanmar, and Cambodia. In the third
quarter of 2014, the unemployment rate in
Thailand stood at 0.84%
according to Thailand's National Economic and Social Development Board
Recent economic history
BTS Skytrain passes through Sathon, the business district of
Bangkok, the capital of
Thailand and the country's largest commercial
and financial centre.
MahaNakhon skyscraper in Bangkok
Thailand experienced the world's highest economic growth rate from
1985 to 1996 – averaging 12.4% annually. In 1997 increased pressure
on the baht, a year in which the economy contracted by 1.9%, led to a
crisis that uncovered financial sector weaknesses and forced the
Chavalit Yongchaiyudh administration to float the currency. Prime
Chavalit Yongchaiyudh was forced to resign after his cabinet
came under fire for its slow response to the economic crisis. The baht
was pegged at 25 to the US dollar from 1978 to 1997. The baht reached
its lowest point of 56 to the US dollar in January 1998 and the
economy contracted by 10.8% that year, triggering the Asian financial
Thailand's economy started to recover in 1999, expanding 4.2–4.4% in
2000, thanks largely to strong exports. Growth (2.2%) was dampened by
the softening of the global economy in 2001, but picked up in the
subsequent years owing to strong growth in Asia, a relatively weak
baht encouraging exports, and increased domestic spending as a result
of several mega projects and incentives of Prime Minister Thaksin
Shinawatra, known as Thaksinomics. Growth in 2002, 2003, and 2004 was
Growth in 2005, 2006, and 2007 hovered around 4–5%. Due both to the
weakening of the US dollar and an increasingly strong Thai currency,
by March 2008 the dollar was hovering around the 33 baht mark. While
Thaksinomics has received criticism, official economic data reveals
that between 2001 and 2011, Isan's GDP per capita more than doubled to
US$1,475, while, over the same period, GDP in the
increased from US$7,900 to nearly US$13,000.
With the instability surrounding major 2010 protests, the GDP growth
Thailand settled at around 4–5%, from highs of 5–7% under the
previous civilian administration. Political uncertainty was identified
as the primary cause of a decline in investor and consumer confidence.
The IMF predicted that the Thai economy would rebound strongly from
the low 0.1% GDP growth in 2011, to 5.5% in 2012 and then 7.5% in
2013, due to the monetary policy of the Bank of Thailand, as well as a
package of fiscal stimulus measures introduced by the former Yingluck
Following the Thai military coup of 22 May 2014, the AFP global news
agency published an article that claimed that the nation was on the
verge of recession. The article focused on the departure of nearly
180,000 Cambodians from
Thailand due to fears of an immigration
clampdown, but concluded with information on the Thai economy's
contraction of 2.1% quarter-on-quarter, from January to the end of
Exports and manufacturing
A proportional representation of Thailand's exports
The economy of
Thailand is heavily export-dependent, with exports
accounting for more than two-thirds of gross domestic product (GDP).
Thailand exports over US$105 billion worth of goods and services
annually. Major exports include cars, computers, electrical
appliances, rice, textiles and footwear, fishery products, rubber, and
Substantial industries include electric appliances, components,
computer components, and vehicles. Thailand's recovery from the
Asian financial crisis
Asian financial crisis depended mainly on exports, among
various other factors. As of 2012[update], the Thai automotive
industry was the largest in
Southeast Asia and the 9th largest in the
Thailand industry has an annual output of near
1.5 million vehicles, mostly commercial vehicles.
Most of the vehicles built in
Thailand are developed and licensed by
foreign producers, mainly Japanese and South Korean. The Thai car
industry takes advantage of the
ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA) to find a
market for many of its products. Eight manufacturers, five Japanese,
two US, and Tata of India, produce pick-up trucks in Thailand.
Thailand is the second largest consumer of pick-up trucks in the
world, after the US. In 2014, pick-ups accounted for
42% of all new vehicle sales in Thailand.
Tourism in Thailand
Wat Phra Kaew
Wat Phra Kaew in Bangkok
Statue of a mythical Kinnon, Wat Phra Kaew, Bangkok
Airbus A380 of the national carrier Thai Airways
Tourism makes up about 6% of the economy.
Thailand was the most
visited country in
Southeast Asia in 2013, according to the World
Tourism Organisation. Estimates of tourism receipts directly
contributing to the Thai GDP of 12 trillion baht range from 9 percent
(1 trillion baht) (2013) to 16 percent. When including the
indirect effects of tourism, it is said to account for 20.2 percent
(2.4 trillion baht) of Thailand's GDP.:1
Tourism Authority of
Thailand (TAT) uses the slogan "Amazing
Thailand" to promote
Thailand internationally. In 2015, this was
supplemented by a "Discover Thainess" campaign.
Asian tourists primarily visit
Bangkok and the
historical, natural, and cultural sights in its vicinity. Western
tourists not only visit
Bangkok and surroundings, but in addition many
travel to the southern beaches and islands. The north is the chief
destination for trekking and adventure travel with its diverse ethnic
minority groups and forested mountains. The region hosting the fewest
Isan in the northeast. To accommodate foreign visitors,
the Thai government established a separate tourism police with offices
in the major tourist areas and its own central emergency telephone
"Amazing Thailand" –
Tourism booth at a Travel and Tour
Thailand's attractions include diving, sandy beaches, hundreds of
tropical islands, nightlife, archaeological sites, museums, hill
tribes, flora and bird life, palaces, Buddhist temples and several
World Heritage sites. Many tourists follow courses during their stay
in Thailand. Popular are classes in Thai cooking,
traditional Thai massage. Thai national festivals range from Thai New
Year Songkran to Loy Krathong. Many localities in
Thailand also have
their own festivals. Among the best-known are the "
in Surin, the "Rocket Festival" in
Yasothon and the "Phi Ta Khon"
festival in Dan Sai.
Thai cuisine has become famous worldwide with its
enthusiastic use of fresh herbs and spices.
Bangkok shopping malls offer a variety of international and local
brands. Towards the north of the city, and easily reached by skytrain
or underground, is the Chatuchak Weekend Market. It is possibly the
largest market in the world, selling everything from household items
to live, and sometimes endangered, animals. The "Pratunam Market"
specialises in fabrics and clothing. The night markets in the Silom
area and on
Khaosan Road are mainly tourist-oriented, selling items
such as T-shirts, handicrafts, counterfeit watches and sunglasses. In
the vicinity of
Bangkok one can find several floating markets such as
the one in Damnoen Saduak. The "Sunday Evening Walking Street Market",
held on Rachadamnoen Road inside the old city, is a shopping highlight
of a visit to
Chiang Mai up in northern Thailand. It attracts many
locals as well as foreigners. The "Night Bazaar" is Chiang Mai's more
tourist-oriented market, sprawling over several city blocks just east
of the old city walls towards the river.
Prostitution in Thailand
Prostitution in Thailand and sex tourism also form a de facto part of
the economy. Campaigns promote
Thailand as exotic to attract
tourists. Cultural milieu combined with poverty and the lure of
money have caused prostitution and sex tourism in particular to
flourish in Thailand. One estimate published in 2003 placed the trade
at US$4.3 billion per year or about 3% of the Thai economy.
According to research by
Chulalongkorn University on the Thai illegal
economy, prostitution in
Thailand in the period between 1993 and 1995,
made up around 2.7% of the GDP. It is believed that at least 10%
of tourist dollars are spent on the sex trade.
The head of Buddha, Wat Mahathat, at Ayutthaya Historical Park, World
Thailand is at the forefront of the growing practice of
sex-reassignment surgery (SRS). Statistic taken from 2014, illustrated
the country's medical tourism industry attracting over 2.5 million
visitors per year. In 1985–1990, only 5% of foreign transsexual
Thailand for sex-reassignment surgery. In more recent
years, 2010–2012, more than 90% of the visitors traveled to Thailand
Further information: Agriculture in Thailand
Thailand had long been one of the largest rice exporters in the world.
Forty-nine percent of Thailand's labour force is employed in
Forty-nine per cent of Thailand's labour force is employed in
agriculture. This is down from 70% in 1980. Rice is the most
important crop in the country and
Thailand had long been the world's
leading exporter of rice, until recently falling behind both
Thailand has the highest percentage of arable land,
27.25%, of any nation in the Greater
Mekong Subregion. About 55%
of the arable land area is used for rice production.
Agriculture has been experiencing a transition from labour-intensive
and transitional methods to a more industrialised and competitive
sector. Between 1962 and 1983, the agricultural sector grew by
4.1% per year on average and continued to grow at 2.2% between 1983
and 2007. The relative contribution of agriculture to GDP has
declined while exports of goods and services have increased.
Further information: Energy in Thailand
75% of Thailand's electrical generation is powered by natural gas in
2014. Coal-fired power plants produce an additional 20% of
electricity, with the remainder coming from biomass, hydro, and
Thailand produces roughly one-third of the oil it consumes. It is the
second largest importer of oil in SE Asia.
Thailand is a large
producer of natural gas, with reserves of at least 10 trillion cubic
feet. After Indonesia, it is the largest coal producer in SE Asia, but
must import additional coal to meet domestic demand.
Transport in Thailand
Transport in Thailand and List of airports in Thailand
Health in Thailand
Health in Thailand and HIV/AIDS in Thailand
Health and medical care is overseen by the Ministry of Public Health
(MOPH), along with several other non-ministerial government agencies,
with total national expenditures on health amounting to 4.3 percent of
GDP in 2009. Non-communicable diseases form the major burden of
morbidity and mortality, while infectious diseases including malaria
and tuberculosis, as well as traffic accidents, are also important
public health issues.
The current Minister for Public Health is Prof. Emeritus Piyasakol
Sakolsatayadorn, M.D. and the Permanent Secretary of Ministry of
Public Health is Jedsada Chokdamrongsuk, M.D. Somsak Chunharas, MD,
MPH, was once Deputy Minister for Public Health and is currently a
Senior Leadership Fellow at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public
Health in Boston.
Main article: Demographics of Thailand
Thailand had a population of 68,863,514 as of 2016[update].
Thailand's population is largely rural, concentrated in the
rice-growing areas of the central, northeastern, and northern regions.
Thailand had an urban population of 45.7% as of 2010[update],
concentrated mostly in and around the
Bangkok Metropolitan Area.
Thailand's government-sponsored family planning program resulted in a
dramatic decline in population growth from 3.1% in 1960 to around 0.4%
today. In 1970, an average of 5.7 people lived in a Thai household. At
the time of the 2010 census, the average Thai household size was 3.2
Ethnic groups in Thailand
A procession during the Hae Pha Khuen That festival of Wat Phra
Thai nationals make up the majority of Thailand's population, 95.9% in
2010. The remaining 4.1% of the population are Burmese (2.0%), others
1.3%, and unspecified 0.9%.
According to the Royal Thai Government's 2011 Country Report to the UN
Committee responsible for the International Convention for the
Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, available from the
Department of Rights and Liberties Promotion of the Thai Ministry of
Justice,:3 62 ethnic communities are officially recognised in
Thailand. Twenty million Central Thai (together with approximately
650,000 Khorat Thai) make up approximately 20,650,000 (34.1 percent)
of the nation's population of 60,544,937 at the time of completion
of the Mahidol University Ethnolinguistic Maps of
Thailand Country Report provides population numbers for
mountain peoples ('hill tribes') and ethnic communities in the
Northeast and is explicit about its main reliance on the Mahidol
University Ethnolinguistic Maps of
Thailand data. Thus, though
over 3.288 million people in the Northeast alone could not be
categorised, the population and percentages of other ethnic
communities circa 1997 are known for all of
Thailand and constitute
minimum populations. In descending order, the largest (equal to or
greater than 400,000) are a) 15,080,000 Lao (24.9 percent) consisting
of the Thai Lao (14 million) and other smaller Lao groups, namely
the Thai Loei (400–500,000), Lao Lom (350,000), Lao Wiang/Klang
(200,000), Lao Khrang (90,000), Lao Ngaew (30,000), and Lao Ti
(10,000; b) six million
Khon Muang (9.9 percent, also called Northern
Thais); c) 4.5 million Pak Tai (7.5 percent, also called Southern
Thais); d) 1.4 million Khmer Leu (2.3 percent, also called Northern
Khmer); e) 900,000 Malay (1.5%); f) 500,000 Ngaw (0.8 percent); g)
470,000 Phu Thai (0.8 percent); h) 400,000 Kuy/Kuay (also known as
Suay) (0.7 percent), and i) 350,000 Karen (0.6 percent).:7–13
Thai Chinese, those of significant Chinese heritage, are 14% of the
population, while Thais with partial Chinese ancestry comprise up
to 40% of the population.
Thai Malays represent 3% of the
population, with the remainder consisting of Mons,
Khmers and various
"hill tribes". The country's official language is Thai and the primary
Theravada Buddhism, which is practised by around 95% of
Increasing numbers of migrants from neighbouring Myanmar, Laos, and
Cambodia, as well as from
Nepal and India, have pushed the total
number of non-national residents to around 3.5 million as of
2009[update], up from an estimated 2 million in 2008, and about 1.3
million in 2000. Some 41,000 Britons live in Thailand.
Further information: List of cities in Thailand
Largest municipalities in Thailand
Pak Kret City
Hat Yai City
Nakhon Si Thammarat
Nakhon Si Thammarat City
Nakhon Si Thammarat
Pak Kret City
Nakhon Sawan City
Hat Yai City
Laem Chabang City
Chaophraya Surasak City
Nakhon Ratchasima City
Udon Thani City
Nakhon Pathom City
Chiang Mai City
Ubon Ratchathani City
Surat Thani City
Chiang Rai City
Khon Kaen City
Main article: Languages of Thailand
Source:  National Statistical Office of Thailand
The official language of
Thailand is Thai, a Tai–Kadai language
closely related to Lao, Shan in Myanmar, and numerous smaller
languages spoken in an arc from
Yunnan south to the Chinese
border. It is the principal language of education and government and
spoken throughout the country. The standard is based on the dialect of
the central Thai people, and it is written in the Thai alphabet, an
abugida script that evolved from the Khmer alphabet. Sixty-two
languages were recognised by the Royal Thai Government in the 2011
Country Report to the UN Committee responsible for the International
Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination,
which employed an ethnolinguistic approach and is available from the
Department of Rights and Liberties Promotion of the Thai Ministry of
Justice.:3 Southern Thai is spoken in the southern provinces, and
Northern Thai is spoken in the provinces that were formerly part of
the independent kingdom of Lan Na. For the purposes of the national
census, which does not recognise all 62 languages recognised by the
Royal Thai Government in the 2011 Country Report, four dialects of
Thai exist; these partly coincide with regional designations.
The largest of Thailand's minority languages is the Lao dialect of
Isan spoken in the northeastern provinces. Although sometimes
considered a Thai dialect, it is a Lao dialect, and the region where
it is traditionally spoken was historically part of the Lao kingdom of
Lan Xang. In the far south,
Kelantan-Pattani Malay is
the primary language of Malay Muslims. Varieties of Chinese are also
spoken by the large
Thai Chinese population, with the Teochew dialect
Numerous tribal languages are also spoken, including many
Austroasiatic languages such as Mon, Khmer, Viet, Mlabri and Orang
Austronesian languages such as Cham and Moken; Sino-Tibetan
languages like Lawa, Akha, and Karen; and other
Tai languages such as
Tai Yo, Phu Thai, and Saek. Hmong is a member of the Hmong–Mien
languages, which is now regarded as a language family of its own.
English is a mandatory school subject, but the number of fluent
speakers remains low, especially outside cities.
Main article: Religion in Thailand
Religion in Thailand
Religion in Thailand (2015)
Thailand's prevalent religion is
Theravada Buddhism, which is an
integral part of Thai identity and culture. Active participation in
Buddhism is among the highest in the world. According to the 2000
census, 94.6% and 93.58% in 2010 of the country's population
self-identified as Buddhists of the
Theravada tradition. Muslims
constitute the second largest religious group in Thailand, comprising
4.9% of the population.
Islam is concentrated mostly in the country's southernmost provinces:
Pattani, Yala, Satun, Narathiwat, and part of Songkhla Chumphon, which
are predominantly Malay, most of whom are Sunni Muslims. Christians
represent 0.9% (2000) and 1.17% (2015) of the population, with the
remaining population consisting of Hindus and Sikhs, who live mostly
in the country's cities. There is also a small but historically
significant Jewish community in
Thailand dating back to the 17th
According to the 2015 census, 67,328,562
belonged to the following religious groups:
According to the 2015 census, 67,328,562
Thailand residents by
Region belonged to the following religious groups:
Main article: Culture of Thailand
See also: Music of Thailand, Isan, and Cinema of Thailand
Theravada Buddhism, highly practised in Thailand
Thai culture has been shaped by many influences, including Indian,
Lao, Burmese, Cambodian, and Chinese.
Its traditions incorporate a great deal of influence from India,
China, Cambodia, and the rest of Southeast Asia. Thailand's national
Theravada Buddhism, is central to modern Thai identity. Thai
Buddhism has evolved over time to include many regional beliefs
originating from Hinduism, animism, as well as ancestor worship. The
official calendar in
Thailand is based on the Eastern version of the
Buddhist Era (BE), which is 543 years ahead of the Gregorian (Western)
calendar. Thus the year 2015 is 2558 BE in Thailand.
Several different ethnic groups, many of which are marginalised,
populate Thailand. Some of these groups spill over into Myanmar, Laos,
Malaysia and have mediated change between their
traditional local culture, national Thai, and global cultural
Overseas Chinese also form a significant part of Thai
society, particularly in and around Bangkok. Their successful
integration into Thai society has allowed for this group to hold
positions of economic and political power.
Thai Chinese businesses
prosper as part of the larger bamboo network, a network of overseas
Chinese businesses operating in the markets of
Southeast Asia that
share common family and cultural ties.
Khon show is the most stylised form of Thai performance.
The traditional Thai greeting, the wai, is generally offered first by
the younger of the two people meeting, with their hands pressed
together, fingertips pointing upwards as the head is bowed to touch
face to fingertips, usually coinciding with the spoken words "sawatdi
khrap" for male speakers, and "sawatdi kha" for females. The elder may
then respond in the same way. Social status and position, such as in
government, will also have an influence on who performs the wai first.
For example, although one may be considerably older than a provincial
governor, when meeting it is usually the visitor who pays respect
first. When children leave to go to school, they are taught to wai
their parents to indicate their respect. The wai is a sign of respect
and reverence for another, similar to the namaste greeting of India
As with other Asian cultures, respect towards ancestors is an
essential part of Thai spiritual practice. Thais have a strong sense
of hospitality and generosity, but also a strong sense of social
hierarchy. Seniority is paramount in Thai culture. Elders have by
tradition ruled in family decisions or ceremonies. Older siblings have
duties to younger ones.
Thailand include touching someone's head or pointing with
the feet, as the head is considered the most sacred and the foot the
lowest part of the body.
Further information: Cuisine of Thailand
Thai cuisine blends five fundamental tastes: sweet, spicy, sour,
bitter, and salty. Common ingredients used in
Thai cuisine include
garlic, chillies, lime juice, lemon grass, coriander, galangal, palm
sugar, and fish sauce (nam pla). The staple food in
Thailand is rice,
particularly jasmine variety rice (also known as "hom Mali" rice)
which forms a part of almost every meal.
Thailand was long[when?] the
world's largest exporter of rice, and Thais domestically consume over
100 kg of milled rice per person per year. Over 5,000 varieties of
Thailand are preserved in the rice gene bank of the
International Rice Research Institute
International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), based in the
Philippines. The king of
Thailand is the official patron of IRRI.
Further information: Media of Thailand
Thai society has been influenced in recent years by its widely
available multi-language press and media. There are some English and
numerous Thai and Chinese newspapers in circulation. Most Thai popular
magazines use English headlines as a chic glamour factor. Many large
Bangkok operate in English as well as other languages.
Thailand is the largest newspaper market in
Southeast Asia with an
estimated circulation of over 13 million copies daily in 2003. Even
upcountry, out of Bangkok, the media flourish. For example, according
to Thailand's Public Relations Department Media Directory 2003–2004,
the nineteen provinces of Isan, Thailand's northeastern region, hosted
116 newspapers along with radio, TV, and cable. Since then, another
province, Bueng Kan, was incorporated, totalling twenty provinces. In
addition, a military coup on 22 May 2014 led to severe state
restrictions on all media and forms of expression.
Units of measurement
Further information: Thai units of measurement
Thailand generally uses the metric system, but traditional units of
measurement for land area are used, and imperial units of measurement
are occasionally used for building materials, such as wood and
plumbing fixtures. Years are numbered as B.E. (Buddhist Era) in
educational settings, civil service, government, contracts, and
newspaper datelines. However, in banking, and increasingly in industry
and commerce, standard Western year (Christian or Common Era) counting
is the standard practice.
Thailand at the Olympics, Rugby union in Thailand, Golf in
Thailand, Football in Thailand, and List of sporting events held in
Muay Thai, Thailand's signature sport
Muay Thai (Thai: มวยไทย, RTGS: Muai Thai, [muaj
tʰaj], lit. "Thai boxing") is a native form of kickboxing and
Thailand's signature sport. It incorporates kicks, punches, knees and
elbow strikes in a ring with gloves similar to those used in Western
boxing and this has led to
Thailand gaining medals at the Olympic
Games in boxing.
Association football has overtaken muay Thai as the most widely
followed sport in contemporary Thai society.
football team has played the
AFC Asian Cup
AFC Asian Cup six times and reached the
semifinals in 1972. The country has hosted the Asian Cup twice, in
1972 and in 2007. The 2007 edition was co-hosted together with
Malaysia and Vietnam. It is not uncommon to see Thais
cheering their favourite English Premier League teams on television
and walking around in replica kit. Another widely enjoyed pastime, and
once a competitive sport, is kite flying.
Rajamangala National Stadium
Volleyball is rapidly growing as one of the most popular sports. The
women's team has often participated in the World Championship, World
Cup, and World Grand Prix Asian Championship. They have won the Asian
Championship twice and Asian Cup once. By the success of the women's
team, the men team has been growing as well.
Takraw (Thai: ตะกร้อ) is a sport native to Thailand, in
which the players hit a rattan ball and are only allowed to use their
feet, knees, chest, and head to touch the ball.
Sepak takraw is a form
of this sport which is similar to volleyball. The players must volley
a ball over a net and force it to hit the ground on the opponent's
side. It is also a popular sport in other countries in Southeast Asia.
A rather similar game but played only with the feet is buka ball.
Snooker has enjoyed increasing popularity in
Thailand in recent years,
with interest in the game being stimulated by the success of Thai
James Wattana in the 1990s. Other notable players
produced by the country include Ratchayothin Yotharuck, Noppon
Saengkham and Dechawat Poomjaeng.
Rugby is also a growing sport in
Thailand with the
rugby union team rising to be ranked 61st in the world. Thailand
became the first country in the world to host an international 80
welterweight rugby tournament in 2005. The national domestic
Thailand Rugby Union (TRU) competition includes several universities
and services teams such as
Chulalongkorn University, Mahasarakham
University, Kasetsart University, Prince of Songkla University,
Thammasat University, Rangsit University, the Thai Police, the Thai
Thai Navy and the Royal Thai Air Force. Local sports clubs
which also compete in the TRU include the British Club of Bangkok, the
Southerners Sports Club (Bangkok) and the Royal
Bangkok Sports Club.
Thailand has been called the golf capital of Asia as it is a
popular destination for golf. The country attracts a large number of
golfers from Japan, Korea, Singapore, South Africa, and Western
countries who come to play golf in
Thailand every year. The
growing popularity of golf, especially among the middle classes and
immigrants, is evident as there are more than 200 world-class golf
courses nationwide, and some of them are chosen to host PGA and
LPGA tournaments, such as Amata Spring Country Club, Alpine Golf and
Sports Club, Thai Country Club, and Black Mountain Golf Club.
Basketball is a growing sport in Thailand, especially on the
professional sports club level. The Chang
Thailand Slammers won the
ASEAN Basketball League Championship. The
basketball team had its most successful year at the 1966 Asian Games
where it won the silver medal.
Other sports in
Thailand are slowly growing as the country develops
its sporting infrastructure. The success in sports like weightlifting
and taekwondo at the last two summer Olympic Games has demonstrated
that boxing is no longer the only medal option for Thailand.
Thammasat Stadium is a multi-purpose stadium in Bangkok. It is
currently used mostly for football matches. The stadium holds 25,000.
It is on Thammasat University's Rangsit campus. It was built for the
1998 Asian Games
1998 Asian Games by construction firm Christiani and Nielsen, the same
company that constructed the Democracy Monument in Bangkok.
Rajamangala National Stadium
Rajamangala National Stadium is the biggest sporting arena in
Thailand. It currently has a capacity of 65,000. It is in Bang Kapi,
Bangkok. The stadium was built in 1998 for the
1998 Asian Games
1998 Asian Games and is
the home stadium of the
Thailand national football team.
The well-known Lumpini
Boxing Stadium will host its final Muay Thai
boxing matches on 7 February 2014 after the venue first opened in
December 1956. Managed by the Royal Thai Army, the stadium was
officially selected for the purpose of muay Thai bouts following a
competition that was staged on 15 March 1956. From 11 February 2014,
the stadium will relocate to Ram Intra Road, due to the new venue's
capacity to accommodate audiences of up to 3,500. Foreigners typically
pay between 1,000–2,000 baht to view a match, with prices depending
on the location of the seating.
Main article: International rankings of Thailand
The Heritage Foundation
Indices of Economic Freedom
60 of 179
Foreign Policy magazine
Global Services Location Index 2011
7 of 50
Reporters Without Borders
Worldwide Press Freedom Index, 2014
130 of 180
Corruption Perceptions Index
80 of 179
United Nations Development Programme
Human Development Index
89 of 187
World Economic Forum
Global Competitiveness Report (2008)
34 of 134
World Gold Council
Gold reserve (2010)
24 of 111
Expat Explorer Survey (2012)
2 of 30
Index of Thailand-related articles
Outline of Thailand
^ a b c d e f
Thailand Archived 3 July 2015 at the Wayback Machine.,
The World Factbook.
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Question: The Reappearance of Thailand's Ethnic Lao Community and
Related Policy Questions". Asian Ethnicity.
doi:10.1080/14631369.2016.1258300. Archived from the original on 27
December 2016. Retrieved 23 November 2016.
^ a b c d e International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms
of Racial Discrimination; Reports submitted by States parties under
article 9 of the Convention:
Thailand (PDF) (in English with appended
Thai government translation). United Nations Committee on the
Elimination of Racial Discrimination. 28 July 2011. Archived (PDF)
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^ David Levinson (1998), Ethnic Groups Worldwide: A Ready Reference
Handbook, Oryx Pres, p. 287, ISBN 1-57356-019-7
^ Paul, Lewis M.; Simons, Gary F.; Fennig, Charles D. (2013),
Ethnologue: Languages of the World, SIL International,
ISBN 978-1-55671-216-6, archived from the original on 27 December
^ a b Barbara A. West (2009), Encyclopedia of the Peoples of
Oceania, Facts on File, p. 794, ISBN 1-4381-1913-5
^ a b c d "Population by religion, region and area, 2015" (PDF). NSO.
Archived (PDF) from the original on 10 December 2017. Retrieved 12
^ a b "World Population Prospects: The 2017 Revision". ESA.UN.org
(custom data acquired via website). United Nations Department of
Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division. Retrieved 10
^ (in Thai) National
Statistics Office, "100th anniversary of
population censuses in Thailand: Population and housing census 2010:
11th census of Thailand" Archived 12 July 2012 at the Wayback
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^ "Gini Index". World Bank. Archived from the original on 4 December
2017. Retrieved 3 December 2017.
^ Global 2016 Human Development Report Overview – English (PDF). New
United Nations Development Programme
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pp. 22–24. Archived (PDF) from the original on 23 March 2017.
Retrieved 22 March 2017.
^ Jonathan H. Ping Middle Power Statecraft Archived 5 September 2015
at the Wayback Machine. (p 104)
Thailand and the World Bank Archived 9 June 2011 at Wikiwix, World
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Footnote 189: The name is found on Champan inscriptions of 1050 CE and
according to Gerini appears in Ptolemy's Samarade = Sâmaraṭṭha.
See Gerini, Ptolemy, p. 170. But Samarade is near
Bangkok and there
can hardly have been Thais there in Ptolemy's time; and Footnote 190:
So too in Central
Asia Kustana appears to be a learned distortion of
the name Khotan, made to give it a meaning in Sanskrit.
Thailand (Siam) History, CSMngt-Thai. Archived 24 April 2015 at the
^ Cœdès 1968, p. 197.
^ จิตร ภูมิศักดิ์ 1976:
ของชื่อชนชาติ" (Jid Phumisak 1976: "Coming
Into Existence for the Siamese Words for Thai, Laotian and Khmer and
Societal Characteristics for Nation-names")
^ Ferlus, Michel (2009). Formation of Ethnonyms in Southeast Asia
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Conference on Sino-Tibetan Languages and Linguistics, Nov 2009, Chiang
Mai, Thailand. 2009, p.3.
^ Pain, Frédéric (2008). An Introduction to Thai Ethnonymy: Examples
from Shan and Northern Thai Archived 19 November 2016 at the Wayback
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^ a b c d Barbara Leitch LePoer (1989). Thailand: A Country Study.
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^ Cœdès 1968, pp. 190–191,194–195.
^ "The Crawford Papers — A Collection of Official Records relating
to the Mission of Dr.
John Crawfurd sent to Siam by the Government of
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Siam Intelligence (in Thai)
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^ BTI 2014
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^ Thai university applicants scored an average 28.34% in English in
recent university entrance exams. In a recent IMD
World Competitiveness Report,
Thailand was ranked 54th out of 56
countries globally for English proficiency, the second-lowest in Asia.
Singapore was third,
Malaysia 28th, and Korea 46th: The Sorry State of
Thai Education – Part 4: Dismal English-language education Archived
23 June 2012 at the Wayback Machine., Reuters & The Korea Herald,
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