Where Thailand on the world map. Map of Thailand
Map of Thailand with cities. Where Thailand is on the world map. The main geographical facts about Thailand - population, country area, capital, official language, religions, industry and culture.
Thailand Fact File
Official name Kingdom of Thailand
Form of government Constitutional monarchy with two legislative bodies (Senate and House of Representatives)
Area 514,000 sq km (198,455 sq miles)
Time zone GMT +7 hours
Projected population 2015 72,490,000
Population density 121.3 per sq km (314.2 per sq mile)
Life expectancy 69.2
Infant mortality (per 1,000) 29.5
Official language Thai
Other languages Chinese, Malay, English
Literacy rate 93.8%
Religions Buddhist 95 %, Muslim 3.8%, Christian 0.5%, Hindu 0.1 %, other 0.6%
Ethnic groups Thai (Siamese, Shan, Lao) 75%, Chinese 14%, other 11 %
Economy Agriculture 70%, services 24%, industry 6%
CNP per capita US$ 6,600
Climate Tropical, with wet season June to October, cool season November to February, hot season March to May
Highest point Doi Inthanon 2,576 m (8,451 ft) Map reference Pages 202-03
Lying between Burma, Laos, and Cambodia, Thailand has a system of "semi-democracy" that has somehow preserved it from the misfortunes of its neighbors. Known as Siam until 1939, it was the home of the Buddhist kingdom of Ayutthaya from the fourteenth to the eigh-
teenth centuries, during which time the monarch came to be regarded as a sort of god-king, and a bureaucratic administration system was developed. The Chakkri Dynasty was founded in 1782 at Bangkok, and in the late nineteenth century its representatives ushered Siam into the modern age: treaties with the West were signed, slavery abolished, and study abroad encouraged. The king acquiesced in a bloodless coup which set up a constitutional monarchy in 1932. Since then civilian and military governments have alternated, climaxing in the events of 1992, when violent demonstrations against another military general taking over the government led the king to intervene, and the constitution was amended. The prime minister now has to be an elected member of parliament. The military continues to play an important, though decreasing, part in both political and industrial life.
Thailand can be divided into four regions. To the north there are forested mountain ranges which are the southernmost extension of the Himalayas. The rich intermontane valleys of the Rivers Ping, Yom, Wang, and Nan support intensive agriculture and the forests produce teak and other valuable timbers. The forests provide a home for many hill tribes who live by the alternating cultivation of dry rice and opium poppies. In the northeast lies the Khorat Plateau, a region of poor soils sparsely vegetated with savanna woodlands where crops of rice and cassava are grown. The third region is the central plains—Thailand's rice bowl—with vistas of rice fields, canals, rivers, and villages on stilts. The mountainous southern provinces on the Malay Peninsula are dominated by tropical rainforest. The hills produce tin ore and plantation rubber and the picturesque islands off the west coast draw tourists.
Agriculture is still the main employer, although its economic importance is declining. Rice is the principal crop and Thailand is still one of the world's leading exporters. Other crops include sugar, maize, rubber, manioc, pineapples, and seafoods. Mineral resources include tin ore, lead, tungsten, lignite, gypsum, tantalum, fluorite, and gemstones. Thailand is the world's second largest
producer of tungsten, and the third largest tin producer. Tourism is the largest single source of foreign exchange, the development of resorts on the coast along the Andaman Sea having been a major success.
The development of urban manufacturing industry, involving the export of high-technology goods, has been the most significant feature of the economy in recent years. This and the development of the service sector have fueled a growth rate of 9 percent since 1989. Thailand's domestic savings rate of 35 percent is a leading source of capital, but the country has also received substantial investment from overseas. Beginning in 1997, Thailand was the first country in the region to be affected by a range of problems associated with the Asian economic downturn—a falling currency, rising inflation, and unemployment heading toward 2 million.