Diary Homepage

Before You Go
Travel Planning

Facts at a Glance
Myanmar (Burma)


Getting There
The Transpacific Commute

One Day in Bangkok
Bang Pa-In Palace
And the Ruins of Ayutthaya

Phnom Penh
A Day in the Killing Fields

Arrival at Angkor
Apsara Sunset
Angkor Wat Sunrise
Closure in Cambodia

Siem Reap to
Nong Khai

A Travel Day

Visiting Vientiane

Luang Prabang
Luang Prabang Pilgrimage
Bicycle Race
The Pak Ou Caves

Luang Prabang
to Chiang Rai

Riding the Mekong Express

Mae Sai
Daytrip to Burma

Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai Bound
Three Wats and a Massage
Hilltribe Trek

Chiang Mai
to Bangkok

Doi Suthep and the
Hmong "Poppy Field";
Bangkok Transit Stop

Hong Kong
Hong Kong Reunion
Sheung Wan Walking Tour;
Reaching the Peak

Facts at a Glance: Thailand
(From the CIA World Factbook)


Location: Southeastern Asia, bordering the Andaman Sea and the Gulf of Thailand, southeast of Burma

Geographic coordinates: 15 00 N, 100 00 E

total: 514,000 sq km
land: 511,770 sq km
water: 2,230 sq km

Area (comparative): slightly more than twice the size of Wyoming

Land boundaries:
total: 4,863 km
border countries: Burma 1,800 km, Cambodia 803 km, Laos 1,754 km, Malaysia 506 km

Coastline: 3,219 km

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 extremes:
lowest point: Gulf of Thailand 0 m
highest point: Doi Inthanon 2,576 m

Natural resources: tin, rubber, natural gas, tungsten, tantalum, timber, lead, fish, gypsum, lignite, fluorite

Land use:
arable land: 34%
permanent crops : 6%
permanent pastures: 2%
forests and woodland: 26%
other: 32% (1993 est.)

Irrigated land: 44,000 sq km (1993 est.)

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

Environment - current issues: air pollution from vehicle emissions; water pollution from organic and factory wastes; deforestation; soil erosion; wildlife populations threatened by illegal hunting


Population: 59,450,818 (July 1997 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 25% (male 7,531,192; female 7,257,574)
15-64 years: 69% (male 20,308,061; female 20,902,406)
65 years and over: 6% (male 1,530,905; female 1,920,680) (July 1997 est.)

Population growth rate: 1% (1997 est.)

Birth rate: 17.03 births/1,000 population (1997 est.)

Death rate: 7.05 deaths/1,000 population (1997 est.)

Net migration rate: 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (1997 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 32.1 deaths/1,000 live births (1997 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 68.8 years
male: 65.12 years
female: 72.66 years (1997 est.)

Total fertility rate: 1.86 children born/woman (1997 est.)

noun: Thai (singular and plural)
adjective: Thai

Ethnic groups: Thai 75%, Chinese 14%, other 11%

Religions: Buddhism 95%, Muslim 3.8%, Christianity 0.5%, Hinduism 0.1%, other 0.6% (1991)

Languages: Thai, English the secondary language of the elite, ethnic and regional dialects

definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 93.8%
male: 96%
female: 91.6% (1995 est.)


Country name:
conventional long form: Kingdom of Thailand
conventional short form: Thailand

Government type: constitutional monarchy

National capital: Bangkok

Independence: 1238 (traditional founding date; never colonized)

National holiday: Birthday of His Majesty the King, 5 December (1927)

Legal system: based on civil law system, with influences of common law; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction

Executive branch:
chief of state: King PHUMIPHON Adunyadet (since 9 June 1946); Heir Apparent Crown Prince WACHIRALONGKON (born 28 July 1952)
head of government: Prime Minister CHAWALIT Yongchaiyut (since 25 November 1996)
cabinet: Council of Ministers
note: there is also a Privy Council
elections : none; the king is a constitutional monarch; prime minister designated from among the members of the House of Representatives; following elections in the House of Representatives, the leader of the party that wins a plurality of seats usually becomes prime minister


Economy - overview: One of the more advanced developing countries in Asia, Thailand depends on exports of manufactures - including high-technology goods - and the development of the service sector to fuel the country's rapid growth, averaging 9% since 1989. Most of Thailand's recent imports have been for capital equipment and raw materials, although imports of consumer goods are beginning to rise. Thailand's 35% domestic savings rate is a key source of capital for the economy, and the country is also benefiting from rising investment from abroad. Prime Minister CHAWALIT's government - Thailand's seventh government in six years - will continue Bangkok's probusiness policies and reemphasize Bangkok's traditional fiscal austerity. CHAWALIT is beginning to address Thailand's serious infrastructure bottlenecks, especially in the transport and telecommunications sectors. Over the longer term, Bangkok must produce more college graduates with technical training and upgrade workers' skills to continue its rapid economic development.

GDP: purchasing power parity - $455.7 billion (1996 est.)

GDP - real growth rate: 6.7% (1996 est.)

GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $7,700 (1996 est.)

GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 10.5%
industry: 30.5%
services: 59% (1996 est.)

Inflation rate - consumer price index: 5.9% (1996 est.)

Labor force:
total: 34.03 million (1996 est.)
by occupation: agriculture 57%, industry 17%, commerce 11%, services (including government) 15% (1993 est.)

Unemployment rate: 2.6% (1996 est.)

revenues : $28.4 billion
expenditures: $28.4 billion, including capital expenditures of $6.1 billion (FY94/95)

Industries: tourism; textiles and garments, agricultural processing, beverages, tobacco, cement, light manufacturing, such as jewelry; electric appliances and components, integrated circuits, furniture, plastics; world's second-largest tungsten producer and third-largest tin producer

Industrial production growth rate: 13.3% (1995 est.)

Agriculture - products: rice, cassava (tapioca), rubber, corn, sugarcane, coconuts, soybeans

total value: $57.3 billion (f.o.b., 1996)
commodities: manufactures 73%, agricultural products and fisheries 21%, raw materials 5%, fuels 1%
partners : US 21.0%, Japan 17.1%, Singapore 13.6%, Hong Kong 5.3%, Germany 3.5%, UK 3.0%, Netherlands 2.8%, Malaysia 2.4%

total value: $72.4 billion (c.i.f., 1996)
commodities: manufactures 80%, fuels 6.9%, raw materials 6.6%, foodstuffs 4.3%
partners: Japan 30.4%, US 11.9%, Singapore 6.3%, Germany 5.8%, Taiwan 5.1%, Malaysia 4.9%, South Korea 3.7%, China 2.6%

Debt - external: $61.6 billion (1995)

Economic aid:
recipient: ODA, $624 million (1993)

Currency: 1 baht (B) = 100 satang

Exchange rates: baht (B) per US$1 - 42.0 (June 1998), 25.708 (January 1997), 15.343 (1996), 24.915 (1995), 25.150 (1994), 25.319 (1993), 25.400 (1992)

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international: boundary dispute with Laos; unresolved maritime boundary with Vietnam; parts of border with Cambodia in dispute; maritime boundary with Cambodia not clearly defined

Illicit drugs: a minor producer of opium, heroin, and marijuana; major illicit transit point for heroin en route to the international drug market from Burma and Laos; eradication efforts have reduced the area of cannabis cultivation and shifted some production to neighboring countries; opium poppy cultivation has been reduced by eradication efforts; also a drug money-laundering center; rapidly growing role in amphetamine production for regional consumption; increasing indigenous abuse of methamphetamines and heroin