Thailand

Thailand

Overview
Thailand officially the Kingdom of Thailand , formerly known as Siam , is a country located at the centre of the Indochina
Indochina
The Indochinese peninsula, is a region in Southeast Asia. It lies roughly southwest of China, and east of India. The name has its origins in the French, Indochine, as a combination of the names of "China" and "India", and was adopted when French colonizers in Vietnam began expanding their territory...

 peninsula and Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia, South-East Asia, South East Asia or Southeastern Asia is a subregion of Asia, consisting of the countries that are geographically south of China, east of India, west of New Guinea and north of Australia. The region lies on the intersection of geological plates, with heavy seismic...

. It is bordered to the north by Burma and Laos
Laos
Laos Lao: ສາທາລະນະລັດ ປະຊາທິປະໄຕ ປະຊາຊົນລາວ Sathalanalat Paxathipatai Paxaxon Lao, officially the Lao People's Democratic Republic, is a landlocked country in Southeast Asia, bordered by Burma and China to the northwest, Vietnam to the east, Cambodia to the south and Thailand to the west...

, to the east by Laos and Cambodia
Cambodia
Cambodia , officially known as the Kingdom of Cambodia, is a country located in the southern portion of the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia...

, to the south by the Gulf of Thailand
Gulf of Thailand
The Gulf of Thailand , also known in to Malays as Teluk Siam literally meant Gulf of Siam, is a shallow arm of the South China Sea.-Geography:...

 and Malaysia, and to the west by the Andaman Sea
Andaman Sea
The Andaman Sea or Burma Sea is a body of water to the southeast of the Bay of Bengal, south of Burma, west of Thailand and east of the Andaman Islands, India; it is part of the Indian Ocean....

 and the southern extremity of Burma. Its maritime boundaries include Vietnam
Vietnam
Vietnam – sometimes spelled Viet Nam , officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam – is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. It is bordered by China to the north, Laos to the northwest, Cambodia to the southwest, and the South China Sea –...

 in the Gulf of Thailand
Gulf of Thailand
The Gulf of Thailand , also known in to Malays as Teluk Siam literally meant Gulf of Siam, is a shallow arm of the South China Sea.-Geography:...

 to the southeast and Indonesia
Indonesia
Indonesia , officially the Republic of Indonesia , is a country in Southeast Asia and Oceania. Indonesia is an archipelago comprising approximately 13,000 islands. It has 33 provinces with over 238 million people, and is the world's fourth most populous country. Indonesia is a republic, with an...

 and India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

 in the Andaman Sea
Andaman Sea
The Andaman Sea or Burma Sea is a body of water to the southeast of the Bay of Bengal, south of Burma, west of Thailand and east of the Andaman Islands, India; it is part of the Indian Ocean....

 to the southwest.

The country is a kingdom, with most recorded reigns in the world.
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Timeline

1768   King Taksin's coronation achieved through conquest as a king of Thailand and established Thonburi as a capital.

1782   Rama I of Siam (modern day Thailand) founds the Chakri dynasty.

1784   The Emerald Buddha is moved with great ceremony to its current place in Wat Phra Kaew, Thailand.

1851   Rama IV is crowned King of Thailand.

1932   A bloodless Revolution instigated by the People's Party ends the absolute power of King Prajadhipok of Siam (Thailand).

1932   Thailand adopts a Constitution and becomes a constitutional monarchy.

1939   Siam is renamed to Thailand by Plaek Pibulsonggram, the country's third prime minister.

1941   Japanese forces invade Thailand's southern peninsula. They face a heavy resistance, however, Plaek Phibunsongkhram ordered a ceasefire.

1941   World War II: Japan signs treaty of alliance with Thailand.

1941   World War II: A formal treaty of alliance between Thailand and Japan is signed in the presence of the Emerald Buddha in Wat Phra Kaew.

 
Encyclopedia
Thailand officially the Kingdom of Thailand , formerly known as Siam , is a country located at the centre of the Indochina
Indochina
The Indochinese peninsula, is a region in Southeast Asia. It lies roughly southwest of China, and east of India. The name has its origins in the French, Indochine, as a combination of the names of "China" and "India", and was adopted when French colonizers in Vietnam began expanding their territory...

 peninsula and Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia, South-East Asia, South East Asia or Southeastern Asia is a subregion of Asia, consisting of the countries that are geographically south of China, east of India, west of New Guinea and north of Australia. The region lies on the intersection of geological plates, with heavy seismic...

. It is bordered to the north by Burma and Laos
Laos
Laos Lao: ສາທາລະນະລັດ ປະຊາທິປະໄຕ ປະຊາຊົນລາວ Sathalanalat Paxathipatai Paxaxon Lao, officially the Lao People's Democratic Republic, is a landlocked country in Southeast Asia, bordered by Burma and China to the northwest, Vietnam to the east, Cambodia to the south and Thailand to the west...

, to the east by Laos and Cambodia
Cambodia
Cambodia , officially known as the Kingdom of Cambodia, is a country located in the southern portion of the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia...

, to the south by the Gulf of Thailand
Gulf of Thailand
The Gulf of Thailand , also known in to Malays as Teluk Siam literally meant Gulf of Siam, is a shallow arm of the South China Sea.-Geography:...

 and Malaysia, and to the west by the Andaman Sea
Andaman Sea
The Andaman Sea or Burma Sea is a body of water to the southeast of the Bay of Bengal, south of Burma, west of Thailand and east of the Andaman Islands, India; it is part of the Indian Ocean....

 and the southern extremity of Burma. Its maritime boundaries include Vietnam
Vietnam
Vietnam – sometimes spelled Viet Nam , officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam – is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. It is bordered by China to the north, Laos to the northwest, Cambodia to the southwest, and the South China Sea –...

 in the Gulf of Thailand
Gulf of Thailand
The Gulf of Thailand , also known in to Malays as Teluk Siam literally meant Gulf of Siam, is a shallow arm of the South China Sea.-Geography:...

 to the southeast and Indonesia
Indonesia
Indonesia , officially the Republic of Indonesia , is a country in Southeast Asia and Oceania. Indonesia is an archipelago comprising approximately 13,000 islands. It has 33 provinces with over 238 million people, and is the world's fourth most populous country. Indonesia is a republic, with an...

 and India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

 in the Andaman Sea
Andaman Sea
The Andaman Sea or Burma Sea is a body of water to the southeast of the Bay of Bengal, south of Burma, west of Thailand and east of the Andaman Islands, India; it is part of the Indian Ocean....

 to the southwest.

The country is a kingdom, with most recorded reigns in the world. It is a constitutional monarchy
Constitutional monarchy
Constitutional monarchy is a form of government in which a monarch acts as head of state within the parameters of a constitution, whether it be a written, uncodified or blended constitution...

 with King Rama IX
Bhumibol Adulyadej
Bhumibol Adulyadej is the current King of Thailand. He is known as Rama IX...

, the ninth king of the House of Chakri, who has reigned since 1946, making him the world's longest-serving current head of state
Head of State
A head of state is the individual that serves as the chief public representative of a monarchy, republic, federation, commonwealth or other kind of state. His or her role generally includes legitimizing the state and exercising the political powers, functions, and duties granted to the head of...

 and the longest-reigning monarch in Thai history
History of Thailand
Tai peoples who originally lived in southwestern China, migrated into mainland Southeast Asia over a period of many centuries. The oldest known mention of their existence in the region by the exonym Siamese is in a twelfth-century A.D. inscription at the Khmer temple complex of Angkor Wat in...

. The king is officially titled Head of State, the Head of the Armed Forces, an Upholder of the Buddhist religion, and the Defender of all Faiths.

Thailand is the world's 51st largest country in terms of total area (slightly smaller than Yemen
Yemen
The Republic of Yemen , commonly known as Yemen , is a country located in the Middle East, occupying the southwestern to southern end of the Arabian Peninsula. It is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the north, the Red Sea to the west, and Oman to the east....

 and slightly larger than Spain
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

), with a surface area of approximately 513000 km² (198,070.4 sq mi), and the 21st most-populous country, with approximately 64 million people. The largest city is Bangkok
Bangkok
Bangkok is the capital and largest urban area city in Thailand. It is known in Thai as Krung Thep Maha Nakhon or simply Krung Thep , meaning "city of angels." The full name of Bangkok is Krung Thep Mahanakhon Amon Rattanakosin Mahintharayutthaya Mahadilok Phop Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom...

, the capital, which is also the country's centre of political, commercial, industrial and cultural activities. About 75% of the population is ethnically Thai
Thai people
The Thai people, or Siamese, are the main ethnic group of Thailand and are part of the larger Tai ethnolinguistic peoples found in Thailand and adjacent countries in Southeast Asia as well as southern China. Their language is the Thai language, which is classified as part of the Kradai family of...

, 14% is of Chinese
Thai Chinese
The Thai Chinese are an overseas Chinese community who live in Thailand. Thailand is home to the largest, oldest, most prominent, and most integrated overseas Chinese community in the world with a population of approximately 9.5 million people...

 origin, and 3% is ethnically Malay
Thai Malays
Thai Malays is a term used to refer to ethnic Malays in Thailand. Thailand hosts the third largest ethnic Malay population after Malaysia and Indonesia, and most Malays are concentrated in the Southern provinces of Narathiwat, Pattani, Yala, Songkhla and Satun.Ethnic Malays in Narathiwat, Pattani,...

; the rest belong to minority groups including Mons
Mon people
The Mon are an ethnic group from Burma , living mostly in Mon State, Bago Division, the Irrawaddy Delta, and along the southern Thai–Burmese border. One of the earliest peoples to reside in Southeast Asia, the Mon were responsible for the spread of Theravada Buddhism in Burma and Thailand...

, Khmers and various hill tribes. The country's official language is Thai
Thai language
Thai , also known as Central Thai and Siamese, is the national and official language of Thailand and the native language of the Thai people, Thailand's dominant ethnic group. Thai is a member of the Tai group of the Tai–Kadai language family. Historical linguists have been unable to definitively...

. The primary religion is Buddhism
Buddhism
Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha . The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th...

, which is practiced by around 95% of all Thais.

Thailand experienced rapid economic growth between 1985 and 1995 and is a newly industrialized country with tourism
Tourism in Thailand
Tourism is a major economic factor in the Kingdom of Thailand, contributing an estimated 6.7% to Thailand's GDP in 2007.-Overview:Among the reasons for the increase in tourism in the 1960s were the stable political atmosphere and the development of Bangkok as a crossroads of international air...

, due to well-known tourist destination
Tourist destination
A tourist destination is a city, town, or other area that is dependent to a significant extent on the revenues accruing from tourism. It may contain one or more tourist attractions and possibly some "tourist traps."...

s such as Ayutthaya, Pattaya
Pattaya
Pattaya is a city in Thailand, located on the east coast of the Gulf of Thailand, about 165 km southeast of Bangkok located within but not part of Amphoe Bang Lamung in the province of Chonburi....

, Bangkok
Bangkok
Bangkok is the capital and largest urban area city in Thailand. It is known in Thai as Krung Thep Maha Nakhon or simply Krung Thep , meaning "city of angels." The full name of Bangkok is Krung Thep Mahanakhon Amon Rattanakosin Mahintharayutthaya Mahadilok Phop Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom...

, Phuket, Krabi
Krabi
Krabi is a town on the west coast of southern Thailand at the mouth of the Krabi River where it empties in Phangnga Bay. As of 2005 the town has a population of 24,986. The town is the capital of Krabi Province and Krabi district...

, Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai sometimes written as "Chiengmai" or "Chiangmai", is the largest and most culturally significant city in northern Thailand. It is the capital of Chiang Mai Province , a former capital of the Kingdom of Lanna and was the tributary Kingdom of Chiang Mai from 1774 until 1939. It is...

, and Ko Samui
Ko Samui
Ko Samui island of Surat Thani Province , or often, simply Samui as it is referred to by locals, is an island off the east coast of the Kra Isthmus in Thailand, close to the mainland Surat Thani town. It is Thailand's second largest island, with an area of 228.7 km2 and a population of over...

, and exports contributing significantly to the economy. There are approximately 5.2 million legal and illegal migrants in Thailand. Thailand has also attracted a number of expatriate
Expatriate
An expatriate is a person temporarily or permanently residing in a country and culture other than that of the person's upbringing...

s from developed countries.

Etymology


The country's official name was Siam
History of Thailand
Tai peoples who originally lived in southwestern China, migrated into mainland Southeast Asia over a period of many centuries. The oldest known mention of their existence in the region by the exonym Siamese is in a twelfth-century A.D. inscription at the Khmer temple complex of Angkor Wat in...

( , sàjǎːm) until June 23, 1939, when it was changed to Thailand. It was then renamed Siam from 1945 to May 11, 1949, after which it was again renamed Thailand. Also spelled Siem, Syâm or Syâma, it has been identified with the Sanskrit
Sanskrit
Sanskrit , is a historical Indo-Aryan language and the primary liturgical language of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.Buddhism: besides Pali, see Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Today, it is listed as one of the 22 scheduled languages of India and is an official language of the state of Uttarakhand...

 Śyâma (श्याम, meaning "dark" or "brown"). The names Shan and A-hom seem to be variants of the same word, and Śyâma is possibly not its origin but a learned and artificial distortion.

The word Thai (ไทย) is not, as commonly believed, derived from the word Tai (ไท) meaning "freedom" in the Thai language
Thai language
Thai , also known as Central Thai and Siamese, is the national and official language of Thailand and the native language of the Thai people, Thailand's dominant ethnic group. Thai is a member of the Tai group of the Tai–Kadai language family. Historical linguists have been unable to definitively...

; it is, however, the name of an ethnic group
Ethnic group
An ethnic group is a group of people whose members identify with each other, through a common heritage, often consisting of a common language, a common culture and/or an ideology that stresses common ancestry or endogamy...

 from the central plains (the Thai people
Thai people
The Thai people, or Siamese, are the main ethnic group of Thailand and are part of the larger Tai ethnolinguistic peoples found in Thailand and adjacent countries in Southeast Asia as well as southern China. Their language is the Thai language, which is classified as part of the Kradai family of...

). A famous Thai scholar argued that Tai (ไท) simply means "people" or "human being" since his investigation shows that in some rural areas the word "Tai" was used instead of the usual Thai word "khon" (คน) for people.

The Thai use the phrase "land of the free" to express pride in the fact that Thailand is the only country in Southeast Asia never colonized by a European power.
While the Thai people will often refer to their country using the polite form Prathet Thai (Thai: ประเทศไทย), they most commonly use the more colloquial word Mueang Thai (Thai: เมืองไทย) or simply Thai (Thai: ไทย); the word mueang (Thai: เมือง) meaning nation but most commonly used to refer to a city or town. Ratcha Anachak Thai means "Kingdom of Thailand" or "Kingdom of Thai".

Etymologically, its components are: -Ratcha- (from Sanskrit raja
Raja
Raja is an Indian term for a monarch, or princely ruler of the Kshatriya varna...

, meaning "king, royal, realm") ; -ana- (from Pāli
Pali language
Pāli is a Middle Indo-Aryan language of the Indian subcontinent. It is best known as the language of many of the earliest extant Buddhist scriptures, as collected in the Pāi Canon or Tipitaka, and as the liturgical language of Theravada Buddhism.-Etymology of the name:The word Pali itself...

 , "authority, command, power", itself from Sanskrit , same meaning) -chak (from Sanskrit cakra or cakraṃ meaning "wheel", a symbol of power and rule). The Thai National Anthem , composed and written by Peter Feit
Peter Feit
Peter Feit , 1883-1968, composed the melody of the Thai National Anthem. He was the son of a German immigrant and royal advisor for music....

 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: ประเทศไทยรวมเลือดเนื้อชาติเชื้อไทย) and was translated in 1939 by Colonel Luang Saranuprabhandi as: "Thailand is the unity of Thai blood and body."

History





The region known as Thailand has been inhabited by humans at least since the Paleolithic
Paleolithic
The Paleolithic Age, Era or Period, is a prehistoric period of human history distinguished by the development of the most primitive stone tools discovered , and covers roughly 99% of human technological prehistory...

 period, about 40,000 years ago. Similar to other regions in Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia, South-East Asia, South East Asia or Southeastern Asia is a subregion of Asia, consisting of the countries that are geographically south of China, east of India, west of New Guinea and north of Australia. The region lies on the intersection of geological plates, with heavy seismic...

, it was heavily influenced by the culture and religions of India, starting with the kingdom of Funan around the 1st century CE
Common Era
Common Era ,abbreviated as CE, is an alternative designation for the calendar era originally introduced by Dionysius Exiguus in the 6th century, traditionally identified with Anno Domini .Dates before the year 1 CE are indicated by the usage of BCE, short for Before the Common Era Common Era...

.

After the fall of the Khmer Empire
Khmer Empire
The Khmer Empire was one of the most powerful empires in Southeast Asia. The empire, which grew out of the former kingdom of Chenla, at times ruled over and/or vassalized parts of modern-day Laos, Thailand, Vietnam, Burma, and Malaysia. Its greatest legacy is Angkor, the site of the capital city...

 in the 13th century, various states thrived there, such as the various Tai
Tai peoples
The Tai ethnicity refers collectively to the ethnic groups of southern China and Southeast Asia, stretching from Hainan to eastern India and from southern Sichuan to Laos, Thailand, and parts of Vietnam, which speak languages in the Tai family and share similar traditions and festivals, including...

, Mon, Khmer
Khmer people
Khmer people are the predominant ethnic group in Cambodia, accounting for approximately 90% of the 14.8 million people in the country. They speak the Khmer language, which is part of the larger Mon–Khmer language family found throughout Southeast Asia...

 and Malay kingdoms, as seen through the numerous archaeological sites and artifacts that are scattered throughout the Siamese landscape. Prior to the 12th century however, the first Thai
Thai people
The Thai people, or Siamese, are the main ethnic group of Thailand and are part of the larger Tai ethnolinguistic peoples found in Thailand and adjacent countries in Southeast Asia as well as southern China. Their language is the Thai language, which is classified as part of the Kradai family of...

 or Siamese state is traditionally considered to be the Buddhist kingdom of Sukhothai
Sukhothai kingdom
The Sukhothai Kingdom ) was an early kingdom in the area around the city Sukhothai, in north central Thailand. The Kingdom existed from 1238 till 1438...

, which was founded in 1238.

Following the decline and fall of the Khmer empire in the 13th–14th century, the Buddhist Tai kingdoms of Sukhothai, Lanna
Lanna
The Kingdom of Lanna was a kingdom centered in present-day northern Thailand from the 13th to 18th centuries. The cultural development of the people of Lanna, the Tai Yuan people, had begun long before as successive Tai Yuan kingdoms preceded Lanna...

 and Lan Xang
Lan Xang
The Lao kingdom of Lan Xang Hom Kao was established in 1354 by Fa Ngum.Exiled as an infant to Cambodia, Prince Fa Ngum of Xieng Dong Xieng Thong married a daughter of the Khmer king. In 1349 he set out from Angkor at the head of a 10,000-man army to establish his own country...

 (now Laos) were on the ascension. However, a century later, the power of Sukhothai was overshadowed by the new kingdom of Ayutthaya
Ayutthaya kingdom
Ayutthaya was a Siamese kingdom that existed from 1350 to 1767. Ayutthaya was friendly towards foreign traders, including the Chinese, Vietnamese , Indians, Japanese and Persians, and later the Portuguese, Spanish, Dutch and French, permitting them to set up villages outside the walls of the...

, established in the mid-14th century in the lower Chao Phraya River
Chao Phraya River
The Chao Phraya is a major river in Thailand, with its low alluvial plain forming the centre of the country. It runs through Bangkok, the capital city, and then empties into the Gulf of Thailand.-Etymology:...

 or Menam area.

Ayutthaya's expansion centred along the Menam while in the northern valley the Lanna Kingdom and other small Tai city-states ruled the area. In 1431, the Khmer abandoned Angkor
Angkor
Angkor is a region of Cambodia that served as the seat of the Khmer Empire, which flourished from approximately the 9th to 15th centuries. The word Angkor is derived from the Sanskrit nagara , meaning "city"...

 after the Ayutthaya forces invaded the city. Thailand retained a tradition of trade with its neighbouring states, from China to India, Persia and Arab
Arab
Arab people, also known as Arabs , are a panethnicity primarily living in the Arab world, which is located in Western Asia and North Africa. They are identified as such on one or more of genealogical, linguistic, or cultural grounds, with tribal affiliations, and intra-tribal relationships playing...

 lands. Ayutthaya became one of the most vibrant trading centres in Asia. European traders arrived in the 16th century, beginning with the Portuguese
Portuguese people
The Portuguese are a nation and ethnic group native to the country of Portugal, in the west of the Iberian peninsula of south-west Europe. Their language is Portuguese, and Roman Catholicism is the predominant religion....

, followed by the French, Dutch
Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

 and English.

After the fall of Ayutthaya in 1767 to the Burmese, King Taksin
Taksin
Taksin ; was the only King of the Thonburi Kingdom...

 the Great moved the capital of Thailand to Thonburi
Thonburi
Thon Buri is an area of modern Bangkok. It was capital of Thailand from 1767 to 1782, during the reign of King Taksin, after the previous capital Ayutthaya was sacked by the Burmese. It is located on the opposite bank of Chao Phraya River to Bangkok...

 for approximately 15 years. The current Rattanakosin era of Thai history began in 1782, following the establishment of Bangkok
Bangkok
Bangkok is the capital and largest urban area city in Thailand. It is known in Thai as Krung Thep Maha Nakhon or simply Krung Thep , meaning "city of angels." The full name of Bangkok is Krung Thep Mahanakhon Amon Rattanakosin Mahintharayutthaya Mahadilok Phop Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom...

 as capital of the Chakri dynasty under King Rama I the Great. According to Encyclopædia Britannica, "A quarter to a third of the population of some areas of Thailand and Burma were slaves in the 17th through the 19th centuries."

Despite European pressure, Thailand is the only Southeast Asian nation that has never been colonized. This has been ascribed to the long succession of able rulers in the past four centuries who exploited the rivalry and tension between French Indochina
French Indochina
French Indochina was part of the French colonial empire in southeast Asia. A federation of the three Vietnamese regions, Tonkin , Annam , and Cochinchina , as well as Cambodia, was formed in 1887....

 and the British Empire
British Empire
The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom. It originated with the overseas colonies and trading posts established by England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. At its height, it was the...

. As a result, the country remained a buffer state
Buffer state
A buffer state is a country lying between two rival or potentially hostile greater powers, which by its sheer existence is thought to prevent conflict between them. Buffer states, when authentically independent, typically pursue a neutralist foreign policy, which distinguishes them from satellite...

 between parts of Southeast Asia that were colonized by the two colonizing powers, Great Britain and France. Western influence nevertheless led to many reforms in the 19th century and major concessions, most notably being the loss of a large territory on the east side of the Mekong
Mekong
The Mekong is a river that runs through China, Burma, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. It is the world's 10th-longest river and the 7th-longest in Asia. Its estimated length is , and it drains an area of , discharging of water annually....

 to the French and the step-by-step absorption by Britain of the Malay Peninsula
Malay Peninsula
The Malay Peninsula or Thai-Malay Peninsula is a peninsula in Southeast Asia. The land mass runs approximately north-south and, at its terminus, is the southern-most point of the Asian mainland...

.

20th century




The losses initially included Penang and eventually culminated in the loss of four predominantly ethnic-Malay southern provinces, which later became Malaysia's four northern states, under the Anglo-Siamese Treaty of 1909
Anglo-Siamese Treaty of 1909
The Anglo-Siamese Treaty of 1909 or Bangkok Treaty of 1909 was a treaty between the United Kingdom and the Kingdom of Siam signed on March 10, 1909, in Bangkok. Ratifications were exchanged in London on July 9, 1909....

.

In 1932, a bloodless revolution
Siamese Revolution of 1932
The Siamese Revolution of 1932 or the Siamese Coup d'état of 1932 was a crucial turning point in Thai history in the 20th century...

 carried out by the Khana Ratsadon
Khana Ratsadon
Khana Ratsadon , frequently mistakenly written as Khana Rat , was a Siamese group of military and civil officers, and later a political party, which staged a bloodless coup against King Prajadhipok and transited the country's absolute monarchy to constitutional monarchy on 24 June 1932.-The...

 group of military and civilian officials resulted in a transition of power, when King Prajadhipok
Prajadhipok
Phra Bat Somdet Phra Poramintharamaha Prajadhipok Phra Pok Klao Chao Yu Hua , or Rama VII was the seventh monarch of Siam under the House of Chakri. He was the last absolute monarch and the first constitutional monarch of the country. His reign was a turbulent time for Siam due to huge political...

 was forced to grant the people of Siam their first constitution, thereby ending centuries of absolute monarchy
Absolute monarchy
Absolute monarchy is a monarchical form of government in which the monarch exercises ultimate governing authority as head of state and head of government, his or her power not being limited by a constitution or by the law. An absolute monarch thus wields unrestricted political power over the...

.

During World War II, the Empire of Japan
Empire of Japan
The Empire of Japan is the name of the state of Japan that existed from the Meiji Restoration on 3 January 1868 to the enactment of the post-World War II Constitution of...

 demanded the right to move troops across Thailand to the Malayan frontier. Japan invaded the country
Japanese Invasion of Thailand
The Japanese invasion of Thailand occurred on December 8, 1941. It was fought between Thailand and the Empire of Japan. Despite fierce fighting in Southern Thailand, Thai resistance lasted only a few hours before ending in a ceasefire.-Background:...

 and engaged the Thai Army for six to eight hours before Plaek Pibulsonggram
Plaek Pibulsonggram
Field Marshal Plaek Pibunsongkhram , often known as Phibun Songkhram or simply Phibun in English, was Prime Minister and virtual military dictator of Thailand from 1938 to 1944 and 1948 to 1957.- Early years :...

 ordered an armistice
Armistice
An armistice is a situation in a war where the warring parties agree to stop fighting. It is not necessarily the end of a war, but may be just a cessation of hostilities while an attempt is made to negotiate a lasting peace...

. Shortly thereafter Japan was granted free passage, and on December 21, 1941, Thailand and 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 undertook to 'assist' Japan in its war against the Allies, while at the same time maintaining an active anti-Japanese resistance movement known as the Seri Thai. Approximately 200,000 Asian labourers (mainly romusha
Romusha
were forced laborers during the Japanese occupation of Indonesia in World War II. The U.S. Library of Congress estimates that in Java, between four and 10 million romusha were forced to work by the Japanese military. About 270,000 of these Javanese laborers were sent to other Japanese-held areas...

) and 60,000 Allied
Allies of World War II
The Allies of World War II were the countries that opposed the Axis powers during the Second World War . Former Axis states contributing to the Allied victory are not considered Allied states...

 POWs worked on the Thailand–Burma Death Railway
Death Railway
The Burma Railway, also known as the Death Railway, the Thailand–Burma Railway and similar names, was a railway between Bangkok, Thailand, and Rangoon, Burma , built by the Empire of Japan during World War II, to support its forces in the Burma campaign.Forced labour was used in its construction...

.

After the war, Thailand emerged as an ally of the United States. As with many of the developing nations during the Cold War
Cold War
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...

, Thailand then went through decades of political instability characterised by coups d'état
Coup d'état
A coup d'état state, literally: strike/blow of state)—also known as a coup, putsch, and overthrow—is the sudden, extrajudicial deposition of a government, usually by a small group of the existing state establishment—typically the military—to replace the deposed government with another body; either...

 as one military regime replaced another, but eventually progressed towards a stable prosperity and democracy
Democracy
Democracy is generally defined as a form of government in which all adult citizens have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives. Ideally, this includes equal participation in the proposal, development and passage of legislation into law...

 in the 1980s.

The Southern region


Thailand controlled the Malay Peninsula
Malay Peninsula
The Malay Peninsula or Thai-Malay Peninsula is a peninsula in Southeast Asia. The land mass runs approximately north-south and, at its terminus, is the southern-most point of the Asian mainland...

 as far as Malacca in the 1400s and held much of the peninsula for the next few centuries, including Tumasek (Singapore) some of the Andaman Islands
Andaman Islands
The Andaman Islands are a group of Indian Ocean archipelagic islands in the Bay of Bengal between India to the west, and Burma , to the north and east...

 and a colony on Java
Java
Java is an island of Indonesia. With a population of 135 million , it is the world's most populous island, and one of the most densely populated regions in the world. It is home to 60% of Indonesia's population. The Indonesian capital city, Jakarta, is in west Java...

, but eventually failed when the British used force to guarantee their suzerainty over the sultanate.

All the states of the Malay Sultanate presented annual gifts to the Thai king in the form of a golden flower
Bunga mas
The bunga mas dan perak , often abbreviated to bunga mas, was a tribute sent every three years to the King of Siam from its vassal states in the Malay Peninsula - in particular, by Terengganu, Kelantan, Kedah and Pattani. The tribute consisted of two small trees made of gold and silver, plus costly...

, which understood the gesture to be tribute and an acknowledgement of vassalage. The British intervened in the Malay State and with the Anglo-Siamese Treaty
Anglo-Siamese Treaty of 1909
The Anglo-Siamese Treaty of 1909 or Bangkok Treaty of 1909 was a treaty between the United Kingdom and the Kingdom of Siam signed on March 10, 1909, in Bangkok. Ratifications were exchanged in London on July 9, 1909....

 tried to build a railway from the south to Bangkok. Thailand relinquished sovereignty over what are now the northern Malay provinces of Kedah
Kedah
Kedah is a state of Malaysia, located in the northwestern part of Peninsular Malaysia. The state covers a total area of over 9,000 km², and it consists of the mainland and Langkawi. The mainland has a relatively flat terrain, which is used to grow rice...

, Perlis
Perlis
Perlis is the smallest state in Malaysia. It lies at the northern part of the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia and has Satun and Songkhla Provinces of Thailand on its northern border. It is bordered by the state of Kedah to the south...

, Kelantan
Kelantan
Kelantan is a state of Malaysia. The capital and royal seat is Kota Bharu. The Arabic honorific of the state is Darul Naim, ....

 and Terengganu
Terengganu
Terengganu is a sultanate and constitutive state of federal Malaysia. The state is also known by its Arabic honorific, Darul Iman...

 to the British. Satun and Pattani provinces were given to Thailand. The Malay peninsula provinces were infiltrated by the Japanese during World War II, and by the Malayan Communist Party
Malayan Communist Party
The Malayan Communist Party , officially known as the Communist Party of Malaya , was founded in 1930 and laid down its arms in 1989. It is most famous for its role in the Malayan Emergency.-Formation:...

 (CPM) from 1942 to 2008, when they decided to sue for peace with the Malaysian and Thai governments after the CPM lost its support from Vietnam
Vietnam
Vietnam – sometimes spelled Viet Nam , officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam – is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. It is bordered by China to the north, Laos to the northwest, Cambodia to the southwest, and the South China Sea –...

 and China subsequent to the Cultural Revolution
Cultural Revolution
The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, commonly known as the Cultural Revolution , was a socio-political movement that took place in the People's Republic of China from 1966 through 1976...

. Recent insurgent uprisings may be a continuation of separatist fighting which started after World War II with Sukarno's support for the PULO
Patani United Liberation Organization
The Patani United Liberation Organization or PULO is one of the active separatist movements calling for a free and independent Patani...

, and the intensification. Most victims since the uprisings have been Buddhist and Muslim
Muslim
A Muslim, also spelled Moslem, is an adherent of Islam, a monotheistic, Abrahamic religion based on the Quran, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God as revealed to prophet Muhammad. "Muslim" is the Arabic term for "submitter" .Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable...

 bystanders.

Politics and government


The politics of Thailand is currently conducted within the framework of a constitutional monarchy
Constitutional monarchy
Constitutional monarchy is a form of government in which a monarch acts as head of state within the parameters of a constitution, whether it be a written, uncodified or blended constitution...

, whereby the Prime Minister
Prime Minister of Thailand
The Prime Minister of Thailand is the head of government of Thailand. The Prime Minister is also the chairman of the Cabinet of Thailand. The post has existed since the Revolution of 1932, when the country became a constitutional monarchy....

 is the head of government
Head of government
Head of government is the chief officer of the executive branch of a government, often presiding over a cabinet. In a parliamentary system, the head of government is often styled prime minister, chief minister, premier, etc...

 and a hereditary monarch
Hereditary monarchy
A hereditary monarchy is the most common type of monarchy and is the form that is used by almost all of the world's existing monarchies.Under a hereditary monarchy, all the monarchs come from the same family, and the crown is passed down from one member to another member of the family...

 is head of state
Head of State
A head of state is the individual that serves as the chief public representative of a monarchy, republic, federation, commonwealth or other kind of state. His or her role generally includes legitimizing the state and exercising the political powers, functions, and duties granted to the head of...

. The judiciary
Judiciary
The judiciary is the system of courts that interprets and applies the law in the name of the state. The judiciary also provides a mechanism for the resolution of disputes...

 is independent of the executive and the legislative branches.

History



Since the political reform of the absolute monarchy
Absolute monarchy
Absolute monarchy is a monarchical form of government in which the monarch exercises ultimate governing authority as head of state and head of government, his or her power not being limited by a constitution or by the law. An absolute monarch thus wields unrestricted political power over the...

 in 1932, Thailand has had 17 constitutions and charters. 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.

28 June 1932


Prior to 1932, the Kingdom of Siam did not possess a legislature, as all legislative powers were vested within the person of the monarch. This had been the case since the foundation of the Sukhothai Kingdom
Sukhothai kingdom
The Sukhothai Kingdom ) was an early kingdom in the area around the city Sukhothai, in north central Thailand. The Kingdom existed from 1238 till 1438...

 in the 12th century: as the king was seen as a "Dharmaraja" or "King who rules in accordance with Dharma
Dharma
Dharma means Law or Natural Law and is a concept of central importance in Indian philosophy and religion. In the context of Hinduism, it refers to one's personal obligations, calling and duties, and a Hindu's dharma is affected by the person's age, caste, class, occupation, and gender...

" (the Buddhist law of righteousness). However on 24 June 1932 a group of civilians and military officers, calling themselves the Khana Ratsadon
Khana Ratsadon
Khana Ratsadon , frequently mistakenly written as Khana Rat , was a Siamese group of military and civil officers, and later a political party, which staged a bloodless coup against King Prajadhipok and transited the country's absolute monarchy to constitutional monarchy on 24 June 1932.-The...

 (or People's Party) carried out a bloodless revolution
Siamese Revolution of 1932
The Siamese Revolution of 1932 or the Siamese Coup d'état of 1932 was a crucial turning point in Thai history in the 20th century...

, in which the 150 years of absolute rule
Absolute monarchy
Absolute monarchy is a monarchical form of government in which the monarch exercises ultimate governing authority as head of state and head of government, his or her power not being limited by a constitution or by the law. An absolute monarch thus wields unrestricted political power over the...

 of the House of Chakri was ended. In its stead the group advocated a constitutional form of monarchy
Constitutional monarchy
Constitutional monarchy is a form of government in which a monarch acts as head of state within the parameters of a constitution, whether it be a written, uncodified or blended constitution...

 with an elected legislature.

The "Draft Constitution" of 1932 signed by King Prajadhipok
Prajadhipok
Phra Bat Somdet Phra Poramintharamaha Prajadhipok Phra Pok Klao Chao Yu Hua , or Rama VII was the seventh monarch of Siam under the House of Chakri. He was the last absolute monarch and the first constitutional monarch of the country. His reign was a turbulent time for Siam due to huge political...

, created Thailand's first legislature, a People's Assembly with 70 appointed members. The assembly met for the first time on 28 June 1932, in the Ananda Samakhom Throne Hall
Ananda Samakhom Throne Hall
The Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall is a former reception hall within Dusit Palace in Bangkok, Thailand. It now serves as a museum and is from time to time employed for certain state occasions....

. The Khana Ratsadon decided that the people were not yet ready for an elected assembly; however they later changed their minds. By the time the "permanent" constitution came into force in December of that year, elections were scheduled for 15 November 1933. The new constitution also changed the composition of the assembly to 78 directly elected and 78 appointed (by the Khana Ratsadon) together compromising 156 members.

1933 to 1997


For events subsequent to the abdication of the king, including the name change of 1939, up to the coup d'état of 1957, see Plaek Pibulsonggram. For additional history to 1997, refer to his successors in the List of Prime Ministers of Thailand.

1997 to 2006



The 1997 Constitution was the first constitution to be drafted by popularly elected Constitutional Drafting Assembly, and was popularly called the "People's Constitution". The 1997 Constitution created a bicameral legislature consisting of a 500-seat House of Representatives (สภาผู้แทนราษฎร, sapha phutaen ratsadon) and a 200-seat Senate
Senate
A senate is a deliberative assembly, often the upper house or chamber of a legislature or parliament. There have been many such bodies in history, since senate means the assembly of the eldest and wiser members of the society and ruling class...

 (วุฒิสภา, wuthisapha). For the first time in Thai history, both houses were directly elected
Election
An election is a formal decision-making process by which a population chooses an individual to hold public office. Elections have been the usual mechanism by which modern representative democracy operates since the 17th century. Elections may fill offices in the legislature, sometimes in the...

.

Many human rights
Human rights
Human rights are "commonly understood as inalienable fundamental rights to which a person is inherently entitled simply because she or he is a human being." Human rights are thus conceived as universal and egalitarian . These rights may exist as natural rights or as legal rights, in both national...

 are explicitly acknowledged, and measures were established to increase the stability of elected governments. The House was elected by the first past the post system, where only one candidate with a simple majority could be elected in one constituency. The Senate was elected based on the province system, where one province can return more than one senator depending on its population size.

The two houses of the National Assembly have two different terms. In accordance with the constitution the Senate is elected to a six year term, while the House is elected to a four year term. Overall the term of the National Assembly is based on that of the House. The National Assembly each year will sit in two sessions an "ordinary session" and a "legislative session". The first session of the National Assembly must take place within thirty days after the general election
General election
In a parliamentary political system, a general election is an election in which all or most members of a given political body are chosen. The term is usually used to refer to elections held for a nation's primary legislative body, as distinguished from by-elections and local elections.The term...

 of the House of Representatives. The first session must be opened by the king in person by reading a Speech from the Throne
Speech from the Throne
A speech from the throne is an event in certain monarchies in which the reigning sovereign reads a prepared speech to a complete session of parliament, outlining the government's agenda for the coming session...

; this ceremony is held in the Ananda Samakhom Throne Hall
Ananda Samakhom Throne Hall
The Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall is a former reception hall within Dusit Palace in Bangkok, Thailand. It now serves as a museum and is from time to time employed for certain state occasions....

. He may also appoint the crown prince
Crown Prince
A crown prince or crown princess is the heir or heiress apparent to the throne in a royal or imperial monarchy. The wife of a crown prince is also titled crown princess....

 or a representative to carry out this duty. It is also the duty of the king to prorogue sessions through a Royal Decree when the House term expires. The king also has the prerogative
Royal Prerogative
The royal prerogative is a body of customary authority, privilege, and immunity, recognized in common law and, sometimes, in civil law jurisdictions possessing a monarchy as belonging to the sovereign alone. It is the means by which some of the executive powers of government, possessed by and...

 to call extraordinary sessions and prolong sessions at his discretion.

The National Assembly may host a "Joint-sitting" of both Houses under several circumstances. These include: The appointment of a regent, any alteration to the 1924 Palace Law of Succession
1924 Palace Law of Succession
The Palace Law on Succession, BE 2467 governs succession to the Throne of the Kingdom of Thailand, under the ruling House of Chakri. The law was established during the reign of King Vajiravudh to systematically resolve previous succession controversies...

, the opening of the first session, the announcement of policies by the Cabinet of Thailand, the approval of the declaration of war
Declaration of war
A declaration of war is a formal act by which one nation goes to war against another. The declaration is a performative speech act by an authorized party of a national government in order to create a state of war between two or more states.The legality of who is competent to declare war varies...

, the hearing of explanations and approval of a treaty
Treaty
A treaty is an express agreement under international law entered into by actors in international law, namely sovereign states and international organizations. A treaty may also be known as an agreement, protocol, covenant, convention or exchange of letters, among other terms...

 and the amendment of the Constitution.

Members of the House of Representatives served four-year terms, while senators served six-year terms. The 1997 People's Constitution also promoted human rights more than any other constitutions. The court system (ศาล, saan) included a constitutional court
Constitutional Court of Thailand
The Constitutional Court of Thailand is an independent Thai court originally established under the 1997 Constitution with jurisdiction over the constitutionality of parliamentary acts, royal decrees, draft legislation, as well as the appointment and removal of public officials and issues regarding...

 with jurisdiction over the constitutionality of parliamentary acts, royal decrees, and political matters.

The January 2001 general election
Thailand legislative election, 2001
General elections were held in Thailand on January 6, 2001. 500 seats in the House of Representatives were at stake...

, the first election under the 1997 Constitution, was called the most open, corruption-free election in Thai history. The subsequent government was the first in Thai history to complete a four-year term. The 2005 election
Thailand legislative election, 2005
General elections were held in Thailand on 6 February 2005. With a turnout of 60.7 percent, the Thai Rak Thai Party of Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra won a landslide victory. Out of 500 seats in the House of Representatives, Thaksin's party won 374 seats, with its former coalition partner, the...

 had the highest voter turnout in Thai history. Despite efforts to clean up the system, vote buying and electoral violence remained problems of electoral quality in 2005.

The PollWatch Foundation, Thailand's most prominent election watchdog, declared that vote buying in this election, specifically in the North and the Northeast, was more serious than in the 2001 election. The organization also accused the government of violating the election law by abusing state power in presenting new projects in a bid to seek votes.

2006 coup d'état


Without meeting much resistance, a military junta
Military junta
A junta or military junta is a government led by a committee of military leaders. The term derives from the Spanish language junta meaning committee, specifically a board of directors...

 overthrew the interim government of Thaksin Shinawatra
Thaksin Shinawatra
Thaksin Shinawatra is a Thai businessman and politician, who was Prime Minister of Thailand from 2001 to 2006, when he was overthrown in a military coup....

 on 19 September 2006. The junta
Military dictatorship
A military dictatorship is a form of government where in the political power resides with the military. It is similar but not identical to a stratocracy, a state ruled directly by the military....

 abrogated the constitution, dissolved Parliament and the Constitutional Court, detained and later removed several members of the government, declared martial law
Martial law
Martial law is the imposition of military rule by military authorities over designated regions on an emergency basis— only temporary—when the civilian government or civilian authorities fail to function effectively , when there are extensive riots and protests, or when the disobedience of the law...

, and appointed one of the king's Privy Counselors, General Surayud Chulanont
Surayud Chulanont
General Surayud Chulanont is a Thai political figure. He was the Prime Minister of Thailand and head of Thailand's Interim Government between 2006 and 2008...

, as the Prime Minister. The junta later wrote a highly abbreviated interim constitution
2006 Interim Constitution of Thailand
The 2006 Interim Charter of Thailand was drafted by the Council for Democratic Reform after it seized power from the government of Thaksin Shinawatra in the 2006 Thailand coup...

 and appointed a panel to draft a new permanent constitution. The junta also appointed a 250-member legislature, called by some critics a "chamber of generals" while others claimed that it lacks representatives from the poor majority.

In this interim constitution draft, the head of the junta was allowed to remove the prime minister at any time. The legislature was not allowed to hold a vote of confidence against the cabinet and the public was not allowed to file comments on bills. This interim constitution was later surpassed by the permanent constitution
2007 Constitution of Thailand
A Permanent Constitution for the Kingdom of Thailand was drafted by a committee established by the military junta that abrogated the previous 1997 Constitution. On August 19, 2007, a referendum was held in which 59.3% of the voters voted in favor of the constitution...

 on 24 August 2007. Martial law was partially revoked in January 2007. The ban on political activities was lifted in July 2007, following the 30 May dissolution of the Thai Rak Thai
Thai Rak Thai
The Thai Rak Thai Party was a Thai political party that was officially banned on May 30, 2007, by the Constitutional Court of Thailand due to violations of electoral laws during the 2006 legislative elections. From 2001 to 2006, it was the ruling party under Prime Minister and its founder Thaksin...

 party. The new constitution
2007 Constitution of Thailand
A Permanent Constitution for the Kingdom of Thailand was drafted by a committee established by the military junta that abrogated the previous 1997 Constitution. On August 19, 2007, a referendum was held in which 59.3% of the voters voted in favor of the constitution...

 was approved by referendum on 19 August, which led to a return to a democratic general election
Thai general election, 2007
The 2007 Thai general elections were held on 23 December. This was the first legislative election after the Council for National Security, a military junta, had overthrown Thailand's elected government and abrogated the constitution on September 19, 2006. The junta had canceled general elections...

 on 23 December 2007.

Political crisis




The People's Power Party (Thailand)
People's Power Party (Thailand)
The People's Power Party was a Thai political party founded on November 9, 1998 by Police Lieutenant Colonel Garn Tienkaew. The party leader was Somchai Wongsawat, the Party Secretary General was Surapong Suebwonglee, and the Party Spokesperson was Kuthep Saikrajarng...

, led by Samak Sundaravej
Samak Sundaravej
Samak Sundaravej was a Thai Chinese politician who briefly served as the Prime Minister of Thailand and Minister of Defense in 2008, as well as the leader of the People's Power Party in 2008.-Early life and family:...

 formed a government with five smaller parties. Following several court rulings against him in a variety of scandals, and surviving a vote of no confidence, and protesters blockading government buildings and airports, in September 2008, Sundaravej was found guilty of conflict of interest by the Constitutional Court of Thailand
Constitutional Court of Thailand
The Constitutional Court of Thailand is an independent Thai court originally established under the 1997 Constitution with jurisdiction over the constitutionality of parliamentary acts, royal decrees, draft legislation, as well as the appointment and removal of public officials and issues regarding...

 (due to being a host in a TV cooking program), and thus, ended his term in office.

He was replaced by PPP member Somchai Wongsawat
Somchai Wongsawat
Somchai Wongsawat is a Thai politician, as well as former executive member of the People's Power Party whose political rights have been disfranchised by the Constitutional Court for five years....

. As of October 2008, Wongsawat was unable to gain access to his offices, which were occupied by protesters from the People's Alliance for Democracy
People's Alliance for Democracy
The People's Alliance for Democracy also called the National Liberation Alliance - กลุ่มพันธมิตรกู้ชาติ, Thai Patriots Network or the Yellow Shirts - เสื้อเหลือง - was originally a coalition of protesters against Thaksin Shinawatra, the former Prime Minister of Thailand. Its leaders include...

. On December 2, 2008, Thailand's Constitutional Court in a highly controversial ruling found the Peoples Power Party guilty of electoral fraud, which led to the dissolution of the party according to the law. It was later alleged in media reports that at least one member of the judiciary had a telephone conversation with officials working for the Office of the Privy Council and one other. The phone call was taped and has since circulated on the Internet. In it, the callers discuss finding a way to ensure the ruling PPP party would be disbanded. Accusations of judicial interference were levelled in the media but the recorded call was dismissed as a hoax. However, in June 2010, supporters of the eventually disbanded PPP were charged with tapping a judge's phone.

Immediately following what many media described as a "judicial coup", a senior member of the Armed Forces met with factions of the governing coalition to get their members to join the opposition and the Democrat Party
Democrat Party (Thailand)
The Democrat Party is Thailand's oldest political party and was the main coalition government party of the 23rd House of Representatives of Thailand. The Democrat Party's current leader is Abhisit Vejjajiva, incumbent opposition leader and former Prime Minister. The party upholds a conservative...

 was able to form a government, a first for the party since 2001. The leader of the Democrat party, and former leader of the opposition, Abhisit Vejjajiva
Abhisit Vejjajiva
Abhisit Vejjajiva , , ; born Mark Abhisit Vejjajiva; 3 August 1964 in Newcastle upon Tyne) is a Thai politician who was the 27th Prime Minister of Thailand from 2008 to 2011 and is the current leader of the Democrat Party...

 was appointed and sworn-in as the 27th Prime Minister
Prime Minister of Thailand
The Prime Minister of Thailand is the head of government of Thailand. The Prime Minister is also the chairman of the Cabinet of Thailand. The post has existed since the Revolution of 1932, when the country became a constitutional monarchy....

, together with the new cabinet on 17 December 2008.

Thailand remains an active member of ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations).

In of April 2010, a set of new protests
2010 Thai political protests
A prolonged series of political protests occurred in Bangkok, Thailand in 2010 from March to May against the Democrat Party-led government. The protests were organized by the National United Front of Democracy Against Dictatorship...

 by the Red Shirt
National United Front of Democracy Against Dictatorship
The United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship , whose supporters are commonly called "Red Shirts", is a political pressure group opposed to the People's Alliance for Democracy , the 2006 Thai military coup, and supporters of the coup. Notable UDD leaders include Jatuporn Prompan, Nattawut...

 opposition movement resulted in 87 deaths (mostly civilian and some military) and 1,378 injured. When the army tried to disperse the protesters on April 10, 2010, the army was met with automatic gunfire, grenades, and fire bombs from the opposition faction in the army, known as the "watermelon". This resulted in the army returning fire with rubber bullets and some live ammunition. During the time of the "red shirt" protests against the government, there have been numerous grenade and bomb attacks against government offices and the homes of government officials. Grenades were fired at protesters, that were protesting against the "red shirts" and for the government, by unknown gunmen killing one pro-government protester, the government stated that the Red Shirts
National United Front of Democracy Against Dictatorship
The United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship , whose supporters are commonly called "Red Shirts", is a political pressure group opposed to the People's Alliance for Democracy , the 2006 Thai military coup, and supporters of the coup. Notable UDD leaders include Jatuporn Prompan, Nattawut...

 protesters were firing the weapons at civilians.

On 3 July 2011, the oppositional Pheu Thai Party led by Yingluck Shinawatra
Yingluck Shinawatra
Yingluck Shinawatra , or nickname Pu , is a Thai businesswoman and politician, member of the Pheu Thai Party, and the 28th Prime Minister of Thailand following the 2011 general election...

 (the youngest sister of Thaksin Shinawatra) won the general election by a landslide (265 seats in the House of Representatives
House of Representatives of Thailand
The House of Representatives of the Kingdom of Thailand is the lower house of the National Assembly of Thailand, the legislative branch of the Thai Government. The system of government of Thailand is that of a Constitutional Monarchy and a Parliamentary Democracy. The system of the Thai...

). They could form a coalition government presided over by Yingluck.

Administrative divisions


Thailand is divided into 76 provinces
Provinces of Thailand
Thailand is divided into 76 provinces , which are geographically grouped into 6 regions. The capital Bangkok is not a province but a special administrative area and is included as the 77th province since it is administered at the same level as the other 76 provinces. The name of the provinces are...

 (จังหวัด, changwat), which are gathered into 5 groups of provinces by location. There are also 2 special governed districts: the capital Bangkok
Bangkok
Bangkok is the capital and largest urban area city in Thailand. It is known in Thai as Krung Thep Maha Nakhon or simply Krung Thep , meaning "city of angels." The full name of Bangkok is Krung Thep Mahanakhon Amon Rattanakosin Mahintharayutthaya Mahadilok Phop Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom...

 (Krung Thep Maha Nakhon) and Pattaya
Pattaya
Pattaya is a city in Thailand, located on the east coast of the Gulf of Thailand, about 165 km southeast of Bangkok located within but not part of Amphoe Bang Lamung in the province of Chonburi....

, of which Bangkok is at provincial level and thus often counted as a province.

Each province is divided into districts
Amphoe
An amphoe is the second level administrative subdivision of Thailand. Usually translated as district, amphoe make up the provinces, and are analogous to a county seat...

 and the districts are further divided into sub-districts (tambons). As of 2006 there are 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
Bangkok Metropolitan Area
The Bangkok Metropolitan Region , also known as Greater Bangkok, is the urban conglomeration of Bangkok, Thailand, which includes the city and the 5 adjacent provinces of Nakhon Pathom, Pathum Thani, Nonthaburi, Samut Prakan and Samut Sakhon....

 (ปริมณฑล, pari monthon). These provinces include Nonthaburi
Nonthaburi Province
Nonthaburi is one of the central provinces of Thailand. Neighboring provinces are Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya, Pathum Thani, Bangkok and Nakhon Pathom....

, Pathum Thani, Samut Prakan
Samut Prakan Province
Samut Prakan is one of the central provinces of Thailand. It is part of the Bangkok Metropolitan Region. Neighboring provinces are Bangkok, to the north and west, and Chachoengsao to the east....

, Nakhon Pathom
Nakhon Pathom Province
Nakhon Pathom ) is one of the central provinces of Thailand. Neighboring provinces are Suphan Buri, Ayutthaya, Nonthaburi, Bangkok, Samut Sakhon, Ratchaburi and Kanchanaburi...

 and Samut Sakhon
Samut Sakhon Province
Samut Sakhon ) is one of the central provinces of Thailand.Neighboring provinces are Samut Songkhram, Ratchaburi, Nakhon Pathom and Bangkok.- Etymology :...

. The name of each province's capital city (เมือง, mueang) is the same as that of the province. For example, the capital of Chiang Mai province (Changwat Chiang Mai) is Mueang Chiang Mai or Chiang Mai.

Foreign relations




The foreign relations of Thailand are handled by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Thailand.

Thailand participates fully in international and regional organizations. It is a Major non-NATO ally
Major non-NATO ally
Major non-NATO ally is a designation given by the United States government to close allies who have strategic working relationships with US armed forces but are not members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization...

 and Priority Watch List Special 301 Report
Special 301 Report
The Special 301 Report is prepared annually by the Office of the United States Trade Representative under Section 301 as amended of the Trade Act of 1974. The reports identify trade barriers to US companies and products due to the intellectual property laws, such as copyright, patents and...

 of the United States. Thailand has developed increasingly close ties with other ASEAN members—Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Brunei, Laos, Cambodia, Burma, and Vietnam—whose foreign and economic ministers hold annual meetings. Regional cooperation is progressing in economic, trade, banking, political, and cultural matters. In 2003, Thailand served as APEC 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 Asia Summit.

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 organizations as the Organization of American States (OAS) and the Organization 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 criticized, with claims that high-cost Thai industries could be wiped out.

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.

Thaksin announced that Thailand would forsake foreign aid, and work with donor countries to assist in the development of neighbors in the Greater Mekong Sub-region.

Thaksin was criticized for acting undiplomatically with foreign leaders and the international community and there were allegations of gaffes at international meetings.

Thaksin was ambitious 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, including extending the impoverished country a 4 billion baht credit line so it could conclude a satellite telecom deal with his family business.

Thaksin energetically supported his former foreign minister Surakiart Sathirathai
Surakiart Sathirathai
Surakiart Sathirathai was, until September 19 2006, a Deputy Prime Minister of Thailand overseeing Foreign Affairs, Education and Culture.-Family and early career:...

's somewhat improbable campaign to become UN Secretary General.

Abhisit appointed Peoples Alliance for Democracy leader Kasit Piromya as Foreign Minister. Prior to his appointment, Kasit had led anti-Cambodia protests and called Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen
Hun Sen
Hun Sen is the current Prime Minister of Cambodia.He has been the sole leader of the Cambodian People's Party , which has governed Cambodia since the Vietnamese-backed overthrow of the Khmer Rouge in 1979...

 a "gangster minded (ใจนักเลง jai-nak-leng)" (he later claimed the word he used actually meant "a person who is lionhearted, a courageous and magnanimous gentleman"). In April 2009, "large-scale fighting" erupted between Thai and Cambodian troops amid the 900-year-old ruins of the Preah Vihear Hindu temple near the Cambodian 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 soldiers were killed and three Thai soldiers were killed. Both armies blamed the other for firing first and denied entering the other's territory.

Military





The Royal Thai Armed Forces ( is the name of the military
Military
A military is an organization authorized by its greater society to use lethal force, usually including use of weapons, in defending its country by combating actual or perceived threats. The military may have additional functions of use to its greater society, such as advancing a political agenda e.g...

 of the Kingdom of Thailand. It consists of the following branches:
  • Royal Thai Army (กองทัพบกไทย)
  • Royal Thai Navy
    Royal Thai Navy
    The Royal Thai Navy is the navy of Thailand and part of the Royal Thai Armed Forces, it was established in the late 19th century. Admiral Prince Abhakara Kiartiwongse is "The Father of Royal Thai Navy". Similar to the organizational structure of the United States, the Royal Thai Navy includes the...

    (กองทัพเรือไทย, ราชนาวีไทย)
  • Royal Thai Air Force
    Royal Thai Air Force
    The Royal Thai Air Force or RTAF is the air force of the Kingdom of Thailand. Since its establishment in 1913, as one of the earliest air forces of Asia, the Royal Thai Air Force had engaged in many major and minor battles. During the Vietnam war era, the air force has been developed with USAF-aid...

    (กองทัพอากาศไทย)
  • Other Paramilitary
    Paramilitary
    A paramilitary is a force whose function and organization are similar to those of a professional military, but which is not considered part of a state's formal armed forces....

     Forces


Today the Royal Thai Armed Forces comprises about 1,025,640 personnel. The Head of the Thai Armed Forces (จอมทัพไทย: Chomthap Thai) is His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej (Rama IX), however this position is only nominal. The Armed Forces is managed by the Ministry of Defence of Thailand
Ministry of Defence (Thailand)
The Ministry of Defence of the Kingdom Thailand , is a Cabinet level government department of the Kingdom of Thailand. The Ministry controls and manage the Royal Thai Armed Forces, as well as maintaining national security, territorial integrity and national defence...

, which is headed by the Minister of Defence (a member of the Cabinet of Thailand) and commanded by the Royal Thai Armed Forces Headquarters, which in turn is headed by the Chief of Defence Forces of Thailand.

According to the Constitution of the Kingdom
2007 Constitution of Thailand
A Permanent Constitution for the Kingdom of Thailand was drafted by a committee established by the military junta that abrogated the previous 1997 Constitution. On August 19, 2007, a referendum was held in which 59.3% of the voters voted in favor of 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 Army Reserve Force Students
Army Reserve Force Students
Army Reserve Force Students are a military youth organization in Thailand under control of the Royal Thai Army.-History:Prior to World War II the Yuwachon Thahan were established in 1934 by Field Marshal Luang Pibulsonggram...

 are given the option of whether they want to volunteer for the armed forces, or pick the random draft. The candidates are subjected to varying lengths of training from 6 months to 2 years of fulltime service depending on their education, whether they have partially completed the reserve training course, and whether they volunteered prior to the drafting date (usually April 1 every year).

Candidates with a recognized bachelor's degree will be subjected to 1 year of full-time service if they picked the random draft, or 6 months if they volunteer at their respective district office (Sasadee).

Likewise, the training length is also reduced for those who have partially completed the 3-year reserve training course (Ror Dor). A person who completed 1 year out of 3 will only have to serve full-time for 1 year. Those completed 2 years of reserve training will only have to do 6 months of full-time training. While those who complete 3 years or more of reserve training will be exempted.

The Royal Thai Armed Forces Day
Public holidays in Thailand
Public holidays in Thailand are regulated by the government, and most are observed by both the public and private sectors. There are usually sixteen public holidays in a year, but more may be declared by the cabinet. Since 1996, if a holiday falls on a weekend, the following workday is observed as...

 is celebrated on January 18 to commemorate the victory of King Naresuan the Great in battle against the Crown Prince of Burma
Toungoo Dynasty
The Toungoo Dynasty was the ruling dynasty of Burma from the mid-16th century to 1752. Its early kings Tabinshwehti and Bayinnaung succeeded in reunifying the Pagan Empire for the first time since 1287, and in incorporating the Shan States for the first time...

 in 1593.

Location


Totaling 513120 square kilometres (198,116.7 sq mi), Thailand is the world's 50th largest country in land mass, while it is the world's 20th largest country in terms of population. It is comparable in population to countries such as France and the United Kingdom, and is similar in land size to France and California in the United States.

Thailand is home to several distinct geographic regions, partly corresponding to the provincial groups. The north of the country is mountainous, with the highest point being Doi Inthanon
Doi Inthanon
Doi Inthanon ) is the highest mountain in Thailand. It is located in Mae Chaem District. The mountain was also known in the past as Doi Luang or Doi Ang Ka, meaning the crow's pond top. Near the mountain's base was a pond where many crows gathered...

 at 2565 metres (8,415 ft) above sea level
Above mean sea level
The term above mean sea level refers to the elevation or altitude of any object, relative to the average sea level datum. AMSL is used extensively in radio by engineers to determine the coverage area a station will be able to reach...

. The northeast, Isan
Isan
Isan is the northeastern region of Thailand. It is located on the Khorat Plateau, bordered by the Mekong River to the north and east, by Cambodia to the southeast and the Prachinburi mountains south of Nakhon Ratchasima...

, consists of the Khorat Plateau
Khorat Plateau
The Khorat Plateau also Korat Plateau, is a plateau in the northeastern region of Thailand, named for the short form of Nakhon Ratchasima, an historical stronghold controlling access to and from the plateau.-Geography:...

, bordered to the east by the Mekong
Mekong
The Mekong is a river that runs through China, Burma, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. It is the world's 10th-longest river and the 7th-longest in Asia. Its estimated length is , and it drains an area of , discharging of water annually....

 River. The centre of the country is dominated by the predominantly flat Chao Phraya river valley, which runs into the Gulf of Thailand
Gulf of Thailand
The Gulf of Thailand , also known in to Malays as Teluk Siam literally meant Gulf of Siam, is a shallow arm of the South China Sea.-Geography:...

.

Southern Thailand consists of the narrow Kra Isthmus
Kra Isthmus
The Kra Isthmus is the narrow land bridge which connects the Malay Peninsula with the mainland of Asia, and popularly named "The Devil's Neck".-Geography:...

 that widens into the Malay Peninsula
Malay Peninsula
The Malay Peninsula or Thai-Malay Peninsula is a peninsula in Southeast Asia. The land mass runs approximately north-south and, at its terminus, is the southern-most point of the Asian mainland...

. 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 setting.

The Chao Phraya and the Mekong River are the sustainable resource of rural Thailand. Industrial scale production of crops use both rivers and their tributaries. The Gulf of Thailand
Gulf of Thailand
The Gulf of Thailand , also known in to Malays as Teluk Siam literally meant Gulf of Siam, is a shallow arm of the South China Sea.-Geography:...

 covers 320000 square kilometre and is fed by the Chao Phraya, Mae Klong, Bang Pakong and Tapi
Tapi River, Thailand
The Tapi river is the longest river in southern Thailand. The river originates at the Khao Luang, and has a wide estuary into the Gulf of Thailand at Bandon Bay near the town of Surat Thani. It has a length of 230 km....

 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 Gulf of Thailand is also an industrial centre of Thailand with the kingdom's main port in Sattahip along with being the entry gates for Bangkok's Inland Seaport
Port Authority of Thailand
The Port Authority of Thailand is a state corporation of Thailand, responsible for the regulation and governance of the ports of Thailand, primarily the ports of Laem Chabang and Bangkok, the country's two largest ports. PAT operates Thai ports in conjunction with public companies including...

.

The Andaman Sea
Andaman Sea
The Andaman Sea or Burma Sea is a body of water to the southeast of the Bay of Bengal, south of Burma, west of Thailand and east of the Andaman Islands, India; it is part of the Indian Ocean....

 is regarded as Thailand's most precious natural resource as it hosts the most popular and luxurious resorts in Asia. Phuket
Phuket Province
Phuket , formerly known as Thalang and, in Western sources, Junk Ceylon , is one of the southern provinces of Thailand...

, Krabi
Krabi
Krabi is a town on the west coast of southern Thailand at the mouth of the Krabi River where it empties in Phangnga Bay. As of 2005 the town has a population of 24,986. The town is the capital of Krabi Province and Krabi district...

, Ranong
Ranong
Ranong ) is a town in southern Thailand, capital of the Ranong Province and the Mueang Ranong district. The town covers completely the area of the tambon Khao Niwet . As of 2005 it has a population of 16,163, and has town status .The town is located at the estuary of the Pak Chan River, opposite...

, Phang Nga
Phang Nga
Phang Nga ) is a town in southern Thailand, capital of the Phang Nga Province. The town covers the whole tambon Thai Chang of Mueang Phang Nga district. As of 2005 it has a population of 9,559 and covers an area of 6.75 km²....

 and Trang
Trang
Trang is the capital of Trang Province, Thailand. The city has a population of 59,637 and covers the whole tambon Thap Thiang of Mueang Trang district....

 and their lush islands all lay along the coasts of the Andaman Sea and despite the 2004 Tsunami, they continue to be and ever more so, the playground of the rich and elite of Asia and the world.

Plans have resurfaced of a logistical connection of the two bodies of water which would be coined the Thai Canal
Thai canal
The Thai Canal refers to a plan for a large canal that would cut through southern Thailand to enable improved transportation in the region, like the Panama Canal and Suez Canal.-History:...

, analogous to the Suez
Suez Canal
The Suez Canal , also known by the nickname "The Highway to India", is an artificial sea-level waterway in Egypt, connecting the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea. Opened in November 1869 after 10 years of construction work, it allows water transportation between Europe and Asia without navigation...

 and the Panama Canal
Panama Canal
The Panama Canal is a ship canal in Panama that joins the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean and is a key conduit for international maritime trade. Built from 1904 to 1914, the canal has seen annual traffic rise from about 1,000 ships early on to 14,702 vessels measuring a total of 309.6...

. Such an idea has been greeted with positive accounts by Thai politicians as it would cut fees charged by the Ports of Singapore
Port of Singapore
The Port of Singapore refers to the collective facilities and terminals that conduct maritime trade handling functions in Singapore's harbours and which handle Singapore's shipping...

, improve ties with China and India, lower shipping times and increase ship safety owing to pirate fears in the Strait of Melaka and, support the Thai government's policy of being the logistical hub for Southeast Asia.

The ports 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 moving it closer to a services centre of Asia. The canal would be a major engineering project and has expected costs of 20–30 billion dollars.

Climate


The local climate
Climate
Climate encompasses the statistics of temperature, humidity, atmospheric pressure, wind, rainfall, atmospheric particle count and other meteorological elemental measurements in a given region over long periods...

 is tropical and characterized by monsoon
Monsoon
Monsoon is traditionally defined as a seasonal reversing wind accompanied by corresponding changes in precipitation, but is now used to describe seasonal changes in atmospheric circulation and precipitation associated with the asymmetric heating of land and sea...

s. There is a rainy, warm, and cloudy southwest monsoon from mid-May to September, as well as a dry, cool northeast monsoon from November to mid-March. The southern isthmus is always hot and humid.

Education




Thailand enjoys a high level of literacy, and 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 through the public establishments.
Education is compulsory up to and including age group 14, and the government provides free education through to age group 17.

Thailand has never been colonized, and its teaching relies heavily on rote rather than on student-centred methodology. Education in a modern sense is therefore relatively recent and still needs to overcome some major cultural hurdles to ensure further development and improvement to its standards.

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 volatile situation.
The issue concerning university entrance has therefore also been in constant upheaval for a number of years. Nevertheless, education has seen its greatest progress in the years since 2001. Most of the present generation of students are computer literate, and knowledge of English is on the increase at least in quantity if not in quality.

Extensive nationwide IQ tests were carried out in December 2010 to January 2011 on 72,780 Thai students. The average IQ was found to be at 98.59, which is higher than previous studies have found. The IQ levels are not consistent throughout the country though, with the lowest average of 88.07 found in the southern region of Narathiwat and the highest average of 108.91 reported in Nonthaburi province. The Thai 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.

Science and technology



The National Science and Technology Development Agency is an agency
Government agency
A government or state agency is a permanent or semi-permanent organization in the machinery of government that is responsible for the oversight and administration of specific functions, such as an intelligence agency. There is a notable variety of agency types...

 of the government of Thailand which supports research in science and technology and their application in the Thai economy
Economy of Thailand
The economy of Thailand is a newly industrialized economy. It is a heavily export-dependent economy, with exports accounting for more than two thirds of gross domestic product ....

.

From the agency's website:

The National Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA) reflects the Thai government's deep commitment to apply scientific and technological capabilities to promote and sustain the nation's economic, social development and growth through the promotion of linkage and collaboration between the public and private sectors. Since its inception in 1991, NSTDA has grown into an active organization with a diverse program focusing on cutting-edge S&T research, design, development and engineering. NSTDA offers a full potential and opportunity for cooperative challenges and investment. Through such a convergence, the organization brings a layered, multi-faceted approach to the scholarly and most practical description of scientific and technological discoveries and advancement to serve national needs and maintain a sustained linkage with the international community.

The Synchrotron Light Research Institute (SLRI) is a Thai research institution on physics, chemistry, material science and life sciences. It is located on the Suranaree University of Technology Campus (SUT), in Nakhorn Ratchaseema, about 300 km north east of Bangkok. The Institute, financed by the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST), houses the only large scale synchrotron in South East 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.

Economy





Thailand is an emerging economy
Emerging markets
Emerging markets are nations with social or business activity in the process of rapid growth and industrialization. Based on data from 2006, there are around 28 emerging markets in the world . The economies of China and India are considered to be the largest...

 and considered as a newly industrialized country. After enjoying the world's highest growth rate from 1985 to 1996 – averaging 12.4% annually – increased pressure on Thailand's currency, the baht
Thai baht
The baht is the currency of Thailand. It is subdivided into 100 satang . The issuance of currency is the responsibility of the Bank of Thailand.-History:The baht, like the pound, originated from a traditional unit of mass...

, in 1997, the year in which the economy contracted by 1.9% led to a crisis that uncovered financial sector weaknesses and forced the Chavalit Yongchaiyudh
Chavalit Yongchaiyudh
General Chavalit Yongchaiyudh is a Thai politician and retired general. He was Thailand's 22nd Prime Minister from 1996 to 1997. He is of Sino-Thai and ethnic Lao descent....

 administration to float the currency, however, Prime Minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh was forced to resign after his cabinet came under fire for its slow response to the crisis. The baht was pegged at 25 to the US dollar from 1978 to 1997, however, the baht reached its lowest point of 56 to the US dollar in January 1998 and the economy contracted by 10.8% that year. This collapse prompted the Asian financial crisis.

Thailand's economy started to recover in 1999, expanding 4.2% and 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 increasing domestic spending as a result of several mega projects and incentives of Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra
Thaksin Shinawatra
Thaksin Shinawatra is a Thai businessman and politician, who was Prime Minister of Thailand from 2001 to 2006, when he was overthrown in a military coup....

, known as Thaksinomics
Thaksinomics
Thaksinomics is a term used to refer to the economic set of policies of Thaksin Shinawatra, Prime Minister of Thailand from 2001-2006. There has been considerable controversy over the role Thaksinomics has played in Thailand's recovery from the 1997 Asian financial crisis...

. Growth in 2002, 2003 and 2004 was 5–7% annually. 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.

Thailand exports an increasing value of over $105 billion worth of goods and services annually. Major exports include Thai rice, textiles and footwear, fishery products, rubber, jewellery, cars, computers and electrical appliances. Thailand is the world's no.1 exporter of rice, exporting more than 6.5 million tons of milled rice annually. Rice is the most important crop in the country. 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.

Substantial industries include electric appliances, components, computer parts and cars, while tourism in Thailand
Tourism in Thailand
Tourism is a major economic factor in the Kingdom of Thailand, contributing an estimated 6.7% to Thailand's GDP in 2007.-Overview:Among the reasons for the increase in tourism in the 1960s were the stable political atmosphere and the development of Bangkok as a crossroads of international air...

 makes up about 6% of the economy. Prostitution in Thailand
Prostitution in Thailand
Prostitution in Thailand is illegal, although in practice it is tolerated and partly regulated. Prostitution is practised openly throughout the country. Local officials with commercial interests in prostitution often protect the practice. The precise number of prostitutes is difficult to assess;...

 and sex tourism also form a de facto part of the economy. Cultural milieu combined with poverty and the lure of money have caused prostitution
Prostitution
Prostitution is the act or practice of providing sexual services to another person in return for payment. The person who receives payment for sexual services is called a prostitute and the person who receives such services is known by a multitude of terms, including a "john". Prostitution is one of...

 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 three percent of the Thai economy. According to research by Chulalongkorn University
Chulalongkorn University
Chulalongkorn University is the oldest university in Thailand and is the country's highest ranked university. It now has nineteen faculties and institutes. Regarded as the best and most selective university in Thailand, it consistently attracts top students from around the country...

 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 economy of Thailand is an emerging economy which is heavily export-dependent, with exports accounting for more than two thirds of gross domestic product (GDP) The exchange rate is Baht 33.00/USD.

Thailand has a GDP worth 8.5 trillion Baht (on a purchasing power parity (PPP) basis), or US$627 billion (PPP). This classifies Thailand as the 2nd largest economy in Southeast Asia after Indonesia. Despite this, Thailand ranks midway in the wealth spread in Southeast Asia as it is the 4th richest nation according to GDP per capita, after Singapore, Brunei and Malaysia.

It functions as an anchor economy for the neighboring developing economies of Laos, Burma, and Cambodia. Thailand's recovery from the 1997–1998 Asian financial crisis depended mainly on exports, among various other factors. Thailand ranks high among the world's automotive export industries along with manufacturing of electronic goods.

Between 1997 and 2010, 4'306 mergers & acquisitions
Mergers and acquisitions
Mergers and acquisitions refers to the aspect of corporate strategy, corporate finance and management dealing with the buying, selling, dividing and combining of different companies and similar entities that can help an enterprise grow rapidly in its sector or location of origin, or a new field or...

 with a total known value of USD$81 billion with the involvement of Thai firms have been announced. The year 2010 was a new record in terms of value with USD$12 billion of transactions. The largest transaction with involvement of Thai companies has been: PTT Chemical PCL merged with PTT Aromatics and Refining PCL valued at USD$3.8 billion in 2011.

49% of Thailand's labor force is employed in agriculture
Agriculture in Thailand
Thai agriculture is highly competitive, diversified and specialised and its exports are very successful internationally. Rice is the country's most important crop; Thailand is a major exporter in the world rice market. Other agricultural commodities produced in significant amounts include fish and...

, however this is less than the 70% employed in 1980. Agriculture has been experiencing a transition from labour intensive and transitional methods into a more industrialised and competitive sector. Between 1962 and 1983, the agricultural sector grew by 4.1% on average a year and continued to grow at 2.2% between 1983 and 2007. However, the relative contribution of agriculture to GDP has declined while exports of goods and services have increased.

Tourism revenues are on the rise. With the instability surrounding the recent coup and the military rule, however, the GDP growth of Thailand has settled at around 4–5% from previous highs of 5–7% under the previous civilian administration, as investor and consumer confidence has been degraded somewhat due to political uncertainty.

The incumbent elected civilian administration under Samak Sundaravej in power from January 29 to September 9, 2008 stated that the economy will have grown by 5.5% to 6% by the end of 2008. Due to rising oil and food prices, the annual inflation rate for 2008 shot up to 9.2% in July; a 10-year high.

Thailand generally uses the metric system but traditional units of measurement for land area are used, and imperial measure (feet, inches etc.) are occasionally used with building materials such as wood and plumbing sizes. Years are numbered as B.E. (Buddhist Era
Thai solar calendar
The Thai solar calendar, Suriyakati was adopted by King Chulalongkorn in AD 1888 as the Siamese version of the Gregorian calendar. It is the legal calendar in Thailand, though Thai lunar calendar dates continue in use. Years are now counted in the Buddhist Era that is 543 years greater than...

) in education, the civil service, government, and on contracts and newspaper datelines; in banking, however, and increasingly in industry and commerce, standard Western year (Christian or Common Era) counting prevails.

Language



The official language of Thailand is Thai
Thai language
Thai , also known as Central Thai and Siamese, is the national and official language of Thailand and the native language of the Thai people, Thailand's dominant ethnic group. Thai is a member of the Tai group of the Tai–Kadai language family. Historical linguists have been unable to definitively...

, a Tai–Kadai language closely related to Lao
Lao language
Lao or Laotian is a tonal language of the Tai–Kadai language family. It is the official language of Laos, and also spoken in the northeast of Thailand, where it is usually referred to as the Isan language. Being the primary language of the Lao people, Lao is also an important second language for...

, Shan
Shan language
The Shan language is the native language of Shan people and spoken mostly in Shan State, Burma. It is also used in pockets of Kachin State in Burma, in northern Thailand, and in Xishuangbanna Dai Autonomous Prefecture, Yunnan Province, China. Shan is a member of the Tai–Kadai language family, and...

 in Burma, and numerous smaller languages spoken in an arc from Hainan
Hainan
Hainan is the smallest province of the People's Republic of China . Although the province comprises some two hundred islands scattered among three archipelagos off the southern coast, of its land mass is Hainan Island , from which the province takes its name...

 and Yunnan
Yunnan
Yunnan is a province of the People's Republic of China, located in the far southwest of the country spanning approximately and with a population of 45.7 million . The capital of the province is Kunming. The province borders Burma, Laos, and Vietnam.Yunnan is situated in a mountainous area, with...

 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
Thai alphabet
Thai script , is used to write the Thai language and other, minority, languages in Thailand. It has forty-four consonants , fifteen vowel symbols that combine into at least twenty-eight vowel forms, and four tone marks ....

, an abugida
Abugida
An abugida , also called an alphasyllabary, is a segmental writing system in which consonant–vowel sequences are written as a unit: each unit is based on a consonant letter, and vowel notation is obligatory but secondary...

 script that evolved from the Khmer script
Khmer script
The Khmer script is an alphasyllabary script used to write the Khmer language . It is also used to write Pali among the Buddhist liturgy of Cambodia and Thailand....

. Several other dialects exist, and coincide with the regional designations. Southern Thai
Southern Thai language
Southern Thai or Dambro is a Tai language spoken in the 14 changwat of Southern Thailand as well as by small communities in the northernmost Malaysian states. It is spoken by roughly five million people, and as a second language by the 1.5 million speakers of Patani Malay and other ethnic groups...

 is spoken in the southern provinces, and Northern Thai
Northern Thai language
Northern Thai, Lanna, or Kham Mueang is the language of the Thai Yuan people of Lannathai, Thailand. It is a Tai language, closely related to Thai and Lao...

 is spoken in the provinces that were formally part of the independent kingdom of Lannathai.

Thailand is also host to several other minority languages, the largest of which is the Lao
Lao language
Lao or Laotian is a tonal language of the Tai–Kadai language family. It is the official language of Laos, and also spoken in the northeast of Thailand, where it is usually referred to as the Isan language. Being the primary language of the Lao people, Lao is also an important second language for...

 dialect of Isan
Isan language
Isan language is the collective name for the dialects of the Lao language as they are spoken in Thailand. It is spoken by approximately 20 million people, which is nearly one-third of the entire population of Thailand, predominantly in the Isan region of northeastern Thailand. There are also large...

 spoken in the northeastern provinces. Although sometimes considered a Thai dialect, it is a Lao dialect, and the region in where it is traditionally spoken was historically part of the Lao kingdom of Lan Xang
Lan Xang
The Lao kingdom of Lan Xang Hom Kao was established in 1354 by Fa Ngum.Exiled as an infant to Cambodia, Prince Fa Ngum of Xieng Dong Xieng Thong married a daughter of the Khmer king. In 1349 he set out from Angkor at the head of a 10,000-man army to establish his own country...

. In the far south, Yawi, a dialect of Malay, is the primary language of the Malay Muslims. Varieties of Chinese
Chinese language
The Chinese language is a language or language family consisting of varieties which are mutually intelligible to varying degrees. Originally the indigenous languages spoken by the Han Chinese in China, it forms one of the branches of Sino-Tibetan family of languages...

 are also spoken by the large Chinese
Thai Chinese
The Thai Chinese are an overseas Chinese community who live in Thailand. Thailand is home to the largest, oldest, most prominent, and most integrated overseas Chinese community in the world with a population of approximately 9.5 million people...

 population, with Teochew being best represented.

Numerous tribal languages are also spoken, including those belonging to the Mon–Khmer family, such as Mon
Mon language
The Mon language is an Austroasiatic language spoken by the Mon, who live in Burma and Thailand. Mon, like the related language Cambodian—but unlike most languages in Mainland Southeast Asia—is not tonal. Mon is spoken by more than a million people today. In recent years, usage of Mon has...

, Khmer
Khmer language
Khmer , or Cambodian, is the language of the Khmer people and the official language of Cambodia. It is the second most widely spoken Austroasiatic language , with speakers in the tens of millions. Khmer has been considerably influenced by Sanskrit and Pali, especially in the royal and religious...

, Viet
Vietnamese language
Vietnamese is the national and official language of Vietnam. It is the mother tongue of 86% of Vietnam's population, and of about three million overseas Vietnamese. It is also spoken as a second language by many ethnic minorities of Vietnam...

, Mlabri
Mlabri language
Mlabri is a language spoken by the Mlabri people in the border area between Thailand and Laos.It is usually classified as a Khmuic language, a subgroup of the Austro-Asiatic languages. Linguist Jørgen Rischel has studied the language and described its peculiarities in several works...

; Austronesian family, such as Cham
Cham language
Cham is the language of the Cham people of Southeast Asia, and formerly the language of the kingdom of Champa in central Vietnam. A member of the Malayo-Polynesian branch of the Austronesian family, it is spoken by 100,000 people in Vietnam and up to 220,000 people in Cambodia . There are also...

, Moken, and Orang Asli
Aslian languages
The Aslian languages are the original languages of the Orang Asli, the aboriginal inhabitants of Malaya and peninsular Thailand, and a branch of the Mon–Khmer languages, in the Austro-Asiatic language family...

, Sino-Tibetan
Sino-Tibetan languages
The Sino-Tibetan languages are a language family comprising, at least, the Chinese and the Tibeto-Burman languages, including some 250 languages of East Asia, Southeast Asia and parts of South Asia. They are second only to the Indo-European languages in terms of the number of native speakers...

 family such as Lawa, Akhan
Akha language
Akha is the language spoken by the Akha people. It is sometimes considered a dialect of the Hani language spoken in China, although most speakers live in eastern Burma....

, and Karen
Karen languages
The Karen languages are tonal languages spoken by some three million Karen people. They are of unclear affiliation within the Tibeto-Burman languages. The Karen languages are written using the Burmese script. The three main branches are Sgaw, Pwo, and Pa'o. Karenni and Kayan are related to the...

; and other Tai languages
Tai languages
The Tai or Zhuang–Tai languages are a branch of the Tai–Kadai language family. The Tai languages include the most widely spoken of the Tai–Kadai languages, including standard Thai or Siamese, the national language of Thailand; Lao or Laotian, the national language of Laos; Burma's Shan language;...

 such as Nyaw
Nyaw language
The Nyaw or Tai Nyaw are an ethnic group of Thailand and Laos, scattered throughout the provinces of Isan such as Nong Khai, Sakon Nakhon, Nakhon Phanom, and parts of areas of Bolikhamxai and Khammouan provinces of Laos...

, Phu Thai
Phu Thai language
Phu Thai , also known as Phuu Thai, is the language of the Phutai people. It is a closely related language to the Tai Dam, and Tai Don, it is less well related to the Isan and the Lao languages.-Speakers:...

, and Saek
Saek language
Saek is a Tai language spoken in at least ten villages in Khammouane Province, Laos, and at least four villages in Nakhon Phanom Province in northeastern Thailand, just across the Mekong River...

. Hmong
Hmong language
Hmong or Mong is the common name for a dialect continuum of the West Hmongic branch of the Hmong–Mien/Miao–Yao language family spoken by the Hmong people of Sichuan, Yunnan, Guizhou, Guangxi, northern Vietnam, Thailand, and Laos...

 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 very low, especially outside the cities.

Religion


The national religion is Theravada
Theravada
Theravada ; literally, "the Teaching of the Elders" or "the Ancient Teaching", is the oldest surviving Buddhist school. It was founded in India...

 Buddhism. Thai Buddhism ranks amongst the highest in the world. According to the last census (2000) 94.6% of the total population are Buddhists of the Theravada tradition. Muslims
Islam in Thailand
Islam is a minority faith in Thailand with statistics suggesting a population of anywhere from 500,000 to 1.2 million Most Thai Muslims belong to the Sunni sect, although Thailand has a very diverse and developing population which includes immigrants from around the world.-Demographics &...

 are the second largest religious group in Thailand at 4.6%. Thailand's southernmost provinces – Pattani
Pattani
Pattani may refer to* Pattani Province, in southern Thailand* Pattani , in southern Thailand* Pattani , which includes the above province** Pattani Kingdom, a former semi-independent kingdom...

, Yala
Yala Province
Yala is the southernmost province of Thailand. Neighboring provinces are Songkhla, Pattani and Narathiwat. Yala is the only land-locked province in the south of Thailand...

, Narathiwat
Narathiwat
Narathiwat is a town in southern Thailand, capital of the Narathiwat Province. The town covers the whole subdistrict Bang Nak of Mueang Narathiwat district. The town was established in 1936.-External links:...

 and part of Songkhla
Songkhla
Songkhla is a city in the Songkhla Province of southern Thailand, near the border with Malaysia. As of 2006 it had a population of 75,048...

 Chumphon
Chumphon
Chumphon is a town in southern Thailand, capital of the Chumphon Province and the Mueang Chumphon district. The city is located about 463 kilometers away from Bangkok...

 have dominant Muslim populations, consisting of both ethnic Thai and Malay. The southern tip of Thailand is mostly ethnically Malay, and most Malays are Sunni Muslims. Christians
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

 represent 0.7% of the population. A small but influential community of Sikhs in Thailand
Sikhism in Thailand
Thai Sikhs are Sikhs of the Guru who have upheld the Nishaan Sahib, the Sikh flag in Thailand.- Introduction :The first Indian to arrive in Thailand was Mr Kirpa Ram Madan from India in 1880s. He was granted audience with the king of Thailand chulalongkorn. The records are available in Gurudwara...

 and some Hindus also live in the country's cities, and are heavily engaged in retail commerce. There is also a small Jewish community in Thailand, dating back to the 17th century.

Culture


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 religion Theravada Buddhism is important to modern Thai identity. Thai Buddhism
Buddhism in Thailand
Buddhism in Thailand is largely of the Theravada school. Nearly 95% of Thailand's population is Buddhist of the Theravada school, though Buddhism in this country has become integrated with folk beliefs as well as Chinese religions from the large Thai-Chinese population.Buddhist temples in Thailand...

 has evolved over time to include many regional beliefs originating from Hinduism
Hinduism
Hinduism is the predominant and indigenous religious tradition of the Indian Subcontinent. Hinduism is known to its followers as , amongst many other expressions...

, animism
Animism
Animism refers to the belief that non-human entities are spiritual beings, or at least embody some kind of life-principle....

 as well as ancestor worship. The official calendar
Thai solar calendar
The Thai solar calendar, Suriyakati was adopted by King Chulalongkorn in AD 1888 as the Siamese version of the Gregorian calendar. It is the legal calendar in Thailand, though Thai lunar calendar dates continue in use. Years are now counted in the Buddhist Era that is 543 years greater than...

 in Thailand is based on the Eastern version of the Buddhist Era
Buddhist calendar
The Buddhist calendar is used on mainland Southeast Asia in the countries of Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Burma and Sri Lanka in several related forms. It is a lunisolar calendar having months that are alternately 29 and 30 days, with an intercalated day and a 30-day month added at regular intervals...

, which is 543 years ahead of the Gregorian (western) calendar
Gregorian calendar
The Gregorian calendar, also known as the Western calendar, or Christian calendar, is the internationally accepted civil calendar. It was introduced by Pope Gregory XIII, after whom the calendar was named, by a decree signed on 24 February 1582, a papal bull known by its opening words Inter...

. For example, the year AD 2011 is 2554 BE in Thailand.
Several different ethnic groups, many of which are marginalized, populate Thailand. Some of these groups overlap into Burma, Laos
Laos
Laos Lao: ສາທາລະນະລັດ ປະຊາທິປະໄຕ ປະຊາຊົນລາວ Sathalanalat Paxathipatai Paxaxon Lao, officially the Lao People's Democratic Republic, is a landlocked country in Southeast Asia, bordered by Burma and China to the northwest, Vietnam to the east, Cambodia to the south and Thailand to the west...

, Cambodia
Cambodia
Cambodia , officially known as the Kingdom of Cambodia, is a country located in the southern portion of the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia...

, and Malaysia and have mediated change between their traditional local culture, national Thai and global cultural influences. Overseas Chinese
Overseas Chinese
Overseas Chinese are people of Chinese birth or descent who live outside the Greater China Area . People of partial Chinese ancestry living outside the Greater China Area may also consider themselves 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.
The traditional Thai greeting, the wai
Thai greeting
The Thai greeting referred to as the wai consists of a slight bow, with the palms pressed together in a prayer-like fashion. It has its origin in the Indic Añjali Mudrā, like the Indian namasté and the Cambodian sampeah...

, 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 their face to the hands, usually coinciding with the spoken word "Sawasdee khrap" for male speakers, and "Sawasdee ka" for females. The elder then is to respond afterwards in the same way. Social status and position, such as in government, will also have an influence on who performs the wai
Thai greeting
The Thai greeting referred to as the wai consists of a slight bow, with the palms pressed together in a prayer-like fashion. It has its origin in the Indic Añjali Mudrā, like the Indian namasté and the Cambodian sampeah...

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 to their parents to represent their respect for them. They do the same when they come back. The wai is a sign of respect and reverence for another, similar to the namaste
Namaste
Namaste is a common spoken valediction or salutation originating from the Indian subcontinent. It is a customary greeting when individuals meet, and a valediction upon their parting. A non-contact form of salutation is traditionally preferred in India and Namaste is the most common form of such a...

 greeting of India and Nepal.

Muay Thai
Muay Thai
Muay Thai is a combat sport from Thailand that uses stand-up striking along with various clinching techniques. It is similar to other Indochinese kickboxing systems, namely pradal serey from Cambodia, tomoi from Malaysia, lethwei from Myanmar and muay Lao from Laos...

, or Thai boxing, is the national sport in Thailand and its native martial art call "Muay". In the past "Muay" was taught to royal soldiers for combat on battlefield if unarmed. After they retired from the army, these soldiers often became Buddhist monks and stayed at the temples. Most of the Thai people's lives are closely tied to Buddhism and temples
Thai Temple Art and Architecture
This article on Thai temple art and architecture discusses Buddhist temples in Thailand. A typical Thai Wat, which is loosely translated as monastery or temple, has an enclosing wall that divides it from the secular world.-Wat architecture :The architecture of a Wat has seen many changes in...

; they often send their sons to be educated with the monks. "Muay" is also one of the subjects taught in the temples. Muay Thai achieved popularity all over the world in the 1990s. Although similar martial arts styles exist in other Southeast Asian countries, few enjoy the recognition that Muay Thai has received with its full-contact rules allowing strikes including elbows, throws and knees.

Association football, however, has possibly overtaken Muay Thai's position as most widely viewed and liked sport in contemporary Thai society and it is not uncommon to see Thais cheering their favourite English Premier League teams on television and walking around in replica kits. Another widely enjoyed pastime, and once a competitive sport, is kite flying.


Thai cuisine
Cuisine of Thailand
Thai cuisine is the national cuisine of Thailand. Blending elements of several Southeast Asian traditions, Thai cooking places emphasis on lightly prepared dishes with strong aromatic components. The spiciness of Thai cuisine is well known. As with other Asian cuisines, balance, detail and variety...

 blends five fundamental tastes: sweet, spicy, sour, bitter and salty. Some common ingredients used in Thai cuisine include garlic, chillies, lime juice, lemon grass, and fish sauce. The staple food in Thailand is rice, particularly jasmine variety rice
Jasmine rice
Jasmine rice , sometimes known as Thai fragrant rice, is a long-grain variety of rice that has a nutty aroma and a subtle pandan-like flavor caused by 2-acetyl-1-pyrroline.Jasmine rice is originally from Thailand...

 (also known as Hom Mali rice) which is included in almost every meal. Thailand is the world's largest exporter of rice, and Thais domestically consume over 100 kg of milled rice per person per year. Over 5000 varieties of rice from Thailand are preserved in the rice gene bank of the International Rice Research Institute
International Rice Research Institute
The International Rice Research Institute is an international NGO. Its headquarters are in Los Baños, Laguna, Philippines, and it has offices in sixteen countries...

 (IRRI), based in the Philippines. The king of Thailand is the official patron of IRRI.

Like most 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 an important concept in Thai culture. Elders have by tradition ruled in family decisions or ceremonies. Older siblings have duties to younger ones.

Taboos in Thailand include touching someone's head or pointing with the feet, as the head is considered the most sacred and the foot the dirtiest part of the body.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
Chic (style)
Chic , meaning 'stylish' or 'smart', is an element of fashion.-Etymology:Chic is a French word, established in English since at least the 1870s...

 glamor factor. Many large businesses in Bangkok operate in English as well as other languages.

Thailand is the largest newspaper market in Southeast Asia with an estimated circulation of at least 13 million copies daily in 2003. Even upcountry, out of Bangkok, media flourishes. For example, according to Thailand's Public Relations Department Media Directory 2003–2004, the nineteen provinces of Isan
Isan
Isan is the northeastern region of Thailand. It is located on the Khorat Plateau, bordered by the Mekong River to the north and east, by Cambodia to the southeast and the Prachinburi mountains south of Nakhon Ratchasima...

, Thailand's northeastern region, hosted 116 newspapers along with radio, TV and cable.

Sports



Thai boxing

Muay Thai
Muay Thai
Muay Thai is a combat sport from Thailand that uses stand-up striking along with various clinching techniques. It is similar to other Indochinese kickboxing systems, namely pradal serey from Cambodia, tomoi from Malaysia, lethwei from Myanmar and muay Lao from Laos...

 (Thai: มวยไทย, RTGS: Muai Thai, muɛj tʰɑj, lit. "Thai Boxing") is a form of hard martial art practiced in large parts of the world, including Thailand and other Southeast Asian countries. The art is similar to others in Southeast Asia such as: Pradal Serey in Cambodia, Lethwei in Burma, Tomoi in Malaysia, and Muay Lao in Laos. Muay Thai has a long history in Thailand and is the country's national sport.

Pone Kingpetch was a Thai boxer, from Hua Hin, who defeated Pascal Perez, an Argentinean boxer to become the first Thai WBC Flyweight Champion on 16 April 1960 and later a 3 time WBC Flyweight Champion. Pone Kingpetch originally known as Mana Sidokbuab, assumed this name from his training camp; Kingpetch. Thai fighters traditionally take on the name of the camps they train for. That owner of the gym and head coach's, Thongtos Intratat is present in these pictures. Thongtos Intratat is also known for being the first person to officially formulate and bottle Namman Muay (Thai Liniment) which is desired for his fighter, Pone Kingpetch. Namman Muay (Thai Liniment) is still only produced by his direct descendants in Thailand.

Traditional Muay Thai
Muay Thai
Muay Thai is a combat sport from Thailand that uses stand-up striking along with various clinching techniques. It is similar to other Indochinese kickboxing systems, namely pradal serey from Cambodia, tomoi from Malaysia, lethwei from Myanmar and muay Lao from Laos...

 practiced today varies significantly from the ancient art Muay Boran and uses kicks, punches and knee 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
Boxing
Boxing, also called pugilism, is a combat sport in which two people fight each other using their fists. Boxing is supervised by a referee over a series of between one to three minute intervals called rounds...

.

Sepak Takraw

Takraw (Thai: ตะกร้อ) is a sport native to Thailand, which the players hit a rattan ball and only be allowed to use their feet, knees, chest and head to touch the ball. Sepak Takraw
Sepak Takraw
Sepak takraw , or kick volleyball, is a sport native to the Malay-Thai Peninsula...

 is a form of this sport which appears in volley ball style, the players must volley a ball over a net and force it to hit the ground on oppnent's side. It is a popular in other countries in Southeast Asia also. A rather similar game but played only with the feet is Buka ball
Buka ball
Buka Ball is a Thai game similar to volleyball, except played with only the feet. Buka Ball uses a woven plastic ball that is easier to kick....

.

Rugby

Rugby is also a growing sport in Thailand with the Thailand national rugby union team
Thailand national rugby union team
The Thailand national rugby union team represents Thailand in international rugby union. Thailand have yet to make their debut at the Rugby World Cup, but have been playing in qualifying tournaments since the 1999 Rugby World Cup in Wales.-History:...

 rising to be ranked 61st in the world. Thailand became the first country in the world to host an international 80 kg welterweight rugby tournament in 2005. The national domestic Thailand Rugby Union (TRU) competition includes several universities and services teams such as Chulalongkorn University
Chulalongkorn University
Chulalongkorn University is the oldest university in Thailand and is the country's highest ranked university. It now has nineteen faculties and institutes. Regarded as the best and most selective university in Thailand, it consistently attracts top students from around the country...

, Mahasarakham University
Mahasarakham University
Mahasarakham University is a public university located in the province of Maha Sarakham in the northeast region of Thailand. Currently, the university has two main campuses, one on the outskirts of Mahasarakham province and another at Kamrieng district about 8 kilometres away on the Kalasin road...

, Kasetsart University
Kasetsart University
Kasetsart University is a public university in Thailand and a top-ranked Public University in Thailand. It is ranked No.401-500 in the world by QS. It was also the first agricultural university and the third oldest university in Thailand...

, Prince of Songkla University
Prince of Songkla University
Prince of Songkla University was the first university in Southern Thailand, established in 1967. The name of the university was granted by His Majesty the King in honor of His Royal Highness Somdej Chao Fa Mahidol Adulyadej Kromma Luang Songkla Nakarin, the king's father.The university consists of...

, Thammasat University
Thammasat University
Thammasat University , or in brief TU , is Thailand's second oldest university. Officially established on 27 June 1934, the university was originally named by founder Pridi Banomyong, University of Moral Science and Politics , reflecting the political fervor of the time...

, Rangsit University
Rangsit University
Rangsit University is a private institution of higher education with the primary aim of creating graduates in the area of study meeting the requirements of national development by focusing mainly on science , technology, design and management including independent professions which are requisites...

, the Thai Police, the Thai Army, the Thai Navy and the Royal Thai Air Force
Royal Thai Air Force
The Royal Thai Air Force or RTAF is the air force of the Kingdom of Thailand. Since its establishment in 1913, as one of the earliest air forces of Asia, the Royal Thai Air Force had engaged in many major and minor battles. During the Vietnam war era, the air force has been developed with USAF-aid...

. Local sports clubs which also compete in the TRU include the British Club of Bangkok, the Southerners Sports Club (Bangkok)
Southerners Sports Club (Bangkok)
The Southerners Sports Club is an informal, non-commercial Bangkok-based club of expats and Thais. The Southerners field teams in Bangkok's local rugby, netball, touch rugby and cricket competitions, and also tour to neighbouring countries for regional-based sports tournaments.The club aims to...

 and the Royal Bangkok Sports Club.

Golf

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 expats, is evident since 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
Amata Spring Country Club
The Amata Spring Country Club is a private golf and country club near to Bangkok, the capital of Thailand. It hosts two high profile golf tournaments which were introduced in 2006. The Royal Trophy is a team competition between Europe and Asia, and the Honda LPGA Thailand is the first LPGA Tour...

, Alpine Golf & Sports Club, Thai Country Club and Black Mountain Golf Club.

Football

Thammasat Stadium is a multi-purpose stadium in Bangkok, Thailand. It is currently used mostly for football matches. The stadium holds 25,000. It is located in Thammasat University's Rangsit campus.

It was built for the 1998 Asian Games
1998 Asian Games
The 13th Asian Games were held from December 6 to December 20, 1998 in Bangkok, Thailand. This was the first time that Thailand bid for the event after it shouldered the two postponed hosting rights in 1970 and 1978.-Emblem:...

 by construction firm Christiani and Nielsen, the same company that constructed the Democracy Monument in Bangkok.

Its appearance is that of a scaled down version of the Rajamangala Stadium. The tribunes form a continuous ring which are quite low behind each goal but rise up on each side. Unlike the Rajamangala though, Thammasat has a roof covering both side tribunes. Most striking about this stadium are the floodlights. Thai architects usually favour concrete pylons but these are the steel variety. As viewed from the exterior of the stadium the base of each pylon seems to grip the outside of the stadium and they dramatically lean over the tribunes so as to better illuminate the playing area.

Thammasat was going to be used for PEA FC's match against Singapore Armed Forces FC in an Asian Champions League qualifier in February 2009 but the pitch was deemed unplayable and the match was switched to the Rajamangala.

Rajamangala National Stadium is the biggest sporting arena in Thailand. It currently has a capacity of 65,000. It is located in Bang Kapi, Bangkok. The stadium was built in 1998 for the 1998 Asian Games and is the home stadium of Thailand national football team
Thailand national football team
The Thailand national football team represents Thailand in international football competition and is governed by the Football Association of Thailand. The team has a history of success in Southeast Asian competition, with three ASEAN Football Championship titles and nine senior-level Southeast...

 up to present.

Rugby union
Other sports
Other sports in Thailand are slowly growing as the country develops its sporting infrastructure. The success in sports like weightlifting
Powerlifting
Powerlifting is a strength sport. It resembles the sport of Olympic weightlifting, as both disciplines involve lifting weights in three attempts. Powerlifting evolved from a sport known as 'odd lifts' which followed the same three attempt format but used a wide variety of events akin to Strongman...

 and Taekwondo
Taekwondo
Taekwondo is a Korean martial art and the national sport of South Korea. In Korean, tae means "to strike or break with foot"; kwon means "to strike or break with fist"; and do means "way", "method", or "path"...

 at the last two Summer Olympic Games
Summer Olympic Games
The Summer Olympic Games or the Games of the Olympiad are an international multi-sport event, occurring every four years, organized by the International Olympic Committee. Medals are awarded in each event, with gold medals for first place, silver for second and bronze for third, a tradition that...

 has demonstrated that boxing
Boxing
Boxing, also called pugilism, is a combat sport in which two people fight each other using their fists. Boxing is supervised by a referee over a series of between one to three minute intervals called rounds...

 is no longer the only medal chance for Thailand.

International rankings


Organization Survey Ranking
Heritage Foundation
Heritage Foundation
The Heritage Foundation is a conservative American think tank based in Washington, D.C. Heritage's stated mission is to "formulate and promote conservative public policies based on the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong...

Indices of Economic Freedom
Index of Economic Freedom
The Index of Economic Freedom is a series of 10 economic measurements created by The Heritage Foundation and The Wall Street Journal. Its stated objective is to measure the degree of economic freedom in the world's nations....

50 out of 157
A.T. Kearney
A.T. Kearney
A.T. Kearney is a global management consulting firm, focusing on strategic and operational CEO-agenda concerns. It was founded in 1926, and its head office is in Chicago, Illinois...

/Foreign Policy Magazine
Foreign Policy
Foreign Policy is a bimonthly American magazine founded in 1970 by Samuel P. Huntington and Warren Demian Manshel.Originally, the magazine was a quarterly...

Global Services Location Index 2009 4 out of 50
Reporters Without Borders
Reporters Without Borders
Reporters Without Borders is a France-based international non-governmental organization that advocates freedom of the press. It was founded in 1985, by Robert Ménard, Rony Brauman and the journalist Jean-Claude Guillebaud. Jean-François Julliard has served as Secretary General since 2008...

Worldwide Press Freedom Index 134 out of 169
Transparency International
Transparency International
Transparency International is a non-governmental organization that monitors and publicizes corporate and political corruption in international development. It publishes an annual Corruption Perceptions Index, a comparative listing of corruption worldwide...

Corruption Perceptions Index
Corruption Perceptions Index
Since 1995, Transparency International publishes the Corruption Perceptions Index annually ranking countries "by their perceived levels of corruption, as determined by expert assessments and opinion surveys." The CPI generally defines corruption as "the misuse of public power for private...

84 out of 179
United Nations Development Programme
United Nations Development Programme
The United Nations Development Programme is the United Nations' global development network. It advocates for change and connects countries to knowledge, experience and resources to help people build a better life. UNDP operates in 177 countries, working with nations on their own solutions to...

Human Development Index 78 out of 177
World Economic Forum
World Economic Forum
The World Economic Forum is a Swiss non-profit foundation, based in Cologny, Geneva, best known for its annual meeting in Davos, a mountain resort in Graubünden, in the eastern Alps region of Switzerland....

Global Competitiveness Report
Global Competitiveness Report
The Global Competitiveness Report is a yearly report published by the World Economic Forum. The first report was released in 1979. The 2011–2012 report covers 142 major and emerging economies....

(2008)
34 out of 134
World Gold Council
World Gold Council
The World Gold Council is a non-profit association of the world's leading gold mining companies, established in 1987 to promote the use of gold. It aims to stimulate demand for gold from industry, consumers, and investors. The Council's Chief Executive Officer is Aram Shishmanian, former head of...

Gold reserve
Gold Reserve
Gold Reserve Inc. is a gold mining company with operations and mining property in Bolivar State, Venezuela.Founded in 1956, Gold Reserve Inc. is now headquartered in Spokane, Washington. The company has about ten employees at its Washington office and about 55 in Venezuela. Of these 55,...

(2010)
33 out of 110

See also


  • Royal Thai Police
    Royal Thai Police
    The Royal Thai Police are the national police of Thailand.-About:Primary responsibility for the maintenance of public order through enforcement of the kingdom's laws was exercised by the Thailand National Police Department , a subdivision of the Ministry of Interior...

  • Telecommunications in Thailand
  • Thai ceramics
    Thai ceramics
    Thai ceramics refers to pottery designed or produced in the kingdoms and territories that today belong to the Kingdom of Thailand, formerly Siam...

  • Thai temple art and architecture
    Thai Temple Art and Architecture
    This article on Thai temple art and architecture discusses Buddhist temples in Thailand. A typical Thai Wat, which is loosely translated as monastery or temple, has an enclosing wall that divides it from the secular world.-Wat architecture :The architecture of a Wat has seen many changes in...

  • Tourism in Thailand
    Tourism in Thailand
    Tourism is a major economic factor in the Kingdom of Thailand, contributing an estimated 6.7% to Thailand's GDP in 2007.-Overview:Among the reasons for the increase in tourism in the 1960s were the stable political atmosphere and the development of Bangkok as a crossroads of international air...

  • Transportation in Thailand


External links


Government

General information
  • Thailand entry in Library of Congress Country Studies
    Library of Congress Country Studies
    The Country Studies are works published by the Federal Research Division of the Library of Congress , freely available for use by researchers. No copyright is claimed on them; therefore, they have been dedicated to the public domain and can be copied freely. Note that not all the pictures used...

    . 1987
  • Thailand from UCB Libraries GovPubs
  • Longdo Map On-line Thailand maps in English and Thai
  • Thailand Laws – Thailand acts and legal information, both in English and Thai language.


Travel

Other