- Area: 513,120 sq km
- Population: 68,414,135
- Infant mortality: 9.2 deaths/1,000 live births
- Life expectancy: 74.9 years
- Urbanisation: 49.9% of total population
- Literacy: 92.9%
A unified Thai kingdom was established in the mid-14th century. Known as Siam until 1939, Thailand is the only Southeast Asian country never to have been colonized by a European power. A bloodless revolution in 1932 led to the establishment of a constitutional monarchy. After the Japanese invaded Thailand in 1941, the government split into a pro-Japan faction and a pro-Ally faction backed by the King. Following the war, Thailand became a US treaty ally in 1954 after sending troops to Korea and later fighting alongside the US in Vietnam. Thailand since 2005 has experienced several rounds of political turmoil including a military coup in 2006 that ousted then Prime Minister THAKSIN Shinawatra, followed by large-scale street protests by competing political factions in 2008, 2009, and 2010. THAKSIN's youngest sister, YINGLAK Chinnawat, in 2011 led the Puea Thai Party to an electoral win and assumed control of the government. In early May 2014, after months of large-scale anti-government protests in Bangkok beginning in November 2013, YINGLAK was removed from office by the Constitutional Court and in late May 2014 the Royal Thai Army, led by Royal Thai Army Gen. PRAYUT Chan-ocha, staged a coup against the caretaker government. PRAYUT was appointed prime minister in August 2014. The interim military government created several interim institutions to promote reform and draft a new constitution, which was passed in a national referendum in August 2016. In late 2017, PRAYUT announced elections would be held by November 2018; he has subsequently suggested they might occur in February 2019. King PHUMIPHON Adunyadet passed away in October 2016 after 70 years on the throne; his only son, WACHIRALONGKON Bodinthrathepphayawarangkun, ascended the throne in December 2016. He signed the new constitution in April 2017. Thailand has also experienced violence associated with the ethno-nationalist insurgency in its southern Malay-Muslim majority provinces. Since January 2004, thousands have been killed and wounded in the insurgency.
It is tropical; rainy, warm, cloudy southwest monsoon (mid-May to September); dry, cool northeast monsoon (November to mid-March); southern isthmus always hot and humid. Terrain is central plain; Khorat Plateau in the east; mountains elsewhere.
With a relatively well-developed infrastructure, a free-enterprise economy, and generally pro-investment policies, Thailand is highly dependent on international trade, with exports accounting for about two-thirds of GDP. Thailand’s exports include electronics, agricultural commodities, automobiles and parts, and processed foods. The industry and service sectors produce about 90% of GDP. The agricultural sector, comprised mostly of small-scale farms, contributes only 10% of GDP but employs about one-third of the labor force. Thailand has attracted an estimated 3.0-4.5 million migrant workers, mostly from neighboring countries. Over the last few decades, Thailand has reduced poverty substantially. In 2013, the Thai Government implemented a nationwide 300 baht (roughly $10) per day minimum wage policy and deployed new tax reforms designed to lower rates on middle-income earners. Thailand’s economy is recovering from slow growth during the years since the 2014 coup. Thailand’s economic fundamentals are sound, with low inflation, low unemployment, and reasonable public and external debt levels. Tourism and government spending - mostly on infrastructure and short-term stimulus measures – have helped to boost the economy, and The Bank of Thailand has been supportive, with several interest rate reductions. Over the longer-term, household debt levels, political uncertainty, and an aging population pose risks to growth.