The World Factbook (1990)/Thailand

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See regional map IX


Total area: 514,000 km²; land area: 511,770 km²

Comparative area: slightly more than twice the size of Wyoming

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

Coastline: 3,219 km

Maritime claims:

Continental shelf: not specific
Extended economic zone: 200 nm
Territorial sea: 12 nm

Disputes: boundary dispute with Laos

Climate: tropical; rainy, warm, cloudy southwest monsoon (mid-May to September); dry, cool northeast monsoon (November to mid-March); southern isthmus always hot and humid

Terrain: central plain; eastern plateau (Khorat); mountains elsewhere

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

Land use: 34% arable land; 4% permanent crops; 1% meadows and pastures; 30% forest and woodland; 31% other; includes 7% irrigated

Environment: air and water pollution; land subsidence in Bangkok area

Note: controls only land route from Asia to Malaysia and Singapore


Population: 55,115,683 (July 1990), growth rate 1.3% (1990)

Birth rate: 20 births/1,000 population (1990)

Death rate: 7 deaths/1,000 population (1990)

Net migration rate: migrants/1,000 population (1990)

Infant mortality rate: 34 deaths/1,000 live births (1990)

Life expectancy at birth: 64 years male, 70 years female (1990)

Total fertility rate: 2.1 children born/woman (1990)

Nationality: noun—Thai (sing. and pl.); adjective—Thai

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

Religion: 95.5% Buddhist, 4% Muslim, 0.5% other

Language: Thai; English is the secondary language of the elite; ethnic and regional dialects

Literacy: 82%

Labor force: 26,000,000; 73% agriculture, 11% industry and commerce, 10% services, 6% government (1984)

Organized labor: 300,000 union members (1986)


Long-form name: Kingdom of Thailand

Type: constitutional monarchy

Capital: Bangkok

Administrative divisions: 73 provinces (changwat, singular and plural); Ang Thong, Buriram, Chachoengsao, Chai Nat, Chaiyaphum, Chanthaburi, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Chon Buri, Chumphon, Kalasin, Kamphaeng Phet, Kanchanaburi, Khon Kaen, Krabi, Krung Thep Mahanakhon, Lampang, Lamphun, Loei, Lop Buri, Mae Hong Son, Maha Sarakham, Nakhon Nayok, Nakhon Fathom, Nakhon Phanom, Nakhon Ratchasima, Nakhon Sawan, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Nan, Narathiwat, Nong Khai, Nonthaburi, Pathum Thani, Pattani, Phangnga, Phatthalung, Phayao, Phetchabun, Phetchaburi, Phichit, Phitsanulok, Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya, Phrae, Phuket, Prachin Buri, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Ranong, Ratchaburi, Rayong, Roi Et, Sakon Nakhon, Samut Prakan, Samut Sakhon, Samut Songkhram, Sara Buri, Satun, Sing Buri, Sisaket, Songkhla, Sukhothai, Suphan Buri, Surat Thani, Surin, Tak, Trang, Trat, Ubon Ratchathani, Udon Thani, Uthai Thani, Uttaradit, Yala, Yasothon

Independence: 1238 (traditional founding date); never colonized

Constitution: 22 December 1978

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

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

Executive branch: monarch, prime minister, three deputy prime ministers, Council of Ministers (cabinet), Privy Council

Legislative branch: bicameral National Assembly (Ratha Satha) consists of an upper house or Senate (Woothi Satha) and a lower house or House of Representatives (Satha Poothan)

Judicial branch: Supreme Court (Sarn Dika)

Leaders: Chief of State—King BHUMIBOL ADULYADEJ (since 9 June 1946); Heir Apparent Crown Prince VAJIRALONGKORN (born 28 July 1952);

Head of GovernmentPrime Minister Maj. Gen. CHATCHAI CHUNHAWAN (since 9 August 1988); Deputy Prime Minister CHUAN LIKPHAI

Political parties and leaders: Democrat Party (DP), Social Action Party (SAP), Thai Nation Party (TNP), People's Party (Ratsadon), People's Party (Prachachon), Thai Citizens Party (TCP), United Democracy Party, Solidarity Party, Thai People's Party, Mass Party, Force of Truth Party (Phalang Dharma)

Suffrage: universal at age 21

Elections: House of Representatives—last held 24 July 1988 (next to be held within 90 days of July 1992); results—TNP 27%, SAP 15%, DP 13%, TCP 9%, others 36%; seats—(357 total) TNP 96, Solidarity 62, SAP 54, DP 48, TCP 31, People's Party (Ratsadon) 21, People's Party (Prachachon) 17, Force of Truth Party (Phalang Dharma) 14, United Democracy Party 5, Mass Party 5, others 4

Communists: illegal Communist party has 500 to 1 ,000 members (est.); armed Communist insurgents throughout Thailand total 300 to 500 (est.)


Diplomatic representation: Ambassador VITTHYA VEJJAJIVA; Embassy at 2300 Kalorama Road NW, Washington DC 20008; telephone (202) 483-7200; there are Thai Consulates General in Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York; US—Ambassador Daniel O'DONAHUE; Embassy at 95 Wireless Road, Bangkok (mailing address is APO San Francisco 96346); telephone [66](2) 252-5040; there is a US Consulate General in Chiang Mai and Consulates in Songkhla and Udorn

Flag: five horizontal bands of red (top), white, blue (double width), white, and red


Overview: Thailand, one of the more advanced developing countries in Asia, enjoyed its second straight exceptionally prosperous year in 1989. Real output again rose about 11%. The increasingly sophisticated manufacturing sector benefited from export-oriented investment, and agriculture grew by 4.0% because of improved weather. The trade deficit of $5.2 billion was more than offset by earnings from tourism ($3.9 billion), remittances, and net capital inflows. The government has followed a fairly sound fiscal and monetary policy, aided by increased tax receipts from the fast-moving economy. In 1989 the government approved new projects—roads, ports, electric power, communications needed to refurbish the now overtaxed infrastructure. Although growth in 1990-91 must necessarily fall below the 1988-89 pace, Thailand's immediate economic outlook is good, assuming the continuation of prudent government policies in the context of a private-sector-oriented development strategy.

GNP: $64.5 billion, per capita $1,160; real growth rate 10.8% (1989 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices): 5.4% (1989)

Unemployment rate: 6% (1989 est.)

Budget: revenues $12.1 billion; expenditures $9.7 billion, including capital expenditures of NA (FY89)

Exports: $19.9 billion (f.o.b., 1989); commodities—textiles 12%, fishery products 12%, rice 8%, tapioca 8%, jewelry 6%, manufactured gas, corn, tin; partners—US 18%, Japan 14%, Singapore 9%, Netherlands, Malaysia, Hong Kong, China (1988)

Imports: $25.1 billion (c.i.f., 1989); commodities—machinery and parts 23%, petroleum products 13%, chemicals 11%, iron and steel, electrical appliances; partners—Japan 26%, US 14%, Singapore 7%, FRG, Malaysia, UK (1987)

External debt: $18.5 billion (December 1989 est.)

Industrial production: growth rate 12.5% (1989)

Electricity: 7,100,000 kW capacity; 28,000 million kWh produced, 500 kWh per capita (1989)

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

Agriculture: accounts for 16% of GNP and 73% of labor force; leading producer and exporter of rice and cassava (tapioca); other crops—rubber, corn, sugarcane, coconuts, soybeans; except for wheat, self-sufficient in food; fish catch of 2.2 million tons (1987)

Illicit drugs: a minor producer, major illicit trafficker of heroin, particularly from Burma and Laos, and cannabis for the international drug market; eradication efforts have reduced the area of cannabis cultivation and shifted some production to neighboring countries; opium poppy cultivation has been affected by eradication efforts, but unusually good weather boosted output in 1989

Aid: US commitments, including Ex-Im (FY70-88), $828 million; Western (non-US) countries, ODA and OOF bilateral commitments (1970-87), $7.0 billion; OPEC bilateral aid (1979-89), $19 million

Currency: baht (plural—baht); 1 baht (B) = 100 satang

Exchange rates: baht (B) per US$1—25.726 (January 1990), 25.699 (1989), 25.294 (1988), 25.723 (1987), 26.299 (1986), 27.159(1985)

Fiscal year: 1 October-30 September


Railroads: 3,940 km 1.000-meter gauge, 99 km double track

Highways: 44,534 km total; 28,016 km paved, 5,132 km earth surface, 11,386 km under development

Inland waterways: 3,999 km principal waterways; 3,701 km with navigable depths of 0.9 m or more throughout the year; numerous minor waterways navigable by shallow-draft native craft

Pipelines: natural gas, 350 km; refined products, 67 km

Ports: Bangkok, Pattani, Phuket, Sattahip, Si Racha

Merchant marine: 122 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 483,688 GRT/730,750 DWT; includes 2 short-sea passenger, 70 cargo, 8 container, 27 petroleum, oils, and lubricants (POL) tanker, 8 liquefied gas, 1 chemical tanker, 3 bulk, 1 refrigerated cargo, 1 roll-on/roll-off, 1 combination bulk

Civil air: 41 (plus 2 leased) major transport aircraft

Airports: 127 total, 103 usable; 56 with permanent-surface runways; 1 with runways over 3,659 m; 13 with runways 2,440-3,659 m; 26 with runways 1,220-2,439 m

Telecommunications: service to general public adequate; bulk of service to government activities provided by multichannel cable and radio relay network; 739,500 telephones (1987); stations—over 200 AM, 100 FM, and 11 TV in government-controlled networks; satellite earth stations 1 Indian Ocean INTELSAT and 1 Pacific Ocean INTELSAT; domestic satellite system being developed

Defense Forces

Branches: Royal Thai Army, Royal Thai Navy (includes Royal Thai Marine Corps), Royal Thai Air Force; paramilitary forces include Border Patrol Police, Thahan Phran (irregular soldiers), Village Defense Forces

Military manpower: males 15-49, 15,617,486; 9,543,119 fit for military service; 610,410 reach military age (18) annually

Defense expenditures: 2.9% of GNP, or $1.9 billion (1989 est.)