Situated in the heart of the Southeast Asian mainland and covering
an area of 513,115 sq. km., from North 5 o30" to 21o and from East
97 o30" to 105o 30", Thailand borders the Lao People's Democratic
Republic, Cambodia and the Gulf of Thailand to the east,
Myanmar and the Indian Ocean to the west, and Malaysia to the
"Siam" is the name by which the country was known to the world
until 1939 and again between 1945 and 1949. On May 11, 1949,
an official proclamation declared that the country would
henceforth be known as "Thailand."The word "Thai" means
"Free," and therefore "Thailand" means "Land of the Free."
Thailand is divided into four natural regions:
• The North
• The Central Plain, or Chao Phraya River Basin
• The Northeast, or the Korat Plateau
• The South, or Southern Peninsula
The North is a mountainous region comprising natural forests,
ridges and deep, narrow, alluvial valleys. The major city in the
region is Chiang Mai.
Central Thailand, the basin of the Chao Phraya River, is a lush,
fertile valley. It is the richest and most extensive rice-producing
area in the country and has often been called the "Rice Bowl of
Asia." Bangkok, the capital of Thailand, is located in this region.
The Northeast region is arid, characterized by rolling surfaces and
undulating hills. Harsh climatic conditions often result in this
region being subjected to floods and droughts.
The Southern region ranges from hilly to mountainous, with thick
virgin forests and rich deposits of minerals and ores. The region is
the center for production of rubber and cultivation of other tropical
Thailand is a warm and rather humid tropical country. The climate
is monsoonal, marked by a pronounced rainy season lasting from
about May to September and a relatively dry season for the
remainder of the year. Temperatures are highest in March and
April and lowest in December and January. The average
temperature is 28.1o C.
The population of Thailand reached 62.1 million in 1999, of
which approximately 30 percent are under the age of 15. With
a growth rate of 1.2 to 1.4 percent per year the population is
projected to exceed 70 million by 2010.
Source: National Economic and Social Development Board and Bank of Thailand
Buddhism, the national religion, is the professed faith of 95 percent
of the population. Islam, Christianity, Hinduism, and other creeds
are embraced by the rest of the population. There is absolute
religious freedom. The King of Thailand, under the constitution
and in practice, is patron of all major religions.
The official national language is Thai. It is tonal, uninflected, and
predominantly uses monosyllabic words. Most polysyllabic words
in the vocabulary have been borrowed, mainly from Khmer, Pali
and Sanskrit. Dialects are spoken in rural areas. Other languages
are Chinese and Malay. English, a compulsory subject in public
schools, is widely spoken and understood, particularly in Bangkok
and other major cities.
The Thai monarchy is revered and regarded as the central, unifying
element in the pillars of the nation. King Bhumibol was born on
December 5, 1927, ascended the throne on June 9, 1946, and
married Her Majesty Queen Sirikit on April 28, 1950.
Thailand's national flag, ceremoniously raised each morning at
08.00 hrs and lowered at 18.00 hrs in every town and village, is
composed of five horizontal bands of red, white, and blue. Outer
bands of red representing the nation enclose equal inner bands of
white evoking religion. The blue band, occupying the central one-
third of the total area, symbolizes the monarchy. The harmony of
design expresses the complementary nature of these three pillars of
the Thai nation. The tri-colored flag, first introduced by King
Vajiravudh (Rama VI) in 1917, replaced an earlier design which
featured a white elephant on a red background.
December 5 is the birthday of His Majesty King Bhumibol
Adulyadej and is the Thai National Day. It is a public holiday.
Most national holidays and festivals are of a religious nature and
serve to evoke a sense of devotion to the monarchy, the religion,
and the nation. Some are celebrated by the lunar calendar and thus
vary in date from year to year, while others are celebrated
according to the solar calendar.
Thailand is governed by a constitutional monarchy with a
parliamentarian form of government. The Bangkok Metropolitan
Administration, BMA, is administered by an elected governor and
is divided into 38 districts. The country is divided into 76
provinces, each administered by an appointed governor. The
provinces are sub-divided into districts, sub-districts, tambons
(groups of villages), and villages.
Source: Bank Of Thailand As end of June 2002
The size of the work force now exceeds 32.9 million, with the
majority of the workforce under 30 years of age. Each year about
800,000 people join this force, with a literacy rate above 90 percent.
* Three years after secondary school
** Two years after certificates of Vocational Education
*** Two years after High School
Sources: A. Ministry of University Affairs; B. Ministry of Education