Cities in THAILAND


Geography and Landscape


Thailand (official name: Ratcha Anachak Thai, short form: Prades of Prathet Thai, Muang-Thai = 'land of the free people' until 1939 in Europe known as Siam), is a kingdom in Southeast Asia and is located on the Indochina peninsula.

Thailand satellite photo Thailand satellite photoPhoto: Public domain

From north to south Thailand measures a maximum of 1500 kilometers and from east to west 800 kilometers. At its narrowest point, the isthmus of Kra Buri, Thailand is only 13 kilometers wide.
Thailand is bordered to the northeast by Cambodia (803 km), in the north to Laos (1754 km), in the west to Myanmar(1800 km: former Burma) and in the south at Malaysia (506 km).
Southern Thailand consists of a long peninsula of more than 1200 kilometers, which is bordered on the west by the Andaman Sea as part of the Indian Ocean, and to the east by the Gulf of Thailand as the last offshoot of the South China Sea. Off the coast are hundreds of small and large islands, both on the west coast and on the east coast.
Phuket (Malaysian: bukit = hill) is located in the Andaman Sea just off the coast of Phang-nha province and is Sarasin Bridge connected to the mainland. With 810 km2 it is Thailand's largest island. Ko Chang is the second island with 500 km2, Samui is the largest island in the Gulf of Thailand with 247 km2.


Thailand has a varied landscape with forested mountains, deep valleys with fast-flowing rivers, cultivated fields with large waterways, dense rainforests and areas with barren, dry soil.
About half of Thailand is mountainous and land can be divided into four natural landscapes:
The Northern Thai mountain country consists of the last foothills of the Himalayas, which run more or less parallel to each other from north to south. Along the western border with Burma, a young fold of mountains extends that decreases in height from north (mean elevation 1500-2500 m) to south (50-100 m). Thai mountain country (average altitude 1500 m), cut by the four main source rivers of the Chao Phraya into a number of mountain ranges, valleys and basins. The narrow valleys are formed by the rivers Nan, Yom, Wang and Ping.
The Doi Inthanon or Angka in the western highlands is Thailand's highest peak at 2,576 meters. This region is also known for its spectacular waterfalls and an abundance of caves hidden in the limestone mountains.

Two shrines at the top of Doi Inthanon, Thailand Two shrines at the top of Doi Inthanon, ThailandPhoto: Lester Mathias Andersson CC 3.0 Unportedno changes made

The central lowlands to the south of the Northern Thai mountainous region is a fertile swamp bed that is very suitable for rice cultivation, and is made up of the silt produced by the Chao Phraya or Mae Nam (mother of waters) and other rivers (Wang, Ping, Yom, Nan, among others) is argued. The area has almost the shape of a rectangle and measures approximately 200 by 440 kilometers. The flat land is bordered on the north and west by mountains and on the east by the ridges on the border with the Khorat plateau. This area includes the metropolis Bangkok and it is also the main industrial area.
The Chao Phraya is Thailand's main waterway, which originates in to the north and just below the capital Bangkok flows into the Gulf of Thailand. Annually the delta grows about six meters due to siltation.

The Khorat plateau, which covers Northeast Thailand (Isan), is cup-shaped, bordered on the north and east by the Mekong and on the west and south with mountains. The plateau is separated from the Central Plain by steep slopes, up to more than 1000 meters high, and ends in the southeast on the Dangrek Mountains on the border with Cambodia.
The soil consists mainly of barren fine-sandy loam, the poorest part of the country. Yet the poor soil consists almost entirely of arable land. This area used to be covered with extensive forests, which, however, have almost completely disappeared due to intensive exploitation. It is estimated that less than 50 years ago, 70% of Thailand was forested; nowadays it is only 15%. Reforestation programs have had little success, on the contrary, forest areas are still being illegally cut down.

Mekong River ThailandMekong River ThailandPhoto: Jeremy Holton CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

The main rivers are the Chi and Mun, which flow into the Mekong, the fifth largest river in the world.
The Thai headland in the south is occupied by foothills of the western mountainous region, with mostly narrow coastal plains on both sides. The coast is strongly articulated and the interior consists of hills and rain forests. The mountains here are foothills of the Cardamom Mountains, a Cambodian mountain range that gradually rises from 500 to 1,600 meters. Off the coast are many small islands, of which the tourist Phuket in the Andaman Sea and Ko Samui in the Gulf of Thailand are the best known. Most notable in this area are the gigantic limestone formations rising from the Andaman Sea.

Climate and Weather

Thailand/Bangkok under the monsoon StormThailand/Bangkok under the monsoon StormPhoto: Daniel Julie CC 2.0 Generic no changes made

Most of Thailand has a tropical monsoon climate, divided into three seasons with an average daily temperature of 25 °C.
The temperature almost never rises above 35 °C and never drops below 16 °C. On the highest mountain peaks it can sometimes freeze and in the winter period it can be quite cool with temperatures around 10 °C.
Day and night temperatures can be very high in the north and center of the country, up to a difference of 20 °C.
Average annual rainfall for most of the country is 1200-1400 mm. The south (1400-2400 mm) and the region east of Chanthaburi (more than 2400 mm) are considerably more humid. Less than 1200 mm per year receives the rain shadow area of the western mountainous region as well as the western provinces of the Khorat plateau.

The hot season falls between March and mid-June, with April and May as hottest months of the year; it is then warm and dry with a temperature that can occasionally reach 40 °C. A visit to Bangkok during this period is not very pleasant due to the high humidity (never less than 50% and often more than 80%!) Making it oppressive and sweltering. According to the Guinness Book of Records, Bangkok has the highest average temperature (day and night; summer and winter) in the world.
In the south and southeast during this period, there can still be a heavy rain shower.

In the rainy season, which lasts from mid-June to November, the wet southwest monsoon prevails. Then, often in the afternoon or evening, a lot of rain can fall in a short time, with a risk of flooding in the month of October. Monsoon periods can differ greatly from year to year. In some years it rains a lot, in other years it is much drier again. There are often several days of dry between the downpours.

The north has less rainfall and the north-east is the driest area in the country. The average annual rainfall over the whole of Thailand is 1600 mm, of which about three quarters falls in the rainy season. In the driest areas, the average annual rainfall is 1000 mm. Most rain is supplied from the Indian Ocean from June to October, resulting in the highest rainfall recorded on the mountainous west coast of the peninsula (Ranong: 5000 mm) and the southeast (Chanthaburi: 4000 mm).

Winter in Thailand lasts from November to March and during this period the relatively dry northeast monsoon blows. The weather is dry and pleasant (not so muggy) and the average temperature fluctuates between 25 and 30 ° C, with peaks in the north and north-east. From a tourist point of view, this period is therefore the peak season. the country; most of the rain falls in October and November.
On Phuket Island it rains mainly in May-June and on Ko Samui Island in October-November, often accompanied by violent storms.

Plants and Animals


Indian Laburnum, ThailandIndian Laburnum, ThailandPhoto: Dinesh Valke CC 2.0 Generic no changes made

The variety of plants is great in Thailand due to the elongated shape of the land and the differences in height, and in the north it largely matches those of India and Myanmar (Burma) and in the south it matches Malaysia and Indonesia. It is estimated that six percent of the known types of vascular plants on Earth are found in Thailand. There are approximately 15,000 native vascular plants, including more than 500 tree species and more than 1,000 orchid species. The orchid is therefore considered a national symbol, but the real national tree / flower is the Indian golden rain. Tropical plants, including hibiscus, acacia, lotus, red jasmine, and bougainvillea, abound. Azaleas and rhododendrons bloom in the cooler northern regions.

Teak Tree, ThailandTeak Tree, ThailandPhoto: Photo Dharma CC 2.0 Generic no changes made

Originally, the land was largely covered with forests (now about a quarter of the land, about 130,000 km2), from mangrove forests on the coast to coniferous forests ( Pinus) on the mountain tops. Deciduous monsoon forest with oak trees predominates in the north; there are also many teak forests here. Mixed rain forest occurs in the south and on mountain slopes in the north. Parts of southern Thailand are covered with evergreen tropical rainforest. Ironwood, rattan, rosewood and palms grow here, among other things. daeng and the tabaek.
The flora of Phuket's Khao Sok National Park includes lianas, bamboo, rattan, ferns, and the spectacular rafflesia, a giant parasite, with a diameter of 80 centimeters making it the largest flower in the world. It is a parasite with no roots or leaves of its own that proliferates in the roots of a liana. Another biological rarity only seen in Phuket and Khao Sok National Park is the 'Lahng kao', an indigenous species of palm.

Rafflesia ThailandRafflesia ThailandPhoto: Klaus Polak CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

Mangrove forests thrive on the coast and mouth of the deltas. Mangrove forests are flood forests in the tropics, where the roots of the trees are in the mud of the seacoast. At low tide the root system is exposed and at high tide it is under water. These forests are still found in Thailand at Chantaburi, Koh Chang, Phuket, Krabi, Trang and Songkla. In thirty years, the area of mangrove forests has been reduced from 3680 km2 to 1650 km2 due to the fact that it produces excellent firewood. Between the roots are the breeding grounds of many fish.

Much of the original vegetation has given way to cultures, savannas (especially in the lowlands of the central plain) and secondary vegetation including many bamboo forests. The main crops are rubber trees, tobacco, sugar cane and cotton. To turn the tide, a ban on logging has been enacted by the Thai government since 1989.


Thai water buffaloThai water buffaloPhoto: Heiko S CC 2.0 Generic no changes made

The highly varied animal world of Thailand belongs to the Indo-Chinese zone in the north and the Sunda zone in the south, of which also Malaysia and large parts of Indonesia are part. An extensive transition area runs between these two zones. It is estimated that 10% of fish species, 10% of birds, 5% of reptiles and 3% of amphibians are found in Thailand.
There are about 300 species of mammals, including bantengs, gaurs, bark and dwarf deer, sambar deer, goat antelopes, Malay tapirs, panthers, tigers (only a handful along the Myanmar border), Malay bears, Burmese sun badger, Tibetan black bears, flying lemurs and numerous monkeys (including crested gibbons). The Javan rhinoceros has probably been completely extirpated, as is the kouprey, a wild bovine; the Sumatran rhinoceros may still be found in Thailand.
The Thai water buffalo, slightly smaller than its Indian counterpart, is still an important animal for rural people. It is mainly used for plowing the rice fields and almost everything from the buffalo is used. Water buffalos are also found in China, India, and throughout Southeast Asia.

Ayutthaya Elephant Camp in ThailandAyutthaya Elephant Camp in ThailandPhoto: Yosemite CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

The Asian elephant is an important symbol for Thailand and used to be indispensable in teak wood production. An adult elephant is about 3 meters high, can weigh up to 4000 kilos and live up to 100 years. There are two types of elephants in Thai culture: the working elephant and the war elephant. About 25,000 of the working elephants are left and an estimated 1,500 elephants are still living in the forests. The bird world is also very rich and has about 1000 species, including the argus pheasant and many water birds in the south. Silversmiths migrate to the Thai swamps to reproduce, marsh purple moths are common and the crested partridges live in the south, in the lowland forests along the coast. The national bird of Thailand is the Siamese fireback pheasant.

Hornbill ThailandHornbill ThailandPhoto: Francesco Veronesi CC 2.0 Generic no changes made

Northern Thailand is located on the East Asian migration route, an important route for migratory birds. 380 bird species are found around the hills of Chiang Mai alone. Thailand is home to about 10% of all bird species in the world. Northern Thailand is home to, among others, the black-crowned night heron, red wattle plover, silver pheasant, water pheasant, robin parakeet, hawk eagle, purple heron, pheasant spur cuckoo, long-tailed broadbill, Gould's honeybird, Asian paradise flycatcher, red-throated thrush, brown owl, black-necked starling, white-crested bird's-tailed raven and flag-tailed raven. In the Thale Noi Water Bird Park in the deep south of Thailand you can see the marsh fowl, the jassana, the whistle, the white-throated kingfisher, the long-legged ridge i-kong and the rarer white ibis and blue heron. The hornbill is one of the most spectacular birds in Thailand. The double hornbill is most striking with its bright yellow and black feathers.
The serow, an antelope species, is becoming increasingly rare in Northern Thailand; the sambar, the largest Thai deer, lives on the central plains, among other places. Spectacled mangoes are found on the Thai-Malay peninsula. there are three other species of langur in Thailand.
Thailand is also home to many reptiles, including 76 species of snakes, six of which are poisonous. Dangerous are the cobra, the Malayan viper, the krait and the green viper; very dangerous and also veryaggressive are the king cobra and russels pit viper. The river turtle and the Indian crocodile are endangered.

Giant Catfish ThailandGiant Catfish ThailandPhoto: Gv-fishing CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

The estuaries of the rivers and coastal waters are home to dolphins, including the rare Irrawady dolphin. Furthermore, we fish for blue marlin, sailfish, barracuda and various types of sharks. In the Mekong River enters the endangered giant catfish; even before, the largest freshwater fish in the world. Two-meter-long specimens weighing around 300 kilograms have already been caught.
The Siamese (Thailand used to be called Siam), a cat species that has spread all over the world.

Siamese catSiamese catPhoto: Dan Taylor CC 2.5 no change made

Lizards and geckos occur in great numbers. Thailand also has hundreds of species of butterflies, including the imposing Atlas butterfly, the largest butterfly species in the world.
The ecosystem on Thailand's highest mountain, the Doi Inthanon, belongs to the sub-Himalaya system. It is possible to see rare animals there, such as flying squirrels, red-toothed shrews, Chinese pangolins and Davids field mice. This protected area is also rich in birdlife, such as blue-winged minlas, green cochas, red-headed trogons and green-tailed honeybirds.
Thailand's most beautiful coral reefs are in the Andaman Sea. They consist of innumerable sea creatures and grow very slowly: one meter in 1000 years. Thousands of plants and animals live around these coral reefs, including gobies, clown triggerfish, moray eels, leopard sharks, giant mantas, snappers and large hermit crabs. The underwater fauna around Phi Phi (Island of the Spirits) is beautiful with special shark species such as the smooth shark, blackfin reef shark and blacktip shark.

Macaque ThailandMacaque ThailandPhoto: Charles J Sharp CC 4.0 International no changes made

Mangrove forests are in the south of Thailand, especially in Phang-nga Bay. In this ecosystem spawn, breed, eat crustaceans, fish, birds, snakes and even mammals; it is also an excellent hiding place. Mudhoppers, dwarf otters, crabs, macaques, the black and yellow water snake Boiga dendrophia and rare sea crocodiles live here.
The dugong (sea cow) was in danger of extinction in Thai waters. Now their numbers are slowly increasing again. The area around the Andaman Islands of Trang is one of the few places where they can be seen. They eat sea grass that grows near Ko Libong and the Trang estuary. They reach a length of three meters and a weight of about 400 kilos.
The Lawa Cave in Sai Yok National Park is one of 21 caves in Kanchana Buri province home to the kitti bat or Craseonycteris thonglongyai . It is the smallest mammal in the world, no bigger than a butterfly and weighing only two grams. There are only about 2000 specimens left, making it one of the most endangered species in the world. The creature was not discovered by a Thai biologist until 1973.
Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park is home to the rare liangpha, an Asian mountain goat.

Whale Shark Siliman Islands, ThailandWhale Shark Siliman Islands, ThailandPhoto: Abe Phao Lak CC 4.0 no changes made

The Similan Islands are true islands for nature lovers. Whale sharks, manta rays, bottlenose dolphins and large deep-sea fish can be seen in the waters around the islands. More than 30 bird species such as the white-breasted moorhen and the Brahminy hawk nest on the islands and there are also migratory birds such as the egret, pintail snipe, gray wagtail and Dougal's tern. Furthermore, small mammals such as porcupine, common palm civet and flying lemur. Many reptiles and amphibians also come in all shapes and sizes, including venomous ringkraits, pythons, white-lipped and common pit vipers, leather and hawksbill turtles, and Bengal and common water dragons.

The country is relatively sparsely populated, whereby the greatest concentration is also located on the coast. Still, clearing of the forest, animal trade and poorly regulated hunting have caused much damage. Nowadays more attention is paid to nature protection, which comes under the forest management department; since 1961, adequate protection has existed here and there in a number of national parks. Thailand now has about 80 national parks, including 19 marine reserves. Approx. 15% of the land area is protected area. The first park was Khao Yai in Central Thailand with an area of more than 2000 km2. The largest natural park is Kaeng Krachan, southeast of Bangkok.

Humes reed warbler occurs again in ThailandHumes reed warbler occurs again in ThailandPhoto: Pavel Kvartalnov CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

Ornithologists accidentally discovered the Humes reed warbler in 2006 near Bangkok, a bird species thought to be extinct for 139 years. A specimen of this swamp and songbird was last captured in North India in 1867.



Water Buffalo, Lopburi, Thailand 2300 BCEWater Buffalo, Lopburi, Thailand 2300 BCEPhoto: PHGCOM CC 4.0 International no changes made

Despite lack of evidence, the Mekong River Valley and Khorat Plateau in Northeast Thailand and parts of Cambodia and Laos most likely were inhabited more than 10,000 years ago. Little is known about the oldest history of Thailand. At Mae Hong Song and at Kanchanaburi there are agricultural implements from around 3500 BC. The most striking archaeological artifacts have been found in the vicinity of Ban Chiang, pottery that is about 5000 years old. It is unknown from which people the pottery comes. The found ground plan of a village that should be more than 5000 years old, would have been one of the oldest civilizations in the world.

Middle Ages

Sculpture of Vishnu Khmer period 10th century, ThailandSculpture of Vishnu Khmer period 10th century, ThailandPhoto: Public domain

The oldest known inhabitants of the current Thai territory are the Mon. These people are believed to have come from Central Asia many centuries BC, descended via the major rivers to the south of Myanmar (formerly Burma) and then entered Thailand. The Mon were heavily influenced by Indian cultures. It is known that the Mon had fiefdoms called Dvavarati from the fifth to the seventh century. The capital then was Nakom Pathom, and this city was not far from Thailand's current capital, Bangkok. The Mon mixed with the Thai, who appeared in northern Thailand in the thirteenth century.

The Khmer from Cambodia ruled Thailand for nearly four centuries, the most famous being King Jayavarman II (790-850) . In 1001, Suryavarman from Malaysia came to power, and many beautiful buildings were built during this time.
A supposed Thai kingdom from 568 fell several centuries later already in the hands of the Khmer. After the death of King Chieng Saen (also called Prohm) in 1177, the area was occupied by the Khmer, who by then no longer had that much power in this area.

The Thai

Seated Buddha, Thailand 14th centurySeated Buddha, Thailand 14th centuryPhoto: Public domain

The Thai entered Thailand in the thirteenth century, but perhaps much earlier, from the current Chinese province of Yunnan. They had founded the kingdom of Nanchao in Yunnan, but were expelled by the Chinese, moved south again and settled again in Thailand. The Thais split into three groups, and one of these went to the valley of the Maenam Chao Praya.
Another version of the story is that the Thai were fled by the expansion of the Mongol emperor Kublai. Khan. Two Thai princes broke free from Khmer rule in 1238 by raiding the Sukhotai garrison. Bang Tao was proclaimed king and named Sri Intratit. Khun Bang Tao was succeeded by his second son, who appointed his brother Ramkhamhaeng as deputy king over Jalieng. Ramkhamhaeng was a great strategist and he soon conquered large parts of Burma (now Myanmar), Laos and southern Thailand as far as Malaysia. In addition to being a good soldier, he was also very progressive in administrative terms. He introduced an administration and gave the country its own language. He also made sure that Theravada Buddhism from Ceylon was introduced.

From 1279, Kublai Khan ruled in China, and he intended to conquer Burma, but also did not want to offend Ramkhamhaeng. given his reputation as a warlord. He even wanted to make a covenant, but that mission failed due to bad luck. Ramkhamkaeng then launched a diplomatic offensive towards China which resulted in a very close relationship with China. And that was good for the Thai in their fight against the Khmer. At the same time, in the late thirteenth century, King Mengrai founded the kingdom of Lanna in the north, which bordered exactly on the area of Ramkhamkaeng. However, the two kings left each other alone. Mengrai fought many successful battles and thereby managed to expand his empire and unite warring principalities. In 1281 he conquered the Mon at Hariphunchai and in 1292 he moved the capital to Chiang Mai.


Wat Phra Si Sanphet, Ayutthaya, ThailandWat Phra Si Sanphet, Ayutthaya, ThailandPhoto: Disapong Deeprom CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

After Ramkhamkaeng's death in 1300, the Sukhotai Empire fell into decline. King Ramatibodi (proper name was U Thong) made Ayuthaya the capital in the first half of the 14th century and appointed his son governor of the Lopburi Empire bordering the Sukhotai kingdom. Ramatibodi ruled from 1350 to 1369 and was a totally different ruler than Ramkhamkaeng, who for the common man was very accessible. Ramatibodi was unapproachable and introduced slavery among prisoners of war, which would last into the 20th century. The first two hundred years of the kingdom of Ayuthaya were very important. During this period, a society was created that 'weighed down' and went under pretty strict rules and customs. The Thai also constantly attacked the Khmer and in 1393 they entered Cambodia under the leadership of King Ramesuan. The Cambodian army was defeated and the Khmer was dealt once and for all.
On the other side of the Ayuthaya Empire, there were constant problems with the Burmans; Sokhutai was conquered in 1378 by the Burmese King Boromaraja. This king also tried to conquer the kingdom of Lanna, but failed. In the sixteenth century, the Burmans attacked again and now conquered the principality of Chiang Mai, where a Thai prince was appointed as ruler. Ayuthaya became a Burmese province and the whole area was under the rule of King Maha Tammarajatiat from 1569. A son of his, Prince Naresuan, was committed to freeing the Thai from the Burmans. He managed to gather an army for this purpose and defeated the Burmese crown prince at the battle of Nong Sa Rai, restoring Ayuthaya's power. His brother Ekatotsarot became king in 1605 and under his rule the Dutch were allowed to settle in Ayuthaya.

The Europeans report

Bowls, Thailand 16th centuryBowls, Thailand 16th centuryPhoto: Daderot in the public domain

In 1511 the Portuguese arrived off the south coast of Thailand, at the port of Pattani. The Portuguese viceroy Albuquerque sent an envoy to the capital of Thailand that year from Goa in India. In 1608 the Dutch were given permission to settle in Pattani, and to establish a trading post there. The Dutch East India Company at that time had its headquarters at Java in Batavia. Here the transshipment of goods took place and from there they were transported on to Ayuthaya and Japan. A year later, the first Thai mission left for Europe, and was the first to visit Holland.
In the first half of the 17th century, more Europeans came to Thailand: the English in 1612, the Danes in 1621 and the French during the reign of King Narai (1657-1688). Relations between the French and the Thai were very good, but that changed after the death of Narai in 1688. The danger arose of complete French dominance, which was only prevented by the nationalist resistance. After Narai's death (1689), its leader, Phra Petraja, ascended the throne.
Meanwhile, Ayuthaya had already passed its peak and the stubborn Burmans continued to attack the kingdom. The Burmese king Mangra first conquered Chiang Mai and then advanced to Ayuthaya, where the capital fell into Burmese hands in April 1767 and was completely destroyed.
In November 1767, however, the Burmans were chased again from Ayuthaya by General Taksin, who had previously taken the cities of Chantaburi and Thonburi with a self-assembled army. He settled in the more defensible Thonburi where he was crowned king. Taksin managed to unite all apostate principalities and in 1776 the city of Chiang Mai even came into the possession of the king. Taksin turned out not to be a real leader. He neglected his administrative duties, became more and more harsh and gradually became insane. Taksin was murdered in 1782.

Chakri Dynasty: 1782 to the present

Chakri Dynasty, ThailandChakri Dynasty, ThailandPhoto: Kolomaznik CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

The new monarch became his proconsul in Khmer, Phya Chakri, who ascended the throne as Rama I and this dynasty still rules in Thailand (currently Bhumipol Adulyadey or Rama IX). In 1782, Rama I moved the capital across the river to Rattanakosin Island in present-day Bangkok, securing the city from the still aggressive Burmese. He then began to restore the grandeur of Thai art and architecture, and his successors also continued to rebuild Thai civilization.
The nineteenth century was to become very important to Thailand's development. The Europeans and Americans at that time had a great influence in Asia and the progressive kings Mongkut (Rama IV) and Chulalongkorn (Rama V) realized that Thailand had to join the speed of the nations. Foreign powers were allowed to trade with Thailand and experts and advisers were brought in from Europe and America to further develop Thailand. During this time the emphasis was placed on education and infrastructure, but also the immigration of Chinese, who gradually became predominant in trade and craft, increased sharply.
The governments of Rama I (1782-1809) and Rama II (1809-1824) were also dominated by Thailand's attempts to dominate Khmer and Laos. Especially Vietnam was Thailand's opponent. In 1845, Khmer was placed under common Thai-Vietnamese suzerainty.

Period Chulalongkorn

 Equestrian Statue of King Chulalongkorn Rama V the Great of ThailandEquestrian Statue of King Chulalongkorn Rama V the Great of ThailandPhoto: Mirtage Strike CC 4.0 International no changes made

Mongkut (Rama IV), who died of malaria, was succeeded by his son Chulalongkorn (Rama V, 1868-1910), who would become Thailand's greatest ever king. He is also seen as the founder of the modern state of Thailand. He sent many of his children to the West to study there and he made many contacts with foreign rulers. Because of this, Thailand has probably never been dominated by foreign powers. Much was achieved in the 42 years that Chulalongkorn reigned: slavery was officially abolished in 1905; in 1897 the first railway line was opened, the city of Bangkok was expanded considerably and channels and irrigation works were constructed for rice cultivation. Thailand was bigger at the time than it was now; the northern part of Malaysia & euml; and part of Cambodia was also included.

Immigration of Chinese, who gradually became dominant in trade and craft, increased. In 1893, after a French naval demonstration, Thailand ceded its territory east of the Mekong to France. In 1904, France gained sovereignty over Luang Prabang, and in 1907 over the Cambodian provinces of Siem Reap and Battambang. In return, it effectively relinquished extraterritoriality, something England did in 1909, when it acquired suzerainty over four states in Northern Malacca.
The modernizations were continued under Vajiravudh (Rama VI) and Prajadhipok (Rama VII). During the reign of Vajiravudh, the first attempt to overthrow the absolute monarchy took place by the Thai army in 1912. After that, military coups would mark the 20th century political battlefield.

Period Prajadhipok

Statue of Prajahdhipok in front of Thailand's parliament buildingStatue of Prajahdhipok in front of Thailand's parliament buildingPhoto: Ludexvivorum in the public domain

Under the rule of Prajadhipok (1925-1935), the global economic crisis of the 1930s broke out, which also affected Thailand. Senior officials, who had often studied abroad, were very dissatisfied with the state of affairs in Thailand, which led to a coup d'état in 1932. The coup, by a group of democratically-minded students with the help of the army, happened without bloodshed and on December 10, 1932, the king signed the first constitution and the absolute monarchy was replaced by a constitutional one. From that time on, the royal family was only assigned a ceremonial role in affairs of state. In 1933, a group of sympathizing royalists tried in vain to restore absolute monarchy by means of a coup d'état.

After this, the king went abroad and would remain there, and officially resigned in 1935. He had not appointed a successor, so a new king had to be constitutionally appointed. Ten-year-old Anada Mahidol, who lived in Switzerland, was appointed as the new King Rama VIII. Ananda did not return to Thailand until 1945, but was murdered a year later. Only in 1950 was a new king inaugurated: Bhumipol or Rama IX, the grandson of the famous king Chulalongkorn.

Siam becomes Thailand

General Pibul, ThailandGeneral Pibul, ThailandPhoto: Public domain

By 1938, Nationalist General Pibul (Phibun Songkhram) had become Prime Minister of the country and remained in power at some intervals until after World War II. It was he who changed the name Siam to Thailand in 1939 and gave the Japanese free passage during World War II. Japan was greatly admired by him and it was therefore not surprising that Thailand declared war on Great Britain in 1942. and the United States. In return, Thailand received from Japan back areas in Burma and Cambodia that it should have ceded to France and England. He also made efforts to "Thai" economic life, that is, to eliminate the Chinese.
In 1944, Pibul was ousted and succeeded by Seni Pramoj. Pridi Phanomyong became prime minister in 1946, but was ousted in 1947 after a coup d'état. He was succeeded by Pibul, who remained in power until 1948 and made progress, among other things, in the field of education, but on the other hand also canceled the constitution. He was a declared anti-communist, responding to US and French policies in Southeast Asia.
In the Korea conflict, Thai units were sent to battle. He had little success in his domestic politics. Pibul was unable to keep the army and police in check. In September 1957, the army under Sarit Thanarat Pibul pushed aside in a coup and, through a six-year plan, he made progress in many areas. The industry developed, foreign investors were attracted and compulsory education was increased from four to seven years. Universities and colleges were also set up throughout the country to relieve the capital Bangkok. The infrastructure was thoroughly addressed with the construction of dams, hydroelectric power station and road construction. In 1958 Sarit undertook 'a coup against himself'. He abolished the constitution and now acted as prime minister himself. However, he would not complete his plans because he died in December 1963. After his death, Marshal Thanom Kittikachorn became prime minister. In foreign policy, Thailand continued to support the United States on Vietnam, including through the provision of air bases and the participation of Thai troops in the operations in Vietnam. Developments in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia prompted the Thai government to join ASEAN.
In 1968 Kittikachorn promulgated a new constitution, and in 1969 parliamentary democracy was introduced.


Portrait of King Bhumipol, ThailandPortrait of King Bhumipol, ThailandPhoto: Government of Thailand CC 2.0 Generic no changes made

In November 1971, however, the constitution was abolished. Motives cited were terrorism in various provinces, actions by students and peasants and the questionable loyalty of the three million Chinese.
In October 1973, this led to violent riots and fights at Thammarat University. Dozens were killed and hundreds injured and several government buildings were set on fire. The leaders of the time, Generals Thanom Kittikachorn and Praphat Charusathien, fled abroad and the king appointed the rector of the university, Dharmasakdi, as prime minister. A national convention was established to allow 2,347 men and women to sit. In keeping with Thai tradition, the new government had ministers who had been in the expelled cabinet and they were not surprised that the fleeing leaders would return to Thailand after a while. Elections were called after Dharmasakdi's resignation, won by Sani Pramoj. However, he did not gain the confidence of the House of Representatives, after which his brother Kukrit Pramoj became the new head of government. The period in which Kukrit Pramoj was in power was characterized by more freedom and the attempt to improve the prosperity of the poorest. He also wanted, just like the students, to have the Americans out of the country after the Vietnam war, but the Americans were too important to the economy so that attempt failed. Relations with China and other neighboring countries also intensified during this period.

In 1976, riots broke out again and the army took power again with the conservative Thanin Kraivichien as prime minister. The communists were seen as guilty of the unrest and many were arrested. Prime Minister Kraivichien was deposed again in 1977 and succeeded by Kriangsak. Under Kriangsak, relations with China and Cambodia in particular were tightened even more, but foreign policy towards the west also became increasingly important. The relationship with Cambodia was damaged by the many refugees after the occupation of Cambodia by Vietnam. Also in Myanmar (Burma), domestic problems caused many people to flee to neighboring Thailand.
Free elections were again held in 1979 and the new prime minister became Prem Tinsulamond, a commander in chief of the army. However, Prem also got into trouble and fled to the northeast, but was brought back
by King Bhumipol, who thereby showed that he had more than just a ceremonial function.

Eighties and Nineties

Chuan Leekpai, ThailandChuan Leekpai, ThailandPhoto: Government of Thailand CC 2.0 Generic no changes made

In 1988, parliamentary elections again followed in which 16 parties took part, resulting in Chatichai Choonchavan as prime minister. However, this government was accused of corruption and cared little about the military. This again led to a coup d'état on February 23, 1991, which, however, proceeded without violence. Chatichai was placed under house arrest by the military and a government of businessmen and technocrats was very quickly formed under the leadership of Anand Panyarachun, the National Peace-Keeping Council (NPKC). Just over a year later, another coup was staged and General Suchinda Krayapoon became the new prime minister.
Suchinda appointed diplomat businessman Anand Panyarachun as acting prime minister, but a year later he assumed the office himself and took office. as dictator. Once again the democratization process in Thailand was reversed. Large demonstrations led by opposition leader Chamlong Srimuang ended in May 1992 in violent riots in the capital Bangkok. After mediation by King Bhumibol, Suchinda was forced to resign and Anand Panyarachun was again appointed interim prime minister. In September 1992 he was succeeded by Chuan Leekpai.

In the 1980s, there were border incidents involving Laotian / Vietnamese troops. An armistice was agreed with Laos in 1988, which significantly improved relations. Thailand's endeavor to end the presence of Vietnamese troops in Cambodia, initially through (military) aid to the Cambodian resistance but later through diplomatic mediation, was finally rewarded with the Cambodia Peace Agreement of October. 1991. This approached the return of tens of thousands of Cambodian refugees to their homeland.
In the early parliamentary elections of July 1995, the Chart Thai Party (CTP) became the largest, just ahead of Prime Minister Chuan Leekpai's Democratic Party. CTP leader Banharm Silpa-archa formed a government coalition consisting of the former opposition, the PDP, and the Chavalit Yongchayud Party of New Aspirations (NAP) who left the government at the end of 1994.
However, Banharm was forced out in September 1996. stepping down after it was revealed that he had financed his election campaign with embezzled money, as the son of Chinese immigrants had improperly acquired Thai citizenship, had forged educational papers and his graduation thesis was based on plagiarism. Banharm called new elections for November, which were won by the NAP of Chavalit, just ahead of the Democratic Party and well ahead of the Chart Pattana, the third party and ally of the NAP. Chavalit formed a coalition government of the NAP and the Chart Pattana.
The Chavalit government (1996-1997) also had an unfortunate hand in trying to reorganize the overheated economy and gain the confidence of foreign investors. He failed to avoid a severe economic crisis in July 1997, but in addition to monetary and economic factors, the country's political instability played a role in Thailand's economic collapse.
A new constitution was finally adopted in September 1997. , which seeks to end a long tradition of political corruptibility. In November, Chavalit resigned and the election became a victory for his Party of New Aspiration (PNA), followed closely by the Democratic Party (DP). DP leader Chuan Leekpai re-formed a government with skilled economists in key positions such as finance and industry.
The government focused on financial reform and attracting foreign companies. At the end of 1998, the bills to offer foreign investors more guarantees and greater flexibility led to sharp political contradictions. The opposition and many others accused the government of "selling the nation." In general, however, the position of the government was not under threat. Despite the continuing crisis, Prime Minister Chuan remained by far the most popular politician. The opposition, led by ex-Prime Minister Chawalit Yongchaiyudh, could not for a moment give the impression that it was better able to cope with the problems.

The increasing influence of the press and public opinion brought a large number of light. Health and Agriculture ministers had to leave after accusations of wasting public money. Some MPs also lost their seats after it was shown that they had bought votes.
In 1999, the International Monetary Fund praised the Chuan Leekpai government's drive for reform and the economy picked up again.

21st century

Tsunami 2004 ThailandTsunami 2004 ThailandPhoto: FlyAkwa CC 4.0 International no changes made

In 2001, elections were won by Thaksin Shinawatra's Democratic Party. Prime Minister Thaksin's nationalist party, Thai Rak Thai 'Thai love Thai' had a large majority in parliament through mergers with other parties.
Fighting between the Thai army and rebels in the Islamic south April 2004 killed at least 74 insurgents. One of them was wearing a T-shirt with an Arabic text and the letters JL. This may have been a reference to Jemaah Islamiah, a Muslim extremist group in Southeast Asia & euml; linked to al-Qaeda and suspected of bombings on Bali in 2002.
The government accused militant Muslims of a wave of violence that started as early as January 2004 . Sixty people had already died. There were fears of a return of Islamic separatism in southern Thailand, which could be supported by international networks. Prime Minister Thaksin said, however, that the insurgents were 'young people from the southern provinces'. were "not affiliated with international terrorists."

On Boxing Day in 2004, many countries in southern Asia; hit by a massive natural disaster, including Thailand.
A seaquake that measured 9.0 on the Richter scale occurred. The epicenter of the quake was off the west coast of Summatra, off the Aceh province.
The quake caused a wall of water to spill over the coast of Thailand. and many other countries flushed. The waves of this so-called tsunami reached a height of ten meters in some places. In total, more than 140,000 people were killed, including more than 5,200 in Thailand. Many foreign tourists were among those killed in Thailand. President Thaksin Shinawatra faced increasing criticism over the years 2005 and 2006, accused of abuse of power and corruption. On September 19, 2006, a coup was carried out by military and police.

In early October, former Thai army chief General Surayud Chulanont was appointed by King Bhumibol Adulyadej as the new Prime Minister of Thailand. At the same time, Bhumibol agreed to an interim constitution that came into effect immediately. The military junta of coup leader Sonthi Boonyarayglin was therefore given great powers until the 2007 parliamentary elections. government. The new Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont has repeatedly stated that he wishes to adhere to this timetable. However, concerns remain about the major role of the junta in this whole process, and about the long period, up to October 2007, that has been set aside for this. In addition, there appears to be disagreement within the armed forces over the actions of the government, which is echoed within the junta, and there are tensions between the junta and the government. A series of bomb attacks in Bangkok on New Year's Eve and New Year's Eve of 2007 with three fatalities illustrates that the situation is still not very stable. No organization has assumed responsibility for these attacks. Martial law will probably remain in effect in Thailand for the time being. In December 2007 an important step will be taken towards the return of civil administration. In the elections, the People Power Party (PPP), which is seen as a continuation of Thaksin's party, wins the most votes. This process will be concluded in February 2008 when Samak Sundaravej becomes the new prime minister.

In September 2008, many people demonstrate against the prime minister. He is leaving the field because of appearances in a cooking show on television. He is succeeded by Somchai Wongsawat, but things remain restless. Somchai Wongsawat is also not here to stay and was already dismissed by the constitutional court in December 2008. Opposition leader Abhisit Vejjajiva becomes the new prime minister. In April 2009, supporters of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra protested and Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva declared a state of emergency and sent troops to Bangkok to stifle the protests. From March to May 2010, tens of thousands of Thaksin supporters in red shirts protest and paralyze large parts of Bangkok. Government forces are cracking down, tourism is declining dramatically.

King Vajiralomgkorn (RamaX) of ThailandKing Vajiralomgkorn (RamaX) of ThailandPhoto: Amrufm CC 2.0 Generic no changes made

On August 5, 2011, Yingluck Shinawatra, youngest sister of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, was elected Prime Minister of Thailand. In the years 2012 and 2013 things remain very restless with many protests that are sometimes severely crushed. In November 2013, the opposition demanded that Yingluck Shinawatra resign. She refuses and announces early elections in February 2014. These elections have indeed been held, but they have been boycotted or disrupted in a number of districts. There must be a new vote. The result is not known until all votes have been counted. Ultimately, the result of the election is declared invalid. In May 2014, the army commits a coup and seizes power. In August 2014, coup leader Prayuth Chan-Ovha becomes prime minister. In August 2016, voters will vote in favor of a new constitution that will increase the influence of the military. In October 2016, King Bhumibol, the longest-serving monarch in the world, dies and a year of national mourning is declared. In December, Crown Prince Vajiralomgkorn succeeds him and in April 2017, the king will sign a new constitution to allow a return to democracy.


Composition and distribution

ThaiThaiPhoto: John Shedrick CC 2.0 Generic no changes made

The inhabitants of Thailand are descendants of the many peoples who came here from all over the world. The current population consists of 97.5% Thai, who come from Southwest China and moved to Thailand in the 13th century. The Middle Thai (the Siamese) are the largest group and live on the central plain and in the delta of the Chao Phraya River. The closely related South Thai (Thai Pak Tai), the Lao and the North Thai are other large Thai populations. The Shan (Thai Yai) are also related to the Thai and inhabit the hills to the northwest, along the border with Myanmar. Another Thai population, the Thai Lu lives in the vicinity of Changrai.

Chinese street food seller in ThailandChinese street food seller in ThailandPhoto: Furibond CC 2.0 Generic no changes made

The main minority group is formed by the Chinese (Sino-Thai), who have an important share in trade, banking and transport. However, most of them are of Thai nationality and have integrated into Thai culture without much difficulty. The first Chinese immigrants came to Thailand as merchants in the 14th century. In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, after long years of war, the immigration of Chinese was encouraged, as they could help rebuild the economy.
In the south, Malays live, who know their language (Malay) and religion (Islam) as a minority group. In the south they are the largest population group. The Muslim Malay Thai feel oppressed by the Buddhist Thai and in response, an Islamic resistance movement arose that does not shy away from attacks. The Sikhs, from the Punjab, dominate the textile trade.

Lisu, ThailandLisu, ThailandPhoto: Steve Evans CC 2.0 Generic no changes made

In the mountains in the north live a number of so-called mountain peoples (collectively 'Chao Khao' or 'hill tribes'), such as the Karen, Meo , Yao, Lawa, Lahu, Lisu and Akha. They live in the area called the Golden Triangle, the rugged region where Thailand, Laos and Myanmar meet. They only make up about 1-1.5% of the total population of Thailand, but because of their language, religion and clothing, they stand out the most and are the least integrated. The mountain peoples are spread over 3,500 villages in some fifteen provinces. Originally they were animists, but most were Christianized by missionaries and others converted to Buddhism. The area is also known for the cultivation of poppy, the plant from which opium is made. At the moment, the government is trying, with reasonable success, to get them to grow products other than poppies. For example, since 1965, there have been no poppy fields in the real 'Golden Triangle', on the banks of the Mekong, where the actual three-country point is located. The authorities have replaced them with other crops: coffee and tobacco.
The Lisu or Lissou live the highest, around 1800 meters, and spread over 80 villages. This Tibetan-Burmese people have had to do without any form of writing for centuries. They are farmers and also earn well from opium cultivation. They are highly affectedChinese culture and also celebrate the Chinese New Year for example.

Meo woman with child, ThailandMeo woman with child, ThailandPhoto:Gerd Eichmann CC 4.0 International no changes

The Meo (Hmong) initially lived in the mountains of China and Laos. They speak a tonal language and have no writing. Their history is laced with revolts against central authority. As a result, they were driven further and further south and ended up in the north of Thailand, in the triangle Tak-Chinag Mai-Nan. The Thai group has about 38,000 members who live in 148 villages. The Meo can be divided into three subgroups: the Blue Meos, the White Meos and the Guas Mbas-Meos. Their religion is a combination of pantheism and shamanism.
The total people of the Yao or Mien number several million souls, scattered across the mountainous region of Southeast Asia. In Northeast Thailand, at an altitude of 1000-1300 meters, about 20,000 live in more than a hundred villages in the provinces of Chiang Rai and Nann.
The 40,000 Akha, of Tibeto-Burman origin, have settled since early twentieth century in Mae Chan and Mae Sai districts. In government circles the Akha are considered the most primitive group; they can neither read nor write. They live in the mountains and grow opium there, as well as rice, corn, millet, vegetables and raise animals: poultry, pigs and buffaloes. Favorite dish: dog soup. The Akha are pantheists, for which ancestor worship and sacrifices are important events.

Lahu, ThailandLahu, ThailandPhoto:Steve Jurvetson CC 2.0 Generic no changes made

The Lahu live in 160 villages between Chiang Mai, Chiangrai and Mae Hong Son. There are four different groups, including the Lahu Shi, Lahu Nyis and the Lahu Nas. The Lahu grow opium, rice and corn, but they are also pastoralists and especially hunters with a bow and arrow. They live in villages far apart, usually quite high in the mountains.
The Lawa or Lue are only found in Thailand and have been living in Northern Thailand since 660. Most now live in the border area with Myanmar in the area between Mae Hong Son and Mae Sariang. They adhere to a mixture of Buddhism, animism and ancestor worship.

Karen, ThailandKaren, ThailandPhoto: Deror Avi CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

The Karen, the largest mountain people, live here and there along the border and the different groups within this tribe are distinguished from each other by the color of the women's clothes, the dialect, religion and the long necks of the women. Some groups have turned to Christianity. The Karen are divided into four subgroups: the Saw Karen or White Karen, the Pwo Karen or Plong, the Taungthus or Black Karen, and the Kayahs or Red Karen.
The youngest mountain people in Thailand are the Kwo Min Tang. They belonged to the army of the Chinese general Chiang Kai Chek, who fought against the communists of Mao tse Tung. When he was defeated in 1949, some of his followers fled to Myanmar and Thailand. There are said to be tens of thousands of KMT Chinese living in 64 villages in Thailand's five northern provinces.
Small groups are the Khamus, the Htins, the Lawas and the Mrabris, also known as Phis Thongs Luangs. The Mrabris is North Thailand's most isolated living hill tribe and these hundreds of nomadic hunters in all were only discovered a few decades ago. Their dead are not buried, but hung in trees to be eaten by birds.
The densely forested mountainous region of Mae Hong Son province in northern Thailand is still home toa special group, the Padong. They are related to the Karen and have only been present in this area since the 1950s. Like other Karen tribes, they revolted against the junta in Myanmar and were forced to flee. are often exploited in that sense. On the other hand, tourism is their only source of income, because as refugees they do not have the right to engage in agricultural activities.

Ships from Sea Gypsies, ThailandShips from Sea Gypsies, ThailandPhoto: Kjfmartin at en.wikipedia CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

In southern Thailand, there are still some small populations, such as the NGOs and the Chao Lae or Chanam, also known as sea gypsies. They live from fishing and selling precious shells. These sea gypsies may come from the Andaman or Nicobar Islands just across the Andaman Sea. Phuket's sea gypsies settled in the area some 200 years ago. They came from the Mergui Archipelago west of the Burmese mainland. There are three ethnic groups: the Moklen, the Moken and the Urak Lawoi.

Sea Gypsies live in the Andaman Sea area on Ko Surin, Ko Phra Tong in Phangnga and further on the islands of Phi Phi, Lanta , Talibong, Tarutao and Langkawi. They have their own language and an animistic belief. The Thai government does not regard them as citizens and therefore they have no political rights and no guaranteed security.
Finally, Thailand had several hundred thousand refugees from Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos. They had fled their country as a result of wars and oppressive regimes. In 1992 and 1993, Cambodian refugees returned to their country accompanied by the United Nations.
Along the 2,500 km long border with Myanmar are more than 100,000 to the Burmese ethnic minorities Karen, Mon and Karenni belong to refugees in refugee camps.
An estimated 1.3 million foreign workers, 986,000 of whom are illegal, live in Thailand.


Thailand's population (1950-2015)Thailand's population (1950-2015)Photo: World24 at German Wikipedia CC 3.0 Unportedno changes made

On November 2, 1996, the 60 millionth resident of Thailand was officially born. In 2017, Thailand has 68,414,135 inhabitants, of which about half live in cities. By placing a strong emphasis on family planning, population growth was reduced to less than 1.5% per year. The population growth was 0.3% in 2017.

Life expectancy for men in 2017 was 71.7 years, for women 78.3 years

The average population density is approximately 133 inhabitants per km2, but the population is very unevenly distributed across the country. The northern highlands have the lowest population density, the central lowlands and the southern part of the peninsula are densely to very densely populated.
The largest city is Bangkok with around 10 million inhabitants (2017).


Numbers on the clock in ThaiNumbers on the clock in ThaiPhoto: Jorge Láscar CC 2.0 Generic no changes made

The official language is Thai, which is the mother tongue of about 80% of the population and was officially established by King Ramkamhaeng in 1283. Thai belongs to the Kadai family of languages, is related to Lao, Shan (Northern Myanmar), some southern Chinese dialects, and is a tonal language. English is very common as a second language.

Like Chinese, Thai is a one-letter language with five pitches, high, low, neutral, rising and falling. The pitch is indicated by accents above the vowels

In principle, every syllable is a word; identically spelled words take on a different meaning due to the pitch associated with them. In Thai, for example, the famous phrase "Mai mai mai mai mai?" is known, which roughly means "The green forest is not burning, is it"?

Nevertheless, current Thai now has many polysyllabic words. Much of it consists of loanwords that come from Pali, Sanskrit or Khmer. The Thai language was mixed with this when the Thai migrated from South China to present-day Thailand and came into contact with the Mon and Khmer.

The Thai alphabet is derived from Sanskrit; four accents are added to 44 consonants and 32 vowel or diphthong marks.

Thai is written from left to right. Thai is written with no gaps between words: complete sentences are formed by a continuous row of letters because the language has no capital letters, commas or periods; no prefixes or suffixes and no accents, conjugations or genders of nouns.

The grammar of Thai is simple. The basic sentence consists of a subject, a verb and an object. The adjective comes after the noun. A verb can be made into a noun by prefixing it.

Words and expressions

There are different dialects in Thailand that are spoken in four major areas of the country.

In the central plain people speak "generally civilized" Thai, formerly known as Siamese.

In the northeast, Lao-Thai is spoken, which is almost the same as the Laotian spoken in Laos.

In the north, people speak the very different "Kam Muang".

Most mountain peoples speak a language that belongs to the Sino-Thai language group and the Chinese minority generally speak Thai, but also mandarin, Cantonese or Fukienese.

Muslims in the south often speak an old Malay dialect, Yawi, which is in some ways similar to Malay and Bahasa Indonesia.

Then there is the "rachasap", a special vocabulary that is used in the presence of monarchs and is very similar to the language that is still spoken in Cambodia today.

The Thai always address each other by the first name, which is preceded by the title "kuhn" (sir or madam). Usually the Thai also have a pet name ("tschu len", literally: play name).


Fasting Buddha Chiang Mai, ThailandFasting Buddha Chiang Mai, ThailandPhoto: Akuppa John Wigham CC 2.0 Generic no changes made

Buddhism was founded in the 6th century BC. in India The founder was Siddharta Gautama (560-480 BC). In Thailand our era is used, but the Buddhist census is also used. Although it is not known exactly when Buddha was born, the year of birth is 543 BC. The year 2004 is 2546 in the Buddhist era.

At the heart of Buddha's teaching are the four noble truths:
-Life is suffering.
-The cause of this suffering is the desire and attachment to life. As a result, man is trapped in an unwholesome cycle of birth, death and rebirth.
-By letting go of desire and detachment man can abolish suffering.
-The Eightfold Path (correct insight, life, striving, meditating, thinking, purpose, word, and deed) is the only way out of the unwholesome cycle of reincarnation and leads to nirvana, the state of bliss.
By adhering to some basic principles, man can his fate or 'karma' influence. The Five Commandments are: do not kill, steal, commit adultery, lie and use alcohol, tobacco or drugs.
Buddhism is not actually a religion, but a philosophical system and attitude. There are no gods. Buddhism has monks, but again no ecclesiastical organization.
Traditionally, the king is the protector of all religions.

Head of a future priest is shaved in the tradition of therevada BuddhismHead of a future priest is shaved in the tradition of therevada BuddhismPhoto:Tevaprapas CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

After the death of Buddha, the religion fell apart in two directions: the mahayana- Buddhism and Hinayana Buddhism.
Mahayana Buddhism starts from the universal salvation of all living beings and therefore becomes the 'great vehicle'. This school of thought knows Bodhisattwa's, mortals who have already attained enlightenment, but remain on Earth to show people the right way. Mahayana Buddhism has spread to include China, Nepal, Japan, Korea, and Vietnam.
Hinayana or Theravada Buddhism is also known as 'School of the Elderly'. This direction within Buddhism is limited to the individual salvation of man, without the intervention of others, and is therefore called the "little vehicle". Whoever reaches the enlightenment independently becomes 'arhat'. However, this status is reserved only for the monks. Lay people can at best add to their karma during their life on earth and be reborn in a higher position. One can increase one's karma by doing good works such as almsgiving to monks and donations to temples. The selfless giving or 'dana' is therefore the most important form of virtue that leads to good karma. Hence, it is sacrificed in Thailand.
Followers of Hinayana Buddhism see themselves as the true continuators of the teachings of Buddha as recorded in the sacred scripture, the Tripitaka.

Phra Pathom Chedi, ThailandPhra Pathom Chedi, ThailandPhoto: Supanut Arunoprayote CC 4.0 International no changes made

Phra Pathom Chedi is the tallest Buddhist structure in the world, located in the provincial capital of Nakhon Pathom, an hour's drive west of Bangkok. The beautiful ‘chedi’ (also called stupa - a bell-shaped reliquary hall with a pointed roof) is 120 meters long, is covered with gold-orange tiles and is surrounded by a complex of additional 'bots', (a central chapel or consecration hall of a 'wat' ;) Buddha statues and other remarkable structures. The top of the tower has a golden trident, symbol of the Hindu god Shiva, with the royal crown of Thailand on top.

The most famous new Buddhist sect is Santi Asoke 'Peace and no Samrt'), which was founded by Phra Bodhirak. He is half Chinese and was a TV producer and singer. His followers were removed from 'sangha'. An important theme in their group is that monks should mingle with people and not be aloof from politics.

Other influential sects include Dhammakaya 'Body of Truth' and Suan Mokh ('Garden of Liberation').

The state religion in Thailand is Theravada Buddhism, which is practiced by approximately 94% of the population and which dominates almost all cultural and public life. Principles such as tolerance and open-mindedness are essential and great emphasis is placed on the sanctity of family, friends and social harmony.
In Thailand there are several schools within the Theravada, which apart from theoretical debates, among other things, distinguish themselves from each other by the demands they place on their followers.

Mendicants, ThailandMendicants, ThailandPhoto: Tevaprapas CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

Every Thai man should return as a 'bhikku' ('mendicant') for several months or weeks, migrate in a kind of monastic community ('sangha'), of which there are about 32,000. Usually this period falls between school or university and a job, career or marriage. It is clear that things are different in modern times. Today, many Thais consider this duty to be a troublesome and completely unnecessary exercise.
Thai Buddhism exhibits a high degree of tolerance towards other religions.
Bangkok has the highest concentration of important temples. The most famous temple is Wat Phra Keo, also called the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, which houses the mysterious Emerald Buddha statue, a Thai national symbol. It was built in 1782 next to the Grand Palace and is used as a ceremonial temple of the Thai kings.

Wat Mahathat ThailandWat Mahathat ThailandPhoto: Adam Jones CC 2.0 Generic no changes made

Wat Mahathat is the main temple of the largest monastic group, the Mahanikai. The national headquarters of the Thammayut sect is Wat Bowonniwet. Wat Po is the largest and oldest 'wat' (Buddhist Monastery) in Bangkok and contains the largest collection of Buddha statues in Thailand. The total number of Buddha statues in Thailand is estimated to be over five million. Ancient religious scriptures contain strict regulations for images of Buddha. These had to exhibit 32 primary and 80 secondary characteristics and have four basic postures: standing, sitting, walking or lying down.

Phra Phum ThailandPhra Phum ThailandPhoto: W. Horsch CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

Yet Buddhism is not the only religion in Thailand. Forms of animism or spirit worship have also been preserved and have found their place within Buddhism. Most Thai still believe in the powers of the supernatural and are convinced that these are intertwined with everyday life. Tattoos, amulets, fortune tellers and shamans still play an important role in everyday life. Also, the spirit that watches over the house is still revered by almost all Thai. The Thai world is full of 'phii', ghosts for which houses ('phra phum' is the old name in the Khmer language) must be built so that they won't cause mischief. It does not matter whether these are small and simple as bird houses or meters high and as beautiful as a temple. There is always incense burning, fresh flowers and food.

Thailand has more than three million Muslims, mainly Malays in the southern provinces of Satun, Pattani, Yala, Narathiwat, Phuket, Krabi, Trang and Songkhla. Muslims regularly complain of social and political discrimination and radical Islamic groups use these sentiments to garner support for autonomy or affiliation Malaysia. In the 1990s, the Thai government has responded to various Islamic wishes and recognized laws that regulate conflicts over marriage, estate and other family matters. Christianity (predominantly Roman Catholic) is primarily represented among residents of Chinese descent.

Vegetarian festival, Phuket ThailandVegetarian festival, Phuket ThailandPhoto: Joseph Ferris III CC 2.0 Generic no changes made

None of this could prevent at least 74 insurgents from being killed in fighting between the Thai army and rebels in the Muslim south in April 2004. The government accused the militant Muslims of a wave of violence that started as early as January of that year. Sixty people were also killed and there were fears of a return of Islamic separatism in the south of Thailand.
The nine-day Chinese Taoist Vegetarian Festival takes place in Phuket City every September / October in September / October. This party is one of the most spectacular in Thailand and some of the rituals performed are absolutely unsuitable for sensitive onlookers. Some priests and mediums put their faith in the Taoïst deities by chastising themselves, piercing their tongues and cheeks with spears, piercing their backs with hooks of meat, and walking over glowing coals as if in a trance.


State structure

Coat of arms ThailandCoat of arms ThailandPhoto: Krokodyl CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

Unlike countries like Myanmar (Burma), Laos, Cambodia and Malaysia, Thailand has never belonged to a European power.

Thailand has been a constitutional monarchy since 1932, where kingship still plays an important role. The king is the head of state and the commander of the armed forces. He hardly ever gets involved in day-to-day political affairs, but the government cannot make decisions that are against the king. The current King Bhumibol Adulyadej (Rama IX) was crowned king on June 9, 1946, making it the longest reigning monarch in the world. The most influential function is that of the prime minister, who has far-reaching powers. Executive power rests with the prime minister and the cabinet. The prime minister has not been appointed since 1992, but chosen by the people.

The parliament consists of a Senate or House of Lords with 270 appointed senators and a House of Representatives or House of Commons with 360 seats. The parliament, elected once every four years, traditionally had little powers, but a constitutional amendment in June 1992 expanded its power: the prime minister must be an elected member of parliament and the right to interpellation and to table motions was expanded. In practice, however, the military play a decisive role in political life. The last coup took place in 1991 and a demonstration for more democracy was bloody suppressed by the military in May 1992.

In September 1997 a new Constitution was passed, the most democratic and liberal in the country's history. He provides, among other things, that citizens become more involved in the political system and that politicians are discouraged from buying their vote, as was customary. Senate members are now directly elected through a district system and are no longer appointed by the king on the nomination of the prime minister. The voting age was lowered from twenty to eighteen in 1995.

Corruption, protection and vote-making are still part of Thailand's political system, but most sectors, including the military, seem to be committed to stability and democracy. For the current political situation see chapter history.

Administrative division

Administrative division of ThailandAdministrative division of ThailandPhoto: TUBS CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

Thailand is administratively divided into 73 provinces or "changwats", which are administered by a governor. The provinces are named after the provincial capital.

The governors are appointed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The provinces are divided into more than 600 districts or "amphoes" and further into nearly 5000 municipalities or "tambons". Most tambons consist of a number of villages or "meobans", each with a chosen village chief or "kamnan".

Amnat Charoen378.0003.161 km2
Ang Thong285.000968 km2
Buri Ram1.580.00010.322 km2
Chachoengso671.0005.351 km2
Chai Nat381.0002.470 km2
Chaiyaphum1.162.00012.778 km2
Chanthaburi503.0006.338 km2
Chiang Mai1.563.00020.107 km2
Chon Buri1.081.0004.363 km2
Chumphon473.0006.009 km2
Kalasin976.0006.947 km2
Kamphaeng Phet712.0008.607 km2
Kanchanaburi778.00019.483 km2
Khon Kaen1.834.00010.886 km2
Krabi355.0004.708 km2
Krung Thep6.710.0001.565 km2
Lampang827.00012.534 km2
Lamphun437.0004.506 km2
Loei641.00011.425 km2
Lop Buri789.0006.200 km2
Mae Hong Son222.00012.681 km2
Maha Sarakham1.000.0005.292 km2
Mukdahan329.0004.340 km2
Nakhon Nayok256.0002.122 km2
Nakhon Pathom859.0002.168 km2
Nakhon Phanom726.0005.513 km2
Nakhon Ratchasima2.707.00020.494 km2
Nakhon Sawan1.156.0009.598 km2
Nakhon Si Thammarat1.611.0009.942 km2
Nan483.00011.472 km2
Narathiwat702.0004.475 km2
Nong Bua Lam Phu511.0003.859 km2
Nong Khai936.0007.332 km2
Nonthaburi860.000622 km2
Pathum Thani710.0001.526 km2
Pattani631.0001.940 km2
Phangnga248.0004.171 km2
Phatthalung527.0003.424 km2
Phayao533.0006.335 km2
Phetchabun1.017.00012.668 km2
Phitsanulok840.00010.816 km2
Phrae522.0006.539 km2
Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya766.0002.557 km2
Phuket254.000543 km2
Prachin Buri430.0004.762 km2
Prachuap Khiri Khan470.0006.368 km2
Ranong171.0003.298 km2
Ratchaburi837.0005.196 km2
Rayong552.0003.552 km2
Roi Et1.229.0008.299 km2
Sa Kaeo514.0007.195 km2
Sakon Nakhon1.100.0009.606 km2
Samut Prakan1.077.0001.004 km2
Samut Sakhon485.000872 km2
Samut Songkhran217.000417 km2
Saraburi603.0003.576 km2
Satun263.0002.479 km2
Sing Buri247.000822 km2
Si Sa Ket1.489.0008.840 km2
Songkhla1.328.0007.394 km2
Sukhothai628.0006.596 km2
Suphan Bur907.0005.358 km2
Surat Thai921.00012.891 km2
Surin1.407.0008.124 km2
Tak514.00016.407 km2
Trang630.0004.917 km2
Trat231.0002.819 km2
Ubon atchathani1.790.00015.745 km2
Udon Thani1.549.00011.730 km2
Uthai Thani322.0006.730 km2
Uttaradit492.0007.839 km2
Yala440.0004.521 km2
Yasothon593.0004.162 km2


School kids ThailandSchool kids ThailandPhoto: Anthonu Hartman CC 2.0 Generic no changes made

Thailand has an outdated and preferential education system, of which solid secondary education, secondary / higher vocational education and university courses are largely out of reach of large parts of the population. There is actually no participation of parents; the Ministry of Education determines everything and there is no talk of consultation. Many wealthy Thai allow their children to study abroad, leaving the country with a small group of highly educated people and a very large group of low-skilled and uneducated people. During the economic boom, the number of students attending higher education doubled to nearly 700,000, including 125,000 at private universities and colleges.

Under a 1921 law, primary education was compulsory for all children aged seven to twelve. In the year 2000, compulsory education was increased to nine years. The percentage of children attending free primary school is estimated at about 97 percent and with only 6% illiterate, Thailand ranks best of all countries in Southeast Asia. In addition to public schools, there is also Buddhist education, especially in rural areas.

After primary education, pupils can proceed to secondary education and higher secondary education, which entitles them to admission to a university program. I must first pass a tough entrance exam. One third of young people between twelve and eighteen years old have completed some form of secondary education and a quarter of them go back to university. About twelve universities and university colleges train for professions at an academic level. Bangkok has seven universities and colleges, including the renowned Thammasat University (the scene of student riots in the 1970s), one of the best in Asia. The best medical institute is Mahidol University in Bangkok. The largest Buddhist university is located in Wat Mahathat, the national center for the Mahanikai monastic order. The "what" can be found in the Old City, the spiritual and historical heart of Bangkok.

What is special is Wat Pho, the oldest and largest temple in Bangkok, and at the same time Thailand's main center for public education. Since the 1960s, Wat Pho has been home to the city's most respected massage school. Traditional Thai massage ("nuat paen boran") is believed to date back to the time of Buddha and is related to Chinese acupuncture and Indian yoga.

Typically Thai

Thai BoxingThai BoxingPhoto: Gerrit Phil Baumann CC 3.0 Unported no changes made


This national combat sport is relentless in nature, and fights, knees, elbows and feet are used. The boxer must not head-butt, bite, spit, or kick an opponent lying on the ground.
Before the actual fight begins, a bizarre-looking ritual dance ('am wai khru') takes place, a cross between yoga and body language. This personal ritual is actually a prayer, a kind of incantation, (sometimes) uttered to the melody of a popular song. The purpose of this is to show the boxer's skills and get the ghosts on his side and to pay tribute to trainer and boxing gym.
An orchestra accompanies the match and plays throughout the fight. The spectators bet large sums of money over five three-minute rounds.
Since 1990, 'muay thai' become an international sport under the World Boxing Council. The first muay thai professionals arrived after World War II. Amonphiman Awatansathit Sakkathatiya Witsanukamprasit.

Bangkok, ThailandBangkok, ThailandPhoto: Milei.vencel CC 3.0 Unported no changes made


The full name of Bangkok is the longest city name in the world with no fewer than 172 letters: Krungthepmahanakhon Amonratankosin Mahintharayutthaya Mahadilokphop Nophosin Ratchathaniburirom Udomrathaniwetmahasa Amonphiman Awatansathit Sakkathatiya Witsanukamprasit. This means: City of Angels, Great City of Immortals, Beautiful City of the Nine Gems, Seat of the King, City of Royal Palaces, House of the Incarnate Gods, Built by Visvakarman on behalf of Indra. The Thai usually take their capital as Krung Threp or 'Angel City'. of Thailand when Rama I moved the city from Thon Buri across the Chao Phraya River in 1782 as a fortification against the Burmese who had looted the capital of Ayutthaya.
In the late 1950s the city began unheard of development and in a very short time countless shops, hotels, office and apartment buildings appeared.

Royal Palace, ThailandRoyal Palace, ThailandPhoto: Andy Marchand CC 3.0 Unported no changes made


King Bhumibol Adulyadej (Rama IX) was born on December 5, 1927 in Cambridge, Massachussetts, and is one of the most revered and loved kings of the Chakri Dynasty. His father was then studying there at Harvard University. Bhumibol came into the royal line after his uncle (the reigning King Prajadhipok), his father (Prince Mahidol) and his elder brother (Prince Ananda). However, Bhumibol's father died unexpectedly in 1929 and Prajadhipok abdicated in 1935 without a direct successor. Ananda succeeded him, but he died in mysterious circumstances in 1946 and Bhumibol succeeded him.

Bhumibol is now the longest reigning king in Thailand's history. The King and his wife, Queen Mom Rajawongse Sirikit Kitiyakara, have four children: Princess Ubol Ratana, Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, Princess Mahachakri Sirindhorn and Princess Chulabhorn. politics. In 2017 he was succeeded by Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn as Rama X.

Burma Railway, ThailandBurma Railway, ThailandPhoto: Deror Avi CC 3.0 Unported no changes made


In the fall of 1942, the Japanese planned to build a 414-kilometer railway line through Thailand to Thanbyuzayat in Burma (now Myanmar). The Japanese decided that the railway had to be built in just twelve months, it eventually became sixteen. Allied prisoners were transferred from Singapore, Hong Kong and other occupied territories, including the Dutch East Indies. In addition, tens of thousands of Asian forced laborers were deployed. The ill treatment, malnutrition and tropical diseases killed thousands of workers. About 7,000 Allied soldiers, 1,896 of them Dutch, who died during the construction of the railway are buried in Kanchanabur.

The first rickety railway bridge that the prisoners built across the River Kwai was replaced in 1943 by a strong iron construction that still exists. In 1945 the bridge was destroyed by American bombers, but after the war it was restored and rebuilt with the help of the Japanese. The railway itself only operated for two years.
The famous film 'The Bridge on the River Kwai' (based on the book 'Le pont de la rivière by the French author Pierre Boule) by the English director David Lean tells about the construction of the bridge. However, the book and the film are a very free interpretation of what really happened. For example, it is suggested that Allied prisoners were responsible for the bridge's construction, but in reality they were highly skilled Japaneseengineers who designed the bridge.

Thai SilkThai SilkPhoto: Ben Klosek CC 2.0 Generic no changes made


Weaving Thai silk or 'mudmee tie-dye ' is an ancient Thai tradition in Northeast Thailand. The weaving craft already flourished in the Khmer Empire (802-1431) and developed further during the Sukhotai, Ayutthaya, and Chakri dynasties.
In many northeastern villages, silk production has hardly changed over the centuries . However, in the late 19th century, a wave of cheaper machine-made fabrics from China and Japan flooded the market and hit the Thai The silk industry fell into decline and almost died out. Thanks to his entrepreneurial spirit and eye for the beautiful Thai silk, the silk entered the international market and a worldwide clientele was built up. Nakhon Ratchasima province now has more than 70 factories. On March 27, 1967, Jim Thompson disappeared without a trace as he single-handedly traveled through Malaysia. An important promoter at the moment is the current Thai queen Sirikit.
The most precious products sometimes have more than twenty harmonizing colors in intricate geometric patterns, which, when viewed from afar, must merge into one pastel shade, to be seen up close. seen their full richness of colors and details unfold.

Thai MassageThai MassagePhoto: Tara Angkor Hotel CC 2.0 Generic no changes made


Like other forms of oriental massage, the energy is brought into the body and balanced by acupressure and psychological influence, & lsquo; sen & rsquo ;, just like acupuncture. was the place where American soldiers were allowed to spend their leave.

Red light district Bankok, ThailandRed light district Bankok, ThailandPhoto: J.J Harrison CC 4.0 International no changes made


Thailand has a long tradition of prostitution. In the 17th century, for example, it was already customary for the nobility to keep a number of courtesans next to the wife. The first red light district appeared in Bangkok's Chinatown in the mid-1800s. From there, the phenomenon spread across the country and boomed during the Vietnam War, when masses of American soldiers came to Thailand. The number of women now working in the sex industry is estimated at a quarter of a million.

Since 1997, prostitution has been legal in Thailand, with the exception of the pimping business. What the Thai government does take strict action against is child prostitution. The number of minors who are nevertheless employed in prostitution is between 200,000-800,000. Much of it comes from Myanmar and South China. They are lured to Thailand by pimps and forced into prostitution. Nowadays, people who abuse children in Thailand can also be prosecuted in Europe. One of the serious consequences of increasing prostitution is the spread of AIDS. The WHO reported in 2000 that the number of HIV-infected people in Thailand had risen to 4 million.

Opium Pipe, ThailandOpium Pipe, ThailandPhoto: Theo V. Bresler CC 3.0 no changes made


"Papaver somniferum" is the Latin name of the bulb poppy or sleeping bulb, which is a of the world's most dangerous drugs. The active ingredient is contained in the poppy juice, which is extracted by hand and processed into heroin in refineries along the Thai border.

More than 2,000 annually tons from the Golden Triangle, which are smuggled by ship or plane and distributed all over the world, some going to the major cities of Thailand, some used by the mountain peoples, who are often enslaved.
Recent efforts have led to a sharp decline in opium production in Thailand itself, but the flow of drugs from neighboring countries continues unabated.

Chang and Eng, Siamese GemeniChang and Eng, Siamese GemeniPhoto: Wellcome Images CC 4.0 International no changes made


Due to a twist of nature, there was a twins fused together in Thailand since birth. They became famous in the United States and then in Europe for exploiting their deficiency.
From them the term "conjoined twins" has been derived, which has since been used to refer to such fusion. The two were named Chang and Eng, were of Chinese-Thai origin, and married two American sisters. They had 19 normal children and lived to be over sixty years old.



Overview economic growth ThailandOverview economic growth ThailandPhoto: GiovanniMartin16 CC 4.0 International no changes made

Thailand has a free market economy, in which the private sector is the most important. In 2017, 31.8% of the labor force was employed in agriculture and fishing, 16.7% in industry and 51.5% in the service sector. In 2017, the labor force numbered 38.4 million people.
The Thai economy grew by 3.9% in 2017. Growing exports, government spending and consumer spending are at the root of economic growth. Thai exports rose in 2017, especially exports to ASEAN countries and China increased strongly.
Increased consumer spending and strong economic growth the labor market a revival. The percentage of unemployed was 0.7% in 2017. Unemployment is highest in North and Northeast Thailand and lowest in and around the capital Bangkok.

Despite the fact that almost a third of the working population is dependent on agriculture and fishing and the majority of exports are made up of agricultural products, the relative share of the agricultural sector in the composition of the Gross National Product (GNP) has decreased from 30% in 1970 to 8 , 2% in 2017 (services 55.6%; industry 36.2%).

The government's economic policy is aimed at increasing economic growth by stimulating domestic demand, aimed at to become less dependent on external influences. This will not be easy for a country that has always depended heavily on exports and foreign investment. They try to boost domestic consumption with a lot of government money. And other goals are rural development and improving the living standards of the poor part of the population.

Important for the economy is the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), founded on January 1, 1993. The original members were Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines and Brunei. The objective was to create an open market of approximately 450 million consumers.The later acceded Member States Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia make the internal market even bigger

Agriculture, livestock, forestry and fishing

Rice farming, ThailandRice farming, ThailandPhoto: Takeaway CC 4.0 International no changes made

The agricultural sector, including fishing, plays an important role in the Thai economy despite the strong rise of the industry. Agricultural exports (including fish and forest products) make up a large part of Thailand's total exports.
Rice farming (especially jasmine rice) India and Vietnam are the main rice exporters in the world. especially cassava (tapioca), of which the EU, in particular Netherlands, purchases approx. 90% in the form of animal feed. Thailand is also the largest orchid producer in the world and, after Hawaii, the largest producer of pineapples in the world.
Livestock farming is becoming increasingly important to the Thai economy, in particular the dairy industry and poultry and pig farming. The poultry sector is the most important and Thailand is the fourth largest exporter of chicken and chicken meat in the world. The avian flu in January 2004 caused an import stop by the main consumer countries. Total fresh milk production amounted to approximately 760,000 tonnes in 2003. Fisheries are important for protein supplements to the daily rice consumption and are carried out both on inland waters and at sea. Much fish is also intended for export, and shrimp farming is particularly important (50% goes to the United States; almost 400,000 employees), in addition to the export of lobster, tuna and squid. After China and Japan, Thailand is the most important fishing country for Asia.
In 1981, more than 53% of the country was covered with forest, in 2003 this percentage was reduced to over 20% due to excessive logging. Thailand has therefore not been an important wood producer for several decades. The government is trying to expand the forest area to 40% of the total land area. However, illegal logging and smuggling to neighboring countries is a major problem. The south supplies yangwood; the teak forest in the north has almost completely disappeared due to the disastrous deforestation, as a result of which Thailand has started importing teak from Burma and Laos. In 1989 the commercial logging and export of teak wood was banned. Isolated patches of teak forest can still be seen in their natural environment or in large new plantations. Teak trees can be recognized by their enormous size, they can reach more than 100 meters in height, and by their large, limp leaves. Thailand is one of the world's leading importers of tropical lumber.

Energy supply

Rasisalai dam, ThailandRasisalai dam, ThailandPhoto: Pongsak ksm CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

The energy in the form of electricity is mainly supplied by natural gas, in addition to hydropower, lignite and petroleum. Approx. two-thirds of the total energy supply is provided by oil, of which the largest part must be imported. The government wants to drastically limit the import of oil by implementing energy-saving projects and increasing use of its own gas reserves. Demand for natural gas has therefore increased sharply in recent years; approx. 40% of the total energy demand is covered by natural gas. Almost three-quarters of the natural gas produced is used to generate energy.
The Thai government will stimulate the generation of electricity from solar, wind and renewable energy, but alternative energy sources currently hardly cover & eacute; & eacute; one percent of Thailand's energy requirement. Along the northern border with Myanmar, a very large solar-powered power plant was commissioned in 2004.
Over 60% of energy is consumed by industry and services; energy consumption in homes amounts to about 22%.


Thailand oil exploitationThailand oil exploitationPhoto: Vidar Lokken CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

Mining contributes approximately 2.1% to the national income. In addition to oil and gas, Thailand also has large reserves of zinc and lignite. There are also exploitable stocks of gold, silver, copper, tungsten, manganese, antimony and lead.

Tin is a very important mineral resource for the economy, but since the tin crisis in 1985, increasing export earnings have exceeded of precious stones (sapphire, ruby, garnet, quartz) that of tin.

Large oil fields have been discovered in the Gulf of Thailand. Oil reserves were estimated at 516 million barrels at the end of 2002. Thailand has four refineries with a total capacity of approximately 700,000 barrels per day.

Natural gas reserves are estimated at 12.7 trillion cubic feet. Most of the natural gas is used to generate electricity.

Gold is present in almost all provinces of Thailand. The gold reserves are estimated at 32 tons and the silver reserves at 98 tons. The quantities of copper are estimated at 900 tons and in Thailand also sapphires, beryl, jade et al, rubies, zircon and garnet. The gemstones are used to make gold and silver jewelry and decorations.


Industry ThailandIndustry ThailandPhoto: Wikisay CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

Thailand has practically no heavy industry, but the small industry has grown very strongly in recent decades.
Main branches are the textile and food industry and other industries are car assembly, cement and electronics industry, construction, sugar and oil refinery.
Government policy is aimed at stimulating industries that largely replace imports.

Important for Thai economy. Mainly private housing, but also offices and hotels. Architects, suppliers of building materials and manufacturers of home products and accessories for the decoration of homes and commercial buildings will also benefit.

Thailand is Southeast Asia's largest paint producer, with approx. 300,000 tons per year.
The petrochemical industry is an important supplier for the production of plastic products, electronics and automotive parts. Raw materials and machines for this sector are mainly imported from Japan and the United States.
Approximately 5,000, mainly small companies, are active in the plastics industry. Approximately 30% of the total production is exported mainly to Japan, the United States, Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, Malaysia, China and the European Union.

The electronics industry is one of the main pillars of the Thai economy, with many foreign investors from Japan and the United States.
In 2003, about 33 million hard disk drives have been exported and Thailand thus has a worldwide share of almost 18%.


Export ThailandExport ThailandPhoto: R. Haussmann Cesar Hidalgo, CC 3.0 no changes made

Until the crisis year of 1997, the Thai trade balance was characterized by a continuous deficit, despite the strong increase in exports. The trade surplus already rose to 1.6 billion dollars during the crisis year, and a trade surplus was also reached in subsequent years. In 2017, Thailand had a trade surplus of $ 32 billion. Thailand's total exports amounted to $ 235 billion in 2017.

The industrial sector is the main driver of Thai exports. Main exports are machinery, electrical appliances, computer and computer parts, rice, corn, tapioca, rubber, tin metal, textile products and food (Thailand is the world's largest exporter of canned tuna and pineapple). Main customers are: China (including Hong Kong), Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, Austrarlia and the United States.

Thailand's total imports in 2017 were $ 203 billion, nearly half of which were capital goods. Due to the shift from agriculture to industry, Thailand has become heavily dependent on the import of raw materials, semi-finished products and capital goods. Mainly imported: raw materials, machines, petroleum and chemical products. Main suppliers are: Japan, United States, United Arab Emirates, Singapore and China (including Hong Kong).


Skytrain Bangkok, ThailandSkytrain Bangkok, ThailandPhoto: My Train Pix CC 2.0 no changes made

In the 1970s, the road network expanded at an accelerated pace for economic and strategic reasons, but is now no longer sufficient at 80,000 km, as only 40,000 km is of good quality. To promote trade between India, Myanmar and Thailand, a 1400-kilometer highway has been constructed. A major problem is the increasing traffic chaos in Bangkok. An important urban transport plan has been developed to relieve road transport in Bangkok. Construction of the first 20 kilometers of a metro line has been completed and could be connected to an already operational skytrain above ground.

Road and rail links between Chiang Mai, Bangkok and the rest of Thailand are excellent.
The State Railway of Thailand maintains the nearly 4,500 km long rail network, with only 100 km double track. The government provides for the construction of new railway lines and expansion of the double track. The main lines run from Bangkok to the north to Myanmar, to the northeast to Laos and Cambodia and to the south to Malaysia & euml; and Singapore. Of historical and today tourist interest is the legendary Burma Railway.

Thailand's main seaport is Bangkok's Klong Toey. Here approximately 90% of all sea freight is handled. Due to congestion problems in Klong Toey, a container port in Laem Chabang and an industrial port in Ma Ta Phut were constructed. Other important ports in the country are Songkhla and Phuket in the south of the country. Pattaya is an important port for cruise ships along the Gulf of Thailand and the southeast of the country. A canal will be built from the Indian Ocean to the Gulf of Thailand, probably in collaboration with China and Japan.
The national airline is Thai Airways International (TAI). Don Muang International Airport near Bangkok is the main international airport; more than eighty airlines fly here and more than 30 million passengers are processed every year. Southeast of the capital, construction began in late 2001 on a second international airport, Suvarnabhumi International Airport, with the largest terminal in the world. Other international airports are Chiang Mai to the north, Phuket and Hat Yai to the south.

Holidays and Sightseeing

Thailand beachThailand beachPhoto: Dronepicr CC 2.0 Generic no changes made

Thailand has been a popular holiday destination, especially since the 1970s, with a variety of tourist attractions. The tourism industry is therefore increasingly important to the Thai economy. The number of inbound tourists is expected to rise sharply.

Tuk Tuk Taxi in Chiang Mai, ThailandTuk Tuk Taxi in Chiang Mai, ThailandPhoto: CEphoto, Uwe Aranas CC 4.0 International no changes made

However, the tourist infrastructure has not kept up by now. Bangkok, Chiang Mai and the seaside resorts receive the lion's share of tourists and have a large and varied range of accommodation, but other areas, such as the Khorat Plateau, are less frequented and have far fewer facilities for tourists.

Bangkok at nightBangkok at nightPhoto: Alter CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

Bangkok has many beautiful palaces and temples, which are breathtakingly refined for the craftsmanship with which they are built. The ultimate way to see Bangkok is to relax and enjoy a cruise along the meandering Chao Phraya River. Various pleasure trips can be booked and you will pass many attractive waterfront sights along the way. Read further also the Bangkok page of countries web.

Click the menu button at the top left of the screen for more information


Clutterbuck, M. / Thailand
Van Reemst

Davies, B. / Thailand

Forbes, A. / Thailand

Hahn, W. / Thailand
Van Reemst

Hauser, S. / Thailand : mensen, politiek, economie, cultuur, milieu
Koninklijk Instituut voor de Tropen

Hoskin, J. / Thailand
Van Reemst

Macdonald, P. / Thailand

Miethig, M. / Thailand

Peterse, L. / Thailand

Steinmetz, P. / Thailand

Uitgeversmaatschappij The Reader’s Digest


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Last updated December 2021
Copyright: Team Landenweb