Thai cuisine is famous for its use of hot, sweet and sour spices. Sculptures of the Buddha in sitting or reclining positions are characteristic of Thailand, as is classical dance and Thai kickboxing.
Located in the middle of Southeast Asia, Thailand’s immediate neighbors are Laos, Myanmar, Cambodia, and Malaysia. Nearby are China, Vietnam, Singapore, and Indonesia.
Thailand is a country of mountains, tropical rainforests and flat plains. Religion, the monarchy and the military have helped to shape its society and politics.
For many years agriculture was the main employer. But from the 1980s a thriving, rapidly-growing economy attracted large numbers of Thais to the expanding industrial and services sectors.
Kingdom of Thailand
64.9 million (via UN, 2006)
513,115 sq. km. (198,115 sq. miles)
66 years (men), 74 years (women) (UN)
1 baht = 100 satangs
Food including rice, seafood and live animals, office equipment, textiles and clothing, rubber
GNI per capita
US $2,750 (World Bank, 2006)
International dialing code
Thailand is a constitutional monarchy. Its king, Bhumibol Adulyadej, assumed the throne in June 1946 and is the world's longest-reigning monarch.
The royal family is revered by many Thais and it is important to show respect to this institution when in Thailand.
According to the last census (2000) 95% of Thais are Buddhists. Muslims are the second largest religious group in Thailand at 4.6%. Some provinces and towns in the deep south of the country have dominant Muslim populations, including many ethnic Thai. Christians represent 0.75% of the population, mainly Catholics. A tiny but influential community of Sikhs and some Hindus live in the country's cities. There is even small Jewish community in Thailand which dates back to the 17th century.
Multichannel Thai and English TV, via cable and satellite, is widely available in Thailand. There are more than 60 radio stations in and around the capital.
The media are free to criticise government policies, and cover instances of corruption and human rights abuses, but journalists tend to exercise self-censorship regarding the military, the monarchy, the judiciary and other sensitive issues.
The print media are largely privately-run, with a handful of Thai-language dailies accounting for most newspaper sales.
Thailand is a tropical country and the weather is typically hot and humid year round.
The cool season is from November to March, hot season from April to August and rainy season from September to October. Average temperatures in Bangkok are around 30 degrees Celsius.