Koh Samui hotels and travel guide, Thailand. Hotel reservation for Koh Samui, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao

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Geography
People
Government
Economy
Communications
Transportation
Military
Transnational Issus
 

Geography

Location:
Southeastern Asia, bordering the Andaman Sea and the Gulf of Thailand, southeast of Burma

Geographic coordinates:
15 00 N, 100 00 E

Map references:
Southeast Asia

Area:
total: 514,000 sq km
land: 511,770 sq km
water: 2,230 sq km

Area—comparative:
slightly more than twice the size of Wyoming

Land boundaries:
total: 4,863 km
border countries: Burma 1,800 km, Cambodia 803 km, Laos 1,754 km, Malaysia 506 km
Coastline: 3,219 km

Maritime claims:
continental shelf: 200-m depth or to the depth of exploitation
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
territorial sea: 12 nm

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

Terrain:
central plain; Khorat Plateau in the east; mountains elsewhere

Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Gulf of Thailand 0 m
highest point: Doi Inthanon 2,576 m

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

Land use:
arable land: 34%
permanent crops: 6%
permanent pastures: 2%
forests and woodland: 26%
other: 32% (1993 est.)

Irrigated land:
44,000 sq km (1993 est.)

Natural hazards:
land subsidence in Bangkok area resulting from the depletion of the water table; droughts

Environment—current issues:
air pollution from vehicle emissions; water pollution from organic and factory wastes; deforestation; soil erosion; wildlife populations threatened by illegal hunting

Environment—international agreements:
party to: Climate Change, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Marine Life Conservation, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94
signed, but not ratified: Biodiversity, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Law of the Sea
Geography—note: controls only land route from Asia to Malaysia and Singapore

People

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Population: 60,609,046 (July 1999 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 24% (male 7,364,411; female 7,095,428)
15-64 years: 70% (male 20,878,602; female 21,493,735)
65 years and over: 6% (male 1,664,113; female 2,112,757) (1999 est.)

Population growth rate:
0.93% (1999 est.)

Birth rate:
16.46 births/1,000 population (1999 est.)

Death rate:
7.16 deaths/1,000 population (1999 est.)

Net migration rate:
0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (1999 est.)

Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.97 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.79 male(s)/female
total population: 0.97 male(s)/female (1999 est.)

Infant mortality rate:
29.54 deaths/1,000 live births (1999 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 69.21 years
male: 65.58 years
female: 73.01 years (1999 est.)

Total fertility rate:
1.82 children born/woman (1999 est.)

Nationality:
noun: Thai (singular and plural)
adjective: Thai

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

Religions:
Buddhism 95%, Muslim 3.8%, Christianity 0.5%, Hinduism 0.1%, other 0.6% (1991)

Languages:
Thai, English (secondary language of the elite), ethnic and regional dialects

Literacy:
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 93.8%
male: 96%
female: 91.6% (1995 est.)

Government

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Country name:
conventional long form: Kingdom of Thailand
conventional short form: Thailand

Data code:
TH

Government type:
constitutional monarchy

Capital:
Bangkok

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

Independence:
1238 (traditional founding date; never colonized)

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

Constitution:
new constitution signed by King PHUMIPHON on 11 October 1997

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

Suffrage:
18 years of age; universal and compulsory

Executive branch:
chief of state: King PHUMIPHON Adunyadet (since 9 June 1946)
head of government: Prime Minister CHUAN Lekphai (since 15 November 1997)
cabinet: Council of Ministers
note: there is also a Privy Council
elections: none; the monarch is hereditary; prime minister designated from among the members of the House of Representatives; following a national election for the House of Representatives, the leader of the party that can organize a majority coalition usually becomes prime minister

Legislative branch: bicameral National Assembly or Rathasapha consists of the Senate or Wuthisapha (a 253-member appointed body which will be phased into a 200-member elected body starting in March 2000; members serve six-year terms) and the House of Representatives or Sapha Phuthaen Ratsadon (currently has 391 members, but will become a 500-member body after the next election; members elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms)
elections: House of Representatives—last held 17 November 1996 (next scheduled to be held by 17 November 2000, but may be held earlier)
election results: House of Representatives—percent of vote by party—NA; seats by party—NAP 125, DP 123, NDP 52, TNP 39, SAP 20, TCP 18, SP 8, LDP 4, MP 2

Judicial branch:
Supreme Court (Sandika), judges appointed by the monarch

Political parties and leaders:
Thai Nation Party or TNP (Chat Thai Party) [BANHAN Sinlapa-acha]; Democratic Party or DP (Prachathipat Party) [CHUAN Likphai]; New Aspiration Party or NAP (Khwamwang Mai) [Gen. CHAWALIT Yongchaiyut]; National Development Party or NDP (Chat Phattana) [KON Thappharangsi]; Phalang Dharma Party or PDP (Phalang Tham) [CHAIWAT Sinsuwong]; Social Action Party or SAP (Kitsangkhom Party) [BUNPHAN Khaewatthana]; Thai Citizen's Party or TCP (Prachakon Thai) [SAMAK Sunthonwet]; Liberal Democratic Party or LDP (Seri Tham) [PHINIT Charusombat]; Solidarity Party or SP (Ekkaphap Party) [CHAIYOT Sasomsap]; Thai Love Thai Party or TRTP (Thai Rak Thai Party) [THAKSIN Chinnawat]; Mass Party or MP [CHALERM Yoobamrung, SOPHON Petchsavang]

International organization participation:
APEC, AsDB, ASEAN, CCC, CP, ESCAP, FAO, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, Inmarsat, Intelsat, Interpol, IOC, IOM, ISO, ITU, NAM, OPCW, PCA, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNIKOM, UNMIBH, UNU, UPU, WCL, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO

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

Economy

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Economy—overview:
After months of speculative pressure on the Thai Baht, the government decided to float the currency in July 1997, the symbolic beginning of the country's current economic crisis. The crisis—which began in the country's financial sector—has spread throughout the economy. After years of rapid economic growth averaging 9% earlier this decade, the Thai economy contracted 0.4% in 1997 and shrunk another 8.5% in 1998. In the years before the crisis, Thailand ran persistent current account deficits. With the depreciation of the Thai Baht and the collapse of domestic demand, however, imports have fallen off sharply—by more than 33%—and Thailand posted a trade surplus of approximately $12 billion in 1998. Foreign investment for new projects, the long-time catalyst of Thailand's economic growth, has also slowed. The CHUAN government has closely adhered to the economic recovery program prescribed by the IMF. The cooperation afforded Thailand stability in the value of its currency in the second half of 1998 and helped replenish foreign reserves. Tough measures—including passage of adequate bankruptcy and foreclosure legislation as well as privatization of state-owned companies and recapitalization of the financial sector—remain undone. Bangkok is also trying to establish a social safety net for those displaced by the current economic crisis and is working to increase the quality of Thailand's labor force.

GDP:
purchasing power parity—$369 billion (1998 est.)
GDP—real growth rate: -8.5% (1998 est.)
GDP—per capita: purchasing power parity—$6,100 (1998 est.)
GDP—composition by sector:
agriculture: 12%
industry: 39%
services: 49% (1997 est.)

Population below poverty line:
13.1% (1992 est.)

Communications

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Telephones:
1,553,200 (1994 est.)

Telephone system:
service to general public adequate, but investments in technological upgrades reduced by recession; bulk of service to government activities provided by multichannel cable and microwave radio relay network
domestic: microwave radio relay and multichannel cable; domestic satellite system being developed
international: satellite earth stations—2 Intelsat (1 Indian Ocean and 1 Pacific Ocean)

Radio broadcast stations:
AM 200 (in government-controlled network), FM 100 (in government-controlled network), shortwave 0

Radios:
10.75 million (1992 est.)

Television broadcast stations:
5 (all in Bangkok; in addition, there are 131 repeaters) (1997)

Televisions:
3.3 million (1993 est.)

Transportation

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Railways:
total: 4,623 km
narrow gauge: 4,623 km 1.000-m gauge (99 km double track)

Highways:
total: 64,600 km
paved: 62,985 km
unpaved: 1,615 km (1996 est.)

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

Pipelines:
petroleum products 67 km; natural gas 350 km

Ports and harbors:
Bangkok, Laem Chabang, Pattani, Phuket, Sattahip, Si Racha, Songkhla

Merchant marine:
total: 293 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 1,848,626 GRT/2,989,382 DWT
ships by type: bulk 41, cargo 135, chemical tanker 5, combination bulk 1, container 13, liquefied gas tanker 17, multifunction large-load carrier 3, oil tanker 61, passenger 1, refrigerated cargo 11, roll-on/roll-off cargo 2, short-sea passenger 1, specialized tanker 2 (1998 est.)

Airports:
107 (1998 est.)

Airports—with paved runways:
total: 56
over 3,047 m: 6
2,438 to 3,047 m: 9
1,524 to 2,437 m: 17
914 to 1,523 m: 20
under 914 m: 4 (1998 est.)

Airports—with unpaved runways:
total: 51
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 15
under 914 m: 35 (1998 est.)

Heliports:
3 (1998 est.)

Military

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Military branches:
Royal Thai Army, Royal Thai Navy (includes Royal Thai Marine Corps), Royal Thai Air Force, Paramilitary Forces

Military manpower—military age:
18 years of age

Military manpower—availability:
males age 15-49: 17,486,014 (1999 est.)

Military manpower—fit for military service:
males age 15-49: 10,536,417 (1999 est.)

Military manpower—reaching military age annually:
males: 585,562 (1999 est.)

Military expenditures—dollar figure:
$1.95 billion (FY97/98)

Military expenditures—percent of GDP:
2.5% (FY97/98)

Transnational Issues

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Disputes—international:
parts of the border with Laos are indefinite; maritime boundary with Vietnam resolved, August 1997; parts of border with Cambodia are indefinite; maritime boundary with Cambodia not clearly defined; sporadic conflict with Burma over alignment of border

Illicit drugs:
a minor producer of opium, heroin, and marijuana; major illicit transit point for heroin en route to the international drug market from Burma and Laos; eradication efforts have reduced the area of cannabis cultivation and shifted some production to neighboring countries; opium poppy cultivation has been reduced by eradication efforts; also a drug money-laundering center; minor role in amphetamine production for regional consumption; increasing indigenous abuse of methamphetamines and heroin

Source: World Fact Book (CIA)