The kingdom of Thailand lies in the heart of Southeast Asia, making it a natural gateway to Indochina, Myanmar and Southern China. Its shape and geography divide into four natural regions : the mountains and forests of the North; the vast rice fields of the Central Plains; the semi-arid farm lands of the Northeast plateau; and the tropical islands and long coastline of the peninsula South.

The country comprises 77 provinces that are further divided into districts, sub-districts and villages. Bangkok is the capital city and centre of political, commercial, industrial and cultural activities. It is also the seat of Thailand's revered Royal Family, with His Majesty the King recognized as Head of State, Head of the Armed Forces, Upholder of the Buddhist religion and Upholder of all religions.


Thailand became an upper-middle income economy in 2011. Over the last four decades, Thailand has made remarkable progress in social and economic development, moving from a low-income country to an upper-income country in less than a generation. As such, Thailand has been one of the widely cited development success stories, with sustained strong growth and impressive poverty reduction, particularly in the 1980s. However, average growth has slowed to 3.5 percent over 2005-2015. The government has embarked on an ambitious reform program to raise Thailand’s long-term growth path and achieve high-income status.

Thailand’s economy grew at an average annual rate of 7.5 percent in the boom years of 1986 to 1996 and 5 percent following the Asian crisis during 1999-2005, creating millions of jobs that helped pull millions of people out of poverty. Gains along multiple dimensions of welfare have been impressive: more children are now getting more years of education, and virtually everyone is now covered by health insurance while other forms of social security have expanded.

Poverty has declined substantially over the last 30 years from 67% in 1986 to 11% in 2014 during periods of high growth and rising agricultural prices. However, poverty and inequality continue to pose significant challenges, with vulnerabilities as a result of faltering economic growth, falling agricultural prices, and ongoing droughts. Poverty in Thailand is primarily a rural phenomenon. As of 2013, over 80 percent of the country's 7.3 million poor live in rural areas. Moreover, an additional 6.7 million were living within 20 percent above the national poverty line and remained vulnerable to falling back into poverty. Although inequality has declined over the past 30 years, the distribution in Thailand remains unequal compared with many countries in East Asia. Significant and growing disparities in household income and consumption can be seen across and within regions of Thailand, with pockets of poverty remaining in the Northeast, North, and Deep South.

Historically, economic growth has been the key driver of poverty reduction in Thailand. However, GDP grew by less than 2 percent a year in 2014 and 2015. Looking ahead, the World Bank forecasts growth of 2.9 to 3.3 percent for 2016-2018. The rate of economic recovery and reigniting growth, will depend on how fast Thailand can overcome factors constraining growth and promote a more inclusive growth model. There are opportunities in the horizon, including expanding trade through enhanced integration with the global economy, bolstering growth by implementing transformative public investments to crowd-in private capital, stimulate domestic consumption, and improving quality of public services across the entire country. This will support a resumption of higher, more balanced, growth path that eliminates extreme poverty and boosts shared prosperity for all citizens.


The population of Thailand reached 64.93 million in 2016, of which approximately 20 percent are under the age of 15. The population growth rate is 1 percent per year.

Age Structure:
0-14 years: 18% (male 5.9 million/female 5.6 million),15-64 years: 72% (male 23 million/female 24 million), 65 years and over: 10% (male 2.5 million/female 3.3 million) (Observe in 2016)

Capital: Bangkok
Main urban areas: Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Nakhon Ratchasima Ethnic groups: Thai 75%, Chinese 14%, other 11% Languages spoken: Thai, ethnic and regional dialects 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

Although laws applying to private-sector workers' rights to form and join trade unions were unaffected by the September 19, 2006, military coup and its aftermath, workers who participate in union activities continue to have inadequate legal protection. According to the U.S. Department of State, union workers are inadequately protected. Thailand's unemployment rate lies at 1.5% percent of the labor force


Tourism makes up about 6% of the economy. Thailand was the most visited country in Southeast Asia in 2013, according to the World Tourism Organisation. Estimates of tourism receipts directly contributing to the Thai GDP of 12trillion baht range from 9 percent (1 trillion baht) (2013) to 16 percent. When including the indirect effects of tourism, it is said to account for 20.2 percent (2.4 trillion baht) of Thailand's GDP.

Asian tourists primarily visit Thailand for Bangkok and the historical, natural, and cultural sights in its vicinity. Western tourists not only visit Bangkok and surroundings, but in addition many travel to the southern beaches and islands. The north is the chief destination for trekking and adventure travel with its diverse ethnic minority groups and forested mountains. The region hosting the fewest tourists is Isan in the northeast. To accommodate foreign visitors, the Thai government established a separate tourism police with offices in the major tourist areas and its own central emergency telephone number.

Bangkok shopping malls offer a variety of international and local brands. Towards the north of the city, and easily reached by skytrain or underground, is the "Chatuchak Weekend Market". It is possibly the largest market in the world, selling everything from household items to live, and sometimes endangered, animals. The "Pratunam Market" specialises in fabrics and clothing. The night markets in the Silom area and on Khaosan Road are mainly tourist-oriented, selling items such as T-shirts, handicrafts, counterfeit watches and sunglasses. In the vicinity of Bangkok one can find several floating markets such as the one in DamnoenSaduak. The "Sunday Evening Walking Street Market", held on Rachadamnoen Road inside the old city, is a shopping highlight of a visit to Chiang Mai up in northern Thailand. It attracts many locals as well as foreigners. The "Night Bazaar" is Chiang Mai's more tourist-oriented market, sprawling over several city blocks just east of the old city walls towards the river.


The economy of Thailand is heavily export-dependent, with exports accounting for more than two-thirds of gross domestic product (GDP). Thailand exports over US$105 billion worth of goods and services annually. Major exports include rice, textiles and footwear, fishery products, rubber, jewellery, cars, computers, and electrical appliances

Substantial industries include electric appliances, components, computer components, and vehicles. Thailand's recovery from the 1997–1998 Asian financial crisis depended mainly on exports, among various other factors. As of 2012, the Thai automotive industry was the largest in Southeast Asia and the 9th largest in the world. The Thailand industry has an annual output of near 1.5 million vehicles, mostly commercial vehicles.

Most of the vehicles built in Thailand are developed and licensed by foreign producers, mainly Japanese and South Korean. The Thai car industry takes advantage of the ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA) to find a market for many of its products. Eight manufacturers, five Japanese, two US, and Tata of India, produce pick-up trucks in Thailand. Thailand is the second largest consumer of pick-up trucks in the world, after the US. In 2014, pick-ups accounted for 42% of all new vehicle sales in Thailand.


Gateway to Asia
Thailand enjoys a strategic location and serves as a gateway into the heart of Asia – home to what is today the largest growing economic market. The country also offers convenient trade with China, India and the countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and easy access into the Greater Mekong sub-region, where newly emerging markets offer great business potential.

Hub of ASEAN
Thailand was one of the founding members of ASEAN and has been instrumental in the formation and development of the ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA). AFTA entered into force on 1 January 2010 for the six original ASEAN (ASEAN-6) members (Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, and Brunei), thereby reducing import duties to zero; the so-called CLMV countries (Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam) will follow suit in 2015.

Thailand has forged close economic cooperation with other ASEAN member nations, and Thai manufactured products and services have access to their markets, which includes all 10 ASEAN countries. ASEAN is home to more than half a billion people, GDP in excess of US$1.5 trillion and total trade of well more than US$1 trillion per year.