Economic growth reached 7.5% in 2010, with some slow down through 2011, the figure during 2012 is expected to reach 4.5%. The country has proved remarkably resilient to the challenges of recession, mainly due to the strong financial position of both the public and private sectors. As a result, manufacturers were able to respond quickly to increased export demand, when world economies began their slow recovery over the last two years. Thailand is located at the centre of the Indochina Peninsula and is bordered to the north by Myanmar and Lao PDR, to the east by Lao PDR and Cambodia, to the south by the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia and to the west by the Andaman Sea and Myanmar.
Thailand is home to several distinct geographic regions. The north of the country is mountainous, with the highest point being Doi Inthanon at 2,565 metres above sea level, the northeast consists of the Khorat Plateau and the east by the Mekong River. Southern Thailand has the Kra Isthmus, a narrow land bridge, which connects the Malay Peninsula with the mainland of Asia.
The centre is dominated by the Chao Phraya River valley, which runs into the Gulf of Thailand. The Gulf of Thailand is also an industrial centre, with the main port in Sattahip being the entry gates for Bangkok’s Inland Seaport. Thailand is the Greater Mekong Sub-region’s most visited international destination. Other top destinations include Bangkok, Chiang Mai and the beach resorts of Pattaya and Phuket. The Andaman Sea hosts the most popular and luxurious resorts in Asia. Phuket, Krabi, Ranong, Phang Nga and Trang and their lush islands all lay along the coast of the Andaman.
The Chao Phraya River and Mekong River are the sustainable resources of rural Thailand. Industrial scale production of crops use both rivers and their tributaries. The Gulf of Thailand covers 320,000 square kilometres and is fed by the Chao Phraya, Mae Klon, Bang Pakong and Tapi Rivers. Thailand is a stronghold of Buddhism. Many of the rules of etiquette are by-products of the Buddhist religion. Great emphasis is placed on outward forms of courtesy and politeness. The family is the cornerstone of Thai culture. Thailand has a strong hierarchical social structure. Thailand is a founder member of ASEAN.
Joined ASEAN: 8 August 1967 (Founder Member)
Head of State: His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej
Area: 513,120 square kilometres
Border countries: Myanmar, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Malaysia
Coastline: 3,219 kilometres
Capital city: Bangkok
Total population: 67,091,089
Population of capital: 6,902,000
Climate: Tropical, rainy, warm, cloudy southwest monsoon from May to September. Dry, cool northeast monsoon, November to March
Languages: Thai, English, ethnic and regional dialects
Religions: Buddhist 94.6%, Muslim 4.6%, Christian 0.7%, other 0.1%