This article provides an overview of Thailand for those keen on exploring the possibility of living and working there. The information presented is gathered from open sources and is not exhaustive or meant to supplement or substitute legal and professional advice.
- Official name: Kingdom of Thailand
- Capital: Bangkok
- Geography: 77 provinces and two special local territories – Bangkok and Pattaya
- Land area (2018): 513,120 sq km
- Population (2017): 66.19 million
- Head of government: Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha
- National language: Thai
- Currency: Thai Baht (THB)
- Gross domestic product (GDP) (2017): 15,450.1 billion baht
- GDP per capita (2017): 228,373 baht
Thailand is situated in the heart of Southeast Asia, bordered by the Laos and Cambodia in the east; the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia in the south; the Andaman Sea and Myanmar in the west; and Laos and Myanmar in the north. It is spread over 513,120 sq km.
Data source: National Statistical Office, 2018.
The total population of Thailand was almost 66.19 million in 2017. Around 49.05 percent (32.46 million persons) were male and 50.95 percent (33.72 million persons) female. The sex ratio is 96.3 males per 100 females. Most of the population lived in the northeastern region (33.22 percent), followed by the northern region (18.28 percent), Bangkok (16.37 percent), the southern region (14.2 percent) and the eastern region (7.56 percent). Around 17.08 percent of the population were children within the ages 0 to 14 years; 65.11 percent were of working age (15–59 years); and 15.45 percent were the elderly, aged 60 years and above. Majority of the population are Buddhists, followed by Muslims and Christians.
Thailand has a mixed economy with the major economic sectors being agriculture, industry, tourism, service and natural resource. Its economy has rebounded from the numerous incidents of political unrest. Its GDP in 2017 was 15,450.1 billion baht. Its economic growth sectors include tourism, automotive and food manufacturing, which are supported by its well-developed transportation system, infrastructure and communications systems.
A leading exporter of rubber, Thailand also exports crops such as rice, vegetables and fruits. It is also famous for its livestock exports, as well as exports of freshwater fish and marine fishery. Its industrial exports include agro-industry, textile, electric appliance and automobiles. Important natural resources like limestone, gypsum, glass, sand, marble, tin and natural gas also contribute to the economy.
Singapore and Thailand share a bilateral network known as the Singapore-Thailand Enhanced Economic Relationship. This is a platform for government agencies and private sectors to promote closer economic cooperation and deepen the level of contact and consultative process between the two countries.
Thailand’s key business sectors include infrastructure development; consumer goods and services; and manufacturing. The government approved a 3.3 trillion baht (US$101 billion) Infrastructure Development Plan (2015–2022) that aims to improve Thailand’s transport links (railways, roads, water transportation, aviation and mass transit projects), both within Thailand and with its neighbours.
Thailand is the second-largest consumption market in Southeast Asia. Its people spend around half of their average household income on food and beverage, and retail consumption. Spending is also high for leisure activities and luxuries.
The Thai automotive industry is a key node in the world’s auto production supply chain, with around half of the world’s top 100 auto parts manufacturers and multinational auto companies – including GM, Isuzu, Mercedes-Benz and Toyota – having operations there. Thailand is also a food production hub with stringent food manufacturing standards and halal food accreditation.
Thailand is home to Buddhist temples, exotic wildlife and spectacular islands. It is also known for its fascinating history, unique culture and delectable local food. The tourism industry contributes an estimated nine to 10 percent to the national GDP, though this is less than contributions from the service and manufacturing industries. The tourism sector not only depends on foreign visitors but also domestic tourists whose number dwarfs that of foreign tourists. In 2017, Thailand had 35,381,210 visitors – a large proportion of whom were on holiday, followed by visits for meetings, incentives, exhibitions, conventions and other purposes.