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Introduction

Official Name: Kingdom of Thailand
Capital: Bangkok
Official Language: Thai
Currency: Baht (THB)
Head of State: His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej
Head of Government: Prime Minister H.E. Prayut Chan-O-Cha
Foreign Minister: H.E. Don Pramudwinai
Government Website: //thailand.prd.go.th
Date of joining: 31 March 1999

 

General

Located in a fertile, tropical landscape in the heart of Southeast Asia, Thailand is a mosaic of diversity and culture. A nation of over 60 million, the Thai sense of identity is allied with Buddhism and the Monarchy. It is a country proud of its independence, rich heritage and
tradition, but it has also adapted and embraced the rapid change brought about
by globalization.

Despite intermittent political challenges, Thai society has remained stable thanks to the enduring presence and pacifying role of the Monarchy and the country's firm commitment to democratization. Today, Thailand is firmly committed to participatory, multi-party democracy. Thai people from all walks of life, at all levels, are increasingly taking part in public activities and enjoying the rights and freedom that come with democracy. Their
voices are duly being heard and their interest equally recognized. Modern Thailand is building a democracy that is based on good governance, the rule of law, human rights, transparency, and accountability, and one that would lead to sustainable development.

Thailand has a dynamic economy - one that is open, market-based, private-sector led and integrated into the global economy. More than just a top tourist destination, Thailand's strategic location, literally on the crossroads between South and East Asia, is a gateway to a growing market of nearly 600 million people. Combined with its solid infrastructure, global connectivity, world-class transport, quality human resources, and business-friendly environment, Thailand is attracting an increasing number of investors. While Thailand has embraced modernization and industrialization as it now moves on the path of creative economy, agriculture remains an important sector in the Kingdom's economy.

Thailand has long embraced an "outward-looking" foreign policy. It seeks to promote friendly relations with other countries and participates fully and actively in international and regional organizations. Thailand is a founding member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and continues to contribute to ASEAN on its path towards becoming an ASEAN Community by 2015. Thailand also plays an active role in the global community of nations especially at the United Nations where it has supported international efforts to promote economic and social development, peace and stability, as well as human rights and human security. Thailand is also a leader in creating linkages between regional organizations in Asia with regional organizations elsewhere.

An open, vibrant and diverse society, endowed with rich cultural heritage and unspoiled natural beauty, Thailand is a Land of Smiles and a Land of Opportunities waiting to be
explored. The pages that follow are meant to offer you glimpses of Thailand in its various facets. Come experience Thailand Today!

Thai Monarchy

The institution of the monarchy in Thailand is in many ways unique. Not only does it have a history going back more than seven hundred years, but it has also managed to preserve its relevance in the contemporary world. A constitutional monarchy since the promulgation of the Kingdom's first constitution in 1932, the institution today continues to command deep,
universal respect and serves as a guiding light and unifying force  or the country, a focal point that brings together people from all backgrounds and shades of political thought and gives them an intense awareness of being Thai.

The love and reverence the Thai people have for their King stem in large part from the moral authority His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej has earned during his reign, one that involves a remarkable degree of personal contact with the people. At the same time, it is rooted in attitudes that can be traced to the earliest days of Thailand as a nation state and in some of the past monarchs who continue to serve as models of kingship.

Thai concepts of monarchy have their origins in Sukhothai, founded in the early part of the 13th century and generally regarded as the first truly independent Thai kingdom. Here, particularly under the reign of King Ramkhamhaeng the Great (1275-1317), was born the ideal of a paternalistic ruler alert to the needs of his people and aware of the fact that
his duty was to guide them. Such forms part of Dasavidha-rājadhamma, or the ten precepts of kingship, which - rooted in the tradition of Theravada Buddhism - encompasses such virtues as willingness to give and sacrifice for a greater good, morality, honesty, open-mindedness, diligence, compassion, perseverance and righteousness.

With the founding of the Chakri dynasty in 1782 and the establishment of Bangkok as the capital, kingship was based primarily on adherence to the said Buddhist concepts of virtue, which indeed has served to the present day as a code of conduct of a Thai monarch and made the monarchical institution one that is responsive to the need of the people. The Bangkok period has produced a succession of able kings, capable of meeting a variety of
challenges to the country, to the people as well as to the monarchy itself.

Today, Thailand is a constitutional monarchy with a democratic form of government. The Thai monarch reigns, but does not rule. He discharges his roles in accordance with the country's constitution and remains above partisan politics, while continuing to contribute to the development and well-being of the Kingdom and its people.

Modern Thai Monarchy

Ascending to the throne in 1946, His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the ninth king of the Chakri Dynasty, is the world's longest reigning monarch. In his Oath of Accession, the King pledged to "reign with righteousness for the benefit and happiness of the Siamese people." With these words, the King devoted his life and resources to aiding the development of the Kingdom and the improvement of the Thai people's livelihood.

As a working monarch, His Majesty has visited every province in the Kingdom, defying discomfort and inconvenience when travelling to outlying areas to do field reconnaissance and appraise local conditions by himself. Often assisted by members of the Royal Family, the King takes copious notes on these trips, whereupon he initiates action to provide assistance, working through the appropriate government agencies or sometimes using his own funds. More than 4,000 royal-initiated projects have since been launched, covering
a broad range of areas, including agriculture, water resources, conservation of the environment and its natural resources, occupational promotion, public health, public welfare, and communication. While all of these are mainly aimed at raising the standard of living, particularly among farmers in rural areas, His Majesty has also concerned himself with helping alleviate the problems facing city dwellers, which include floods and traffic congestion.

In recognition of his lifelong work, His Majesty has been honoured with numerous prestigious international awards. In 2006, the King was awarded the UNDP Human Development Lifetime Achievement Award, in recognition of Lifetime Achievement in Human Development, by the United Nations Secretary-General. More recently in 2009, he was awarded the first World Intellectual Property Organization's (WIPO) Global Leaders Award, in recognition of his contribution to intellectual property both as an inventor
and as an active proponent of intellectual property as a tool for development.

The dedication to public service exemplified by His Majesty the King is also found in the other members of the Royal Family. Her Majesty Queen Sirikit's interest in the welfare of rural people closely parallels that of the King. An area in which she has taken a particular
interest is that of finding sources of supplementary income for farmers in the off-season, or when crops are destroyed by droughts or floods. Her Majesty is also at the forefront in promoting traditional Thai arts and culture.

Others in the Royal Family have also been working actively for the benefit of the country -
sometimes participating in projects initiated by the King and sometimes initiating their own or serving as patrons of foundations. Their work encompasses issues relevant to people's life - ranging from health, nutrition, education, family and prevention of narcotic abuse, to women's right and the rights of children with special needs, as well as the promotion of scientific research and development. In doing so, all have contributed significantly to the creation of Thailand's modern monarchy.

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History

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Geography

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Government & Politics

After the Pheu Thai Party won 265 seats in the general elections held on 3 July 2011, Ms.
Yingluck Shinawatra, Pheu Thai's number one party-list MP, announced that her party would form a six-party coalition comprising a total of 300 seats in the 500-seat House of Representatives.  On 5 August 2011, the House of Representatives endorsed Ms. Yingluck as Thailand's 28th Prime Minister.

On 8 August 2011, Prime Minister Yingluck gave her first address to the nation following her formal appointment as Prime Minister by a Royal Command.  She said it was her greatest honour to serve the monarch, the country and the people and pledged to use her knowledge, competence and intellect to work hard and perform her duties honestly in order to bring peace and happiness to Thailand.  She also said that reconciliation is a common goal of the nation, and vowed that she would not work for any particular group but for all
Thais.

The new cabinet appointed by Prime Minister Yingluck was sworn in and assumed its duties on 10 August 2011.  On 23 August 2011, Prime Minister Yingluck delivered her Government's policy statement to the joint sitting of the National Assembly. In her opening address, the Prime Minister emphasized the Government's determination to foster harmony and pursue reconciliation for the sake of the country's political, economic, and social development.

Policies announced cover the entire spectrum of government administration, ranging from national security, economic, social, natural resources, environment to science, foreign affairs and good governance. The three main objectives of the Government's policies are:

o First, to bring about a strong and balanced economic structure for the country, as an important basis for sustainable growth. Development in the quality and health of Thai people is also a determining factor for the competitiveness of the Thai economy;

o Second, to bring about a Thai society that is reconciled, based on the rule of law which meets the international standard, whereby all Thais are treated equally; and

o Third, to prepare Thailand for the arrival of the ASEAN Community in 2015, by strengthening the country in the economic, social, cultural, political and security aspects.

Prime Minister Yingluck also set out the Government's urgent policies to be implemented in the first year, as follows:

o Foster reconciliation and harmony among people in the nation and restore democracy by upholding the democratic system with the King as Head of State, providing remedies to and rehabilitating persons from all sides whom have been affected by different ideologies and the violence which took place in the latter period of the use of the Constitution of the Kingdom of Thailand, B.E. 2540 (1997) and ensuring that the Truth for Reconciliation Commission of Thailand (TRCT) acts independently and receives full cooperation from all sides in carrying out verification and fact finding.

o Prevention of and define solutions to drug problems as a "national agenda" by adhering to the rule of law and strictly enforcing laws; seek proactive cooperation with foreign countries in controlling and seizing narcotic drugs; and, prevent vulnerable groups and the general public from getting involved with narcotic drugs.

o Prevent and fight against corruption in the public sector by adhering to transparency and good governance; broaden the enforcement of legislation regarding prohibition of conflicts of interest; rigorously enforce law to deal with corruption; and strengthen morals, ethics and good governance of state personnel.

 o Promote integrated water management and promptly expand irrigation areas by expediting effective water management at the national level to prevent floods and droughts; and support the agricultural sector by expanding irrigation systems.

o Expeditiously return peace and security to people's life and property in the Southern Border Provinces by adopting His Majesty the King's guidance to "understand, reach out, develop"; ensure justice and fairness; create opportunities and equality; develop the economy and society; respect identities, local customs and traditions; promote decentralization of local governance in line with constitutional local practices.

o Expeditiously restore relations and develop cooperation with neighboring countries and other foreign countries so as to boost economic growth in the region, in particular expeditiously address border issues via diplomatic procedures based on relevant treaties and laws, pursue the obligation to integrate into an ASEAN Community in 2015, as well as link intra-regional and inter-regional transportation.

o Alleviate difficulties of people and entrepreneurs as a result of inflationary pressure and high oil prices by lowering fuel prices, ensuring that price levels are suitable and fair, and solving the problem of direct and indirect monopoly.

o Raising people's standard of living by enhancing domestic purchasing power and creating balance and strength with quality in the macroeconomic system through debt relief, wage hikes, monthly allowances for senior citizens and tax measures.

o Reduce Corporate Income Tax to 23% in 2012 and to 20% in 2013 so as to generate competitiveness of the private sector, to broaden the tax base and to support entry to the ASEAN Community in 2015.

o Improve people's access to sources of funding; provide support for micro-credit provision, especially credit for low-income earners. 

o Raise the price of agricultural products and enable farmers to gain access to sources of investment by ensuring that prices of agricultural products remain reasonably stable, reflecting global market price mechanisms. Support farmers to sell their products at reasonably high prices compared to their costs. Implement a crop insurance scheme in order to provide income security for farmers.

o Expeditiously increase income generation from domestic and in-bound tourism by proclaiming 2011-2012 as the "Miracle Thailand" Year. 

o Support development of folk arts and crafts in order to promote and create local identity and local products by raising the quality of products and services of communities and helping them to gain access to funding and markets at home and abroad.

o Further develop the health insurance system - Increase the efficiency of the 30 Baht universal healthcare system; find cures for diseases; ensure that all citizens receive access to quality, convenient, timely and equitable healthcare; promote the widespread use of modern and cost effective technologies; establish measures that will reduce health-risk factors and malnourishment that may lead to protracted illnesses.

o Procure tablet PCs for schools by initially distributing tablet PCs to first-year primary school students for the 2012 academic year, as well as expeditiously develop appropriate content in accordance with the approved curriculum.  Provide wireless internet services free-of-charge in public areas and educational institutions.

o Expedite political reforms with broad based public participation by the appointment of an independent constitution drafting committee to draft a new constitution to ensure that the exercise of political power is based on the rule of law; the exercise of governmental authority is accountable to the people and are open to scrutiny. The new draft constitution will be approved by referendum.

The Government's policies have been set in the National Action Plan for the years 2012 - 2015.  After its entry into force, the various ministries and agencies will formulate their respective plans of action in accordance with the National Action Plan to ensure effective implementation of the Government's policies.  It is estimated that 11.3 trillion Baht will be needed to fund the Government's policies over the next four years. The budget for the fiscal year 2012 is expected to be passed by the National Assembly in early 2012.

Thai Government and Politics - A Maturing Democracy

Thailand is a parliamentary democracy with a constitutional monarchy. After the country went through a peaceful transformation in 1932, sovereign power came to belong to the Thai people, with the King as the Head of State who is above partisan politics and discharges his role in accordance with the country's Constitution. The administration of the
country is carried out by the prime minister - elected through an open vote by members of the House of Representatives - and the cabinet that the prime minister forms. The kingdom has a bi-cameral legislature and an independent judiciary.

Despite periods of political turbulence, Thailand's political history reflects the country's unwavering commitment towards becoming a full-fledged, multi-party democracy, with accountability, transparency, good governance, as well as respect for human rights and the rule of law being among the main guiding principles. The Thai people and civil society organisations are increasingly taking part in political activities, enjoying the rights and
freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution.

With the resiliency and fundamental strengths of the Thai society, the country has been able to continue its stride along the path of development, guided by the traditional Thai traits of tolerance, common sense and preference for peaceful solutions to problems.

Over the past decades, there has been a remarkable continuity in policy direction, providing
a predictable framework for investors and businessmen. Successive Thai governments have always been committed to certain fundamental policy principles: friendly relations with all its neighbours and a responsible and constructive foreign policy, an open-market economy, hospitality toward foreign investors and tourists, sound macro-economic policies with fiscal and monetary prudence and the improvement of the country's infrastructure to increase
competitiveness and achieve sustainable development. These policies are underpinned, among others, by the vibrant private sector and the strength and continuity of the civil service of the nation, which oversees the implementation of policies and execution of laws throughout the country.

Government Policy Statement

 Opening Statement

  1.  Urgent Policies to be mplemented in the First Year 

 2.  Policy on National Security

 3.  Economic Policy

 4.  Social and Quality of Life Policy

 5.  Policy on Land, Natural Resources and the Environment

 6.  Policy on Science, Technology, Research and Innovation

 7.  Foreign Affairs and International Economic Policy

 8.  Policy on Good Governance

People

A Society Living in Harmony amidst Diversity

A nation with a long and rich history, Thailand has preserved its unique identity and traditions over the centuries, while also welcoming diverse cultures reaching its shores as the Kingdom increased its contacts with the outside world. Thai people are well-known for their friendliness, generosity and tolerance, regardless of gender, race and faith.

Thailand has a population of around 65 million, consisting of around 80 per cent Thais, 10 per cent Chinese and 3 per cent Malays. The rest are minorities, including the Mons, Khmers and various hill tribes people. There are five major religions currently observed. Around 94 per cent of Thais are Buddhists of the Theravada tradition. Muslims are the second largest religious group in Thailand at around 5 per cent. Christians, mainly
Catholics, represent 0.7 per cent of the population. There is also a small but influential community of Sikhs in Thailand and some Hindus living in the country's cities who are mostly engaged in retail commerce, in addition to a small Jewish community dating back to the 17th century. All these groups live in harmony and enjoy freedom to practice their respective beliefs, as guaranteed by the country's constitution. His Majesty the King, while a Buddhist, is a patron of all religions.

Underpinned by eight centuries of chronicled history that is rich in tradition going back beyond that, Thai cultural heritage is a blend of customs, from the Siamese royal court and historical tributary principalities to distinctive regional folklore. Thai culture has also been
influenced by religious tenets, largely inspired by Theravada Buddhism, but also incorporating a great deal of Indian, Chinese, Khmer and other traditions from the rest of Southeast Asia and beyond.

Culture, arts and religions have been upheld on the basis of freedom and integration. This
has allowed the country to remain open to the outside world, ready to adopt innovations that benefit society. Culture is recognised as an important element of the Kingdom's social fabric and its dynamic economy, enabling all citizens to uphold their virtues, to live together peacefully and to continually adapt to change.

Economy

A Vibrant and Growing Economy

Thailand is Southeast Asia's second largest economy with a gross domestic product (GDP) of around USD 300 billion. With a free-market economy, the Kingdom has a strong domestic market and a growing middle class, with the private sector being the main engine of growth. The Thai economy is well integrated into the global marketplace, with exports accounting for over 70 per cent of the Kingdom's GDP. Thailand also has a strong industrial sector (40 per cent of GDP) and a robust and growing services sector (50 per cent of GDP)
centred on the tourism and financial services industries. Though traditionally an agrarian society and historically one of the world's few net food exporters, the agricultural sector today accounts for approximately 9 per cent of the country's GDP.

Given the importance of exports to Thailand, it has been a leader in the region in terms of trade liberalisation and facilitation with the rest of the world, starting with its Asian neighbours. Thailand is a key player in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), enjoying a strategic location that provides easy access to a larger market of nearly 600
million people, which is expected to gain even more strength when the ASEAN vision of One Community materialises in 2015, making it a community of connectivity, a single market and production base. Furthermore, Thailand's convenient access to China and India, as well as to other East Asian countries such as Japan and the Republic of Korea, takes this huge consumer market to even bigger proportions.

In addition, Thailand's friendly relations and expanding networks of free trade agreements with other countries have further opened up trade access to markets both within and outside the region. These, coupled with the Kingdom's strategic positioning, have made the country a regional centre for international travel and trade, as well as a hub for various industries, of which the most notable are the automotive industry and agro-industries.

With a favourable investment climate, an entrepreneurial spirit and an open society, Thailand has been chosen by many businesses, media firms, as well as international organisations and non-governmental organisations as the base for their regional offices.

Thailand has long been known for its open, free, and business-friendly market economy and sound macro-economic policies with fiscal and monetary prudence. To enhance the
country's competitiveness, the country has been streamlining its laws and regulations, improving its infrastructure, enlarging the pool of quality workforce and promoting research and development to promote a creative economy. Thailand therefore remains a favourite investment destination of choice for foreign investors looking for business opportunities both within Thailand and throughout Asia, attracting on average around USD 10 billion in net foreign direct investment every year.

Transportation & Communication

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Social Indicators

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International Relations

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News & Media

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Links

Discover

The Land of Hospitality

Thailand has long been a favourite tourist destination among international travellers. The country has much to offer everyone-from white, sandy beaches and scenic mountains to centuries-old temples and a rich heritage. It is known for its religious and cultural harmony, and thus as a land that enthusiastically celebrates festivals of all cultures and welcomes
foreign guests with warm smiles and effusive hospitality. Thai food is also a visual and culinary delight for foreign visitors and the possibilities for shopping unlimited from modern shopping malls to walking streets and night markets.

Tourist attractions can be found in all parts of the country. In the north, the landscape is marked by mountains and forests with indigenous hill tribes and temples of distinct northern architecture, while the south offers visitors breath-taking sceneries with white, sandy beaches and hundreds of islands surrounded by turquoise seas. To the east and northeast, there are many mysterious ruins and archaeological sites waiting to be explored, while in the central region, the splendour of the grand palace and other historical sites provide a glimpse into the Kingdom's rich history and its interaction with the outside world over the centuries.

Owing to the abundance and variety of natural resources, Thailand is a favoured destination for adventure seekers and eco-tourists. There are more than 100 national parks, including over 20 marine parks, and more than 1,000 different mammal species, numerous birds - both native and migratory - and spectacular marine life. Activities like mountain biking,
white-water rafting, trekking and camping, bird watching, scuba diving and rock climbing are available in almost every region of Thailand.

Thailand is also well-known among foreigners for its rich cultural heritage and warm hospitality. A lot of fun and colourful festivals, such as the Thai New Year or Songkran, the water festival, and Loy Kratong, the festival of lights where candle-lit floral floats are released down the rivers, always draw visitors' attention. In addition, the country offers a great variety of arts and crafts, from local wooden handicrafts and exquisite Thai silk to distinctively delicate jewel-studded nielloware that tell many stories about the Kingdom's rich heritage.

The Kingdom's cultural diversity and renowned hospitality, together with its world-class
accommodation and convention facilities, have contributed much to the continued success of the Thai tourism industry. Around 15 million foreigners now travel to the country annually. Over the years, the Kingdom and its cities have topped numerous travellers' polls as being among the world's most popular tourist destinations, including those conducted by prestigious traveller magazines such as Condé Nast and Travel & Leisure, with the latter recently ranking Bangkok and Chiang Mai as the first and second top cities in the world in its "2010 World's Best Awards" survey. The Kingdom has also been voted many times
as the most popular destination among visitors from Scandinavian countries. Located in the centre of mainland Southeast Asia, Thailand also serves as a regional hub, with many travellers using it as their base in continuing their journey to other neighbouring countries in the region and beyond. For these and other reasons, Thailand will continue to attract travellers from all over the world in the years to come.

At a glance

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Public Holidays

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Capital City

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Major Tourist Attractions

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Planning Your Visit

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Accommodation

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Airline and Local Transport

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Trade Agreements within IORA

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Chamber of Commerce

Links:

www.boi.go.th
www.thaichamber.org
www.fti.or.th
www.nesdb.go.th 

Customs

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Trade Legislations

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Business Incentives in Thailand

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IORA Member States Students in

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List of Public/Private Universities for Foreign Students

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