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Geography—note: controls only land route from Asia to Malaysia and Singapore

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

Coastline: 3,219 km

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

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

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

Population: 60,037,366 (July 1998 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 24% (male 7,440,863; female 7,169,837)
15-64 years: 70% (male 20,605,197; female 21,210,697)
65 years and over: 6% (male 1,596,267; female 2,014,505) (July 1998 est.)

Population growth rate: 0.97% (1998 est.)

Birth rate: 16.76 births/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Death rate: 7.11 deaths/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 30.82 deaths/1,000 live births (1998 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 69 years
male: 65.35 years
female: 72.83 years (1998 est.)

Total fertility rate: 1.84 children born/woman (1998 est.)

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

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

National capital: Bangkok

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

Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal

Political parties and leaders: Thai Nation Party (TNP or Chat Thai Party), BANHAN Sinlapa-acha; Democratic Party (DP or Prachathipat Party), CHUAN Likphai; New Aspiration Party (NAP or Khwamwang Mai), Gen. CHAWALIT Yongchaiyut; National Development Party (NDP or Chat Phattana), leader NA; Phalang Dharma Party (PDP or Phalang Tham), SUDARAT Keyuraphan; Social Action Party (SAP or Kitsangkhom Party), MONTRI Phongphanit; Thai Citizen's Party (TCP or Prachakon Thai), SAMAK Sunthonwet; Liberal Democratic Party (LDP or Seri Tham), PHINIT Charusombat; Solidarity Party (SP or Ekkaphap Party), UTHAI Phimchaichon; Mass Party (MP or Muanchon), Pol. Cpt. CHALOEM Yubamrung 

Economy—overview: In 1997/98, the Thai economy is in a deep recession as a result of the severe financial problems facing many Thai firms, particularly banks and finance companies. In the early 1990s, Thailand liberalized financial inflows; banks and other firms borrowed in dollars and did not hedge their positions because there was no perceived exchange rate risk. These funds financed a property boom that began to taper off in the mid-1990s. In addition, export growth - previously a key driver of the Thai economy—collapsed in 1996, resulting in growing doubts that the Bank of Thailand could maintain the baht's peg to the dollar. The Bank mounted an expensive defense of the exchange rate that nearly depleted foreign exchange reserves, then decided to float the exchange rate, triggering a sharp increase in foreign liabilities that cash-strapped Thai firms were already having trouble repaying. In August 1997, the government headed by Prime Minister CHAWALIT signed an agreement with the IMF for access to a $14 billion facility to supplement foreign exchange reserves and restore financial market stability. CHAWALIT resigned in November 1997, however, under pressure for lacking a coherent approach to managing the IMF program and the financial crisis. Democratic Party leader CHUAN Likphai formed a seven-party coalition government and closely adhered to the IMF program, tentatively reestablishing financial stability by February 1998. An economic turnaround requires rescheduling the large short-term foreign liabilities of Thai firms, restoring high rates of export growth to finance foreign liabilities, and extensively recapitalizing the banking system.

GDP—real growth rate: -0.4% (1997 est.)

GDP—composition by sector:
agriculture: 10%
industry: 28.7%
services: 61.3% (1997)

Agriculture—products: rice, cassava (tapioca), rubber, corn, sugarcane, coconuts, soybeans

total value: $51.6 billion (f.o.b., 1997)
commodities: manufactures 82%, agricultural products and fisheries 14% (1997)
partners: US 19.6%, Japan 14.9%, Singapore 11%, Hong Kong 5.7%, Malaysia 4.3%, UK 3.7% (1997)

total value: $73.5 billion (c.i.f., 1996)
commodities: capital goods 50%, consumer goods 10.2%, fuels 8.7% (1997)
partners: Japan 25.6%, US 13.9%, Singapore 5%, Taiwan 4.6%, Germany 4.5%, Malaysia 4.1% (1997)

Debt—external: $90 billion (1997)

Currency: 1 baht (B) = 100 satang 

Military manpower—availability:
males age 15-49: 17,296,871 (1998 est.)

Military manpower—fit for military service:
males: 10,435,956 (1998 est.)

Military expenditures—dollar figure: $4 billion (FY95/96)

Military expenditures—percent of GDP: 2.5% (FY94/95)

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