Thailand: A Modern Kingdom
Situated at the heart of the Southeast Asian mainland, Thailand is a hub of transportation and commerce. Extending 1,620 kilometres from north to south and 775 kilometres from east to west, it covers an area of 513,115 sq. km. It borders the Lao People's Democratic Republic on the north, the Union of Myanmar to the west, the Kingdom of Cambodia and the Gulf of Thailand to the East, and Malaysia to the south.
Capital: Bangkok, (5.71million people)
Major Cities: North: Chiang Mai; South: Songkhla; Central Plains: Ayutthaya and Chonburi; Northeast: Nakhon Ratchasima, Khon Kaen.
National Flag: Thailand's national flag comprises five horizontal bands of red, white, and blue. The central blue band of the Thai flag represents the Monarchy. It is hemmed by two white bands (religion) and two red bands (the nation).
Government: Constitutional Monarchy with a multi-party National Assembly and an independent Judiciary. The National Assembly or Parliament comprises two houses: the House of Representatives and the Senate. Citizens elect 480 members of political parties to the House of Representatives; the political parties form a majority government and select a Prime Minister. Voters also elect 76 out of 150 of senators – one per each province. The other 74 senators are selected from amongst the candidates nominated by organizations in academic, government, private, professional and other sectors.
Economy: GDP per capita (at PPP) $ 8,146
GDP composition by sector - agriculture 8.91%, industry 40.12%, services 50.97%
Exports $175.29 billion
Imports $175.06 billion
Foreign exchange reserves $ 113.4 billion (March 2009)
Climate: Warm and humid, a tropical country with monsoonal climate. High temperatures in March and April average of 28 degrees Celsius to 38 degrees Celsius. Humidity averages between 82.8 percent to 73 percent.
Seasons: Dry: March to May; Rainy: June to October; Cool: November to February.
Language: The national and official language is Thai. English is widely spoken and understood in major cities, particularly in Bangkok.
Business Hours: Government and business offices are open from 8:30 to 16:30 hours, Monday to Friday.
Electricity: 220 volts 50 cycles throughout the country.
Banks: The country's central bank is the Bank of Thailand. Major Thai commercial banks include the Bangkok Bank, Siam Commercial Bank, Krung Thai Bank, Kasikorn Bank, and Thai Military Bank. Banking hours are 08:30 - 15:30 hours, Monday to Friday. Several international banks also have offices in Thailand.
Currency: The Baht is the standard currency unit. 1 Baht = 100 satangs. Bank Notes: 20, 50, 100, 500, 1,000 baht. Coins: 1, 2, 5, and 10 baht.
Media: Bangkok offers over 20 Thai morning dailies. There are two major English-language dailies: the Bangkok Post and The Nation. There are numerous English-language magazines and local publications in Japanese, Chinese, and European languages. Many major international newspapers, magazines and books are also widely available.
There are six television stations: Channels 3, 5, 7, 9, 11 and TPBS broadcast local variety shows, newscasts and live coverage of special events. Cable and satellite TV are also available by subscription.
The more than 100 radio stations in Bangkok are state-owned but private companies are given air time for their programmes which are broadcast in Thai and in English.