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October 2011

Thailand

Thailand

Thailand, located in southeastern Asia, bordering the Andaman Sea and the Gulf of Thailand, southeast of Burma, is slightly smaller than the state of Texas. The capital city of Bangkok has an estimated population of 9,668,854; other major cities of Thailand are: Nakhon Ratchasima and Chiang Mai. It controls the only land route from Asia to Malaysia and Singapore.

Thailand has a densely populated central plain, a northeastern plateau, a mountain range in the west and the southern isthmus joins the land mass with Malaysia. Its climate is tropical; rainy, warm, cloudy southwest monsoon (mid-May to September); dry, cool northeast monsoon (November to mid-March); southern isthmus always hot and humid.

Thailand has always been a multi-ethnic, multi-confessional society. More than 85% speak a variant of Thai and share a common culture, though there is a strong sense of regional identity and pride in many areas of Thailand. Roughly one-third of the population is in central Thailand, including Bangkok; one-third in the northeast, with significant Lao and Khmer heritage. Ethnic Malay Muslims comprise a majority in the three southernmost provinces.

The natural resources of Thailand are: tin, rubber, natural gas, tungsten, tantalum, timber, lead, fish, gypsum, lignite, and fluorite. Natural hazards facing Thailand include: land subsidence in Bangkok area resulting from the depletion of the water table and droughts. Tourism contributes significantly to the Thai economy (approximately 6%). The heavy floods during October and November 2010 and the strong Thai baht (Thailand's currency) had minimal impacts on the industry.

CIA World Factbook; U.S. State Department Background Notes, 9/2011; 1/2011