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December 2013



Known as Siam until 1939, Thailand is the only Southeast Asian country never to have been taken over by a European power. A unified Thai kingdom was established in the mid-14th century. A bloodless revolution in 1932 led to a constitutional monarchy. The monarchy is hereditary; according to the 2007 constitution, the prime minister is elected from among members of the House of Representatives.

Thailand became a US treaty ally in 1954 after sending troops to Korea and later fighting alongside the United States in Vietnam. Since 2005, Thailand has experienced political turmoil including a military coup in 2006 that ousted then Prime Minister Thaksin Chinnawat, followed by large-scale street protests by competing political factions in 2008, 2009, and 2010. Throughout 2012 the Puea Thai-led government struggled with the opposition Democrat Party to fulfill some of its main election promises, including constitutional reform and political reconciliation.

Thailand borders the Andaman Sea and the Gulf of Thailand, southeast of Burma. Slightly larger than twice the size of Wyoming, Thailand has a coastline of over 3000km. Its climate is tropical with rainy, warm, cloudy weather in the southwest with monsoon season from mid-May to September; and dry, cool weather in the northeast with a monsoon season from November to mid-March. The southern isthmus is always hot and humid. The country is mountainous with a central plain and the Khorat Plateau in the east.

Thailand's natural resources include: tin, rubber, natural gas, tungsten, tantalum, timber, lead, fish, gypsum, lignite, and fluorite. The natural hazards facing the country include: land subsidence in the Bangkok area and droughts elsewhere.

CIA World Factbook, 11/2013

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