(pronounced "TAK-sin shin-ah-WAH-trah")
"I need to punch things, otherwise nothing gets changed. You have to be strong. Sometimes I am too strong and that is my weak point. I never worry about my [reputation], but worry about the success of the government."
The Kingdom of Thailand is located in the heart of Southeast Asia's mainland. To its northwest is Myanmar (Burma); to the northeast, Laos; to the southeast, Cambodia; and to the south, Malaysia. The total area is 514,000 sq km (198,456 sq mi) and its total population was estimated at 62.4 million in July 2002. The population is comprised of approximately 75% Thai, 14% Chinese, and 11% various other ethnic groups. It is a nation abundant in natural resources, including fertile farmlands in the central part of the country surrounding the Chao Phraya River. The capital and largest city, Bangkok is the country's major commercial, financial, and administrative center.
Thailand is rapidly becoming a more urban nation. While farming employs the majority of Thais, the level of urbanization doubled from approximately 15% to 30% from the 1970s to the 1990s. The official language is Thai and many of the ethnic Chinese have adopted Thai surnames. The literacy rate is 93%. More than 95% of the people are Buddhists, Thailand's official religion. Buddhism and its temples play an important role in daily life.
During the early 1990s, the Thai economy grew by 7–9% annually. In 1997, that trend came to a halt, when the economy contracted by 0.4%. In 1998, the economic downturn worsened, with the economy shrinking another 10.2%. In 1999 and 2000, however, the economy turned around, growing about 4% a year. In 2001 the estimated per capita gross domestic product (GDP) was US $6,600. Thailand's primary exports are textiles, computer parts, electrical appliances, precious stones and jewelry, rubber, shrimp, rice, and auto parts. In the early twenty-first century, Thai leaders envisioned the development of a regional communication hub in Thailand, and further growth in the auto parts segment. The unit of currency is the baht.
Office of the Prime Minister