Location: Thailand lies on the Gulf of Thailand; it has borders with Burma, Laos, Kampuchea and Malaysia
Area: 514,000 sq km
National composition: Thais form the majority; there are sizeable Chinese and Lao minorities, and smaller groups of Burmans, Karen, Shan, Khmer, Vietnamese, Malays, Indians and others
Religions: Buddhism, Islam
Official language: Thai
Currency: Baht = 100 satang
Administrative Divisions: provinces
Other major cities: Chiangmai
Highest elevation: Doi Intanon
Chief rivers: Chao Phraya (Mae Nam), Mekong (forms much of the border with Laos)
Climate: Wet tropical; arid in the north-east
Northern and western Thailand are mountainous, while the centre contains fertile alluvial plains. Another arid plain is in the east. Forests cover about 60 percent of Thailand. They contain such valuable trees as teak. The wildlife includes elephants, the traditional symbol of the country, and monkeys.
Agriculture dominates the economy. It employed 76 percent of the work-force in 1980, as compared with 9 percent in industry. The chief food crop is rice, but maize and sugar cane are also widely cultivated, as are cotton, jute, rubber trees and tobacco. Pigs and cattle are the most important farms animals. Fishing is a major occupation in coastal areas.
Thailand has considerable mineral resources. It is the world’s fourth largest producer of tin, and it also has deposits of fluoride, iron ore, lead molybdenum, tungsten and zinc. The most important branch of industry is mining, but other industries, such as iron and steel production, food and tobacco processing and textile manufacturing, are being developed. Industry is not as yet a major employer, but it contributes 28 percent of the gross domestic product, as compared with 22 percent from agriculture.