Country Focus Data: Thailand
April 01, 1997
by Mindy Dake
In Southeast Asia, Thailand's capital is Bangkok.
Demography: Population 60.3 million (July 1995 estimate), 1.24% growth rate, 18% urban; Thai, languages; Buddhism religions.
Geography: Tropical. Central plain, plateau in east, mountains elsewhere.
Government: Constitutional monarchy. Chief of state is King Phumiphon Adunyadet, head of government is Prime Minister Chawalit Yongchaiyut.
Official agricultural agencies: Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives.
Economy: Market-based, with a large manufacturing sector, including food industries such as seafood and beverages. Agriculture in 1994 accounted for 11% of gross domestic product, but employs 62% of the labor force.
Thailand's economic growth, which averaged 8% annually from 1984-1995 and has not been less than 5% for 20 years, is fueled by exports and an expanding service sector. But Thai banking officials recently estimated growth would slow to 6% to 7% in 1997.
Thailand relies on overseas loans to fund expansion, as domestic savings and foreign investment have not provided sufficient growth capital.
G.D.P. per capita: U.S.$5,970 (1994 estimate).
Currency: Baht. March 11, 1997 exchange rate: 25.92 baht per U.S. dollar.
Exports: U.S.$46 billion (f.o.b. 1994), manufactured goods, 83%; agricultural products, 16%.
Imports: U.S.$52.6 billion (c.i.f. 1994), capital goods, 44%; intermediate goods and raw materials 37%.
Major agricultural crops/products: Rice, maize, sugar, cassava.
Rice: Thailand's most important crop, production averages 13.7 million tonnes annually. Thailand also is the world's largest rice exporter, shipping an annual average of 5.2 million tonnes, or about 28% of global exports.
Maize: Once a regional maize exporter, Thailand now uses its 3- to 4-million-tonne annual production in domestic feed and is a net importer, taking up to 400,000 tonnes annually in recent years.
Transportation: Railroads, 3,940 km, all 1-m gauge; 77,697 km of highways, with 35,855 km paved; major ports are Bangkok, Laem Chabang, Pattani, Phuket.