Kingdom of Thailand

Capital: Bangkok

  • Population 69.9 million
  • Area 513,115 sq km (198,115 sq miles)
  • Major language Thai
  • Major religion Buddhism
  • Life expectancy Life expectancy: 71 years (men), 78 years (women)
  • Currency baht


Head of state: King Bhumibol Adulyadej

Thailand's King Bhumibol AdulyadejImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionThe revered king has had frequent bouts of ill health in recent years

Thailand is a constitutional monarchy.

Its king, Bhumibol Adulyadej, assumed the throne in June 1946 and is the world’s longest-reigning monarch.

Prime minister: Prayuth Chan-ocha

Thailand's Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ochaImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES

General Prayuth Chan-ocha seized power in a coup in May 2014 and was named as prime minister by the military-appointed parliament a few months later.

Thailand’s military has a history of intervening in politics and has seized power 12 times since the end of the absolute monarchy in 1932.


Giant TV screen in Thai restaurantImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES

The government and military control nearly all the national terrestrial television networks and operate many of Thailand’s radio networks.

The media are free to criticise government policies, and cover instances of corruption and human rights abuses, but journalists tend to exercise self-censorship regarding the military, the monarchy, the judiciary and other sensitive issues.


Some key dates in Thailand’s history:

1932 – Absolute monarchy gives way to constitutional monarchy with parliamentary government.

1947 – First post-WWII military coup. The military retains power continuously until 1973.

2001 – Thaksin Shinawatra becomes prime minister for first time.

2006 – Military leaders stage a bloodless coup while Thaksin Shinawatra is at the UN General Assembly.

2011 – Pro-Thaksin Pheu Thai party wins a landslide victory in elections. Thaksin’s sister Yingluck becomes prime minister.

2014 – Army again seizes power.

Floating market in ThailandImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionThailand is known for its flavourful cuisine

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