Demography and other information
Comparative statement of the demography between France and Thailand
Population (in millions)
Density (inhabitants by sq mi km)
Natural Increase of population
Life expectation (in years)
Urbanization (in %)
Thailand counts 67.8 million inhabitants with a density of 123 Hab. / km2. It realized since 1976 its demographic transition. The fertility rate, in 1.87, does not allow the renewal of the population.
However, thanks to the years of strong growth before 1976, the population remains young: 24 % of Thais are less than 15 years old and only 9.4 % more than 60 years old. The life expectancy is 72.5 years.
Even if the country remains mainly rural (with a rate of urbanization being situated around 20 %), the drift from the land mainly towards Bangkok, becomes more pronounced with high rhythm.
Thai population is a homogeneous population. Approximately 75 % of Thais belong to Thai ethnic group, 14 % are from Sino-Thai minority (descendants of Chinese immigrants), and 4 % are of Malay ancestry. The others 7 % are established by the peoples of tribes’ mountain dwellers and of recent immigrants (Indians, Laotians, and Burmese).
The Sino-Thai play an important economic role. About 80 % of the major Thai groups are controlled by Chinese families’ origin and 19 of 20 the richest families in the country are Sino-Thai.
The cohesion of Thai population is based on three fundamental pillars: Theravada Buddhism, the monarchy and the membership in Thai nation.
A. The religion
The various constitutions since 1932 guarantee the freedom of religion, and Thai people show themselves naturally tolerant in matters of religion. However, Theravada Buddhism, in reference to the small vehicle (or education of the former), allows to unify the nation. The religion is practiced by 95 % of the population.
The Buddhism is in the heart of the social life of Thai people. Young men, often before entering to the active life, or before getting married, have to spend a period of at least three weeks, as monk. Thai people consider that only men who were called monks have the wisdom to start a family, and aspire to an influential social role.
The monks have to follow 227 rules, of which that not to touch a woman. So, when a woman crosses a monk in a public place, it is preferable that she keeps at a distance respectable of the monk.
For many Westerners, the Buddhism is seen more as philosophy than as religion, because there is not a main God. The doctrine of the Buddha (literally " awake") is an answer to the pain resulting from the impossibility to satisfy its desires.
The Buddhist philosophy is based on four principles, called “Four Noble Truths ", allowing a correct practice and a correctness of personal actions:
- The suffering ( Dukkha): the life is only suffering, imperfection and struggle.
- The cause of the suffering ( Samudaya): the suffering is caused by 3 main desires, which are the desire of sensual pleasures ( Kamathanha) forcing the human beings to create, the desire to possess objects ( Bhavatanha) forcing beings to be possessed and the desire for the disappearance of the unwanted objects ( Vibhavatanha) forcing beings to be destroyed.
-The end of the suffering ( Niroda): after death, the purified spirit enters a perfect and immortal state called Nirvana.
- The Way of Niroda: middle way between the self-satisfaction of the pleasures and the auto-humiliation.
Since the 19th century, the power has used the religion to build the Thai identity.. However, the Constitution of 2007, confirming that of the 1997, reaffirms the principle which the State is link no religious membership.
B. The Monarchy
Although it has only a limited constitutional power, king Rama IX keeps a real authority with his subjects. He gained their confidence by his wise attitude during various military blow which marked out the political life of the realm, by looking for permanently a peaceful solution during each of the crises. He is recognized to have facilitated the passage of the country towards democratic regimes.
He is also at the origin of major development programmes, such as irrigation, and finance work, by his personal investment, support programmes for the poor populations. He was rewarded, in 2007, by the UNO for his action against the hunger in Thailand.
A foreign visitor should be aware that King Rama IX is highly respected by Thais people. Under no circumstances, the king or members of the royal family, are they to criticize. Any criticism or any shape of disrespect is liable to penalty, by the law, as crime of lese-majesty, and liable to prison sentences.
Thai national identity has been built itself since the XIVth century, with the first Thai realm, Sukhothai. It built up itself on both pillars which are the religion and the monarchy, but also pride to resist to the invaders (Burmese and Khmers until XVIIIth century, and colonial power in the XIXth and XXth century).
Thai national identity has the remarkable nature to accept and to absorb the influences outsides. So, King Narai, who governed the Thailand from 1656 till 1688 appointed a Greek adventurer, Constantine Phaulkon, at the post of Prime Minister.
Thailand is a constitutional monarchy since 1932. The Constitution voted on August 24, 2007, further to the military blow of September, 2006, confirms the democracy in Thailand and sets up several surveillance systems: a Constitutional Council, administrative jurisdictions, a National Electoral Commission, a commission of human rights as well as a commission anti-corruption.
The King is the supreme authority, but the Thai constitution does not grant him real executive powers even if the King exercises the role of Head of State, armies and religious leader. However, he enjoys such a moral authority as his decisions and opinions are never questioned.
The legislative power is detained by the National Assembly ( Rathasapha), divided into two chambers:
- The House of Representatives is represented by 500 seats. The members of this chamber are appointed by popular vote every 4 years.
- The Senate has 200 seats. The senators are elected by the people for a 6 year-term. The Senate is the only one authorized to modify the constitution of the country.
On the legal plan, the Supreme Court consists of judges appointed by the King.
The executive power is placed under the authority of Prime Minister, currently Mr. Samak Sundaravej, since February, 2008.
Thailand has a stable administration in the development of the Economic Policy.
However, its complex organization tends to slow down the process of decision.
Thailand is divided into 76 provinces ( Jang-waat), themselves subdivided into districts ( Ampher), then into sub-districts ( Kangampher), and finally in municipalities (Tambun), which included several villages ( Moubaan).
Provinces (except for Bangkok metropolis) are headed by a governor appointed by the Minister of the Interior for a term of 4 years. The conglomeration of Bangkok has a particular status, because his governor is elected in the universal suffrage.
The political parties of Thailand are numerous and unstable. Out of more than 155 parties based since 1946, only a dozen parties still exist nowadays in Thailand among these 4 only have a real political weight: the democratic Party, the Party of the new aspiration, the party of the national development and the Party for the Power to the People ( PPP), to the currently power.