Thailand Research Paper – Current Issues (300 Level Course)

Thailand Research Paper – Current Issues (300 Level Course)
Kingdom of Thailand
Ruler: King Bhumibol Adulyadej
Prime Minister: Thaksin Shinawatra
Capital and Largest City: Bangkok
Monetary Unit: baht
Government: Constitutional Monarchy
Area: 198, 455 square miles
Boundaries: Burma 1,800 km, Cambodia 803 km, Laos 1,754 km, Malay 506 km
Climate: tropical, rainy, warm, cloudy, monsoons
Terrain: central plains, Khorat Plateau in the east, mountains

Population: 65, 444,371
Ethnicity/Race: Thai 75 %, Chinese 14 %, other 11%
Languages: Thai (Siamese), English (secondary language of the elite), ethnic and regional dialects
Religions: Buddhist 95%, Islam 3.8%, Christian 0.5%, Hindu 0.1%, other 0.6%


Thailand has a very high literacy rate of 96% for men and women. The ratio of male to female enrollment in primary school between the years 1998-2000 is 100 to 96; and the male to female ratio for enrollment into secondary school is 85 to 81. Thailand has 26 privately operated universities and colleges. There are presently 42 universities and 36 teacher colleges. These universities offer a wide variety of courses at the Bachelors degree level in fields such as Arts, Business Administration, Education, medicine and many more (“2004 Indian Ocean Earthquake”). Thailand’s population is literate and educated as seen in the table below:
Attendance of Males Females
Adult literacy 97% 94%
Secondary School 85% 81%
Primary School 87% 85%

Thailand has 5.6 million telephones, 3.1 million cellular phones, 13.96 million radios, 15.19 million televisions, 1.2 internet users. There are 5 broadcast stations in Bangkok and 131 repeaters; as well as 204 A.M., 334 F.M., and 6 shortwave radio stations.

Thailand has industry in tourism, textiles, garments, agricultural processing, beverages, tobacco, cement, light manufacturing, furniture, plastics, producer of tungsten and tin. Natural resources available within the region include: tin, rubber, natural gas, tungsten, tantalum, timber, lead, fish, gypsum, lignite, fluorite, arable and land. Agricultural crops in Thailand consist of rice, corn, rubber, cassava, sugarcane, coconuts, and soybean. The Labor force represents 36.43 million in revenue from the following areas: agriculture 54%, industry 15%, service 31% (“2004 Indian Ocean Earthquake”); see graph below:

Thailand’s GDP (gross domestic product) and PPP (power product parity) total $524.8 billion; $8,100 per capita. The unemployment rate is 1.5% and the mean income per household is $160,000 baht.

Role of Women
Women in Thailand are recognized toward contributions made in Thai society. Their roles have changed from a once perceived equal role in early history during the Sukhothai period to being discriminated against during the Ayudhya period. In early Thai history women were reveled as having high esteem and being treated well. Women were though to be business savvy and dominated their husband over financial matters in the home. With outside influences this equilibrium in gender roles faded to a period of much discrimination known as Ayudhya. The Ayudhya period of the fourteenth century was characterized by husbands practicing polygamy and wives being divided into different classes. A saying of this period was “Women are buffaloes. Men are humans.” The extreme legal oppression of women continued until the nineteenth century into the current Ratanakosin period.

In 1985 the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination was held and as a result social changes for women were made in work, education, and legal matters; although this is not widely accepted by Thai men. Discrimination in higher education was reported in smaller colleges. Philosophy of using quota systems to attempt to control the number of women enrolled in science programs still exist. In the workplace women were able to receive equal pay, but are still unable to perform duties considered dangerous or strenuous labor. Thai women also experience difficulties with divorce laws. Divorces are more difficult for women to obtain, the responsibility of child support falls on the women, and nationality laws affect the identity of children born out of wedlock. Despite these setbacks women are making strides in the political arena, receiving better education and involvement in diverse career settings.

Women represent 45.4% of the labor force in Thailand (“2004 Indian Ocean Earthquake”)

Total Fertility Rate
The current less than 5% infant mortality rate was 148 in the 1960’s and has dropped a great deal to 26 since 2003. Nine percent of infants were born with low weight from the years of 1998-2003.

Life Expectancy
The life expectancy of the total population is age 69. The typical age of death for males is around the age of 69-70 and for females age 73-74.

Leading Causes of Death
In Thailand, the main causes of death are Aids and the HIV virus. It has been estimated that 58,000 have died from HIV and Aids and that 570,000 are living with it. An estimated number of 12,000 out of 58,000 of the deaths in the past two years were due to HIV and Aids and 50 percent of the infections came from I.D.U’s (Injections of Drugs). The third major cause of death is road accidents. Most of the accidents happened in the northeast and the victims are found to be more males than females. According to Apichart Mekmasin, Director of the Public Health Ministry’s Non-communicable Disease Department, motorcycles were proven to be the main cause of road accidents. Ninety percent of the deaths were motor bike mishaps while 84 percent resulted in injuries.

Dietary Staple
Thai cuisine is pungent and spicy, seasoned with heaps of garlic, curry chilies, ginger, coriander, galangal root, basil, peanuts, tamarind, ginger, coconut milk, fish sauce and shrimp pasta. Main staples include: rice, fish, chicken, noodles, sugar cane and citrus fruits.

Water resources are vital assets in the development of Thailand. The water is essential for human consumption, sanitation, the production of food and fiber, as well as the production of many industrial goods. The most striking characteristic of the water resource is its uneven and inequitable spatial and temporal distribution. In some areas they have too little water; others have too much, suffering from floods which can cause substantial loss of life and damage to property. The most important and the largest river basin in Thailand is the Chao Phraya Basin. Thailand is on a peninsula that is surrounded by the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean.
The solid waste is bulk collection and mass disposal.

The Tsunami
Thailand was hit by a Tsunami on December 26, 2004. An earthquake that occurred in the Indian Ocean, off the northwest coast of the Indonesian island caused the Tsunami. The death count is approximately 8,000. The most damage occurred in Phuket and Khao Lak both resort towns and slightly above sea level. The economic impact is considerable, although Thailand has a strong and flexible economy.

Official Death Count
Province Thai Foreign
Deaths Total
Injured Thai
Injured Foreign
Injured Total
Injured Missing
Krabi 288 188 686 808 568 1,376 890
Nga 1,950 2,213 4,163 4,344 1,253 5,597 2,113
Phuket 154 105 262 591 520 1,111 700
Ranong 167 2 169 215 31 246 12
Satun 6 0 6 15 0 15 0
Trang 3 2 5 92 20 112 1
Total 2,568 2,510 5,291 6,065 2,392 8,457 3,716

Tsunami Aid
Infrastructure damage to many resorts and small businesses around the Andaman Sea will take several years to rebuild. Debris remains in the reefs that were carried out to sea. Sediment, trees, rubble, cars and other debris were dragged into the ocean; destruction of housing, fishing boats and gear, cropland and plantations were wiped out. The water and air was contaminated by chemical waste from the homes that were destroyed

U.S. government funds for the Asian tsunami reconstruction totals $525 million proposed to rebuild infrastructure and restore shattered livelihoods (“Reconstructing Paradise”).

Tsunami Relief
The World Health Organizations warned that the number of deaths from preventable diseases such as cholera, diphtheria, dysentery and typhoid could rival the death toll from the disaster itself. The diseases are more like to spread through bodily waste of the living after the loss of normal sanitary facilities. The U.S. embassy in Thailand, The U.S. Pacific Command, The World Health Organization, United Nations Children’s Fund, World Vision has helped more than 1 million people in the Indian Ocean region with shelter, food, economic recovery and other urgent needs. Contributing corporations were Coca-Cola, Exxon Mobil, Microsoft, General Motors , Pepsi, Nike, Johnson & Johnson all donated money and supplies to the country (“NGOs respond to Asia tsunamis”).

Work Cited Page

“2004 Indian Ocean Earthquake” Wikipedia24 June 2005

“NGOs respond to Asia tsunamis” Reuters Foundation23 June 2005

“Reconstructing paradise” lonely planet 4 June 2005

“Thailand” The World Factbook 14 June 2005