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State

Capital

Thailand

Bangkok

Krungthep

Currency unit

Baht

Connections

AIDS

SEA

 Politics

 Economics

 Green

 Rights

History

A Kingdom in South East Asia which was never colonized by Europeans.

The Thais arrived in Thailand from China from about 900 AD. The land in the area was disputed with the Khmers and the Burmese. Present Thailand includes land which in the past has been ruled by the Khmers and by the Burmese. It also has land inhabited by Malay speaking Muslims.

The modern kingdom was founded in 1782 and expanded to include Cambodia and Laos, but these were lost to the French in 1867. Like Japan Thailand was never ruled by any European power but adopted some western methods from the late 19th century, under the direction of a reforming king. The absolute monarchy came to an end in about 1930 but the king retains great influence of an undefinable kind - many, perhaps most, Thais consider him to be divine, a reincarnation of Krishna.

Thailand was occupied by Japan from 1942-1945, nominally as an ally but in practice as a colony. During this period the king was living in Europe (Switzerland) and returned only in 1946, but was assassinated.

From 1945 until the 1990s the military were the dominant force in Thai politics and government. Civilian elections have gradually been becoming more honest and important. Military coups which have been frequent in the past are also becoming rarer and less likely to succeed in changing the government. The king has exerted his influence towards encouraging democracy.

The effects of the Vietnam war was that Thailand was used as a secure American ally and base and leave center for the American troops. This created a huge prostitution industry which has become part of the world tourist industry. The probability is that AIDS will reduce the population.

There are Cambodian refugees in Thailand. Among them was believed to be Pol Pot, plotting his return to Cambodia, possibly being supplied by China, Britain and America (at least in the past) and now by Thai businessmen and army. However, he died in Cambodia.

There are also refugees from Burma (Myanmar), fleeing the military government there, though the Thai government tacitly supports the Burmese government and trades with it.

There is a problem in the southern province, bordering Malaysia, a legacy of a past conquest. Could the frontier be adjusted to shift the Malay speaking area to Malaysia?

Languages

Thai

 History

 Economics

 Green

 Rights

Politics

The political system is not clearly defined. In theory there is a parliamentary system but the real power has often been disputed with the military. Generals have often formed the government, whether elected or not.

The military staged yet another coup in February 1991, allegedly with influence from Burma and Pol Pot. During May 1992 popular demonstrations were mounted against the non-elected self-appointed Prime Minister. The intervention of the king brought the fighting to an end.

In 2002 a billionaire Thaksin Shinawatra was elected prime minister but he has been accused of corruption. Although he called another election in April 2006, the opposition boycotted it and opinion polls showed he had lost the support of the urban population, though still popular in the countryside. The Supreme Court annulled the election which was to be held again in November 2006. The country seemed to have moved towards a continuing democracy, though the role of the military must remain in question.

A military coup occurred on 19 September 2006. The head of the army seems to have the support of the King and has declared he will appoint a new Prime Minister, and write yet another constitution.

A popular wave of protests is going on September 2008.

 History

 Politics

 Green

 Rights

Economics

Forestry has been an important export earner, but the rate of extraction is falling now.

Tourism, started by the reputation gained as a center for US Rest & Recreation (soldiers' brothels) during the Vietnam war is an important source of foreign currency (and also of AIDS). As its reputation for infection becomes known perhaps this will fall away.

Member ASEAN. How far is the extensive prostitution a result of female poverty, ultimately from foreign debt?

 History

 Politics

 Economics

 Rights

Green/Ecology

Cutting of forest is leading to erosion. Thailand has a poor record on green issues. There are no controls on trade in endangered species, despite Thailand having signed CITES (Convention on Trade in Endangered Species). Much of the illegal trade in such animals as Primates is centered on Bangkok.

The custom of universal prostitution has spread AIDS through the population. Along with Central Africa, Thailand is one of the countries likely to suffer a reduction in population from the effects of the disease. Only drastic changes in habits could halt the epidemic which is already (March 1993) affecting at least one in fifteen of women and probably many more.

 History

 Politics

 Economics

 Green

Human Rights

There are reports of child labor and prostitution which amount to near slavery.

Non-Thai tourists are attracted by the easy availability of sex with prostitutes (apparently forgetting the real risk of catching HIV).

However, many western countries now have laws making it possible to prosecute in their home countries paedophiles having sex with under age boys or girls abroad.

Climate effects

The city of Bangkok can be expected to be submerged when the sea rises.

Last revised 5/09/08


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