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Welcome \ Travel \ Overview

Government & Economy 




The Kingdom of Thailand is governed by a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary form of government. The present monarch is King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who ascended the throne after his brother's death in 1946 and was crowned king in 1950.

Constitutionally, power rests with the prime minister, a cabinet and bicameral legislature (the national assembly) composed of senates and an elected house of representatives.

The 393-member house of representatives is elected for a four-year term. Executive power is vested in the Prime Minister and cabinet of ministers, with the former drawn from the ranks of the national assembly-normally the leader of the largest party (or largest party in the governing coalition).

Under the 16th and most recent version of the constitution, enforced in 1998, some changes have been made to the national assembly. The senators, who were previously appointed by the Prime Minister, are now elected directly by the people. The new constitution also introduced a party list system for the election of the members of house of representatives.

The country has four main regions, sub-divided into 76 provinces, each administered by a governor appointed by the Ministry of Interior. Provinces are sub-divided into districts, sub-districts, tambon (groups of villages) and villages. Bangkok and Pattaya are exceptional as both cities have their own special administrations. Governors here are elected by the people and are accorded a higher status than appointed provincial governors.


Traditionally, Thailand is an agricultural country with rice as the most important crop. Other main field crops are cassava (tapioca), corn, sugar cane, sorghum, nuts, and soya beans. Rubber and tropical fruits are grown widely in the southern and eastern regions.

From the mid-1980s, Thailand has transformed itself from a purely agricultural country into an agro-industrial one. Ever since, the Thai economy has been driven by a concerted export drive, and that has triggered an unprecedented economic boom. Backed by an attractive climate for foreign investment, Thailand has largely developed to become an industrial economy, leading the world in exports of industrial products such as textiles, garments, footwear, jewelry and electronic and computer parts. In 1998, more than 80% of the value of total exports arose from manufactured products. The United States, Japan and the Asean countries are the most important trading partners.

For several years, Thailand enjoyed double-digit growth, achieving repute as one of Asia’s ‘Tiger’ economies. The economic growth came to an abrupt halt in a chain of events that began in May 1997 with financial speculation against the Thai baht. The government of Chavalit Yongchaiyuth decided to float the baht currency in July 1997. By the end of the year, the economic bubble had burst and the Thai economy was in the doldrums. The people of Thailand suffered severely, with large-scale redundancies, pay cuts and repossession

The shaky economy led to a swift change i8n the government. The newly elected administration of Chuan Leekpai replaced that of Chavalit Yongchaiyuth. The new Thai government was forced into a lifeboat loan scheme from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to overcome the crisis. The trial-and-error tactics of the government in tackling the recession caused a loss of confidence in the Thai people with dim hopes of a quick economic recovery.

Among the various initiatives used to revitalize the economy, tourism was given the point position. The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), the government agency responsible for tourism promotion, initiated the ‘Amazing Thailand 1998-1999’ campaign to breathe new life into the economy. The campaign was so successful that tourism became one of the few Thai industries to survive the economic crisis intact. Statistics from the TAT show that Thailand was the only country in the region to register an increase in tourist arrivals during the regionwide economic crisis. A trade surplus and healthy revenue from tourism helped Thailand post an average current account surplus of about $1 billion per month throughout 1999.

National Symbol: the Thai national and royal symbol is the Garuda, a mythical half-bird, half-human figure that adorns His Majesty King Bhumibhol Adulyadej’s scepter and royal standard. Many ministers and departments have incorporated the Garuda into their insignias. Moreover, the Garuda is symbolic of ‘By Royal Appointment’ and is awarded, at the personal discretion of His Majesty the King, as a sign of royal approval to companies that have rendered outstanding economic and charitable services to Thailand. Such an award is rarely bestowed and is considered a great honor.

National Flag: Under the former system of absolute monarchy, the Siamese national flag was a white elephant on a red background. The new flag, inspired by the multi-colored flags of other nations, was introduced by King Rama VI in 1917.

The modern Thai flag (‘thong chat’ or ‘thong trai rong’) has five horizontal bands of blue, white and red. The central blue band represents the monarchy, the white bands symbolize Buddhism while the outer red bands signify the nation. Together, the three elements represent the essence of the Kingdom of Thailand.

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