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