• 0.6%

    Unemployment rate

  • 16%

    Percentage of women in Thai Parliament

  • 3.4%

    Inflation rate

  • 4

    Million households affected by drought per year

  • 55

    Average age of rice farmer

About Thailand

Introduction


UNDP Thailand/Mark S. Cogan


Thailand has enjoyed a long period of robust economic growth. In its advancement as a middle-income country, Thailand has made a great deal of progress in meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and has developed its own MDG-Plus targets.

 

Poverty has been reduced from 21 percent in 2000 to about 8.2 percent in 2009, or approximately 5 million people. With its firm commitment to the MDGs and South-South Cooperation, Thailand has become an increasingly active global development partner.

But despite remarkable progress made, persistent and critical development challenges remain, too, a challenge in policy and in practice - from formulating national strategies to implementing legislation.

History


Thailand's constitutional monarchy, in place since 1932, and other institutions, have provided an underlying stability that has allowed for rapid development until the 1990s. Modern political history has been turbulent. In September 2006, the military carried out a coup against Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and soon transitioned the country back to civilian rule. Recent disputes between pro-government supporters and opposition members of the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) in September 2008 resulted in several deaths and scores of injured.

Large-scale protests by “Red Shirts” in March 2010 took to the streets of Bangkok demanding the dissolution of Parliament. The 2-month stand-off left 90 people dead and around 2,000 injured, marking one of the bloodiest events in Thai modern political history.

The July 2011 elections saw the Pheu Thai party winning a majority of seats in Parliament. Thailand’s new 35-member cabinet was sworn in during August 2011. Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, the country’s first female leader and the sister of former PM Thaksin Shinawatra. Twenty-nine members (nearly 80 percent) of the cabinet are members of PM Yingluck’s Pheu Thai Party.

Challenges

Challenges

Persistent development challenges remain an institutional challenge in policy and in practice, from formulating national strategies to implementing social legislations. While Thailand has eliminated gender disparity in primary and secondary education, gender equality continues to be a challenge. Women still have limited representation in electoral politics. As of the last election in 2007, only 12 per cent of MPs were female. Corruption also remains a key challenge, and access to justice is much limited for the poor and vulnerable. Transparency International’s 2010 Corruption Perception Index (CPI) ranked Thailand 78 among 178 countries with a score of 3.5.


Inequality is also a challenge. Vulnerable groups, such as migrants, informal workers, and displaced persons, are not equally benefiting from Thailand’s economic successes. Women and children are still at risk of sexual and domestic violence. New human security threats are emerging as a result of changes both within Thailand and in the world as a whole.

 

Climate change remains a threat. Thailand emitted 4.3 tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere per person per year in 2006, which is roughly 280 million metric tonnes in total. The effects of climate change have elevated risk of natural and man-made disasters, droughts, extreme weather patterns and sea level rise, threatening economic development and community livelihoods.

Successes

Woman in field
UNDP Thailand

Thailand has shown remarkable economic growth during the past 20 years, reducing poverty from from 21 percent in 2000 to around 8 percent in 2009. It has also been extending the coverage of its social services, including education and health care, to nearly all of its population.


In the areas of poverty, education and health, Thailand has made strong progress during the past two decades. According to the National Economic and Social Development Board (NESDB), poverty in Thailand has continued to decline since the Asian Economic Crisis in 1997.


Thailand has met the majority of its Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) ahead of the 2015 deadline.  In fact, by adopting further MDG targets (known as MDG-Plus) Thailand exemplifies how countries should view the MDGs as a floor, not a ceiling, to mark development progress. These adapted goals have made the MDG-Plus a mobilizing and agenda-setting theme in Thailand.


Thailand has enjoyed a long period of robust economic growth. In its advancement as a middle-income country (MIC), Thailand has made considerable progress towards meeting the MDGs, and has developed its own MDG-Plus targets. National poverty has been further reduced from 21 percent in 2000 to about 8.2 percent in 2009, or approximately 5.4 million people. With its commitment to the MDGs and South-South Cooperation, Thailand has become an increasingly active global development partner. 

The country has become a leader in a number of regional and sub-regional cooperation initiatives in areas including trade, investment and tourism, with the help of economic mechanisms such as the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN), Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), Greater Mekong Sub-region and the Mekong-Ganga Cooperation. Thailand’s South-South Cooperation policy has also led to engagement in programmes for development assistance to African countries, notably in the field of HIV/AIDS prevention, where it is considered a world-leader. Through strong action, Thailand significantly slowed the spread of HIV/AIDS.

Country flag
Country map
Statistics
Capital
Bangkok
Population
69,122,234 (World Bank 2010)
Area (in sq. km)
513,120
Area (in sq. mi)
198,115
Language(s)
Thai
Poverty rate
7.75%
Per capita income
$4,420
Human Development Index
0.682 (2011)