Thailand is a Constitutional Monarchy and the system of government is modelled after the Westminster (UK) system, whereby a Prime Minister runs the country as leader of an elected executive branch, while the hereditary King is head of state.
However, in May 2014, following several months of violent political unrest, the army staged Thailand’s 19th coup and formed a military government under martial law. Peace was restored and a programme of political and civic reform started. Life goes on as usual and, while freedom of expression (against the government) is restricted, there is no indication that the country is under repressive military rule.
Life and business goes on as usual and a return to parliamentary democracy is anticipated in 2017
A Judiciary, overseen by the Supreme Court, was designed to act independently of the executive and the legislature.
The official language is Thai, but many regional languages and dialects exist, the main secondary languages being Isan or Lao (northeast – approx. 20 million speakers), Neua (north – approx. 8 million speakers) and Tai (south – approx. 6 million speakers). A further 6 languages account for between 50,000-500,000 speakers.
Today all children at school learn to speak, read and write Thai and it is rare to come across anyone who does not speak the official language.
English is the ‘unofficial’ second language and the common language of business.
Approximately 95% of Thais are Buddhist, 5% Muslim and less than 1% Christian.
Opening Hours: Monday - Friday, 9:30 am to 3:30 pm. Most banks in major cities are now open Saturday mornings and bank branches in major shopping centres are open in the evenings. Currency exchange booths are open considerably longer hours in Bangkok and other tourist destinations.
Exports account for 60% of Thailand's approximately US$ 200 billion GDP. This puts Thailand at the second largest economy in Southeast Asia. Thailand’s exports consist mostly of agricultural products including fish, rice (of which it is one of the main exporters in the world) and rubber. Other significant exports textiles, automobiles, computer parts and jewellery. Tourism accounts for approximately 10 % of Thailand's GDP.
Thailand uses the metric system for all weights and measurements, with the exception of land area, which Thais divide into talang (sq) wah, ngan and rai. In general, business event venues use the metric system to describe venue space.
Mobile devices: Several service providers (main ones are True, AIS, DTAC). Pre-paid SIMs are readily available from phone shops and convenience stores. 3G exists in most, 4G in heavily populated and tourist areas.
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