The current development of Thailand originates from massive US aid during the Vietnam War, of which the country was the main logistical rear. Later, it was fueled by Japanese industrial investments, attracted by the low cost of labor. An authoritarian political system and friend of the West allowed Thailand to offer an optimal environment to foreign entrepreneurs (Taiwan, Hongkong, Singapore) who favored its rise to the ‘fifth tiger’ of Asia, after these three countries and the Republic of Korea, in the context of NICs (Newly Industrializ; ing Countries). The annual rate of growth of GDP was the highest in the world from 1985 to 1996, with an average of 9.4%, which however led to excessive pressure on the national currency, producing a very deep crisis between 1997 and 1998 that it would then take on the dimensions of an Asian financial crisis. The expansion resumed in the following years, driven by exports and then also by the domestic market: nevertheless, the typical disharmonies of rapidly developing countries remain, with considerable differences in per capita income between the industrialized and urbanized central plains (as well as 12,000 US dollars) and the northern and eastern suburbs (less than 1,500), where 10% of the residents officially considered to be in poverty are concentrated. For Thailand 2015, please check dentistrymyth.com.
The primary sector still employs 42.6% of the active population, albeit with a sharp decline in the last fifteen years (63% in 1995), and still characterizes the aspect of a large part of the country, but provides just 11.4 % of GDP and its contribution to exports is decreasing sharply. The specular process of industrialization and urbanization has triggered various mechanisms of environmental deterioration (deforestation, erosion, salinization and pollution of aquifers) to which the policies of Thailand have only partially and belatedly responded since the 1990s. People’s Republic of China and other states in the region, especially within the ASEAN (Association of South Est Nations, in which Thailand also plays a very active role) have differentiated the portfolio of customers and suppliers beyond the traditional USA, Japan and European countries. The crops cover almost 40% of the territory, against 25% of forests and 5% with herbaceous cover. Landed property is typically pulverized and aimed at local consumption; the large plantations (first rubber plants, then also soybeans, maize and coconuts), often managed by foreign companies, produce for export. The main product is rice (almost 30 million tons, 55% of the cultivated land), of which Thailand is the first world exporter (the People’s Republic of China first customer); then cassava, maize, sorghum, sweet potato, sugar cane, soy, cotton and fruit. Traditionally centered on the Chao Phraya plain, commercial agriculture in the past forty years has been extended with considerable foreign investment to the eastern and northern regions. Important is forestry (teak, sandalwood and ebony): after decades of overexploitation, Thailand has adopted more effective environmental protection policies, which have however transferred the phenomenon to neighboring countries. Over 5,000,000 cattle and about 2,000,000 buffaloes are bred (2005), mainly used for agricultural work. Notable is the fishing (over 3.5 million tons per year), both of marine and freshwater species. The widespread diffusion of aquaculture plants along the coasts of the Gulf of Thailand has made Thailand the world’s leading shrimp exporter, at the cost of very serious ecological damage (destruction of mangrove formations and pollution). 000 of cattle and about 2,000,000 of buffaloes, mainly used for agricultural work. Notable is the fishing (over 3.5 million tons per year), both of marine and freshwater species. The widespread diffusion of aquaculture plants along the coasts of the Gulf of Thailand has made Thailand the world’s leading shrimp exporter, at the cost of very serious ecological damage (destruction of mangrove formations and pollution).
Among the mineral resources, in addition to precious stones (sapphires), after the collapse of the tin market, there are mainly gypsum, and then tungsten, lead, zinc, antimony, manganese, iron ores and lignite. Oil and natural gas fields partially satisfy domestic demand. Electricity (115 billion kWh per year) is almost exclusively thermal, despite the large and controversial Pak Mun dam (1994, approx. 6% of the national total). Among the factories, many transform agricultural commodities (sugar, spirits, beer, preserves, cotton, tobacco); recently there have been added paper mills, tire factories, synthetic fiber factories, cement factories, and then chemical, steel and metallurgical complexes, mechanical plants, and finally textile, footwear and electronic companies. Oil refineries are concentrated around the capital.
Tourism is now well established. First structured and organized in routes of historic cities and seaside resorts by the TAT (Tourism Authority of Thailand), then witnessed a pulverization both in the offer of services and in their customers, in turn increasingly numerous with over 14 million presences in 2008 (tripled in the previous 15 years). The tourism industry has contributed both to economic development and to promoting the country’s image abroad: its inevitable, and often serious, repercussions on the environment and on the social fabric (such as the development of the sex tourism industry in Pattaya). and the disruption of mountain village life in the northern regions) have begun to be addressed by specific policies, which are mitigating their scope. In the last decade, the development of tourism has periodically suffered from internal crises (coup d’état in 2006, protests in 2009 and 2010) and international ones (financial crisis in 2008, pandemics), which caused the strongly oscillating trend. Strategic was the development of Bangkok into a regional airport hub, first with the Don Muang airport and now with that of Suvarnabhumi, located at the crossroads between Europe, on the one hand, and Japan (and America) and Australia, on the other. Land communications include 70,000 km of roads, of which 53,000 are asphalted; motorways (4000 km within the next few years); and 4,000 km of railways (2005). Main port is Bangkok.
With industrial development, exports are dominated by mechanical and electronic products (total manufacturing: 75%), alongside those of agriculture (rubber, rice, fish products: 19%), and finally fuels ( 5%). Once the technological dependence from abroad has decreased (Japan, United States, Germany, Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong), Thailand proposes itself as a regional center of excellence in research and development with a high technological content.