Thailand is the only country in south-east Asia to have escaped colonial rule. Buddhist religion, the monarchy and the military have helped to shape its society and politics.
The military has ruled for most of the period since 1947, with a few interludes in which the country had a democratically elected government.
Since 2001, Thai politics have been dominated by the irreconcilable split between supporters and detractors of Thaksin Shinawatra, who served as prime minister until he was ousted by the military in 2006.
Thaksin’s sister Yingluck became prime minister following the 2011 election but was in her turn ousted by a military coup in 2014.
- Kingdom of Thailand
- Capital: Bangkok
- Population 69.9 million
- Area 513,115 sq km (198,115 sq miles)
- Major language Thai
- Major religion Buddhism
- Life expectancy Life expectancy: 71 years (men), 78 years (women)
- Currency baht