Thailand – geography
The central parts of the country are a large, fertile plain, drained by the Chao Phraya (Menam) and its tributaries. The area is old cultural land, densely populated and traditionally extremely intensively cultivated with several rice crops a year. The rivers have only a very slight fall, and the natural drainage conditions are difficult; through the 1900’s. several canals and irrigation systems were built, so that the agricultural area was greatly expanded. North and west of the plain are low mountains, which form the border with Myanmar (Burma). Eastern Thailand is also lowland (Khoratsletten), but less fertile; it is drained by the Mekong system.
The climate is everywhere tropical monsoon climate with rainy season from June to October. In the mountains, the natural vegetation is tropical forest with valuable woods such as teak. Formerly uncontrolled deforestation is now regulated in most places. Here and on the central plain, precipitation is abundant, while it becomes less to the east, where one finds the country’s most backward regions.
Ethnically, the population is quite homogeneous. Annual population growth in the 1970’s was 2.7% per year, but has since fallen to less than half. The background is widespread use of contraception and a rising average age at marriage.
- Countryaah: Do you know how many people there are in Thailand? Check this site to see population pyramid and resident density about this country.
In the travel brochures, Thailand is presented as the “Land of Smiles”, and since 1982, tourism has been the most important item in the foreign economy; in 2001 came 10.1 million. visitors to the country. Among the main attractions are the climate, the white beaches, palm-fringed islands, the wildlife of the national parks and the colorful temples, but also the extensive sex industry, especially in Bangkok and the seaside resort of Pattaya. Prostitution is formally banned in Thailand, but it is estimated that there are approximately 1 mio. in the profession. The tourism industry was hit hard by the December 2004 tsunami disaster, which killed more than 5,000 people, mainly in the tourist areas of the west coast.
In the late 1980’s, Thailand’s economy was one of the fastest growing in the world. This economic growth was associated with a sharp increase in industrial exports and with large sums earned in the tourism industry. From being predominantly an agricultural economy in the 1950’s, there has been a marked change in the country’s economic structure, but although agriculture’s share of both GDP and exports shows a clearly declining trend, this industry still occupies a central position with approximately 60% of the country’s population is employed. Mht. several agricultural products (rice, rubber, cassava and sugar) Thailand still occupies the place as one of the largest exporters in the world. Characteristic of Thai agriculture is the diversification that has taken place especially since the 1960’s. In the 1950’s, not only was agricultural exports dominated, but also the country’s total exports of three products: rice, rubber and teak. These were later supplemented with a number of products such as corn and sugar, which really took off as export products in the 1960’s. Since then, the range has been expanded to include fruit (fresh and processed), frozen poultry, vegetables, peanuts, beans, flowers and various types of crustaceans farmed on fish farms on former rice fields or in mangrove areas. An important factor in the development was the high international demand and good prices for many of the export crops. Both the diversification and the increase in agricultural production took place right up to the early 1980’s, especially through an expansion of the cultivated area. The new crops have therefore been a supplement to the cultivation of rice, and the development has not taken place at the expense of the rice.
The cultivation of new agricultural land took place in the wake of the expansion of the country’s road network. This was motivated by national security concerns and funded by US support; it took place at a time when Thailand was to act as a guarantor of the “free and democratic world” of South-East Asia. The remote villages were to be integrated into the national economy, and increased production and marketing of export crops was to ensure the economic prosperity of the poor villages, which would make them immune to communist propaganda. The fact that agricultural production was increased in particular through the inclusion of new agricultural land, resulted in marginal lands of poor quality being increasingly cultivated. As only a small part (approximately 5 million ha in 2001) of the total land area is under irrigation, the result has been,
The cultivation of new land has led to a sharp reduction in the country’s forest area. In addition, firewood collection and commercial deforestation with little or no replanting has made its inroads into the country’s forest resources. In an effort to curb this development, the government imposed a logging ban in 1989, after violent landslides and floods in southern Thailand were linked to uncontrolled deforestation. However, this ban has been difficult to implement in practice.
With the introduction of new agricultural land, the Thai government did not do much to issue deeds to the peasants, and there is great ambiguity regarding ownership. It is estimated that only about 60% of the farmers in Thailand cultivate land to which they have the formal ownership that allows them to provide the land as collateral for bank loans. The lack of ownership has also created problems for many farmers, as the government has begun issuing concessions for the commercial exploitation of degraded forest areas, often allocated to wood and pulp mills that establish plantations with eg eucalyptus to produce wood pulp. This has led to numerous conflicts, as these areas are in many cases cultivated by farmers without formal ownership of the land.
Fishing. Thailand has a long coastline and one of the world’s largest fishing fleets. Overfishing in the Gulf of Thailand led to a decline in catches in the 1970’s, but agreements with e.g. Bangladesh, India and Oman provided opportunities for long-distance fishing. In South Asia, the issue of fisheries is a major source of conflict between countries.
Mining and industry. Tin has traditionally been an important export commodity and remains important. This also applies to the country’s production and export of gemstones, which are among the largest in the world.
In order to reduce oil imports for electricity production, the utilization of lignite has been increased, and this has led to major problems with air pollution in several places. Oil and natural gas reserves are limited, but have been exploited offshore in the Gulf of Thailand since the 1980’s. For culture and traditions of Thailand, please check animalerts.
The expansion of industrial production has gone through two phases. In the 1960’s, this happened through so-called import-substitution-industrialization (ISI). Encouraged by exemption from tax and protected by import-inhibiting duties, a number of industries producing goods for the domestic market, which had previously been imported, were built up during that period. The majority of this industry was located around Bangkok, which constituted the country’s largest market. Much of it was easier processing of agricultural products, production of animal feed and textile industry. From the beginning of the 1970’s, the government focused on export-oriented production, and from the beginning this was closely linked to agro-industrial products and did not start in earnest until the 1980’s, when a large number of foreign companies moved labor-intensive industries to Thailand. In particular, it was the production of textiles, clothing and footwear for export that increased markedly. Later, exports became more broadly composed, as labor-intensive parts of a high-tech production abroad were moved to Thailand. There was especially growth in electronic and electrical products such as computers. These were often companies from Japan and the so-called newly industrialized countries in Asia (Taiwan, South Korea), which placed the labor-intensive assembly in Thailand, while the high-tech parts of manufacturing as well as design and marketing were outside Thailand. These companies moved parts of their production to Thailand to take advantage of tax benefits and low wages as well as to circumvent US trade restrictions.
Immigration from country to city and illegal labor from neighboring countries have helped to maintain a low wage level. Since the mid-1990’s, however, Thailand has experienced a decline in foreign investment and declining export earnings, which, coupled with an ever-increasing trade deficit, culminated in the economic crisis that hit the country in 1997. The previously impressive growth rates were replaced by negative ones. speak up.