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Thailand

Basic Information

Area: 513,115 km²

Calling code: +66

Population: 63,038,247

Official Language: Thai

Time zone: (UTC+7), Local time: 10:53

Overview

The Kingdom of Thailand is located in in South-East Asia, bordering Burma to east, Laos and Cambodia to the west and Malaysia to the south. Its total territory covers 513,120km2, which makes it the third largest country in South-East Asia, after Indonesia and Burma. Thailand has a total population of 65 million, 33% of which live in urban areas. Bangkok is both the capital city and the main economical, cultural and commercial hub of Thailand. It is located in the central region of the country, along the banks of the Chao Phraya River, and it has a total population of 11.9 million. Other large cities include Samut Prakan, Nornhaburi, Udon Thani and Korat, although all of these cities have a population of less than 1 million.
Thailand is a member of several large international organizations such as the World Trade Organization (WTO), the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) and the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization. The country is divided into 75 districts, each with a separate capital for the area, and a further 877 districts for administrative purposes. The currency used is the Thai baht (THB).

Economy

The export industry is of prime importance to the countries economy, with exports such as textiles, jewellery, machinery and electrical components generating an estimated 33% of Thailand's GDP. Thailand is one of the richest economy's in South-East Asia, based on its GDP purchasing power parity figure of $538.6 billion. Bangkok is the central business area, with most of the coutries major banking institutes being located in the financial district. The largest companies currently operating in Thailand are PTT NGD (energy and water), Bangkok Bank, TOT (communications), and Thai Airways (transport).
Almost half of the entire workforce are employed in agriculture, although this sector only contributes 12% to the total GDP. Most agricultural land is used for the cultivation of tobacco plants, soybeans, coconuts, rubber and corn. While 18% of Thailand's total exports go to Japan, 12% to China, and 6% to both the U.S.A and Malaysia.
Tourism is particularly strong and Thailand is one of the most visited holiday destinations in the world. The stunning beaches and islands in the southern regions, along with the mountainous areas of Chiang Mai in the north, make it a popular destination all year round, attracting over 50 million visitors annually and contributing 7% to the total GDP.

Infrastructure

Thailand has 105 airports, the largest being the relatively new Suvarnabhumi International Airport, which replaced the old Don Muang Airport as the main hub for international travel. The airport is located 16km east of the heart of Bangkok, and is a base for Bangkok Airways, Thai Airways and Thai Air Asia. Over 40 million passengers pass through the airport ever year - which makes it the fifth busiest airport in Asia. A convenient way to travel domestically is by air, as there are a number of Asian internal flights that are both low-cost and comfortable.
The Thai state railway system has 4,071km of track. One main line operates services from Bangkok all the way to Southern Thailand, passing cities and town such as Hua Hin, Chumpon, and Surat Thani - this railway line continues over the border and ends in Malaysia. While in the other parts of Thailand a network of train lines span the area, allowing for easy access to the Northern city of Chiang Mai, and the Eastern border of Aranyaprathet. Bangkok has a dense public transportation system, with frequent buses, and a highly modern and efficient Skytrain, which runs above most of the major Sukhumvit road and has trains operating on two lines between 6am and midnight every day. There is also an abundance of taxi's in the city, which offer extremely low fares in comparison to the western world.
Thailand's ports play an important part in the transportation of cargo, there are 4 major ports in the country: Bangkok, Laem Chabang, Prachuap Port and Si Racha.

Workforce

Thailand has a total labour force of 38.24million, 42% of which work in agriculture, 37% of in the service sector, and 19% in industry. Thailand has a multicultural population - particularly in the city of Bangkok which contains a whole host of ethnic nationalities. An estimated 14% of the population are Chinese in decent, while many residents originate from the surrounding countries of Cambodia and Laos. Over 2 million expatriates, mostly from Europe and North America now reside in the country especially in the infamous tourist areas of Pattaya and Patong. Roughly 75% of the workforce speak Thai as their first language, while 14% speak Chinese and 11% speak another foreign language.
The education system is well-developed in the larger towns and cities of Thailand - with 4.5% of the GDP being re-invested to improve the current structure. Primary and secondary education is provided to all Thai citizens free of charge for 12 years - 9 of which are mandatory. The importance of a strong education is drummed into students from an early age, and Thai students are known for generally being hard-working and motivated. The country has a large number of public, private and international universities, most of which offer internationally accredited degrees. Although lower than most Western European countries, the literacy rate still stands at 92.6%, and Thailand has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the world, which is just 1.60%.

Business Costs

Rental costs in Thailand are amongst the lowest in the world, with average lease rates in the Bangkok CBD costing $24.17 per square foot per annum, which puts costs on par with costs in cities such as Amman and Sofia.
Corporate tax rates are fixed at 30% of gross annual income, and deductions are available for expenses and property and vehicle depreciation. Personal income rates work on a tiered system that ranges from 0% to 37%. Any individual earning less than $4,501 a year is exempt from paying tax, while the highest tax band of 37% applicable to anyone earning over $120,048 a year. Social security contributions are much lower than those in European countries at just 3% to 5% of the total salary for employers and employees. Value added tax is charged at 9% on most goods and services, while special exemptions are available for items that fit specific requirements.
Labour costs are lower than the western world, minimum wages vary depending on the province the individual is working in, but range from 148 baht a day in the smaller provinces to 203 baht a day in Bangkok, which is the equivalent of $4.58 and $6.28. The average income in Bangkok is 7716 baht a month, which is the equivalent of $239.03.
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