Thailand

  • Land area                 : 513,000 sq km
  • Population                : 65,200,000 (mid-2006)     

Sources: U.N. Human Development Report 2006, United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, Population Reference Bureau, Asian Development Bank Key Indicators Report, Yunnan Government.

GENERAL INFORMATION

Location: Thailand is situated in the heart of the Southeast Asian mainland, covering an area of 513,115 sq.km and extends about 1,620 kilometers from north to south and 775 kilometers from east to west. Thailand borders the Lao People’s Democratic Republic and the Union of Myanmar to the North, the Kingdom of Cambodia and the Gulf of Thailand to the East, the Union of Myanmar and the Indian Ocean to the West, and Malaysia to the south.

Capital: Bangkok

Major Cities: North : Chiangmai, South: Songkla, Central region : Ayutthaya and Chonburi, North Eastern : Nakhon Ratchasima and Khon Kaen

Climate

Thailand is a warm and rather humid tropical country with monsoonal climate. Temperatures are highest in March and April with average temperature of 28 degree Celsius to 38 degrees Celsius and humidity averaging between 82.8 percent to 73 percents.

Seasons

Dry: March to May, Rainy: June to October, Cool: November to February.

Population

The population in Thailand is approximately 62 million, of which around 6 million live in the capital city, Bangkok.

Language

Thailand’s population can be generally categorized into the Central Thai, the Northeastern Thai or Isan, the Northern Thai, and the Southern Thai. The Central Thai have long dominated the nation politically, economically, and culturally, even though they make up only about one-third of Thailand’s population and are slightly outnumbered by the Northeastern Thai. Due to the education system and the forging of a national identity, many people are now able to speak Central Thai as well as their own local dialects.

The largest group of non-Thai people is the Chinese who have historically played a disproportionately significant role in the economy. Many have assimilated into mainstream Thai society, and do not live in Bangkok’s Chinatown on Yaowarat Road. Other dominant ethnic groups include Malays in the south, Mon, Khmer and various hill tribes. After the end of the Vietnam War, many Vietnamese refugees settled in Thailand, mainly in the northeastern region.

The Thai language is Thailand’s national language, written in its own alphabet, but many ethnic and regional dialects exist as well as areas where people speak predominantly Isan or Mon-Khmer languages. Although English is widely taught in schools, its use is not widespread throughout the country.

Religion

According to the last census (2000) 95% of Thais are Buddhists of the Theravada tradition. Muslims are the second largest religious group in Thailand at 4.6%. Thailand’s southernmost provinces – Pattani, Yala, Narathiwat and part of Songkhla Chumphon have dominant Muslim populations, consisting of both ethnic Thai and Malay. Most often Muslims live in separate communities from non-Muslims. The southern tip of Thailand is mostly ethnic Malays. Christians, mainly Catholics, represent 0.75% of the population.

A tiny but influential community of Sikhs in Thailand and some Hindus also live in the country’s cities, and are heavily engaged in retail commerce. There is also a small Jewish community in Thailand, dating back to the 17th century. Since 2001, Muslim activists, generally described by the Thai government as terrorists or separatists, have rallied against the central government because of alleged corruption and ethnic bias on the part of officials.

Culture

The traditional Thai greeting, the wai, is generally offered first by the youngest of the two people meeting, with their hands pressed together, fingertips pointing upwards as the head is bowed to touch their face to the hands, usually coinciding with the spoken word “Sawat-dii khrap” for male speakers, and “Sawat-dii ka” for females. The elder then is to respond afterwards in the same way.

Social status and position, such as in government, will also have an influence on who performs the wai first. For example, although one may be considerably older than a provincial governor, when meeting it is usually the visitor who pays respect first. When children leave to go to school, they are taught to wai to their parents to represent their respect for them. They do the same when they come back. The wai is a sign of respect and reverence for another, similar to the namaste greeting of India.

Business Hours: Government and business offices are open from 8:30 to 16:30 hours, Monday to Friday.

Electricity: 220 volts 50 cycles throughout the country

Banks: The country’s central bank is the Bank of Thailand. Major Thai commercial banks include the Bangkok Bank, Siam Commercial Bank, Krung Thai Bank, Thai Farmers Bank and Thai Military Bank. Business hours are 08:30 – 15:30 hours, Monday to Friday. Several international banks also have offices in Thailand.

Currency: The Baht is the standard currency unit.

Bank Notes: 20, 50, 100, 500, 1,000 baht

Coins: 1, 2, 5, and 10 baht

Health and Medical Facilities

Bangkok has numerous clinics and hospitals catering to a variety of needs. Major public and private hospitals are equipped with the latest medical technology and internationally qualified specialists. Almost all pharmaceuticals are widely available. Drinking of tap water should be avoided.

Telephone Services:

Direct Assistance: 1133 (Bangkok) and 183 (upcountry)

Long Distance Service: 100

IDD: 001+country code+area code+phone number

AT&T USA Direct Service: 001-999-11111

 

Health policies and strategies:

The MOPH is authorized and responsible for the strengthening of the public health and hygiene, preventing and controlling diseases and recovering the energy-level of the population. It has established its goals and a 3-year strategy for pursuing the goals so that the subordinating agencies adhere to the principal goals and their strategy is in operation according to estimates of the public health budget required for achieving the goals.

The followings are the target of MOPH’s policies:

  1. To improve the organization structure, culture and the operation procedure in order to have good administrative system and to become a learning organization of public health.
  2. To develop and provide mechanism in facilitating the involvement of all concerned parties in monitoring the public health system as a whole.
  3. To increase the capability of the medicines, public health and biology of health, in order to be on the front line of world competition.

The middle-term goals of the MOPH’s services are following:

  1. The important public health problems in different age groups of the population are to be lowered.
  2. The people have health security with standard and quality health services, and to encourage people to take part in taking care of health and the public health environment.
  3. The healthcare products and services are to be of the quality and up to the standard of international requirement.
  4. To have good governance in the public health administration.

The MOPH’s strategies in pursuing the goals according to the policies are:

  1. Improving the sanitation behavior of the people and to prevent and control diseases with involvement of all concerned parties.
  2. To increase the varieties and capacity of the research, including bio-medicines, development, transfer, applications of technology and knowledge.
  3. To develop the system of health security and public health services to be holistically efficient with equal quality services for all.
  4. To promote people’s involvement in developing public health, managing public health environment accordingly and efficiently.
  5. To encourage innovations, develop mechanism of facilitating innovations of health products and services, which make use of domestic resources to further enhance the Thai traditional wisdom so that the products and services are of better quality and meet the international standard.
  6. To develop and improve the systems and procedures of operations of public health management to make them better and more efficient.

 The devising of the public health strategic plan:

  1. The strategic plan is very important for the result-oriented management (or Management by Objectives). Therefore, the strategic plan will be designed carefully in order to conform to the desired goal and the strategy of achieving the goal of the superior operation unit, so as to achieve the goal successfully.
  2.  Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
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