From 1985 to 1996, Thailand was the fastest growing economy in the world. The Asian financial crisis in 1997 resulted in severe economic collapse resulting in the effective de-valuation of the Thai currency, the baht. Since then, however, Thailand has remained an emerging economy with an impressive export performance despite political turmoil which erupted in 2006.
A constitutional monarchy since 1932, the King of Thailand is widely revered within the country. King Bhumibol, the ninth in the Chakri dynasty which has ruled Thailand since 1782, is the nation's longest serving monarch. The love felt by Thai people towards the King is difficult for most foreigners to comprehend.
- Thailand has a very high level of participation in education with a flourishing system of public and private institutions. The Thai tradition of respect for elders and learning contributes to an impressive commitment to education within the country.
- Thailand is well known for its nightlife and vice trade. It is estimated that out of 10 million or so people living in Bangkok (or Krung Thep) that nearly 400,000 are sex workers. A complex set of economic and social factors has brought about this situation.
- In 2006, Thailand was plunged into political crisis beginning with protests and then an army coup which deposed elected Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. Despite a new constitution and successful elections in 2007, the political problems, which led to the 2006 coup, still exist.
- Anti-government protestors occuied Government buildings and Thailand's main airport in 2008 protesting against the then Prime Minister, a brother-in-law of Mr. Shinawatra. This government was susequently dissolved by the constitutional court and a new government installed. Recently a new wave of anti-government riots broke out in Bangkok, this time in support of Mr. Shinawatra.
- Then government led by Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva was elected after the previous governing party was dissolved by court order.This government oversaw a country which was making some economic progress but faced a tense standoff against the 'Red Shirt' movement aligned with Thaksin. This movement claimed that the government was not democratic and was calling for reforms to Thailand's constitution
- Next was a government led by Yingluck Shinawatra, sibling sister to Thaksin Shinawatra was generally popular but plagued by suggestions that she was just the puppet of her exiled brother. The government was later replaced by the military coupe amongst growing unrest and militant political events.
- Current government is led by the questionable self appointed prime minister Prayuth Chan-O-Cha - the Army General that led the coup.