Thailand Semester

Thailand SemesterOf the 11 countries (Brunei, Burma, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Timor-Leste, and Vietnam) that make up Southeast Asia, Thailand is the third-largest by area and fourth-largest by population. Its capital, Bangkok, is one of the largest cities in the world, with around seven million inhabitants.

With a population of 67 million, Thailand ranks 20th in the world. Slightly more than twice the size of Wyoming, it borders Burma, Cambodia, Laos, and Malaysia.

Known as Siam until 1939, Thailand is the only Southeast Asian country never to have been colonized or ruled by a European power. The country is a constitutional monarchy and a democracy. Its revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej has reigned since 1946, making him the world's longest-serving head of state.

Through 2010, the United States was Thailand's third-largest single-country export market after China and Japan, and the third-largest supplier after Japan and China. Thailand's traditional major markets have been the United States, Japan, Europe, and ASEAN member countries (Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Vietnam). Growing export markets include China, Hong Kong, Australia, the Middle East, South Africa, and India.

Tourism contributes significantly to the Thai economy (approximately 6%). The tourism industry was on track for a record year in 2011 before the October-November flooding, the traditional start of the industry's peak season. Bangkok and the surrounding area are the most prosperous part of Thailand, and the seasonally barren northeast is the poorest.

Thailand's foreign policy includes a close and longstanding security relationship with the United States. Since World War II, the U.S. and Thailand have significantly expanded diplomatic and commercial relations, as reflected in several bilateral treaties and by both countries' participation in U.N. multilateral activities and agreements. Thailand's stability and growth are important to the maintenance of peace in the region.

Note: Some of this information was provided by the U.S. Department of State.