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Prior to the fall of the Khmer Empire in the 13th century, various states thrived there, such as the various Tai, Mon, Khmer and Malay kingdoms, as seen through the numerous archaeological sites and artifacts that are scattered throughout the Siamese landscape.Prior to the 12th century however, the first Thai or Siamese state is traditionally considered to be the Buddhist kingdom of Sukhothai, which was founded in 1238.
In 1997, Thailand was hit with the Asian financial crisis and the Thai baht for a short time peaked at 56 baht to the US dollar compared to about 25 baht to the dollar before 1997.
Thailand's main theology Theravada Buddhism is central to modern Thai identity and belief.
In practice, Thai Buddhism has evolved over time to include many regional beliefs originating from Hinduism, animism as well as ancestor worship.
Thailand retains a tradition of trade with its neighboring states, and the cultures of the Indian ocean and the South China sea.
European trade and influence arrived to Thailand in the 16th century, beginning with the Portuguese.
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A civilian coalition government was formed on 28 January 2008 with five other minor parties leaving the Democrats, led by Mr. Population: 65,493,296 note: estimates for this country explicitly take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality, higher death rates, lower population growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected (July 2008 est.) Age structure: 0-14 years: 21.2% (male 7,104,776/female 6,781,453) 15-64 years: 70.3% (male 22,763,274/female 23,304,793) 65 years and over: 8.5% (male 2,516,721/female 3,022,281) (2008 est.) Median age: total: 32.8 years male: 32 years female: 33.7 years (2008 est.) Population growth rate: 0.64% (2008 est.) Birth rate: 13.57 births/1,000 population (2008 est.) Death rate: 7.17 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.) Net migration rate: NA (2008 est.) Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female 15-64 years: 0.98 male(s)/female 65 years and over: 0.83 male(s)/female total population: 0.98 male(s)/female (2008 est.) Infant mortality rate: total: 18.23 deaths/1,000 live births male: 19.5 deaths/1,000 live births female: 16.89 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.) Life expectancy at birth: total population: 72.83 years male: 70.51 years female: 75.27 years (2008 est.) Total fertility rate: 1.64 children born/woman (2008 est.) HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: 1.5% (2003 est.) HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS: 570,000 (2003 est.) HIV/AIDS - deaths: 58,000 (2003 est.) Major infectious diseases: degree of risk: high food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea and hepatitis A vectorborne diseases: dengue fever, Japanese encephalitis, and malaria animal contact disease: rabies water contact disease: leptospirosis note: highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza has been identified in this country; it poses a negligible risk with extremely rare cases possible among US citizens who have close contact with birds (2008) Nationality: noun: Thai (singular and plural) adjective: Thai Ethnic groups: Thai 75%, Chinese 14%, other 11% Religions: Buddhist 94.6%, Muslim 4.6%, Christian 0.7%, other 0.1% (2000 census) Languages: Thai, English (secondary language of the elite), ethnic and regional dialects Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write total population: 92.6% male: 94.9% female: 90.5% (2000 census) School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education): total: 14 years male: 13 years female: 14 years (2006) Education expenditures: 4.2% of GDP (2005)Country name: conventional long form: Kingdom of Thailand conventional short form: Thailand local long form: Ratcha Anachak Thai local short form: Prathet Thai former: Siam Government type: constitutional monarchy Capital: name: Bangkok geographic coordinates: 13 45 N, 100 31 E time difference: UTC 7 (12 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time) Administrative divisions: 76 provinces (changwat, singular and plural); Amnat Charoen, Ang Thong, Buriram, Chachoengsao, Chai Nat, Chaiyaphum, Chanthaburi, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Chon Buri, Chumphon, Kalasin, Kamphaeng Phet, Kanchanaburi, Khon Kaen, Krabi, Krung Thep Mahanakhon (Bangkok), Lampang, Lamphun, Loei, Lop Buri, Mae Hong Son, Maha Sarakham, Mukdahan, Nakhon Nayok, Nakhon Pathom, Nakhon Phanom, Nakhon Ratchasima, Nakhon Sawan, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Nan, Narathiwat, Nong Bua Lamphu, Nong Khai, Nonthaburi, Pathum Thani, Pattani, Phangnga, Phatthalung, Phayao, Phetchabun, Phetchaburi, Phichit, Phitsanulok, Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya, Phrae, Phuket, Prachin Buri, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Ranong, Ratchaburi, Rayong, Roi Et, Sa Kaeo, Sakon Nakhon, Samut Prakan, Samut Sakhon, Samut Songkhram, Sara Buri, Satun, Sing Buri, Sisaket, Songkhla, Sukhothai, Suphan Buri, Surat Thani, Surin, Tak, Trang, Trat, Ubon Ratchathani, Udon Thani, Uthai Thani, Uttaradit, Yala, Yasothon Independence: 1238 (traditional founding date; never colonized) National holiday: Birthday of King PHUMIPHON (BHUMIBOL), 5 December (1927) Constitution: constitution signed by King PHUMIPHON (BHUMIBOL) on 24 August 2007 Legal system: based on civil law system, with influences of common law; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal and compulsory Executive branch: chief of state: King PHUMIPHON Adunyadet or (BHUMIBOL Adulyadej) (since 9 June 1946) head of government: Prime Minister ABHISIT Wetchachiwa, also spelled ABHISIT Vejjajiva (since 17 December 2008); Deputy Prime Minister OLARN Cahipravat (since 24 September 2008); Deputy Prime Minister SANAN Kachornprasat, also spelled SANAN Kachornparsart (since 7 February 2008); Deputy Prime Minister SOMPONG Amornwiwat (since 24 September 2008) cabinet: Council of Ministers note: there is also a Privy Council elections: monarch is hereditary; according to 2007 constitution, prime minister is designated from among members of House of Representatives; following national elections for House of Representatives, leader of party that could organize a majority coalition usually was appointed prime minister by king; prime minister is limited to two 4-year terms Legislative branch: bicameral National Assembly or Rathasapha consisted of the Senate or Wuthisapha (150 seats; 76 members elected by popular vote representing 76 provinces, 74 appointed by judges and independent government bodies; all serve six-year terms) and the House of Representatives or Sapha Phuthaen Ratsadon (480 seats; 400 members elected from 157 multi-seat constituencies and 80 elected on proportional party-list basis of 10 per eight zones or groupings of provinces; all serve four-year terms) elections: Senate - last held on 2 March 2008 (next to be held in March 2014); House of Representatives - last election held on 23 December 2007 (next to be held in December 2011) election results: Senate - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - NA; House of Representatives - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - PPP 233, DP 164, TNP 34, Motherland 24, Middle Way 11, Unity 9, Royalist People's 5 note: 74 senators were appointed on 19 February 2008 by a seven-member committee headed by the chief of the Constitutional Court; 76 senators were elected on 2 March 2008; elections to the Senate are non-partisan; registered political party members are disqualified from being senators Judicial branch: Supreme Court or Sandika (judges appointed by the monarch) Political parties and leaders: Democrat Party or DP (Prachathipat Party) [ABHISIT Wetchachiwa, also spelled ABHISIT Vejjajiva]; Matchima Thippatai (Middle Way Party) [ANONGWAN Therpsuthin] - disbanded; Motherland Party (Peua Pandin Party); People's Power Party (Palang Prachachon Party) or PPP [SOMCHAI Wongsawat, acting] - disbanded; Royalist People's Party (Pracharaj) [SANOH Thienthong]; Ruam Jai Thai Party (Thai Unity Party) [CHETTA Thanacharo, also spelled CHETTHA Thanajaro]; Thai Nation Party or TNP (Chat Thai Party) [BARNHARN SILPA-ARCHA] - disbanded Political pressure groups and leaders: People's Alliance for Democracy; Campaign for Democracy [Pibob THONGCHAI] International organization participation: ADB, APEC, APT, ARF, ASEAN, BIMSTEC, BIS, CP, EAS, FAO, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICCt (signatory), ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC, MIGA, NAM, OAS (observer), OIC (observer), OIF (observer), OPCW, OSCE (partner), PCA, PIF (partner), UN, UNAMID, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNITAR, UNMIS, UNWTO, UPU, WCL, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO Diplomatic representation in the US: chief of mission: Ambassador (vacant); Charge d'Affaires DAMRONG Kraikruan chancery: 1024 Wisconsin Avenue NW, Suite 401, Washington, DC 20007 telephone:  (202) 944-3600 FAX:  (202) 944-3611 consulate(s) general: Chicago, Los Angeles, New York Diplomatic representation from the US: chief of mission: Ambassador Eric G.