Thailand is part of the South East Asian Indochina peninsula, neighbouring Burma, Laos, Cambodia and Malaysia, and has maritime claims within the Gulf of Thailand and the Andaman Sea. The kingdom of Thailand was unified in the fourteenth century and remains the only country of South East Asia to have never been ruled by a European colonial power.
Today Thailand is a popular travel destination as its lush, mountainous jungles attract many tourists to the North, whilst warm, tropical beaches offer year-round sunshine in the South. Approximately 90% of the population is ethnically Tai, of which 40% have Chinese ancestry. Various minorities comprise the remaining 10% of the population including Thai Malays, Burmese, Mons, Khmers and a diverse array of 'hill tribes'. Thai is the official language and Buddhism the major religion.
As Thailand is relatively mature in demographic transition, its population age structure reflects that of a newly industrialised nation. Living standards have continued to rise since the economic boom of the late 1980's so life expectancy has lifted and fertility rates are gradually declining. This means youth dependency is projected to slow as aged dependency steadily rises.
Concurrently, the major causes of mortality are less commonly the curable illnesses of a pre-industrialized past (tuberculosis, diarrhoeal diseases, malnutrition), but instead typical of a modern lifestyle (stroke, heart attacks, lung disease, cancer).
As well as being a monarchy, Thailand is currently ruled by a military junta under martial law. A peaceful revolution in 1932 prompted the introduction of a constitution and the country largely remained free of political turmoil until 2006 saw a military coup that ended Prime Minister Thaksin's term. This then gave rise to many large street protests in Bangkok as multiples political factions competed for national leadership. Again in 2014 a military coup was staged and General Prayut Chan-o-Cha assumed the role of prime minister.
Thailand has strong export industries in electronics, automobile parts, tin, tobacco, textiles, rice, coconuts, soybeans and sugarcane. The unemployment rate is one of the lowest in the world at 0.7%, which puts upward pressure on employers to pay higher wages in some industries. Public infrastructure is generally quite extensive and further spending on disaster mitigation is currently a high priority.
Human Trafficking: Child labour and the forced prostitution is a big problem in Thailand. Women and children from poor families are the major targets, particularly those from the Northern Hill tribes who lack official citizenship. Sex tourism forms a large part of the informal economy. Not only is sex slavery a major abuse of human rights, but also causes a large public health risk by the transmission of HIV and other STI's.
Natural disaster: Tropical storms, flooding, droughts, landslides and earthquakes are frequent events in Thailand due to its equatorial placement and position on tectonic plate boundaries. Disaster Risk Reduction is currently a top priority for the government, however political inefficiencies due to unrest have slowed the implementation of much needed infrastructure.
Homelessness and Street Children: Many youth and children live on the streets in Thailand due to neglect, domestic violence, poverty or natural disasters. In order to survive they often turn to theft, begging, prostitution, drug dealing or child labour where they are exploited and abused, as the informal economy offers no legal protection or financial security.
CIA WorldFact Book - https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/in.html
Hman Trafficking Organisation - http://www.humantrafficking.org/countries/thailand
ReliefWeb - http://reliefweb.int/country/tha