Demographics of Thailand
Thailand's population is relatively homogeneous. More than 85% speak a Tai language and share a common culture. This core population includes the central Thai (33.7% of the population, including Bangkok), Northeastern Thai or Lao (34.2%), northern Thai (18.8%), and southern Thai (13.3%).
Up to 12% of Thai are of significant Chinese heritage, but the Sino-Thai community is the best integrated in Southeast Asia. Malay-speaking Muslims of the south comprise another significant minority group (2.3%). Other groups include the Khmer; the Mon, who are substantially assimilated with the Thai; and the Vietnamese. Smaller mountain-dwelling tribes, such as the Hmong and Mein, as well as the Karen, number about 788,024.
The population is mostly rural, concentrated in the rice-growing areas of the central, northeastern, and northern regions. However, as Thailand continues to industrialize, its urban population - 31.1% of total population, principally in the Bangkok area - is growing.
Thailand's highly successful government-sponsored family planning program has resulted in a dramatic decline in population growth from 3.1% in 1960 to around 1% today. Life expectancy also has risen, a positive reflection of Thailand's efforts at public health education. However, the AIDS epidemic has had a major impact on the Thai population. Today, over 700,000 Thais live with HIV or AIDS - approximately two percent of adult men and 1.5 percent of adult women. Each year until at least 2006, 30-50,000 Thais will die from AIDS-related causes. Ninety percent of them will be aged 20-24, the most productive sector of the workforce. The situation could have been worse; an aggressive public education campaign in the early 1990s reduced the number of new HIV infections from 150,000 to 25,000 annually.
The constitution mandates 12 years of free education, however, this is not provided universally. Education accounts for 19% of total government expenditures.
Theravada Buddhism is the official religion of Thailand and is the religion of about 95% of its people. The government permits religious diversity, and other major religions are represented. Spirit worship and animism are widely practiced.
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 and death rates, lower population and growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected (July 2000 est.)
0-14 years: 24% (male 7,386,231; female 7,107,010)
15-64 years: 70% (male 21,102,363; female 21,714,411)
65 years and over: 6% (male 1,726,043; female 2,194,816) (2000 est.)
Population growth rate: 0.93% (2000 est.)
Birth rate: 16.86 births/1,000 population (2000 est.)
Death rate: 7.53 deaths/1,000 population (2000 est.)
Net migration rate: 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2000 est.)
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.97 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.79 male(s)/female
total population: 0.97 male(s)/female (2000 est.)
Infant mortality rate: 31.48 deaths/1,000 live births (2000 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 68.55 years
male: 65.29 years
female: 71.97 years (2000 est.)
Total fertility rate: 1.88 children born/woman (2000 est.)
noun: Thai (singular and plural)
Ethnic groups: Thai (including Lao, who make up about 1/3 of the Thai population) 75%, Chinese 14%, other 11%
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 93.8%
female: 91.6% (1995 est.)