Cruising in Thailand
A unified Thai kingdom was established in the mid-14th century. Known as Siam until 1939, Thailand is the only Southeast Asian country never to have been taken over by a European power. A bloodless revolution in 1932 led to a constitutional monarchy. In alliance with Japan during World War II, Thailand became a US ally following the conflict. Thailand is currently facing armed violence in its three Muslim-majority southernmost provinces.
Location: Southeast Asia, bordering the Andaman Sea and the Gulf of
Thailand, southeast of Burma
Territorial sea: 12 nm
Tropical; rainy, warm, cloudy southwest monsoon (mid-May to September); dry, cool northeast monsoon (November to mid-March); southern isthmus always hot and humid
Central plain; Khorat Plateau in the east; mountains elsewhere
Lowest point: Gulf of Thailand 0 m
With a well-developed infrastructure, a free-enterprise economy, and pro-investment policies, Thailand appears to have fully recovered from the 1997-98 Asian Financial Crisis. The country was one of East Asia's best performers in 2002-04. Boosted by increased consumption and strong export growth, the Thai economy grew 6.9% in 2003 and 6.1% in 2004 despite a sluggish global economy. Bangkok has pursued preferential trade agreements with a variety of partners in an effort to boost exports and to maintain high growth. In 2004, Thailand and the US began negotiations on a Free Trade Agreement. In late December 2004, a major tsunami took 8,500 lives in Thailand and caused massive destruction of property in the southern provinces of Krabi, Phangnga, and Phuket. Growth slowed to 4.4% in 2005.
The downturn can be attributed to high oil prices, weaker demand from Western markets, severe drought in rural regions, tsunami-related declines in tourism, and lower consumer confidence. Moreover, the THAKSIN administration's expansionist economic policies, including plans for multi-billion-dollar mega-projects in infrastructure and social development, has raised concerns about fiscal discipline and the health of financial institutions. On the positive side, the Thai economy performed well beginning in the third quarter of 2005. Export-oriented manufacturing - in particular automobile production - and farm output are driving these gains. In 2006, the economy should benefit from an influx of investment and a revived tourism sector; however, a possible avian flu epidemic could significantly harm economic prospects throughout the region.
Airports: 108 (2005)
4,000 km - note: 3,701 km navigable by boats with drafts up to 0.9 m (2005)
Total: 394 ships (1000 GRT or over) 2,815,932 GRT/4,341,947 DWT
Sailing Specifics: Ports and terminals
Bangkok, Laem Chabang, Prachuap Port, Si Racha
Separatist violence in Thailand's predominantly Muslim southern provinces prompt border closures and controls with Malaysia to stem terrorist activities; southeast Asian states have enhanced border surveillance to check the spread of avian flu; talks continue on completion of demarcation with Thailand but disputes remain over several areas along Mekong River and Thai squatters; despite continuing border committee talks, significant differences remain with Burma over boundary alignment and the handling of ethnic rebels, refugees, and illegal cross-border activities; Cambodia and Thailand dispute sections of boundary with missing boundary markers.
Cambodia claims Thai encroachments into Cambodian territory and obstructing access to Preah Vihear temple ruins awarded to Cambodia by ICJ decision in 1962; ethnic Karens from Burma flee into Thailand - to escape fighting between Karen rebels and Burmese troops - resulting in Thailand sheltering about 120,000 Burmese refugees in 2005; Karens also protest Thai support for a Burmese hydroelectric dam construction on the Salween River near the border; environmentalists in Burma and Thailand remain concerned about China's construction of hydroelectric dams upstream on the Nujiang/Salween River in Yunnan Province
Other Sailing Destinations in the Region