Thailand Politics and Culture

(Muang T’hai, Prathet T’hai). State of Southeast Asia (513,139 kmĀ²). Capital: Bangkok. Administrative division: provinces (76). Population: 69,720,200 (2013 estimate). Language: Thai. Religion: Buddhists 93.6%, Muslims 4.9%, Christians 1.2%, others 0.2%, non-religious / atheists 0.1%. Monetary unit: baht (100 satang). Human Development Index: 0.722 (89th place). Borders: Laos (NE and E), Cambodia (SE), Malaysia and the Gulf of Siam (S), Andaman Sea (SW) and Myanmar (W and NW). Member of: APEC, ASEAN, UN, WTO and OCI observer.


Thailand is a hereditary constitutional monarchy under parliamentary regime since 1932; the Constitution, already amended in 1991, was amended in 1997 and definitively signed in August 2007. Executive power is entrusted to the Council of Ministers, led by the Prime Minister, designated by the members of the House of Representatives and appointed by the sovereign, who is the head of state. Legislative power is exercised by a National Assembly, which in its provisional structure was made up of 250 members. The legal system is based on continental law, with influences from the Common Law British, while the jurisdiction of the International Court is not accepted. Justice is administered, as an extreme instance, by a Supreme Court, whose judges are appointed by the sovereign. The death penalty is in effect. The defense of the state is organized in the three traditional forces, army, navy and air force. Military service is compulsory, lasts 2 years and takes place from the age of 21. There is also the possibility of carrying out a voluntary service. Education is compulsory from 6 to 14 years of age and is free in municipal schools. Ample space is reserved for private education, including confessional ones, given the importance it had in the dissemination of culture by religious institutions. Secondary education is divided into three cycles: the first and second three-year; the third, two-year, preparatory for the continuation of studies. Higher education is given in numerous technical institutes and universities: Chulalongkorn (1917), Mahidol (1917), Thammasat (1933), Kasetsart (1943), Silpakorn (1943), which are based in Bangkok, and in those of Chiang Mai (1964), Khon Kaen (1966) and Nakhon Pathom (1968). The proposal to change the school system, made in 2003, did not meet the king’s favor and was rejected. The percentage of illiteracy (5.9% in 2007) recorded among the population is high and almost constant.


According to itypeauto, Thai life and culture have been structured over time around some very strong elements: the religious component of Buddhism, the influences exerted by the different ethnic groups with which the Thai one has amalgamated, starting with the Khmer, and the monarchy, which dictated the rules of many social aspects, but it also helped to keep ancient rituals and practices alive. The artistic expression that most characterizes Thailand is probably traditional architecture. Thousands of Buddhist temples and monastic complexes (the wat, whose number is around 30,000 units) in which the perception of a time that seems to have stopped is very strong; no doubt Thailand was favored in this by not having been touched by colonialism. Each wat also hosts numerous works of art (wall paintings, sculptures, handicrafts) of great beauty whose presence, in addition to contributing to an atmosphere of peace and lightness, reflects the different historical periods present in the complex. Some temples are present in the sites declared World Heritage Site by UNESCO: the historic city of Ayutthaya (1991); the historical city of Sukhothai and associated historic cities (1991); the archaeological site of Ban Chiang (1992). The other forms in which the cultural historical memory is handed down are theater, music, dance, in which only in the twentieth century. Western influence has made a small breach, importing new ways and trends. Furthermore, ancient sports disciplines should not be forgotten, such as kite flying – there are real competitions of skill in mastering it – and, above all, muay thai. (or Thai boxing), martial art, considered a national sport, which today finds followers all over the world. Thai cinema experienced a prolific period in the 1970s, while never managing to establish its own distinctive artistic trait at an international level, but experiencing a sort of competition with Hollywood genres and works. Among the most interesting names of the late twentieth century. however, remember Nonzee Nimibutr (b.1962) and Wisit Sasanatieng (b.1964), author of Tears of the Black Tiger, the first Thai film to participate in the 2001 Cannes Film Festival. Among the main cultural institutions of the country, the Silpakorn University (for art), the Royal Institute should be mentioned and the National Museum, all based in the capital, the true fulcrum and engine of the country, where the greatest signs of progress, modernity and industrialization are.

Thailand Politics and Culture