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Thailand’s leaders as they develop strategies for economic recovery
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Sponsored children and their families to know God’s love for them
Siamese cats, with their blue eyes and distinctive markings, are native to Thailand and were once treasured by royal families there.
Child sponsorship with Compassion is a unique opportunity to provide a child with food, clean water, shelter, clothing and medical care.
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Official Country Name: Kingdom of Thailand
Capital City: Bangkok
Population: More than 69.7 million
Official Languages: Thai
Life expectancy: Male 73 years, female 81 years
Population with access to safe drinking water: 96%
Infant mortality rate: 8 deaths / 1,000 live births
Percentage of children under the age of 5 underweight: 7.7%
Adult literacy rate: Male 95%, female 92%
Religion: Approximately 93% of the population are Buddhist, 5% are Muslim, 1% are Christian, 1% are of another/unspecified religion or none.
Percentage living on less than $1.90 a day: 0.1%
Source: CIA World Factbook, International Religious Freedom Report, released in 2021 by the Office of International Religious Freedom, U.S. Department of State
People groups from southern China are believed to have migrated to the country now called Thailand around the 6th and 7th centuries. Malay, Mon, and Khmer civilisations flourished in the region before the arrival of the ethnic Thai.
According to tradition, in 1238, Thai chieftains overthrew their Khmer rulers to establish a Thai kingdom. After its decline, a new Thai kingdom emerged in 1350 on the Chao Praya river. At the same time, there was an equally important kingdom of Lanna, centred in Chiang Mai.
In 1833, the United States began diplomatic exchanges with Siam, as Thailand was called until 1938. The Thais believe that the diplomatic skills of its monarchs, combined with the modernising reforms of the Thai government, made Siam the only country in South and Southeast Asia to avoid Western colonisation.
After years of absolute monarchy, a peaceful coup d'etat transferred power to a constitutional monarchy in 1932. Since 1992, Thailand has been a functioning democracy with constitutional changes of government. The military has attempted nearly 20 coups since the fall of absolute monarchy, with the most recent in 2014.
Thailand has many beautiful art forms, including temple decoration, woodcarving and religious sculpture.
Thailand has strong cultural connections with India and China. Pop music and other forms of European and American music are extremely popular, too. The two most popular styles of traditional Thai music are luk thung and mor lam. Luk thung, or Thai country music, was developed in the mid-20th century to reflect the daily challenges of rural communities. Some of the biggest stars incorporate influences from Latin America, Asia and, especially, American film soundtracks and country music. The first all-luk thung radio station was launched in 1997. Mor lam is a type of folk music popular in Thailand's north-eastern Isan region, where there is a predominantly Lao population. It has much in common with luk thung, in its representation of rural poor. It is characterized by rapid-fire rhythmic vocals, and the percussion has a funk-feel. There are about 15 regional variations of mor lam, along with a number of modern adaptations.
While the official Thai language is widely spoken throughout Thailand, many Thais also speak and understand English. There are also multiple dialects of Thai spoken across the country.
Thai: Sabai dee mai krap/kaa? (How are you? male/female), Sabai dee krap/kaa (I'm fine male/female), Sawat-dee krap/kaa (Hello, goodbye male/female) Greetings in other dialects are slightly different. The differences are mostly in their tones and ending words. For example:
North-eastern Dialect: Sumbai dee bor? (How are you?), Sumbai dee krap/kaa? (I'm fine male/female)
Northern Dialect: Sabai dee kor krap/jao? (How are you? male/female), Sabai dee krap/jao (I'm fine male/female) Northern women normally use the word jao as an ending word instead of kaa. These ending words are used in polite conversation or with those who are older. The greetings Sabai dee reu?/Sabai dee krap/kaa/Sawat-dee krap/kaa are understood by every Thai speaker.
Sports and Games
Thais enjoy football, table tennis, badminton, volleyball, kite flying and takro (a sport in which the player tries to keep a wicker ball in the air without using their hands). Tyre racing, or tee-wong-law, is a favourite children's game played in the rural areas of Thailand.
Thai food includes rice, beef, chicken, eggs, vegetables, fruit and fish.
The typical school year runs from May to March. Primary education is compulsory and free for all children between the ages of six and 11. The curriculum includes basic skills development, life experience, character development, work-oriented education, and special experiences.
Education in Thailand has improved remarkably in recent years, thanks to government efforts to push forward educational reform. As a result, around 95% of primary-school-age children attend school.
Secondary education is divided into two levels, each covering three years. The secondary curriculum covers five broad fields: language, science and mathematics, social studies, character development, and work education. There is also a wide range of exploratory pre-vocational subjects available.
Unfortunately, disparities in access are clear at secondary school level. About 14% of secondary-school age children are not in school, most of whom come from disadvantaged communities or are children from migrant families or those living with a disability.
Approximately 93% of the population are Buddhist, 5% are Muslim, 1% are Christian, 1% are of another/unspecified religion or none.
The state religion in Thailand is Theravada Buddhism and law allows people the freedom to choose the religion of their choice.
The constitution prohibits discrimination on religious grounds and protects religious liberty, as long as groups don’t carry out activities that are “harmful to the security of the State.” The law officially recognises five religious groups: Buddhists, Muslims, Brahmin-Hindus, Sikhs, and Christians. Islam is the dominant religion in three of the four southernmost provinces (Narathiwat, Yala, and Pattani) near the Malaysian border. These states are commonly referred to as the Deep South.
Within the constitution, the state is allowed to financially support and protect the largest religious groups, but it also allows special promotion of Theravada Buddhism.
The law requires religious education for all students at both primary and secondary levels and students may not opt out. The curriculum must contain information about all five recognised umbrella religious groups, but more time is dedicated to teaching Buddhism.
There are two private Christian universities and one Catholic-run college, which provide religious education to the public. There are approximately 350 Catholic- and Protestant-run primary and secondary schools, whose curricula and registration is overseen by the Ministry of Education.
Source: International Religious Freedom Report, released in 2021 by the Office of International Religious Freedom, U.S. Department of State
Compassion UK Christian Child Development, registered charity in England and Wales (1077216) and Scotland (SC045059). A company limited by guarantee, Registered in England and Wales company number 03719092. Registered address: Compassion House, Barley Way, Fleet, Hampshire, GU51 2UT.