Demographics of Thailand

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Life in Thailand

This article is about the demographic features of the population of Thailand, including population density, ethnicity, education level, health of the populace, economic status, religious affiliations and other aspects of the population.


An ethnological map of Thailand (1974).

Thailand's ethnic origins have encountered significant changes and continues to evolve. The nation's ethnic makeup is heavily obscured due to the hefty pressure of Thaification, Thai nationalism, and social pressure, which is intertwined with a caste-like mentality putting some races at higher social standing over others. Chinese origins as evidenced by surname were erased in the 1920s due to royal decree, the CIA factbook lists 14% of Thais as Chinese origin.,[1] however, significant intermixing has taken place such that pure ethnic Chinese is much lower and partially mixed Chinese ancestry account for as much as a third to half of all Thais (Hard numbers unknown and to count could be considered treason). According to CIA factbook, those claiming Thai ethnicity make up the vast majority of the population (95.9% in 2010); 2% were Burmese, 1.3% others, and 0.9 unspecified.[2] Thus, the actual ethnosocial and genetic makeup situation is very different from what is officially reported or self-claimed.

The vast majority of Isaan people (1/3 of Thailand population) are ethnic Lao intermixed with remnants of Khmer Empire blood (and speak Isaan language), additionally there is the more recent waves of immigration from Vietnam and Cambodia across porous borders due to wars and subsequent poverty over the last few decades, whose immigrants have tried to keep a low profile and blend in. Again, in more recent years Isaan stock also begun intermixing with the rest of the nation as urbanization (and mobility) trends increase. Similarly, Myanmar has had numerous ferocious ethnic wars between the army and tribes who speak 40 plus languages and control large fiefs or states, lasting many decades. This has led to waves of immigrants seeking refuge or work in Thailand. The makeup of Myanmar nationals are extremely complex, they even include people of Nepali ethnicity who escaped Nepal into Myanmar, and then immigrated to Thailand.

As of post coup 2014, Thailand's Department of Employment released figures that 408,507 legal workers from 3 neighboring states, and 1,630,279 Myanmar nationals of any ethnicity, 40,546 Laotian, and 153,683 Cambodians without legal work authorization working and residing in Thailand.[3] Nevertheless, some 180,000 Cambodians were said to have left Thailand post coup due to rumors, indicating government figures were an undercount.[4] These statistics are merely a single snapshot and hardly authoritative as there is constant movement and plenty of hiding from authorities.

The language of the central Thai population is the educational and administrative language. Other dialects of Thai exist, most pronounced is Southern Thai language. Several other small Tai (not Thai) groups include the Shan, Lue, and Phu Thai.

Malay and Yawi-speaking Muslim's language of the south comprise another significant minority group (2.3%), yet there are a substantial number of ethnic Malays who speak only Thai. 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 Mien, as well as the Karen, number about 788,024. Some 300,000 Hmong, who ironically have lived this area for more generations than the Thais themselves, are to receive citizenship in 2010.(link rot)[citation needed] This citizenship process has been ongoing and continues even in 2014.

Thailand is also a sanctuary for more than 200,000 foreigners either as retirees, extended tourists, and workers, from for example, Europe (specifically United Kingdom) and North America.,[5] Asians tend to be guest or technical workers in Thailand, a number of nationals from PRC are able to physically blend in after learning Thai claiming to be Thai themselves, but there is also the element of extended stay tourism and retirees as well as condo property is legal for purchase. Significant numbers of Filipinos work in Thailand due to their English speaking ability, as well as technical workers from Japan and Korea. Thousands of Japanese also have come for retirement. In recent years there has been a large wave of Russian speaking retirees and extended stay tourists in the Kingdom, as well as generally a haven for expatriates of all types—from Africa and Arabia to even South Americans.

Population distribution[edit]

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 – 45.7% (in 2010, according to NESDB) of the total population, principally in the Bangkok area – is growing. Complicating these statistics is that millions of Thais migrate from rural areas to Bangkok and return to help with seasonal field work, with officially rural residency but spend most of the year in urban areas.

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 0.4% today. The Worldbank forecasts a contraction of the population in ten years time. In 1970, an average of 5.7 people lived in a Thai household. At the time of the 2010 census, the figure was down to 3.2. Even though Thailand has one of the best social insurance systems in Asia, the increasing group of elderly people is a challenge for the country.[6]

Life expectancy also has risen, a positive reflection of Thailand's efforts in executing public health policies. However, the AIDS epidemic has had a major impact on the Thai population.

Today, over 700,000 Thais are HIV or AIDS positive – approximately 2% of adult men and 1.5% of adult women. Every year, 30,000–50,000 Thais die from HIV or AIDS-related causes. Ninety percent of them aged 20–24, the youngest range 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 1997 constitution mandated 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 officially the religion of about 97% of its people. Muslims are some 10% and 5% other religions including Christianity, Hinduism, especially among immigrants. In addition to Malay and Yawi speaking Thais and other southerners who are Muslim, the Cham of Cambodia in recent years begun a large scale influx into Thailand. The government permits religious diversity, and other major religions are represented, though there is much social tension, especially in the South. Spirit worship and animism are widely practiced.

Demographics of Thailand, Data of Population Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations Secretariat, World Population Prospects: The 2010 Revision


Population of Thailand above the age of 5 by language (UN statistics 2000)[7]
LanguageLanguage familyNo. of speakers
Haw YunnaneseSino-Tibetan3,247

Vital statistics[edit]

Births and deaths [8][edit]

PeriodLive births per yearDeaths per yearNatural change per yearCBR1CDR1NC1TFR1IMR1
1950–1955940 000344 000596 00042.515.627.06.14130.3
1955–19601 093 000348 000745 00043.013.729.36.14108.7
1960–19651 249 000353 000896 00042.312.030.36.1390.5
1965–19701 386 000362 0001 025 00040.410.529.85.9975.5
1970–19751 371 000355 0001 016 00034.68.925.65.0563.2
1975–19801 297 000338 000959 00028.97.521.33.9250.4
1980–19851 201 000300 000901 00024.
1985–19901 113 000266 000848 00020.44.915.52.3029.1
1990–19951 050 000313 000737 00018.05.412.61.9922.6
1995–2000955 000373 000582 00015.
2000–2005914 000426 000488 00014.
2005–2010872 000486 000386 00012.
1 CBR = crude birth rate (per 1000); CDR = crude death rate (per 1000); NC = natural change (per 1000); TFR = total fertility rate (number of children per woman); IMR = infant mortality rate per 1000 births

Data | The World Bank[edit]

Life expectancy at birth[edit]

total: 74 years (2011)
male: 71 years(2011)
female: 77 years (2011)

Mortality rate, infant (per 1,000 live births)[edit]

11 deaths/1,000 live births (2011)

Mortality rate, under-5 (per 1,000 live births)[edit]

12 deaths/1,000 live births (2011)

CIA World Factbook demographic statistics[edit]

The following demographic statistics are from the CIA World Factbook, unless otherwise indicated.


The population of Thailand is approximately 67.5 million people, with an annual growth rate of about 0.3 percent. In addition to Thai, it includes ethnic Chinese, Malay, Lao,Burma, Cambodia, and Indians, among others. According to 2010 decennial census, it revealed a population of 65,981,600 (up from 60,916,441 in 2000) and post-censal adjustments are being carried out to see if there was any reporting error.

Age structure[edit]

0–14 years: 21.2% (male 7,104,776/female 6,781,453)
15–64 years: 70.3% (male 22,763,274/female 23,304,793)
65 years and over: 8.5% (male 2,516,721/female 3,022,281) (2008 est.)
0–14 years: 19.9% (male 6,779,723/female 6,466,625)
15–64 years: 70.9% (male 23,410,091/female 23,913,499)
65 years and over: 9.2% (male 2,778,012/female 3,372,203) (2011 est.)

Population growth rate[edit]

Net migration rate[edit]

0 migrants/1,000 population (2011 est.)

Sex ratio[edit]

at birth: 1.06 males/female
under 15 years: 1.05 males/female
15–64 years: 0.98 males/female
65 years and over: 0.83 males/female
total population: 0.98 males/female (2009 est.)

Life expectancy at birth[edit]

total population: 73.6 years
male: 71.24 years
female: 76.08 years (2011 est.)


noun: Thai (singular and plural)
adjective: Thai

Ethnic groups[edit]

ethnic Thai 75%, Thai Chinese 14%, other 11%


definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 92.6%
male: 94.9%
female: 90.5% (2002 est.)