located in southeast Asia, Thailand has a land area of 198,115 sq. mi. (513,115 sq. km.), with a population of 62,828,700 (December 2006) and a population density of 317 people per sq. mi. (122 people per sq. km.). Bangkok, the capital and the largest city, has a population of 6,593,000 and a population density of 9,418 per sq. mi. (3,630 per sq. km.). Traditionally, the economy of Thailand has been agricultural, and 34 percent of the land is arable, with an additional 2 percent used as meadows and pasture. With the increase in the tourist industry, as well as manufacturing, the importance of agriculture has declined, but it remains the country's major employer. Some 30 percent of the country is forested, with the timber industry being heavily regulated, although there are regular allegations of illegal logging.

Thailand has a relatively low per capita rate of carbon dioxide emissions—1.8 metric tons in 1990, rising steadily to 4.28 metric tons per person by 2004. Some 92.3 percent of the electricity in the country comes from fossil fuels, with most of the remainder drawn from hydropower. The heavy use of automobiles, and also private generators, has led to 56 percent of the carbon dioxide emissions from the country being from liquid fuels, with 15 percent from gaseous fuels and 21 percent from solid fuels. Some 8 percent of Thailand's carbon dioxide emissions come from the manufacture of cement.

In terms of the sector causing the carbon dioxide emissions, 38 percent comes from the generation of electricity, with air conditioning—especially for the tourist sector—being a very important part of the demand. Some 33 percent comes from transportation, with the traffic problems in Bangkok often leading to a pall of smog in the city. Some 25 percent of carbon dioxide emissions come from manufacturing and construction, with the remaining 3 percent from residential use.

Thailand can best be described as tropical and humid for the majority of the country during most of the year. The area of Thailand north of Bangkok has a climate determined by three seasons while the southern peninsular region of Thailand has only two. In northern Thailand the seasons are clearly defined. Between November and May the weather is mostly dry; however, this is broken up into the periods November to February and March to May. The later of these two periods has the higher relative temperatures, although the northeast monsoon does not directly affect the northern area of Thailand, it does cause cooling breezes from November to February. The other northern season is from May to November and is dominated by the southwest monsoon, during which time rainfall in the north is at its heaviest.

The southern region of Thailand really has only two seasons— the wet and the dry. These seasons do not run at the same time on both the east and west side of the peninsula. On the west coast the southwest monsoon brings rain and often heavy storms from April through October, while on the east coast the most rain falls between September and December.

Overall the southern parts of Thailand get by far the most rain with around 2,400 millimeters

Driving during a monsoon in Thailand. The Boxing Day tsunami in Thailand in 2004, which resulted in the deaths of an estimated 8,200 people, including many hundreds of foreign tourists, has been partially blamed by some experts on climate change.

every year, compared with the central and northern regions of Thailand, both of which get around 55 in. (1,400 mm.).

Thailand has been heavily affected by global warming and climate change. An increase in flooding in southern Thailand has resulted in a rise in the prevalence of insect-borne diseases such as malaria and dengue fever. The Boxing Day tsunami in 2004, which devastated the Phi Phi Islands and other islands along Thailand's Indian Ocean coastline, such as Ko Tapu, and resulted in the deaths of an estimated 8,200 people, including many hundreds of foreign tourists, has been partially blamed by some experts on climate change. The gradual bleaching of coral reefs in that region, and also in the Gulf of Thailand, is certainly attributable to global warming.

The Thai government took part in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, signed in Rio de Janeiro in May 1992. It signed the Kyoto Protocol to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change on February 2, 1999, and it was ratified on August 28, 2002, entering into force on February 16, 2005.

SEE ALSO: Climate Change, Effects; Floods; Tsunamis.

BIBLIOGRAPHY. Noel Grove, "Thailand," National Geographic (v.189/2, February 1996); Jonathan Rigg and Philip Stott, "Forest Tales: Politics, Policy Making and the Environment in Thailand," in Uday Desai, ed., Ecological Policy and Politics in Developing Countries: Economic Growth, Democracy, and Environment (State University of New York Press, 1998);

World Resources Institute, "Thailand—Climate and Atmosphere," (cited October 2007).

Justin Corfield Geelong Grammar School, Australia

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