Thailand's population is relatively homogeneous, however, this is changing
due to immigration. More than 85% speak a Tai language and share a common
culture. This core population includes the central Thai (33.7% of the
population, including Bangkok's population), Northeastern Thai or Lao
(34.2%), northern Thai (18.8%), and southern Thai (13.3%).
The language of the central Thai population is the educational language
and administrative language. Several other small Tai groups include the
Shan, Lue, and Phutai.
Up to 14% of Thailand's population are of Chinese descent, but the
Sino-Thai community is the best integrated in Southeast Asia. Malay and
Yawi-speaking Muslims of the south comprise another significant minority
group (2.3%). 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 Mein, 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 by 2010.
Thailand is also home to a significant number[quantify] of registered
foreigners from Asia, Europe, and North America, as well as an estimated
several hundred thousand illegal immigrants, some of which are natives.
Increasing numbers of migrants from Burma, Laos, and Cambodia as well as
nations such as Nepal, India, and expats from the West and Japan have
pushed the number of non-nationals residing in Thailand to close to 2
million in 2008, up from about 1.3 million in the year 2000. A rising
awareness of minorities is slowly changing attitudes in a country where
non-nationals, some having resided in what is now Thailand longer than the
Thais themselves, are barred from numerous privileges ranging from
healthcare, ownership of property, or schooling in their own language.
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 - 31.1% of the total
population, principally in the Bangkok area - is growing.
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. 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. Eevery 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
Theravada Buddhism is the official religion of Thailand and is officially
the religion of about 97% of its people. However, the true figure lies
closer to 85%, 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.
resource : http://en.wikipedia.org/