With a total area of 513,120 km², Thailand (named Siam before 1939) is located in the Indochinese Peninsula. It is bordered by the Gulf of Thailand and opens on two seas (the South China Sea and the Andaman Sea). Bangkok (Krung Thep Mahanakhon, or the "City of angels") is the only major city : with 9 million inhabitants, it is Asia's tenth greater city.This is where is permanently based the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific. To the North are mountains (and forests with lots of teak). At the center, a wide fertile basin dominates, including an area producing rubber trees (primary source of natural rubber); the country is the world's first producer of rubber (8 million tons) and 10 % of its 70 million inhabitants live off this market. Thailand is the first exporter of rice and a big producer of farmed shrimp ; it is also the world's second biggest producer of tungsten.
Deforestation : forests only cover 20 % of the territory now (it was 60% 50 years ago). Through the Royal Forests Department, the government created national parks hoping to reduce illegal cutting out.
Climate change : droughts and floods reduce the paddy fields' yield ; it takes 1,100 litres of water to produce 1 kilogramme of rice, and a rise of only one degree in temperature reduces productivity by 10 %. The cultivation of eucalyptus is beginning to take over the cultivation of rice, since it is less risky and more profitable.
Tourism : the Thailand Tourist information now supports an ecological tourism policy which insists upon sustainable development, the preservation of tourist resources and the involvement of local populations. The government planned to launch a project of sport tourism, with trekking on the Ko Chang archipelago, a natural reserve covered by the equatorial forest.
Threatened nomadic populations : in the Surin Islands, the Moken, or Sea-gypsies, live on their Kabong (boat-houses) ; in 1981, their territory was turned into a natural park, with the interdiction to collect the natural resources their existence depended on. Regrouped and settled on Ao Chong Kaad, the Moken have but the memory of their former identity.
Protected areas : the country has 79 national parks, 89 reserves for wild animals, 21 maritime parks and 25 protected timberlands, covering almost 13 % of the country's total area.
Biodiversity : the Surin and Similan Islands are true sanctuaries for sea turtles. It is the 13th country in the world for the diversity of its vegetation. 15,000 vegetable species, including 1,100 species of orchids, were counted ; besides, Thailand is the first exporter of plucked orchid flowers.
The Thailand Environment Institute (TEI) NGO published a report on the country's environmental security.
The Green World Foundation is a non-profit foundation acting to raise consciousness on the environmental questions in Thailand since 1991.
In order to increase public awareness of the marine life protection issue in the Andaman Sea, a festival takes place every year on April 11 (at the same time as the New Year 'Songkran' Festival) to celebrate the National Fishing Day, during which baby turtles are released on the Phuket Island beaches, in hope of repopulating the seas.
The "Fondation pour la Sauvegarde des Eléphants" (Foundation for the Preservation of Elephants) created a famous 'Elephant Nature Park' where elephants don't work for humans anymore.
The "Moken Fund" was created by the head of the park in order to provide the Moken what they need.