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The Thai Language

Thai is spoken by roughly 25 million people living in Thailand, where it is the official language. Small pockets of Thai speakers can also be found in the Midway Islands, Singapore and the United States.1

Thai belongs to the Tai Language family, which incorporates many languages of Southeast Asia. According to the Encyclopædia Britannica, standard modern Thai is based on the dialect of Bangkok and the areas surrounding the city.2 However, this particular form of spoken Thai does not dominate the rest of the country as a result of its use in the national media and official functions; other dialects are still quite entrenched. The Encyclopædia Britannica divides up the dialects of Thailand in this way:

    Northeastern (Ubon Ratchathani, Khon Kaen), which are similar to dialects spoken in Laos.
  • Northern (Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai)
  • Southern (Songkhla, Nakhon Si Thammarat).3

Over its history, modern Thai has borrowed a great deal of words from other language (with the oldest loan words coming from Chinese). Thai has also incorporated words from such languages as Pali, Sanskrit, Khmer (Cambodia’s official language), 16th Century Portuguese, Austronesian and most recently English.4

Below are some brief but important facts about the country of Thailand and its people.

Capital: Bangkok
Currency: Baht (THB)
Government Type: Constitutional monarchy
Population: 64,865,523
Internet Country Code: .th
Internet Hosts: 103,700 (2003)
Internet Users: 6,031,300 (2003)

For additional demographic information on Thailand and its people, please see the following link:

For information on The Thai Writing System, please see our Quick Facts Library

1 “Thai: a language of Thailand”

[Accessed December 15, 2004]

2 “Thai language” Encyclopædia Britannica from Encyclopædia Britannica Premium Service.