Thai Baht

Name of Currency:  Thai Baht

Country / countries used:  Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar

Symbol:  ฿

Brief history:

The baht originated, as many other currencies have done, from a traditional unit of mass.  A decimal system was introduced by Prince Mahisom in 1897, which still stands today – a single baht is constituted of 100 satang.  The Thai baht coins available at present are 1, 5, 10, 25 and 50 satang coins, as well as 1, 2, 5 and 10 baht coins.  A selection of banknotes is available, which come in 20, 50, 100, 500 and 1000 denominations.

The economy of Thailand relies heavily upon exports, which constitute two thirds of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).  Despite common perceptions of the country as being largely agricultural and rural, the agricultural sector only shares 8.6 per cent of the GDP.  Approximately 43.9% of the GDP is constituted by the industry and manufacturing sector, but only employs 14% of the Thai workforce – a proportion opposite to the agricultural sector.

Thailand is famous as a tourist destination, and the tourism sector makes up 6% of the country’s GDP – much larger than that of any other Asian nation.  Despite an improvement in the strength of the Baht, and other surrounding countries only receiving poorer exchange rates, there has been a sharp increase in tourism from other Asian countries making a huge contribution to Thailand’s economy.  Despite various events that many believed would damage the Thai tourism industry, it escaped largely unscathed by events such as the 2009 flu pandemic and 2008-2009 political crises.

The unemployment figures for Thailand are staggeringly low, estimated at 0.7 per cent in 2011.  Only Monaco and Qatar are lower.  These impressive statistics can be largely attributed to the agricultural sector, which composes a significant percentage of the Thai workforce.

The 2012 economic problems that plagued the European economy had knock-on effects and damaged Thailand’s exports, though in the second quarters of 2012 the country’s GDP has shown increase, rising 0.4 per cent and 4.2 per cent year on year, respectively.

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