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Thailand - Tips

Wed, 7 Jul 2010 21:57:51

Thailand Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs
June 2007

Background Note: Thailand

Emerald Temple, Bangkok, Thailand,
October 20, 2003. [© AP Images]

Flag of Thailand is five horizontal bands of red (top), white, blue (double
width), white, and red.


Kingdom of Thailand

Area: 513,115 sq. km. (198,114 sq. mi.); equivalent to the size of France, or
slightly smaller than Texas.
Cities: Capital--Bangkok (population 9,668,854); Nakhon Ratchasima (pop.
437,386 for Muang district and 2,565,685 for the whole province), Chiang Mai
(pop. 247,672 for Muang district and 1,595,855 for the whole province).
Terrain: Densely populated central plain; northeastern plateau; mountain
range in the west; southern isthmus joins the land mass with Malaysia.
Climate: Tropical monsoon.

Nationality: Noun and adjective--Thai.
Population (2006): 65.28 million. (Data based on Bank of Thailand.)
Labor force (2006): 36.43 million.
Annual population growth rate (2006 est.): 0.3%.
Ethnic groups: Thai 89%, other 11%.
Religions: Buddhist 94-95%, Muslim 4-5%, Christian, Hindu, Brahmin, other.
Languages: Thai (official language); English is the second language of the
elite; regional dialects.
Education: Years compulsory--12. Literacy--94.9% male, 90.5% female.
Health (2006 est.): Infant mortality rate--19.5/1,000. Life expectancy--68
years male, 75 years female.

Type: Thailand remains a constitutional monarchy under an interim
constitution. Prime Minister, Cabinet, and National Legislative Assembly were
appointed by the leaders of a September 19, 2006 coup d'etat. Military
leaders constitute a Council for National Security.
Constitution: Thailand currently operates under an interim constitution
issued by leaders of the September 19, 2006 military coup d'etat. According
to the terms of the interim constitution, a new constitution is being written
and should be promulgated later in 2007. It will replace the constitution
promulgated on October 11, 1997.
Independence: Never colonized; traditional founding date 1238.
Branches: Executive--King (chief of state), Prime Minister (head of
government). Legislative--National Assembly (unicameral, appointed by the
military leadership). Judicial--composed of the Constitutional Tribunal, the
Courts of Justice, and the Administrative Courts.
Administrative subdivisions: 76 provinces, including Bangkok municipality,
subdivided into 796 districts, 81 subdistricts, 7,255 tambon administration,
and 74,435 villages.
Political parties: Multi-party system; Communist Party is prohibited.
Suffrage: Universal and compulsory at 18 years of age.

GDP (2006): $206 billion.
Annual GDP growth rate (2006): 5.0%.
Per capita income (2006): $3,155.
Unemployment rate (2006): 1.5% of total labor force.
Natural resources: Tin, rubber, natural gas, tungsten, tantalum, timber,
lead, fish, gypsum, lignite, fluorite.
Agriculture (8.9% of GDP): Products--rice, tapioca, rubber, corn, sugarcane,
coconuts, soybeans.
Industry: Types--tourism, textiles, garments, agricultural processing,
cement, integrated circuits, jewelry, electronics, and auto assembly.
Trade (2006): Merchandise exports--$128.2 billion: textiles and footwear,
fishery products, computers and parts, electronics, electrical appliances,
jewelry, rice, tapioca products, integrated circuits, rubber, automobiles.
Major markets--ASEAN, U.S., EU, Japan, China, and Singapore. Merchandise
imports--$125.9 billion: machinery and parts, petroleum, iron and steel,
chemicals, vehicles and parts, jewelry, fish preparations, electrical
appliances, fertilizers and pesticides. Major suppliers--Japan, ASEAN, Middle
East, China, EU, and U.S.

Thailand's population is relatively homogeneous. More than 85% speak a
dialect of Thai and share a common culture. This core population includes the
central Thai (33.7% of the population, including Bangkok), Northeastern Thai
(34.2%), northern Thai (18.8%), and southern Thai (13.3%).

The language of the central Thai population is the language taught in schools
and used in government. Several other small Thai-speaking groups include the
Shan, Lue, and Phutai.

Up to 12% of Thai are of significant Chinese heritage, but the Sino-Thai
community is the best integrated in Southeast Asia. Malay-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.

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--31.6% of 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 less
than 1% today. Life expectancy also has risen, a positive reflection of
Thailand's efforts at public health education. However, the AIDS epidemic has
had a major impact on the Thai population. Today, over 600,000 Thais live
with HIV or AIDS--approximately 1.5% of the adult population. Each year until
at least 2006, 30-50,000 Thais will die from AIDS-related causes. Ninety
percent of them will be aged 20-49, the most productive sector 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 over 100,000 annually.

The constitution mandates 12 years of free education, however, this is not
provided universally. Education accounts for 18.0% of total government

Theravada Buddhism is the major religion of Thailand and is the religion of
about 95% of its people. The government permits religious diversity, and
other major religions are represented. Spirit worship and animism are widely

Southeast Asia has been inhabited for more than half a million years.
Archaeological studies suggest that by 4000 BC, communities in what is now
Thailand had emerged as centers of early bronze metallurgy. This development,
along with the cultivation of wet rice, provided the impetus for social and
political organization. Research suggests that these innovations may actually
have been transmitted from there to the rest of Asia, including to China.

The Thai are related linguistically to Tai groups originating in southern
China. Migrations from southern China to Southeast Asia may have occurred in
the 6th and 7th centuries. Malay, Mon, and Khmer civilizations flourished in
the region prior to the arrival of the ethnic Tai.

Thais date the founding of their nation to the 13th century. According to
tradition, in 1238, Thai chieftains overthrew their Khmer overlords at
Sukhothai and established a Thai kingdom. After its decline, a new Thai
kingdom emerged in 1350 on the Chao Praya River. At the same time, there was
an equally important Tai kingdom of Lanna, centered in Chiang Mai, which
rivaled Sukhothai and Ayutthaya for centuries, and which defines northern
Thai identity to this day.

The first ruler of the Kingdom of Ayutthaya, King Rama Thibodi, made two
important contributions to Thai history: the establishment and promotion of
Theravada Buddhism as the official religion--to differentiate his kingdom
from the neighboring Hindu kingdom of Angkor--and the compilation of the
Dharmashastra, a legal code based on Hindu sources and traditional Thai
custom. The Dharmashastra remained a tool of Thai law until late in the 19th
century. Beginning with the Portuguese in the 16th century, Ayutthaya had
some contact with the West, but until the 1800s, its relations with
neighboring kingdoms and principalities, as well as with China, were of
primary importance.

After more than 400 years of power, in 1767, the Kingdom of Ayutthaya was
brought down by invading Burmese armies and its capital burned. After a
single-reign capital established at Thonburi by Taksin, a new capital city
was founded in 1782, across the Chao Phraya at the site of present-day
Bangkok, by the founder of the Chakri dynasty. The first Chakri king was
crowned Rama I. Rama I's heirs became increasingly concerned with the threat
of European colonialism after British victories in neighboring Burma in 1826.

The first Thai recognition of Western power in the region was the Treaty of
Amity and Commerce with the United Kingdom in 1826. In 1833, the United
States began diplomatic exchanges with Siam, as Thailand was called until
1938. However, it was during the later reigns of Rama IV (or King Mongkut,
1851-68), and his son Rama V (King Chulalongkorn (1868-1910), that Thailand
established firm rapprochement with Western powers. The Thais believe that
the diplomatic skills of these monarchs, combined with the modernizing
reforms of the Thai Government, made Siam the only country in South and
Southeast Asia to avoid European colonization.

In 1932, a bloodless coup transformed the Government of Thailand from an
absolute to a constitutional monarchy. King Prajadhipok (Rama VII) initially
accepted this change but later surrendered the kingship to his 10-year-old
nephew. Upon his abdication, King Prajadhipok said that the obligation of a
ruler was to reign for the good of the whole people, not for a select few.
Although nominally a constitutional monarchy since 1932, Thailand was ruled
by a series of military governments interspersed with brief periods of
democracy. From 1992 to 2006, Thailand was a functioning democracy with
constitutional changes of government.

As with the rest of Southeast Asia, Thailand was occupied by the Japanese
during the Second World War. Since Japan's defeat in 1945, Thailand has had
very close relations with the United States. Threatened by communist
revolutions in neighboring countries such as Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos,
Thailand actively sought U.S. assistance to contain communist expansion in
the region. Thailand also has been an active member in multilateral
organizations like the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the
Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum.

The King has been given little direct power under Thailand's constitutions
but is a symbol of national identity and unity. King Bhumibol (Rama IX)--who
has been on the throne since 1946--commands enormous popular respect and
moral authority, which he has used on occasion to resolve political crises
that have threatened national stability.

Thailand's legal system blends principles of traditional Thai and Western
laws. Thailand currently operates under an interim constitution put in place
by leaders of the September 19, 2006 coup. Under the 1997 constitution, the
Constitutional Court is the highest court of appeals, though its jurisdiction
is limited to clearly defined constitutional issues. Its members are
nominated by the Senate and appointed by the King. The Courts of Justice have
jurisdiction over criminal and civil cases and are organized in three tiers:
Courts of First Instance, the Court of Appeals, and the Supreme Court of
Justice. Administrative courts have jurisdiction over suits between private
parties and the government, and cases in which one government entity is suing
another. Under the interim constitution, the court system is largely
unchanged, with the exception that the Constitutional Court has been replaced
by a Constitutional Tribunal composed of judges from the other high courts.
In Thailand's southern border provinces, where Muslims constitute the
majority of the population, Provincial Islamic Committees have limited
jurisdiction over probate, family, marriage, and divorce cases.

Under the interim constitution, a unicameral National Legislative Assembly
was appointed by the military leadership. Under the 1997 constitution, the
National Assembly consists of two chambers--the Senate and the House of
Representatives. The Senate was a non-partisan body with limited legislative
powers, composed of 200 directly elected members from constituent districts,
with every province having at least one Senator. The House of Representatives
had 500 members, 400 of whom were directly elected from constituent
districts, and the remainder drawn proportionally from party lists.

Thailand's 76 provinces include the metropolis of greater Bangkok. Bangkok's
governor is popularly elected, but those of the remaining provinces are
career civil servants appointed by the Ministry of Interior. Following the
1932 revolution which imposed constitutional limits on the monarchy, Thai
politics was dominated for a half century by a military and bureaucratic
elite. Changes of government were effected primarily by means of a long
series of mostly bloodless coups.

Beginning with a brief experiment in democracy during the mid-1970s, civilian
democratic political institutions slowly gained greater authority,
culminating in 1988 when Chatichai Choonavan--leader of the Thai Nation
Party--assumed office as the country's first democratically elected Prime
Minister in more than a decade. Three years later, yet another bloodless coup
ended his term.

Shortly afterward, the military appointed Anand Panyarachun, a businessman
and former diplomat, to head a largely civilian interim government and
promised to hold elections in the near future. However, following
inconclusive elections, former army commander Suchinda Kraprayoon was
appointed Prime Minister. Thais reacted to the appointment by demanding an
end to military influence in government. Demonstrations were violently
suppressed by the military; in May 1992, soldiers killed at least 50

Domestic and international reaction to the violence forced Suchinda to
resign, and the nation once again turned to Anand Panyarachun, who was named
interim Prime Minister until new elections in September 1992. In those
elections, the political parties that had opposed the military in May 1992
won by a narrow majority, and Chuan Leekpai, a leader of the Democratic
Party, became Prime Minister. Chuan dissolved Parliament in May 1995, and the
Thai Nation Party won the largest number of parliamentary seats in subsequent
elections. Party leader Banharn Silpa-Archa became Prime Minister but held
the office only little more than a year. Following elections held in November
1996, Chavalit Youngchaiyudh formed a coalition government and became Prime
Minister. The onset of the Asian financial crisis caused a loss of confidence
in the Chavalit government and forced him to hand over power to Chuan Leekpai
in November 1997. Chuan formed a coalition government based on the themes of
prudent economic management and institution of political reforms mandated by
Thailand's 1997 constitution.

In January 2001, telecommunications multimillionaire Thaksin Shinawatra and
his Thai Rak Thai (TRT) party won a decisive victory on a populist platform
of economic growth and development. In the February 2005 elections, Thaksin
was re-elected by an even greater majority, sweeping 377 out of 500
parliamentary seats.

Soon after Prime Minister Thaksin's second term began, allegations of
corruption emerged against his government. Peaceful anti-government mass
demonstrations grew, and thousands marched in the streets to demand Thaksin's
resignation. Prime Minister Thaksin dissolved the Parliament in February 2006
and declared snap elections in April. The main opposition parties boycotted
the polls, and the judiciary subsequently annulled the elections. A new round
of elections were anticipated in November 2006.

On September 19, 2006, a group of top military officers overthrew the
caretaker administration of Thaksin Shinawatra in a non-violent coup d'etat.
Soon thereafter, the coup leaders issued an interim constitution and
appointed Surayud Chulanont as interim Prime Minister for the approximately
one-year period until a new constitution could be written and ratified and
new democratic elections held.

Principal Government Officials
Chief of State--King Bhumibol Adulyadej
Interim Prime Minister--Surayud Chulanont
Interim Minister of Foreign Affairs--Nitya Pibulsongram
Ambassador to the U.S.--Krit Garnjana-Goonchorn
Ambassador to the UN--Laxanachantorn Laohaphan

Thailand maintains an embassy in the United States at 1024 Wisconsin Ave. NW,
Washington DC 20007 (tel. 202-944-3600). Consulates are located in New York
City, Chicago, and Los Angeles.

The Thai economy is export-dependent, with exports of goods and services
accounting for 68.6% of GDP in 2006. Thailand's recovery from the 1997-98
Asian financial crisis relied largely on external demand from the United
States and other foreign markets. The Thaksin government took office in
February 2001 with the intention of stimulating domestic demand and reducing
Thailand's reliance on foreign trade and investment. From 2001-2006, the
Thaksin administration embraced a "dual track" economic policy that combined
domestic stimulus with Thailand's traditional promotion of open markets and
foreign investment. Weak export demand held 2001 GDP growth to 2.2%.
Beginning in 2002, however, domestic stimulus and export revival fueled a
better performance, with real GDP growth at 7.1% in 2003 and 6.3% in 2004. In
2005, the economy decelerated to a 4.5% annual GDP growth rate due to the
tsunami catastrophe, drought, and violence in the three southernmost
provinces. For 2006, the rebound of production in agriculture and
manufacturing coupled with soaring numbers of tourists increased GDP by 5.0%

Before the financial crisis, the Thai economy had years of manufacturing-led
economic growth--averaging 9.4% for the decade up to 1996. Relatively
abundant and inexpensive labor and natural resources, fiscal conservatism,
open foreign investment policies, and encouragement of the private sector
underlay the economic success in the years up to 1997. The economy is
essentially a free-enterprise system. Certain services--such as power
generation, transportation, and communications--are state-owned and operated,
but the government is considering privatizing them in the wake of the
financial crisis. The timetable for privatization of some state-owned
enterprises, however, has slipped due to resistance from labor unions and
parts of civil society. Despite the resistance, some firms were successfully
privatized, such as Airports of Thailand (renamed from Airport Authority of
Thailand), PTT Public Company Limited (renamed from the Petroleum Authority
of Thailand), and MCOT (renamed from Mass Communication Authority of

The Royal Thai Government welcomes foreign investment, and investors who are
willing to meet certain requirements can apply for special investment
privileges through the Board of Investment. To attract additional foreign
investment, the government has modified its investment regulations. In a
reaction to former Prime Minister Thaksin selling his telecommunications
company to foreign investors, the interim Thai government is expected to pass
amendments to its Foreign Business Act during 2007 which would apply greater
restrictions on the ability of non-Thais to own or control businesses
operating in the Thai services sector.

The organized labor movement remains weak and divided in Thailand; less than
2% of the work force is unionized. In 2000, the State Enterprise Labor
Relations Act (SELRA) was passed, giving public sector employees similar
rights to those of private sector workers, including the right to unionize.

Roughly 40% of Thailand's labor force is employed in agriculture (data based
on Bank of Thailand.) Rice is the country's most important crop; Thailand is
a major exporter in the world rice market. Other agricultural commodities
produced in significant amounts include fish and fishery products, tapioca,
rubber, corn, and sugar. Exports of processed foods such as canned tuna,
pineapples, and frozen shrimp are on the rise.

Thailand's increasingly diversified manufacturing sector is the largest
contributor to growth. Industries registering rapid increases in production
included computers and electronics, furniture, wood products, canned food,
toys, plastic products, gems, and jewelry. High-technology products such as
integrated circuits and parts, electrical appliances, vehicles, and vehicle
parts are now leading Thailand's strong growth in exports. The appreciation
of the Thai baht to the U.S. dollar relative to other regional currencies
during the 2006-2007 period has not yet shown any significant dampening of
Thailand's exports, although export sector margins have been affected. To
help arrest baht appreciation, the Bank of Thailand applied controls on the
import of capital into the country in December 2006.

The United States is Thailand's largest export market and second-largest
supplier after Japan. While Thailand's traditional major markets have been
North America, Japan, and Europe, economic recovery among Thailand's regional
trading partners has helped Thai export growth (21.6% in 2004, 15.0% in 2005,
and 17.4% in 2006, and 18.5% in the first quarter of 2007). Due to domestic
political uncertainty and concern about government's economic policies, Thai
domestic demand and private investment were flat from early 2006 and remained
flat at mid-2007.

Machinery and parts, vehicles, electronic integrated circuits, chemicals,
crude oil and fuels, and iron and steel are among Thailand's principal
imports. The moderation in import levels (7.0% increase in 2006 versus 26.0%
in 2005) reflects the low confidence of both consumers and investors.

Thailand is a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the Cairns
Group of agricultural exporters. Tourism contributes significantly to the
Thai economy (about 6%), and the industry has benefited from the Thai baht's
depreciation and Thailand's stability. Tourist arrivals, which declined in
2005 due to the tsunami catastrophe, recovered strongly in 2006.

Bangkok and its environs are the most prosperous part of Thailand, and the
barren northeast is the poorest. An overriding concern of successive Thai
Governments, and a particularly strong focus of the Thaksin government, has
been to reduce these regional income differentials, which have been
exacerbated by rapid economic growth in and around Bangkok and the financial
crisis. The government has tried to stimulate provincial economic growth with
programs such as the Eastern Seaboard project and the development of an
alternate deep-sea port on Thailand's southern peninsula. It also is
conducting discussions with Malaysia to focus on economic development along
the Thai-Malaysian border.

Although the economy has demonstrated moderate positive growth since 1999,
future performance depends on continued reform of the financial sector,
corporate debt restructuring, attracting foreign investment, and increasing
exports. Telecommunications, transportation networks, and electricity
generation showed increasing strain during the period of sustained economic
growth and may pose a future challenge. Thailand's growing shortage of
engineers and skilled technical personnel may limit its future technological
creativity and productivity.

Thailand's foreign policy includes support for ASEAN in the interest of
regional stability and emphasis on a close and longstanding security
relationship with the United States.

Thailand participates fully in international and regional organizations. It
has developed increasingly close ties with other ASEAN members--Indonesia,
Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Brunei, Laos, Cambodia, Burma, and
Vietnam--whose foreign and economic ministers hold annual meetings. Regional
cooperation is progressing in economic, trade, banking, political, and
cultural matters.

Thailand continues to take an active role on the international stage. When
East Timor gained independence from Indonesia, Thailand, for the first time
in its history, contributed troops to the international peacekeeping effort.
As part of its effort to increase international ties, Thailand has reached
out to such regional organizations as the Organization of American States
(OAS) and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
Thailand has contributed troops to reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan and

Since World War II, the United States and Thailand have developed close
relations, as reflected in several bilateral treaties and by both countries'
participation in UN multilateral activities and agreements. The principal
bilateral arrangement is the 1966 Treaty of Amity and Economic Relations,
which facilitates U.S. and Thai companies' economic access to one another's
markets. Other important agreements address civil uses of atomic energy,
sales of agricultural commodities, investment guarantees, and military and
economic assistance. In June 2004 the United States and Thailand initiated
negotiations on a free trade agreement which, when concluded, will reduce and
eliminate barriers to trade and investment between the two countries. These
negotiations were placed on hold following the dissolution of the Thai
Parliament in February 2006 and the subsequent coup in September.

The United States and Thailand are among the signatories of the 1954 Manila
pact of the former Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO). Article IV(1)
of this treaty provides that, in the event of armed attack in the treaty area
(which includes Thailand), each member would "act to meet the common danger
in accordance with its constitutional processes." Despite the dissolution of
the SEATO in 1977, the Manila pact remains in force and, together with the
Thanat-Rusk communiqué of 1962, constitutes the basis of U.S. security
commitments to Thailand. Thailand continues to be a key security ally in
Asia, along with Australia, Japan, the Philippines, and South Korea. In
December 2003, Thailand was designated a Major Non-NATO Ally.

Thailand's stability and independence are important to the maintenance of
peace in the region. Economic assistance has been extended in various fields,
including rural development, health, family planning, education, and science
and technology. The formal U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)
program ended in 1995. However, there are a number of targeted assistance
programs which continue in areas of mutually defined importance, including:
health and HIV/AIDS programming; refugee assistance; and trafficking in
persons. The U.S. Peace Corps in Thailand has approximately 100 volunteers,
focused on primary education, with an integrated program involving teacher
training, health education, and environmental education.

Thailand has received U.S. military equipment, essential supplies, training,
and assistance in the construction and improvement of facilities and
installations for much of the period since 1950. Over recent decades, U.S.
security assistance included military training programs carried out in the
United States and elsewhere. A small U.S. military advisory group in Thailand
oversaw the delivery of equipment to the Thai Armed Forces and the training
of Thai military personnel in its use and maintenance. Funding for the
International Military Education and Training and the Foreign Military
Financing programs, along with selected other programs totaling $29 million,
was suspended following the September 19, 2006 coup d'etat in Thailand. As
part of their mutual defense cooperation over the last decade, Thailand and
the United States have developed a vigorous joint military exercise program,
which engages all the services of each nation and averages 40 joint exercises
per year.

Thailand remains a trafficking route for narcotics from the Golden
Triangle--the intersection of Burma, Laos, and Thailand--to both the domestic
Thai and international markets. The large-scale production and shipment of
opium and heroin shipments from Burma of previous years have largely been
replaced by widespread smuggling of methamphetamine tablets, although heroin
seizures along the border continue to take place with some frequency. The
United States and Thailand work closely together and with the United Nations
on a broad range of programs to halt illicit drug trafficking and use and
other criminal activity. The U.S. supports the International Law Enforcement
Academy (ILEA) in Bangkok, which provides counter-narcotics and anti-crime
capacity-building programs to law enforcement and judicial officials from a
number of regional countries.

Trade and Investment
The United States is Thailand's second largest trading partner after Japan;
in 2006 merchandise imports from Thailand totaled $22.5 billion, and
merchandise exports totaled $8.2 billion. The U.S., Japan, Taiwan, Singapore,
and the European Union are among Thailand's largest foreign investors.
American investment, concentrated in the petroleum and chemicals, finance,
consumer products, and automobile production sectors, is estimated at $21

Principal U.S. Embassy Officials
Ambassador--Ralph L. Boyce
Deputy Chief of Mission--Alexander A. Arvizu
Management Counselor--Rosemary Hansen
Political Affairs Counselor--Susan Sutton
Economic Affairs Counselor--Jim Carouso (Acting)
Public Affairs Counselor--Anne Casper
Consul General--William Bartlett

The U.S. Embassy in Thailand is located at 120/22 Wireless Road, Bangkok
(tel. 66-2-205-4000). There is a Consulate General in Chiang Mai, 387
Wichayanond Road (tel. 66-53-252-629).

The U.S. Department of State's Consular Information Program advises Americans
traveling and residing abroad through Consular Information Sheets, Public
Announcements, and Travel Warnings. Consular Information Sheets exist for all
countries and include information on entry and exit requirements, currency
regulations, health conditions, safety and security, crime, political
disturbances, and the addresses of the U.S. embassies and consulates abroad.
Public Announcements are issued to disseminate information quickly about
terrorist threats and other relatively short-term conditions overseas that
pose significant risks to the security of American travelers. Travel Warnings
are issued when the State Department recommends that Americans avoid travel
to a certain country because the situation is dangerous or unstable.

For the latest security information, Americans living and traveling abroad
should regularly monitor the Department's Bureau of Consular Affairs Internet
web site at http://www.travel.state.gov, where the current Worldwide Caution,
Public Announcements, and Travel Warnings can be found. Consular Affairs
Publications, which contain information on obtaining passports and planning a
safe trip abroad, are also available at http://www.travel.state.gov. For
additional information on international travel, see http://www.usa.gov/

The Department of State encourages all U.S citizens who traveling or residing
abroad to register via the State Department's travel registration website or
at the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate abroad. Registration will make your
presence and whereabouts known in case it is necessary to contact you in an
emergency and will enable you to receive up-to-date information on security

Emergency information concerning Americans traveling abroad may be obtained
by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S. and Canada or the regular
toll line 1-202-501-4444 for callers outside the U.S. and Canada.

The National Passport Information Center (NPIC) is the U.S. Department of
State's single, centralized public contact center for U.S. passport
information. Telephone: 1-877-4USA-PPT (1-877-487-2778). Customer service
representatives and operators for TDD/TTY are available Monday-Friday, 7:00
a.m. to 12:00 midnight, Eastern Time, excluding federal holidays.

Travelers can check the latest health information with the U.S. Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia. A hotline at 877-FYI-TRIP
(877-394-8747) and a web site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel/index.htm give the
most recent health advisories, immunization recommendations or requirements,
and advice on food and drinking water safety for regions and countries. A
booklet entitled "Health Information for International Travel" (HHS
publication number CDC-95-8280) is available from the U.S. Government
Printing Office, Washington, DC 20402, tel. (202) 512-1800.

Further Electronic Information
Department of State Web Site. Available on the Internet at http://
www.state.gov, the Department of State web site provides timely, global
access to official U.S. foreign policy information, including Background
Notes and daily press briefings along with the directory of key officers of
Foreign Service posts and more. The Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC)
provides security information and regional news that impact U.S. companies
working abroad through its website http://www.osac.gov

Export.gov provides a portal to all export-related assistance and market
information offered by the federal government and provides trade leads, free
export counseling, help with the export process, and more.
STAT-USA/Internet, a service of the U.S. Department of Commerce, provides
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