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People

In 1981, the estimated population of Thailand was 48,3 million, with an annual growth rate of 2.1 percent.

Thailand's society is relatively homogeneous. More than 85 percent of the people speak a dialect of Thai and share a common culture. The majority of the population is Thai (75 percent) and Buddhist (95.5 percent). Thai is the official language, taught in schools and used in government.

The largest minorities are the Chinese, with perhaps eight percent of the population, and the Malay-speaking Muslims, with three percent. Other groups include the Khmer; the Mon, who are substantially assimilated with the Thai; and the Vietnamese, who are not. Smaller, predominantly mountain-dwelling groups total, about 500,000.

Thai society is predominantly rural and most heavily concentrated in the rice-growing areas of the center, northeast, and north. The urban population (15 percent) is concentrated in Bangkok. Occupational distributions reflect this population distribution. In 1981, 76 percent of Thailand's estimated work force of 23.4 million worked in agriculture, 9 percent in industry and commerce, 9 percent in service, and 6 percent in government.

Compulsory, universal free public education has been expanded from four to seven years. In 1979, 82 percent of primary school age children were enrolled in school, 26 percent of secondary age children were in school, and about 3 percent were in universities or colleges. In 1981, the literacy rate was 85 percent.

The Physical Quality of Life Index (PQLI) is 75.* The PQLI for the NANEAP Region PC countries ranges from 22 to 86. Thailand ranks fourth of 12.