Fishing in the Gulf of Thailand and in the many rivers and ponds inland is an important activity. Fish, often served with a spicy sauce, is a popular food.
Industry employs 9 out of every 100 people. Thailand ranks fourth in world for tin production and it has other minerals. Other manufactures include cement, food products, textiles, wood and paper.
Farming, the main activity, employs 76 out of every 100 workers. The chief crop is rice. Thailand, one of Southeast Asia's more prosperous countries, is the fifth largest rice producer.
Only 90 years ago, the main forms of transport were river boats, elephants and ox-drawn carts. Although river transport still remains important in the interior, Thailand now has one of Southeast Asia's best rail and road systems.
Forests cover about three-fifths of Thailand. Valuable teak and other trees are cut down and elephants drag the logs out of the forest, where they are floated downstream to sawmills. Rubber is another forest product.
Many rivers flow from the northern mountains across the Central Plain. The chief river, the Chao Phraya, enters the Gulf of Thailand just south of Bangkok. Many farmers sell their produce at floating river markets.
The fertile Central Plain lies between the northern highlands and the sea coast around the Gulf of Thailand. About 83 out of every 100 people live in villages in country areas. Most farmers have small plots of land.