The political scene remains in flux and the direction of the country once the ailing King passes away is a major question mark because of the perceived inadequacy of the current heir.
Thailand is in theory still a constitutional monarchy, with the king as a very highly respected and revered Head of State, but there have been repeated military coups and as of 2016, the country is run by a military junta which allows no organised political opposition.
The overwhelmingly dominant religion (95%) is Theravada Buddhism, although there are adherents to Confucianism, Islam, Christianity and animist faiths.
Mainland Thai culture is heavily influenced by Buddhism.
Thailand (ประเทศไทย), officially the Kingdom of Thailand (ราชอาณาจักรไทย) is a country in Southeast Asia with coasts on the Andaman Sea and the Gulf of Thailand.
It borders Myanmar (Burma) to the northwest, Laos to the northeast, Cambodia to the southeast and Malaysia to the south.
However, the king and the royal family are still protected by strict lèse majesté laws, which stipulate long jail terms for anybody convicted of insulting the king or any other members of the royal family.
This can include jokes or even very indirect references.
During World War II, while Japan conquered the rest of Southeast Asia, only Thailand was not conquered by the Japanese due to smart political moves.
In alliance with Japan during World War II, Thailand became a US ally following the conflict.
With great food, a tropical climate, fascinating culture, majestic mountains and great beaches, Thailand is a magnet for travellers around the world.