Thailand is a country of mountains  tropical rainforests and flat plains. Religion  the monarchy and the military have helped to shape its society and politics.

The 1980s brought economic boom  and the agriculture-based economy changed as Thais flocked to work in industry and the services sector.

But the bubble burst in 1997 with the south-east Asian financial crisis. Stock and property prices plummeted  dragging down the currency and leading to bankruptcies  recession and unemployment.