Thailand is situated in the heart of the Southeast Asian mainland and covers an area of 513,115 square kilometers. It is bounded by Burma (The Union of Myanmar) and Laos in the North, Burma in the West and Malaysia in the South and Cambodia lies to the East of the country.
To be frank, our neighbouring countries are very friendly and peace-loving nations as they follow the principles of mutual cooperation and peaceful co-existence. Though we sometimes experience a border conflict, it is peacefully solved through diplomatic channels. Indeed border trade with our neighbours are very active. It is estimated that several hundred millions of baht changes hands annually. We import timber and gemstones from Burma while it in turn imports consumer goods and engine parts from us. Meanwhile, Laos is our close neighbour as we speak a similar language, share the same religious beliefs and have identical cultural links. Thus, we consider each other as brothers.
At present, cooperation on various issues is being strengthened between our neighbouring countries, for example, a Golden Quadrangle Project has been established by China, Thailand, Burma and Laos. They aim to cooperate in developing trade, investment and tourism by focussing on telecommunications and transportaion.
It is to be remembered that Thailand has played a significant role in bringing about peace to her Cambodian neighbour. At a time of civil war, Thailand provided a temporary shelter to the Cambodian refugees who fled to Thailand for safety. Now peace has been restored, Thailand has not hesitated to provide financial and technical assistances to rebuild the war-torn country. At present, many Thai businessmen have invested in Cambodia. Thailand also imports timber and gemstones from Cambodia which, in turn, imports from Thailand consumer goods, fuel, cement and clothes. Trade between Thailand and Cambodia is increasingly important as Cambodia is now the world’s most important ruby-producing area and Thailand needs to import raw materials from her neighbours since she is one of the world’s leading centres for the cutting and trading of gemstones.
In addition, Thailand also enjoys harmonious relations with her southern neighbour, Malaysia. As both are members of ASEAN (The association of Southeast Asian Nations). Inevitably, they are under the same roof of the organisation in which its members are bound to follow the same principles.
Indeed, it is very fortunate that Thailand is surrounded by friendly neighbouring countries which consequently help maintain peace and prosperity in this region of the world. All of us respect the sovereignty and integrity of each other. Thus, external conflict hardly ever occurs in the region.