Coming Up With Some
More Realistic Numbers
Wikipedia drops some
numbers for Bangkok. None of this data, like much of
what is said on Wikipedia, is backed up with any authoritative
citation, but it is a place to start. 2010 stats report a
registered Bangkok population of 6.9m. Let's accept that
as a fact while acknowledging that many unregistered residents
are not accounted for. The demographics of the registered
are broken down as Chinese (3.45m), ethnic Thais (3.14m), Thai
Indian (138,000 to 207,000), Whites (70,000 to 140,000),
Japanese (70,000), other East Asian (70,000), Africans (35,000),
and Arabs (35,000). The Chinese stats are deceiving
because they refer to Chinese Thais, who are Thai citizens.
The Thai Indians, likewise, are also Thai citizens.
Wikipedia goes on to say that there are 250,000 long-term
mainland Chinese; 105,000 Indians, most of them Sikhs and of
which 80% hold dual Thai citizenship; 44,000 Japanese,
25,000 Americans; 75,000 Europeans not broken down by
nationality; 15,000 Taiwanese; 20,000 South Koreans; 7,500
Australians; 12,000 Arabs; 20,000 Malaysians; 4,000
Singaporeans; 5,000 Filipinos; and 800 New Zealanders.
Very few of those numbers are substantiated. Some
contradict the other numbers offered. How can there be
both 70,000 Japanese and 44,000 Japanese?
Flooding into the Kingdom (l to r) are all
types for all reasons:
a young Dutch
girl looking to par-tay 24/7; a Korean mover and
shaker seeking to colonize new nations; Japanese
women doing high end 'hosting'; a liberal Swedish
lass likely to get impregnated by a Thai man;
Australian Aboriginals teaching their unusual
version of the English language; a creature from
another planet who heard that Thailand was a great
place to do easy pick ups and drink cheap beer
I scoured the internet. Data was incomplete or nonexistent.
The Australian data indicating 7,500 and only in Bangkok was from 2001. The last
American estimate was a complete list of Americans abroad in all
countries and dates from 1999. I could find nothing on Germans,
Swedes, Dutch, and other nationals living in Thailand.
Being the ever resourceful guy that I am, I was able to generate my own
estimates, using what concrete data I could find and making a few
TOURISM IMPACT FACTOR. The number of
foreign residents from a given country living here is dependent, in
part, upon how many nationals from that country are visiting as
tourists. If Thailand has 0 tourists from Papua New Guinea coming
to visit, it's almost a foregone conclusion that Thailand has a paltry
few Papua New Guineans as residents here. Most foreign
nationals won't decide to relocate to Thailand until they first visit on
a holiday; and in Thailand's case, many of these foreign residents continue
to reside here, officially, as tourists.
BILATERAL IMMIGRATION FACTOR. The number of
foreign residents living here from a given country will be impacted by
the number of Thais resident in that foreign country. 350,000
Thais live in the United States; 150,000 in Australia; 38,000 in the
United Kingdom; and 28,700 in Sweden. A good many of those Thais
would be married to citizens of those countries. A Dutchman
married to a Thai woman and living in Holland has a greater chance of
coming to Thailand to visit regulary and possibly live permanently with his wife and family than
does the average Dutchman with no family attachments to Thailand.
In many other situations, the Thai married to a foreigner and living
abroad later divorces and returns to Thailand, now wealthier and with a
foreign passport. A Thai returnee, but now an American citizen,
thus boosts the number of Americans living in Thailand.
WILLINGNESS TO LEAVE THE MOTHER COUNTRY. BBC News
had an article from 2006 how 10% of Britons live abroad, the highest
percentage among OECD countries. Germany is right behind in the #2
spot. 5.2% of Australians are estimated to live abroad. By
contrast, the U.S. State Department estimates that less than 2% of
Americans do so. North Korea's government doesn't bother to
estimate. They just don't let North Koreans travel
freely. It follows then that Brits, Germans, and
Australians have a higher percentage of living in Thailand than
Americans who, in turn, have a much higher chance of living here than North
BUSINESS TIES. In 2010, Japan was Thailand's
largest investor. In the past, the Netherlands was a huge investor
in the country. Phillips, ING, and Heineken remain big brands in
Thailand. Naturally, locals from those countries would be
relocated to Thailand by the mother country more so than locals
from countries that have weaker business ties with Thailand.
You would expect more Japanese, Dutch, and British than, say,
Egyptians, Mongolians, and Nicaraguans.
COMMON SENSE. Walk around Bangkok, Pattaya,
Phuket, and other locales and what do you see? Peruvian
restaurants and Spanish language signs? Of course not, because
there are negligible Peruvians living in the country. What you
will see are numerous British pubs, Japanese department stores, Japanese
and Korean restaurants, and German bakeries. When I was searching
for apartments in Bangkok, I came across entire buildings where 75% of
the residents were Japanese. Businesses and neighborhoods reflect the
nationalities of the people who are here.
ANGLOPHONE EDUCATION GRAVY TRAIN.
According to the BBC, 1.3m Britons live in Australia,
the largest number of Britons anywhere and the largest foreign-born
community in Australia. A similar number live in the U.S. and Canada. The UK
and the US top the list of destinations for emigrating Australians.
Over a half million Americans live in Canada, and another two hundred
thousand plus in the UK. People are most likely to migrate to another
nation which shares their culture and language.
India has reasons for attracting Anglophone companies and nationals, as it
was once a British colony. Thailand does not. Yet with everyone
in Asia wanting to learn English today, there is a huge demand for teachers
from Anglophone nations in all segments of the market place, from lowly
private institutes to English education chains to expensive international
schools. You would, therefore, expect more nationals from affluent Anglophone nations to be
in Thailand -- or in any other Asian nation -- than would otherwise be if
English was not the world's lingua franca.
The criteria I've listed above are used to suggest numbers for residents
in Thailand of affluent countries located some flight distance away,
here on both official resident permits or staying unofficially on
tourist visas. The resident patterns will differ significantly among
citizens of poorer countries or citizens of countries located close to
Thailand. For this reason, I did not bother trying to estimate the
number of Laos, Burmese, Filipinos, Malaysians, Singaporeans, or
Vietnamese resident in Thailand.
Since these are all estimates, I have rounded the number to the nearest
thousand. Using numbers like 15,367 or 45,239 would look pedantic and
discredit Doug's Republic, and Doug should get nothing but respect for
putting this table together.
AT A GLANCE
Japan contributes the
greatest number of tourist arrivals to Thailand, as of 2010.
Sweden, followed by Australia, contributes the greatest number of
tourist arrivals relative to its population. Sweden sends, per
capita, 19 times more travelers to Thailand than the USA and almost 5
times more than Japan. Australia is not far behind Sweden per
The USA is the home to the greatest number of expatriate Thais.
Australia, followed by Sweden, has the greatest number of expatriate
Thais relative to its population, dwarfing any other rich nation on the
Tourist arrivals 2010
% of total arrivals
% of visitors relative to
this country's population
# of Thais living in this
% of Thais relative to this
# of residents in Thailand
Have more accurate data? Instead of flaming me,
send it my way along with the
references used to arrive at your sexier figures. If your figures are convincing enough, I'll
list them here and I might just give you credit.