Urbanization in Thailand is dominated by the Bangkok urban area

January 26, 2015

New World Bank data compiled through satellite imagery and geospatial mapping provides new understanding of East Asia’s accelerating urbanization. The new analysis provides vital data at a time when much of the region’s infrastructure is getting built as part of a physical and social transformation in East Asia.

According to the World Bank report East Asia’s Changing Urban Landscape: Measuring a Decade of Spatial Growth, urban growth in Thailand is dominated by the Bangkok urban area, which was the fifth largest in East Asia in terms of area and the ninth largest in terms of its population approaching 10 million in 2010. No other urban area in Thailand had more than 500,000 people.

Country findings

  • Thailand’s urban area grew from about 2,400 square kilometers to 2,700 between 2000 and 2010, an average annual growth rate of 1.4%. This growth rate was slower than the average for the region (2.4%).
  • Its urban population (the population living in urban areas of more than 100,000 people) increased during this period from 9.3 million to slightly less than 11.8 million.
  • The average annual rate of urban population growth, 2.3%, was slightly slower than that for the region as a whole (3.0%).
  • The overall urban population density was about 4,000 people per square kilometer in 2000, increasing slightly to 4,300 in 2010. It is less densely populated than in other countries in the region, which averaged 5,800 people per square kilometer in 2010.
  • Urbanization in the country is dominated by the Bangkok urban area, which at 9.6 million people in 2010 almost joined the ranks of the megacities of the region.
  • The Bangkok urban area grew from 1,900 square kilometers to 2,100 between 2000 and 2010, making it the fifth-largest urban area in East Asia in 2010, larger than megacities such as Jakarta, Manila, and Seoul.
  • Its average annual rate of growth, 1.1%, was among the slowest for urban areas in the region with more than 5 million inhabitants, faster only than Hong Kong SAR, China, and the larger Japanese urban areas.
  • In 2010, the Bangkok urban area accounted for nearly 80% of the total urban area in Thailand.
  • The urban population of the Bangkok urban area grew from 7.8 million people to 9.6 million between 2000 and 2010, a relatively modest annual growth rate of 2.0%. It has the ninth largest population in East Asia.
  • Like most large urban areas in the region, Bangkok is administratively fragmented, with more than 60% of the urban area located outside the boundaries of the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration.
  • Surat Thani was the fastest-growing urban area spatially, growing from 20 square kilometers in 2000 to 36 in 2010, at 5.8% a year, as well as in population, more than doubling from 62,000 people to 131,000 during this period.
  • The densest urban areas were Hat Yai (5,900 people per square kilometer in 2010) and Chiang Mai (5,000 people per square kilometer).