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Since the latest coup Thailand is a unitary parliamentary constitutional monarchy under a military junta. Thailand comprises several distinct geographic regions, partly corresponding to the provincial groups. The north of the country is the mountainous area also called the Thai Highlands with Doi Inthanon the highest point at 2565 meters. The centre of Thailand is dominated by the predominantly flat Chao Phraya river valley, which runs into the Gulf of Thailand. Southern Thailand is narrow but widens when approaching the Malaysian border. Plans have resurfaced for a canal like the Panama Canal which would connect the Andaman Sea to the Gulf of Thailand. It would cut fees charged by the Port of Singapore and improve ties with China and India. The government hopes that this would make Thailand a logistical hub for Southeast Asia. Expected cost around 28 billion USD. Prostitution in Thailand and sex tourism also form a de facto part of the economy. Campaigns promote Thailand as exotic to attract tourists. Cultural milieu combined with poverty and the lure of money have caused prostitution and sex tourism to flourish in Thailand. One estimate published in 2003 placed the trade at US$4.3 billion per year or about 3% of the Thai economy
Thailand was the most visited country in Southeast Asia, according to the World Tourism Organisation. Asian tourists primarily visit Thailand for Bangkok and the historical, natural, and cultural sights in its vicinity. Western tourists mainly visit Bangkok and the southern beaches and islands. To accommodate foreign visitors, the Thai government established a separate tourism police with offices in the major tourist areas and its own central emergency telephone number.