Thailand profile - Leaders

Head of state: King Bhumibol Adulyadej

Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej Image copyright Getty Images

Thailand is a constitutional monarchy.

Its king, Bhumibol Adulyadej, assumed the throne in June 1946 and is the world's longest-reigning monarch.

The royal family is revered by many Thais.

Thailand has strict lese-majeste laws, and those deemed to have offended the monarchy - which is still a powerful force in the country - are often dealt with severely.

Prime minister: Prayuth Chan-ocha

Image copyright Getty Images

General Prayuth Chan-ocha seized power in a coup in May 2014 and was appointed prime minister by the military-appointed parliament a few months later.

He promised far-reaching political reforms to prevent a return to the instability of recent years.

But critics suspect his real priority is to destroy the party of the former prime minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, and to ensure the royal succession takes place smoothly.

For several years before the coup he held the powerful position of army chief.

Thailand's military has a history of intervening in politics and has seized power 12 times since the end of the absolute monarchy in 1932.

The coup was condemned by Western powers, but Thailand's relations with key Asian nations remained unchanged.

The US said it hoped the selection of an interim prime minister was a step towards establishing democratic institutions. It said restrictions on aid would stay in place until Thailand had a democratically elected government.

In early 2015, Gen Prayuth sought the king's permission to end martial law, replacing it with rule by executive decree until a referendum on a new constitution in 2016.

Thailand has been deeply divided since 2006, when former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra was toppled after being accused of corruption, abuse of power and disrespect for the king.