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In the south, there are small groups of so-called sea gypsies and aboriginal Malays (about 6,000 people).
In the isolated inland areas of the south, there are about 1,000 forest-dwelling peoples referred to as Orang Asli in Malay. Thai is a Daic language in the southwestern Tai group.
However, members of ethnic minorities continue to face many problems in regard to political rights and economic security. The Kingdom of Thailand has an area of 198,114 square miles (513,115 square kilometers).Military dictators ruled the nation until the early 1970s; the military remained a powerful force in national politics into the early 1990s.Since that time, its role has diminished, and a new constitution was adopted in 1997.Other major ethnic groups include Chinese (about 12 percent of the population), Malay-speaking Muslims (about 3 percent), and Khmer (about 2 percent).The majority of the Chinese live in central Thailand, especially in urban areas.