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Thailand

March 13, 2015, 08:57, views: 431

Thailand, officially the Kingdom of Thailand, formerly known as Siam, is a country at the centre of the Indochina peninsula in Southeast Asia. It is bordered to the north by Burma and Laos, to the east by Laos and Cambodia, to the south by the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia, and to the west by the Andaman Sea and the southern extremity of Burma. Its maritime boundaries include Vietnam in the Gulf of Thailand to the southeast, and Indonesia and India on the Andaman Sea to the southwest.

Thailand is a monarchy headed by King Bhumibol Adulyadej, Rama IX, and governed by a military junta that took power in May 2014. The king is the ninth of the House of Chakri, and has reigned since 1946 as the world’s longest-serving current head of state and the country’s longest-reigning monarch. The King of Thailand’s titles include Head of State, Head of the Armed Forces, Adherent of Buddhism, and Upholder of religions. Although a constitutional system was established in 1932, the monarchy and military have continued to intervene periodically in politics.

With a total area of approximately 513,000 km2 (198,000 sq mi), Thailand is the world’s 51st-largest country. It is the 20th-most-populous country in the world, with around 66 million people. The capital and largest city is Bangkok, which is Thailand’s political, commercial, industrial, and cultural hub. About 75–95% of the population is ethnically Tai, which includes four major regional groups: central Thai, northeastern Thai (Khon [Lao] Isan), northern Thai (Khon Mueang); and southern Thai. Thai Chinese, those of significant Chinese heritage, are 14% of the population, while Thais with partial Chinese ancestry comprise up to 40% of the population. Thai Malays represent 3% of the population, with the remainder consisting of Mons, Khmers and various “hill tribes”. The country’s official language is Thai and the primary religion is Buddhism, which is practised by around 95% of the population.

Thailand experienced rapid economic growth between 1985 and 1996, becoming a newly industrialised country and a major exporter. Manufacturing, agriculture, and tourism are leading sectors of the economy. Among the ten ASEAN countries, Thailand ranks second in quality of life and the country’s HDI had been rated as “high”. Its large population and growing economic influence have made it a middle power in the region and around the world.

Etymology

The country has always been called Mueang Thai by its citizens; but by others, by the exonym Siam. Also spelled Siem, Syâm, or Syâma, it has been identified with the Sanskrit . The names Shan and A-hom seem to be variants of the same word, and Śyâma is possibly not its origin, but a learned and artificial distortion.

SPPM Mongkut Rex Siamensium

The signature of King Mongkut (r. 1851 – 1868) reads SPPM (Somdet Phra Poramenthra Maha) Mongkut King of Siam, giving it official status until 23 June 1939 when it was changed to Thailand. Thailand was renamed Siam from 1945 to 11 May 1949, after which it again reverted to Thailand.

The word Thai (is not, as commonly believed,[citation needed] derived from the word Thai meaning “independence” in the Thai language; it is, however, the name of an ethnic group from the central plains (the Thai people).[citation needed] A famous Thai scholar argued that Thai simply means “people” or “human being” since his investigation shows that in some rural areas the word “Thai” was used instead of the usual Thai word “khon” for people.

The Thai use the phrase “land of the freedom” expresses pride in the fact that Thailand is the only country in Southeast Asia never colonised by a European power.

History

There is evidence of human habitation in Thailand that has been dated at 40,000 years before the present, with stone artefacts dated to this period at Tham Lod Rockshelter in Mae Hong Son. Similar to other regions in Southeast Asia, Thailand was heavily influenced by the culture and religions of India, starting with the Kingdom of Funan around the 1st century CE to the Khmer Empire.

The ruins of Wat Chaiwatthanaram at Ayutthaya.

Ayutthaya was burned and sacked in 1767 by a Burmese army under King Hsinbyushin. Indian influence on Siamese culture was partly the result of direct contact with Indian settlers, but mainly it was brought about indirectly via the Indianized kingdoms of Dvaravati, Srivijaya, and Cambodia. E:A Voretzsch believes that Buddhism must have been flowing into Siam from India in the time of the Indian Emperor Ashoka of the Maurya Empire and far on into the first millennium after Christ. Later Thailand was influenced by the south Indian Pallava Dynasty and north Indian Gupta Empire.

After the fall of the Khmer Empire in the 13th century, various states thrived there, such as the various Tai, Mon, Khmer, and Malay Kingdoms, as seen through the numerous archaeological sites and artefacts that are scattered throughout the Siamese landscape. Prior to the 12th century however, the first Thai or Siamese state is traditionally considered to be the Buddhist kingdom of Sukhothai, which was founded in 1238.

Following the decline and fall of the Khmer empire in the 13th–15th century, the Buddhist Tai kingdoms of Sukhothai, Lanna, and Lan Xang (now Laos) were on the rise. However, a century later, the power of Sukhothai was overshadowed by the new Kingdom of Ayutthaya, established in the mid-14th century in the lower Chao Phraya River or Menam area.

Stupas, Ayutthaya Historical Park.

Ayutthaya’s expansion centred along the Menam while in the northern valleys the Lanna Kingdom and other small Tai city-states ruled the area. In 1431, the Khmer abandoned Angkor after Ayutthaya forces invaded the city. Thailand retained a tradition of trade with its neighbouring states, from China to India, Persia, and Arab lands. Ayutthaya became one of the most vibrant trading centres in Asia. European traders arrived in the 16th century, beginning with the Portuguese, followed by the French, Dutch, and English.

After the fall of Ayutthaya in 1767 to the Burmese, King Taksin the Great moved the capital of Thailand to Thonburi for approximately 15 years. The current Rattanakosin era of Thai history began in 1782, following the establishment of Bangkok as capital of the Chakri dynasty under King Rama I the Great. According to the Encyclopædia Britannica, “A quarter to a third of the population of some areas of Thailand and Burma were slaves in the 17th through the 19th centuries.”

Despite European pressure, Thailand is the only Southeast Asian nation to never have been colonised. This has been ascribed to the long succession of able rulers in the past four centuries who exploited the rivalry and tension between French Indochina and the British Empire. As a result, the country remained a buffer state between parts of Southeast Asia that were colonised by the two colonial powers, Great Britain and France. Western influence nevertheless led to many reforms in the 19th century and major concessions, most notably the loss of a large territory on the east side of the Mekong to the French and the step-by-step absorption by Britain of the Shan and Karen people areas and Malay Peninsula.

20th century

The losses initially included Penang and eventually culminated in the loss of four predominantly ethnic-Malay southern provinces, which later became Malaysia’s four northern states, under the Anglo-Siamese Treaty of 1909.

In 1932, a bloodless revolution carried out by the Khana Ratsadon group of military and civilian officials resulted in a transition of power, when King Prajadhipok was forced to grant the people of Siam their first constitution, thereby ending centuries of absolute monarchy.

In 1939, the name of the kingdom, “Siam”, was changed to “Thailand”.

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Darcy Taylor say

2015-03-15 01:50

Education costs money. But then so does ignorance. –Sir Claus Moser

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2015-03-15 01:40

Too many of us are not living our dreams because we are living our fears. –Les Brown

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2015-03-15 01:33

Few things can help an individual more than to place responsibility on him, and to let him know that you trust him. –Booker T. Washington

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2015-03-15 01:25

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2015-03-15 01:24

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2015-03-15 01:24

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Dmitry Richerson

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Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared. - Buddha

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