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Thailand ( th, ประเทศไทย), historically known as Siam, () officially the Kingdom of Thailand, is a country in
Southeast Asia Southeast Asia, also spelled South East Asia and South-East Asia, and also known as Southeastern Asia or SEA, is the geographical United Nations geoscheme for Asia#South-eastern Asia, southeastern subregion of Asia, consisting of the regions ...

Southeast Asia
. It is located at the centre of the
Indochinese Peninsula Mainland Southeast Asia (or the Indochinese Peninsula) is the continental portion of Southeast Asia Southeast Asia or Southeastern Asia is the United Nations geoscheme for Asia#South-eastern Asia, southeastern subregion of Asia, consistin ...

Indochinese Peninsula
, spanning , with a population of almost 70 million people. It is bordered to the north by
Myanmar Myanmar, ); UK pronunciations: US pronunciations incl. . Note: Wikipedia's IPA conventions require indicating /r/ even in British English although only some British English speakers pronounce r at the end of syllables. As John C. Wells, John ...

Myanmar
and
Laos , national_anthem = "Pheng Xat Lao") , image_map = , map_caption = , capital = Vientiane , coordinates = , largest_city = capital , official_languages = Lao language, Lao , recognised_languages = , languages_type = Spoken langua ...

Laos
, to the east by
Laos , national_anthem = "Pheng Xat Lao") , image_map = , map_caption = , capital = Vientiane , coordinates = , largest_city = capital , official_languages = Lao language, Lao , recognised_languages = , languages_type = Spoken langua ...

Laos
and
Cambodia Cambodia (; also Kampuchea ; km, កម្ពុជា, ), officially the Kingdom of Cambodia, is a country located in the southern portion of the Indochinese peninsula in Southeast Asia. It is in area, bordered by Thailand to Cambodia–T ...

Cambodia
, to the south by the
Gulf of Thailand The Gulf of Thailand, also known as the Gulf of Siam, is a shallow inlet in the southwestern South China Sea The South China Sea is a of the . It is bounded in the north by the shores of (hence the name), in the west by the , in the east ...

Gulf of Thailand
and
Malaysia Malaysia ( ; ) is a country in Southeast Asia Southeast Asia, also spelled South East Asia and South-East Asia, and also known as Southeastern Asia or SEA, is the geographical southeastern subregion of Asia, consisting of the regions ...

Malaysia
, and to the west by the
Andaman Sea The Andaman Sea (historically also known as the Burma Sea) is a marginal sea of northeastern Indian Ocean bounded by the coastlines of Myanmar and Thailand along the Gulf of Martaban and west side of the Malay Peninsula, and separated from the B ...

Andaman Sea
and Myanmar. Thailand also shares
maritime border A maritime boundary is a conceptual division of the Earth Earth is the third planet from the Sun and the only astronomical object known to harbor life. About 29% of Earth's surface is land consisting of continent A continent is ...
s with
Vietnam Vietnam ( vi, Việt Nam, ), officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam,, group="n" is a country in Southeast Asia Southeast Asia, also spelled South East Asia and South-East Asia, and also known as Southeastern Asia or SEA, is the ...

Vietnam
in the Gulf of Thailand to the southeast, and
Indonesia Indonesia ( ), officially the Republic of Indonesia ( id, Republik Indonesia, links=yes ), is a country in Southeast Asia Southeast Asia, also spelled South East Asia and South-East Asia, and also known as Southeastern Asia or SEA, is t ...

Indonesia
and
India India, officially the Republic of India (Hindi Hindi (Devanagari: , हिंदी, ISO 15919, ISO: ), or more precisely Modern Standard Hindi (Devanagari: , ISO 15919, ISO: ), is an Indo-Aryan language spoken chiefly in Hindi Belt, ...

India
(
Andaman and Nicobar Islands Andaman and Nicobar Islands is a union territory of India consisting of 572 islands, of which 38 are inhabited, at the juncture of the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea. The territory is about north of Aceh in Indonesia and separated from Thai ...

Andaman and Nicobar Islands
) on the Andaman Sea to the southwest. Nominally, Thailand is a
constitutional monarchy A constitutional monarchy, parliamentary monarchy, or democratic monarchy is a form of monarchy in which the monarch exercises his authority in accordance with a constitution and is not alone in deciding. Constitutional monarchies differ from ...
and
parliamentary democracy A parliamentary system or parliamentary democracy is a system of democracy, democratic government, governance of a sovereign state, state (or subordinate entity) where the Executive (government), executive derives its democratic legitimacy fr ...
; however, in recent history, its government has experienced multiple coups and periods of
military dictatorship A military dictatorship is a dictatorship in which the military exerts complete or substantial control over political authority, and the dictator is often a high-ranked military officer. The reverse situation is to have civilian control of the m ...
s.
Bangkok Bangkok is the capital and most populous city of Thailand Thailand ( th, ประเทศไทย), historically known as Siam, () officially the Kingdom of Thailand, is a country in Southeast Asia Southeast Asia or Southeastern ...

Bangkok
is the nation's capital and largest city.
Tai peoples Tai people refers to the population of descendants of speakers of a common Tai language, including sub-populations that no longer speak a Tai language. There are a total of about 93 million people of Tai ancestry worldwide, with the largest eth ...
migrated from southwestern
China China (), officially the People's Republic of China (PRC; ), is a country in East Asia East Asia is the eastern region of Asia Asia () is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern Hemisphere ...

China
to mainland Southeast Asia from the 11th century; the oldest known mention of their presence in the region by the
exonym An endonym (from Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 milli ...
''Siamese'' dates to the 12th century. Various
Indianised kingdoms Greater India, or the Indian cultural sphere, is an area composed of many countries and regions in South Asia, South and Southeast Asia that were historically influenced by Indian culture. The term ''Greater India'' as a reference to the India ...
such as the
Mon kingdoms Mon kingdoms were political establishments by the Mon-speaking people that ruled large sections of present-day Burma Myanmar (; my, မြန်မာ ) or Burma ( my, ဗမာ ), officially the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, is ...
,
Khmer Empire The Khmer Empire ( km, ចក្រភពខ្មែរ), or the Angkorian Empire ( km, ចក្រភពអង្គរ, link=no), are the terms that historians use to refer to Cambodia Cambodia (; also Kampuchea ; km, កម្ព ...

Khmer Empire
and
Malay states The monarchies of Malaysia refer to the constitutional monarchy A constitutional monarchy, parliamentary monarchy, or democratic monarchy is a form of monarchy in which the monarch exercises his authority in accordance with a constitution ...
ruled the region, competing with Thai states such as the Kingdoms of
Ngoenyang The Kingdom of Hiran or Kingdom of Ngoenyang ( th, อาณาจักรหิรัญเงินยาง ) was an early mueang or kingdom of the Northern Thai people from the 7th through 13th centuries AD and was originally centered on Hi ...
, Sukhothai,
Lan Na The Lan Na or Lan Na Kingdom ( nod, , , "Kingdom of a Million Rice Fields"; th, อาณาจักรล้านนา, , ), also known as Lannathai, and most commonly called Lanna or Lanna Kingdom, was an Greater India#Indianized states, I ...
and Ayutthaya, which rivalled each other. Documented European contact began in 1511 with a
Portuguese Portuguese may refer to: * anything of, from, or related to the country and nation of Portugal ** Portuguese cuisine, traditional foods ** Portuguese language, a Romance language *** Portuguese dialects, variants of the Portuguese language ** Portug ...
diplomatic mission to Ayutthaya, which became a regional power by the end of the 15th century. Ayutthaya reached its peak during cosmopolitan
Narai King Narai the Great ( th, สมเด็จพระนารายณ์มหาราช, , ) or Ramathibodi III ( th, รามาธิบดีที่ ๓ ) was the 27th monarch of Ayutthaya Kingdom, the 4th and the last monarch of the ...
's reign, gradually declining thereafter until being ultimately destroyed in the 1767 Burmese–Siamese War.
Taksin King Taksin the Great ( th, สมเด็จพระเจ้าตากสินมหาราช, , ) or the King of Thonburi ( th, สมเด็จพระเจ้ากรุงธนบุรี, ; ; : Dên Chao; : ''Trịnh Quốc ...
quickly reunified the fragmented territory and established the short-lived
Thonburi Kingdom The Thonburi Kingdom ( th, ธนบุรี) was a major Siamese kingdom which existed in Southeast Asia Southeast Asia, also spelled South East Asia and South-East Asia, and also known as Southeastern Asia or SEA, is the geographical ...
. He was succeeded in 1782 by
Buddha Yodfa Chulaloke Phra Phutthayotfa Chulalok Maharaj (), born Thongduang () and also known as Rama I (20 March 1737 – 7 September 1809), was the founder of the Rattanakosin Kingdom and the first monarch A monarch is a head of stateWebster's II New College D ...

Buddha Yodfa Chulaloke
, the first monarch of the current . Throughout the era of
Western imperialism in Asia Western imperialism in Asia refers to the influence of Western Europe and associated states (such as Russia, Japan and the United States) in Asian territories. It originated in the 15th-century search for trade routes to India and Southeast Asia ...
, Siam remained the only nation in the region to avoid being colonised by foreign powers, although it was often forced to cede both territory and trade concessions in
unequal treaties Unequal treaty is the name given by the Chinese to a series of treaties signed between China (mostly referring to the Qing dynasty The Qing dynasty, officially the Great Qing (), was the last Dynasties in Chinese history, dynasty in t ...
. The Siamese system of government was centralised and transformed into a modern unitary
absolute monarchy Absolute monarchy (or absolutism as doctrine) is a form of monarchy in which the monarch holds supreme autocracy, autocratic authority, principally not being restricted by written laws, legislature, or customs. These are often hereditary monar ...
in the reign of
Chulalongkorn Chulalongkorn ( th, จุฬาลงกรณ์, 20 September 1853 – 23 October 1910) was the fifth monarch A monarch is a head of state A head of state (or chief of state) is the public persona A persona (plural personae or ...

Chulalongkorn
. In
World War I World War I, often abbreviated as WWI or WW1, also known as the First World War or the Great War, was a global war A world war is "a war engaged in by all or most of the principal nations of the world". The term is usually reserved for ...

World War I
, Siam sided with the allies, a political decision to amend the unequal treaties. Following a bloodless revolution in 1932, it became a constitutional monarchy and changed its official name to Thailand, which was an ally of Japan in
World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a global war A world war is "a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literatur ...
. In the late 1950s, a military coup under Field Marshal
Sarit Thanarat Field Marshal Sarit Thanarat (also spelt ''Dhanarajata''; th, สฤษดิ์ ธนะรัชต์, ; 16 June 1908 – 8 December 1963) was a Thai general who staged a coup in 1957, replacing Plaek Phibunsongkhram as Thailand's prime min ...

Sarit Thanarat
revived the monarchy's historically influential role in politics. Thailand became a major ally of the
United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, states, a Washington, D.C., ...

United States
, and played an anti-communist role in the region as a member of the failed
SEATO The Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO) was an international organization ''International Organization'' is a quarterly peer-reviewed academic journal that covers the entire field of international relations, international affairs. It was ...
, but since 1975, had sought to improve relations with Communist China and Thailand's neighbors. Apart from a brief period of parliamentary democracy in the mid-1970s, Thailand has periodically alternated between democracy and military rule. Since the 2000s, it has been caught in a series of bitter political conflict between supporters and opponents of
Thaksin Shinawatra Thaksin Shinawatra ( th, ทักษิณ ชินวัตร; ; ; Chinese Chinese can refer to: * Something related to China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the List of co ...
, which culminated in two coups, most recently in 2014 and the establishment of its current and 20th constitution and faces the ongoing pro-democracy protests. Thailand is a
middle power In international relations International relations (IR), international affairs (IA) or international studies (IS) is the scientific study of interactions between sovereign states. In a broader sense, it concerns all activities between ...
in global affairs, and a founding member of
ASEAN ASEAN; ( , ) officially the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, is an economic union comprising 10 member states in Southeast Asia Southeast Asia or Southeastern Asia is the United Nations geoscheme for Asia#South-eastern Asia, southe ...

ASEAN
; ranking high in the
Human Development Index The Human Development Index (HDI) is a statistic composite index of life expectancy Life expectancy is a statistical measure of the average time an organism is expected to live, based on the year of its birth, its current age, and ot ...
. It has the second-largest economy in Southeast Asia, and the 20th-largest in the world by PPP. Thailand is classified as a newly industrialised economy; manufacturing, agriculture, and
tourism Tourism is travel Travel is the movement of people between distant geographical location In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of science devoted to the study of th ...
are leading sectors of the economy.Thailand and the World Bank
, World Bank on Thailand country overview.
The Guardian
Country profile: Thailand
25 April 2009.


Etymology

Thailand, , , officially the Kingdom of Thailand, , formerly known as the
exonym An endonym (from Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 milli ...
''Siam'' also spelled ''Siem'', ''Syâm'', or ''Syâma'' by outsiders prior to 1949. According to George Cœdès, the word ''Thai'' () means 'free man' in the Thai language, "differentiating the Thai from the natives encompassed in Thai society as serfs". According to
Chit Phumisak Chit Phumisak (also spelt Jit Poumisak; th, จิตร ภูมิศักดิ์, ; 25 September 1930 – 5 May 1966) was a Thailand, Thai author, philology, philologist, historian, poet, songwriter, and communism, communist revolutionary. ...
, Thai () simply means 'people' or 'human being', his investigation shows that some rural areas used the word "Thai" instead of the usual Thai word ''khon'' () for people. According to
Michel Ferlus Michel Ferlus (born 1935) is a French linguist whose special study is in the historical phonology of languages of Southeast Asia Southeast Asia or Southeastern Asia is the United Nations geoscheme for Asia#South-eastern Asia, southeastern su ...
, the ethnonyms Thai-Tai (or Thay-Tay) would have evolved from the etymon ''*k(ə)ri:'' 'human being'. Thais often refer to their country using the polite form ''prathet Thai'' ( th, ประเทศไทย), they also use the more colloquial term ''mueang Thai'' ( th, เมืองไทย) or simply ''Thai;'' the word ''
mueang Mueang ( th, เมือง ''mɯ̄ang'', ), Muang ( lo, ເມືອງ ''mɯ́ang'', ; Tai Nuea Tai Nuea or Tai Nüa (Tai Nüa: ; also called Tai Le, Dehong Dai or Chinese Shan; own name: ''Tai2 Lə6'', which means "Upper Tai" or "Northern Ta ...
'', archaically referring to a
city-state A city-state is an independent sovereign Sovereign is a title which can be applied to the highest leader in various categories. The word is borrowed from Old French Old French (, , ; Modern French French ( or ) is a Romance la ...
, is commonly used to refer to a city or town as the centre of a region. ''Ratcha Anachak Thai'' ( th, ราชอาณาจักรไทย) means 'kingdom of Thailand' or 'kingdom of Thai'. Etymologically, its components are: ''ratcha'' ( sa, राजन्, ''
rājan ''Raja'' (; from Sanskrit Sanskrit (, attributively , ''saṃskṛta-'', nominalization, nominally , ''saṃskṛtam'') is a classical language of South Asia belonging to the Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European ...
'', 'king, royal, realm'); ''-ana-'' (
Pali Pali () is a Middle Indo-AryanIndo-Aryan refers to: * Indo-Aryan languages ** Indo-Aryan superstrate in Mitanni or Mitanni-Aryan * Indo-Aryan peoples, the various peoples speaking these languages See also *Aryan invasion theory (disambiguat ...
''āṇā'' 'authority, command, power', itself from the Sanskrit , ''ājñā'', of the same meaning) ''-chak'' (from Sanskrit ''cakra-'' 'wheel', a symbol of power and rule). The
Thai National Anthem The Thai National Anthem ( th, เพลงชาติไทย, translit=Phleng chāt Thai) is the title of Thailand's national anthem which was adopted on 10 December 1939. The melody was composed by Phra Chenduriyang (Peter Veit) and the words ...
( th, เพลงชาติ), written by
Luang Saranupraphan Luang Saranupraphan (Nuan Pachinphayak) ( th, หลวงสารานุประพันธ์ (นวล ปาจิณพยัคฆ์); 1896–1954) was a Thai writer. He is most known for writing the lyrics Lyrics are word In lin ...
during the patriotic 1930s, refers to the Thai nation as ''prathet Thai'' ( th, ประเทศไทย). The first line of the national anthem is: ''prathet thai ruam lueat nuea chat chuea thai'' ( th, ประเทศไทยรวมเลือดเนื้อชาติเชื้อไทย), 'Thailand is the unity of Thai flesh and blood'. The former name ''Siam'' may have originated from
Sanskrit Sanskrit (; attributively , ; nominalization, nominally , , ) is a classical language of South Asia that belongs to the Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European languages. It arose in South Asia after its predecessor langua ...

Sanskrit
श्याम (''śyāma'', 'dark') or Mon ရာမည(''rhmañña'', 'stranger'). The names ''
Shan Shan may refer to: People *Shan (surname), or 单 in Chinese, a Chinese surname *Shan, a variant of the Welsh given name usually spelled Siân *Occasionally used as a short form of Shannen/Shannon (given name), Shannon Ethnic groups *Shan people ...
'' and '' A-hom'' seem to be variants of the same word. The word ''Śyâma'' is possibly not its origin, but a learned and artificial distortion. Another theory is the name derives from the Chinese calling this region 'Xian' A further possibility is that Mon-speaking peoples migrating south called themselves ''syem'' as do the autochthonous
Mon-Khmer The Austroasiatic languages , also known as Mon–Khmer , are a large language family A language family is a group of language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meanin ...
-speaking inhabitants of the
Malay Peninsula The Malay Peninsula (Malay Malay may refer to: Languages * Malay language or Bahasa Melayu, a major Austronesian language spoken in Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei and Singapore ** History of the Malay language#Old Malay, the Malay language f ...
. The signature of King
Mongkut Mongkut ( th, มงกุฏ; 18 October 18041 October 1868) was the fourth monarch A monarch is a head of stateWebster's II New College DictionarMonarch Houghton Mifflin. Boston. 2001. p. 707. Life tenure, for life or until abdication, and ...
(r. 1851–1868) reads ''SPPM'' (''Somdet Phra Poramenthra Maha'') ''Mongkut Rex Siamensium'' (Mongkut, King of the Siamese), and the usage of the name in the first international
Bowring Treaty The Bowring Treaty was a treaty signed between the British Empire and the Kingdom of Siam on 18 April 1855. The treaty had the primary effect of liberalizing foreign trade in Siam, and was signed by five Siamese plenipotentiaries (among them Won ...
giving the name ''Siam'' official status until 24 June 1939 when it was changed to "Thailand".Thailand (Siam) History
CSMngt-Thai.
Thailand was renamed ''Siam'' from 1946 to 1948, after which it again reverted to "Thailand".


History


Prehistory

There is evidence of continuous human habitation in present-day Thailand from 20,000 years ago to the present day. The earliest evidence of rice growing is dated at 2,000 BCE. Bronze appeared circa 1,250–1,000 BCE. The site of
Ban Chiang Ban Chiang ( th, บ้านเชียง, ) is an archeology, archaeological site in Nong Han District, Udon Thani Province, Thailand. It has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1992. Discovered in 1966, the site attracted interest due ...
in northeast Thailand currently ranks as the earliest known centre of copper and bronze production in Southeast Asia. Iron appeared around 500 BCE. The
Kingdom of Funan Funan ( or , Chu Han: 夫南, km, ហ្វូណន, ; vi, Phù Nam) or Nokor Phnom ( km, នគរភ្នំ, , lit. 'Mountain Kingdom') was the name given by Chinese cartography, Chinese cartographers, geographers and writers to an a ...
was the first and most powerful Southeast Asian kingdom at the time (2nd century BCE). The
Mon people The Mon ( mnw, မန်; my, မွန်လူမျိုး‌, ; th, มอญ, ) are an ethnic group An ethnic group or ethnicity is a grouping of people A people is any plurality of person A person (plural people or person ...
established the principalities of
Dvaravati The Dvaravati ( th, ทวารวดี ) period lasted from around the 6th to the 11th century. Dvaravati refers to a culture, an art style, and a disparate conglomeration of principalities of Mon people. Archaeological research over the past t ...
and Kingdom of
Hariphunchai Hariphunchai or Haribhunjaya (from th, หริภุญชัย, in turn from pi, Haribhuñjaya) was a Mon kingdom in the north of present Thailand ) , royal_anthem = '' Sansoen Phra Barami''( en, "Glorify His prestige") , i ...
in the 6th century. The
Khmer people Khmer people ( km, ជនជាតិខ្មែរ, ) are a Southeast Asia Southeast Asia, also spelled South East Asia and South-East Asia, and also known as Southeastern Asia or SEA, is the geographical United Nations geoscheme for ...
established the
Khmer empire The Khmer Empire ( km, ចក្រភពខ្មែរ), or the Angkorian Empire ( km, ចក្រភពអង្គរ, link=no), are the terms that historians use to refer to Cambodia Cambodia (; also Kampuchea ; km, កម្ព ...

Khmer empire
, centred in
Angkor Angkor ( km, អង្គរ , ''capital city''), also known as Yasodharapura ( km, យសោធរបុរៈ; )Headly, Robert K.; Chhor, Kylin; Lim, Lam Kheng; Kheang, Lim Hak; Chun, Chen. 1977. ''Cambodian-English Dictionary''. Bureau of ...

Angkor
, in the 9th century.
Tambralinga Tambralinga ( sa, Tāmbraliṅga) was an Indianised kingdom located on the Malay Peninsula The Malay Peninsula (Malay language, Malay: ''Semenanjung Tanah Melayu'') is a peninsula in Southeast Asia. The land mass runs approximately north–sou ...
, a Malay state controlling trade through the Malacca Strait, rose in the 10th century. The Indochina peninsula was heavily influenced by the culture and religions of India from the time of the Kingdom of Funan to that of the Khmer Empire. The
Thai people Thai people ( th, ชาวไทย; ''endonym An endonym (from Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast ...
are of the Tai ethnic group, characterised by common linguistic roots. Chinese chronicles first mention the Tai peoples in the 6th century BCE. While there are many assumptions regarding the origin of Tai peoples, , a historian of Thailand, argued that their ancestors which at the present inhabit Laos, Thailand, Myanmar, India, and China came from the Điện Biên Phủ area between the 5th and the 8th century. Thai people began migrating into present-day Thailand around the 11th century, which Mon and Khmer people occupied at the time. Thus Thai culture was influenced by Indian, Mon, and Khmer cultures. According to French historian George Cœdès, "The Thai first enter history of Farther India in the eleventh century with the mention of ''Syam'' slaves or prisoners of war in
Champa Champa (Cham Cham or CHAM may refer to: Ethnicities and languages *Chams The Chams or Cham people ( Cham: ''Urang Campa'' / ꨂꨣꩃ ꨌꩌꨛꨩ, vi, người Chăm or người Chàm, km, ជនជាតិចាម), are an ethni ...

Champa
epigraphy", and "in the twelfth century, the
bas-relief Relief is a sculptural technique in which the sculpted elements remain attached to a solid background of the same material. The term ''relief Relief is a sculptural technique where the sculpted elements remain attached to a solid background o ...
s of
Angkor Wat Angkor Wat (; km, អង្គរវត្ត "Temple city/city of temples") is the largest religious structure (temple complex) in the world by land area, measuring , located in Cambodia. Originally constructed as a personal mausoleum for ...

Angkor Wat
" where "a group of warriors" are described as ''Syam''.


Early states and Sukhothai Kingdom

After the decline of the Khmer Empire and
Kingdom of Pagan The Kingdom of Pagan ( my, ပုဂံခေတ်, , lit. "Pagan Period"; also commonly known as the Pagan Dynasty and the Pagan Empire) was the first kingdom to unify the regions that would later constitute modern-day Burma (Myanmar). Pag ...
in the early-13th century, various states thrived in their place. The domains of Tai people existed from the northeast of present-day India to the north of present-day Laos and to the
Malay peninsula The Malay Peninsula (Malay Malay may refer to: Languages * Malay language or Bahasa Melayu, a major Austronesian language spoken in Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei and Singapore ** History of the Malay language#Old Malay, the Malay language f ...
. During the 13th century, Tai people had already settled in the core land of
Dvaravati The Dvaravati ( th, ทวารวดี ) period lasted from around the 6th to the 11th century. Dvaravati refers to a culture, an art style, and a disparate conglomeration of principalities of Mon people. Archaeological research over the past t ...
and
Lavo Kingdom The Kingdom of Lavo was a political entity (Mandala (Southeast Asian political model), mandala) on the left bank of the Chao Phraya River in the Upper Chao Phraya valley from the end of Dvaravati civilization, around the 7th century, until 1388. T ...
to
Nakhon Si Thammarat Nakhon Si Thammarat Municipality ( th, เทศบาลนครนครศรีธรรมราช, ; from Pali ''Nagara Sri Dhammaraja'') is a municipality (''thesaban nakhon'') in Southern Thailand, capital of the Nakhon Si Thammarat Pr ...
in the south. There are, however, no records detailing the arrival of the Tais. Around 1240, Pho Khun Bang Klang Hao, a local Tai ruler, rallied the people to rebel against the Khmer. He later crowned himself the first king of
Sukhothai Kingdom The Sukhothai Kingdom ( th, สุโขทัย, , : , ) was a Thai kingdom () in surrounding the ancient capital city of in present-day north-central . The kingdom was founded by in 1238 and existed as an independent polity until 1438, ...
in 1238. Mainstream Thai historians count Sukhothai as the first kingdom of Thai people. Sukhothai expanded furthest during the reign of
Ram Khamhaeng Ram Khamhaeng ( th, รามคำแหง, ) or Pho Khun Ram Khamhaeng Maharat ( th, พ่อขุนรามคำแหงมหาราช, ), also spelled Ramkhamhaeng, was the third king of the List of monarchs of Thailand#Phra Ruang D ...
(r. 1279–1298). However, it was mostly a network of local lords who swore fealty to Sukhothai, not directly controlled by it. He is believed have invented
Thai script The Thai script ( th, อักษรไทย, ) is the abugida An abugida (, from : አቡጊዳ), sometimes known as alphasyllabary, neosyllabary or pseudo-alphabet, is a segmental in which consonant-vowel sequences are written as a ...
and Thai ceramics were an important export in his era. Sukhothai embraced
Theravada Theravāda (; Pāli Pali () is a Middle Indo-AryanIndo-Aryan refers to: * Indo-Aryan languages ** Indo-Aryan superstrate in Mitanni or Mitanni-Aryan * Indo-Aryan peoples, the various peoples speaking these languages See also *Aryan inva ...
Buddhism Buddhism (, ) is the world's fourth-largest religion Religion is a social Social organisms, including humans, live collectively in interacting populations. This interaction is considered social whether they are aware of it or not, and ...

Buddhism
in the reign of
Maha Thammaracha I Maha Thammaracha I ( th, มหาธรรมราชาที่ ๑, ), born as Li Thai ( th, ลิไทย, ), was a king of the Sukhothai Kingdom, and the first Buddhist philosopher to write in the Thai language. He reigned from roughly 13 ...
(1347–1368). To the north,
Mangrai Mangrai ( nod, ; th, มังราย; 1238–1311), also known as Mengrai ( th, เม็งราย),The name according to historical sources is "Mangrai", and this is used in most modern scholarly applications. "Mengrai", popularised by a 19 ...
, who descended from a local ruler lineage of
Ngoenyang The Kingdom of Hiran or Kingdom of Ngoenyang ( th, อาณาจักรหิรัญเงินยาง ) was an early mueang or kingdom of the Northern Thai people from the 7th through 13th centuries AD and was originally centered on Hi ...
, founded the kingdom of
Lan Na The Lan Na or Lan Na Kingdom ( nod, , , "Kingdom of a Million Rice Fields"; th, อาณาจักรล้านนา, , ), also known as Lannathai, and most commonly called Lanna or Lanna Kingdom, was an Greater India#Indianized states, I ...
in 1292, centered in
Chiang Mai Chiang Mai (, from th, เชียงใหม่ , nod, ), sometimes written as Chiengmai or Chiangmai, is the largest city in northern Thailand Northern Thailand ) , royal_anthem = '' Sansoen Phra Barami''( en, "Glorify ...

Chiang Mai
. He unified the surrounding area and his dynasty would rule the kingdom continuously for the next two centuries. He also created a network of states through political alliances to the east and north of the
Mekong The Mekong or Mekong River is a trans-boundary river A transboundary river is a river that crosses at least one political border, either a border within a nation or an international boundary. Bangladesh has the highest number of these river ...

Mekong
. While in the port in Lower Chao Phraya Basin, a federation around
Phetchaburi Phetchaburi ( th, เพชรบุรี, ) or Phet Buri () is a town ('' thesaban mueang'') in southern Thailand ) , royal_anthem = '' Sansoen Phra Barami''( en, "Glorify His prestige") , image_map = , map_capti ...
,
Suphan Buri Suphan Buri () is a town (''thesaban mueang Thesaban ( th, เทศบาล, , ) are the municipalities of Thailand. There are three levels of municipalities: city, town, and sub-district. Bangkok and Pattaya are special municipal entities no ...
,
Lopburi Lopburi Narai Fair in February Lopburi ( th, ลพบุรี, , ) is the capital city of Lopburi Province in Thailand. It is about northeast of Bangkok. It has a population of 58,000. The town (''thesaban mueang'') covers the whole ''tam ...

Lopburi
, and the Ayutthaya area was created in the 11th century.


Ayutthaya Kingdom

According to the most widely accepted version of its origin, the Ayutthaya Kingdom rose from the earlier, nearby
Lavo Kingdom The Kingdom of Lavo was a political entity (Mandala (Southeast Asian political model), mandala) on the left bank of the Chao Phraya River in the Upper Chao Phraya valley from the end of Dvaravati civilization, around the 7th century, until 1388. T ...
and Suvarnabhumi with
Uthong King U-thongThe Royal Institute. List of monarchs Ayutthaya''. ( th, พระเจ้าอู่ทอง) or King Ramathibodi I ( th, สมเด็จพระรามาธิบดีที่ ๑ ; 1314–1369) was the first king of ...
as its first king. Ayutthaya was a patchwork of self-governing principalities and tributary provinces owing allegiance to the King of Ayutthaya under the mandala system. Its initial expansion was through conquest and political marriage. Before the end of the 15th century, Ayutthaya invaded the Khmer Empire three times and sacked its capital
Angkor Angkor ( km, អង្គរ , ''capital city''), also known as Yasodharapura ( km, យសោធរបុរៈ; )Headly, Robert K.; Chhor, Kylin; Lim, Lam Kheng; Kheang, Lim Hak; Chun, Chen. 1977. ''Cambodian-English Dictionary''. Bureau of ...

Angkor
. Ayutthaya then became a regional power in place of the Khmer. Constant interference of Sukhothai effectively made it a vassal state of Ayutthaya and it was finally incorporated into the kingdom.
Borommatrailokkanat Borommatrailokkanat ( th, บรมไตรโลกนาถ, ) or Trailok (1431–1488) was the king of the Ayutthaya Kingdom from 1448 to 1488. He was one of many monarchs who gained the epithet ''King of White Elephants'' ( th, พระเ ...
brought about bureaucratic reforms which lasted into the 20th century and created a system of social hierarchy called ''
sakdina''Sakdina'' ( th, ศักดินา) was a system of social hierarchy in use from the Ayutthaya to early Rattanakosin periods of Thai history. It assigned a numerical rank to each person depending on their status, and served to determine their ...
'', where male commoners were conscripted as
corvée Corvée () is a form of unpaid, forced labour Unfree labour, or forced labour, is any work relation, especially in modern or early modern history, in which people are employed against their will with the threat of destitution, detention, ...

corvée
labourers for six months a year. Ayutthaya was interested in the
Malay peninsula The Malay Peninsula (Malay Malay may refer to: Languages * Malay language or Bahasa Melayu, a major Austronesian language spoken in Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei and Singapore ** History of the Malay language#Old Malay, the Malay language f ...
, but failed to conquer the
Malacca Sultanate #REDIRECT Malacca Sultanate The Malacca Sultanate ( ms, Kesultanan Melayu Melaka; Jawi script: کسلطانن ملايو ملاک) was a Malay sultanate centred in the modern-day state of Malacca, Malaysia. Conventional historical thesis marks c ...
which was supported by the Chinese
Ming Dynasty The Ming dynasty (), officially the Great Ming, was the Dynasties in Chinese history, ruling dynasty of China from 1368 to 1644 following the collapse of the Mongol Empire, Mongol-led Yuan dynasty. The Ming dynasty was the last imperial dynas ...

Ming Dynasty
. European contact and trade started in the early-16th century, with the envoy of
Portuguese Portuguese may refer to: * anything of, from, or related to the country and nation of Portugal ** Portuguese cuisine, traditional foods ** Portuguese language, a Romance language *** Portuguese dialects, variants of the Portuguese language ** Portug ...
duke
Afonso de Albuquerque Afonso de Albuquerque, Duke of Goa (; 1453 – 16 December 1515) (also spelled Aphonso or Alfonso) was a Portuguese general, admiral, and statesman. He served as List of governors of Portuguese India, Governor of Portuguese India from 1509 to 1 ...

Afonso de Albuquerque
in 1511, Portugal became an allied and ceded some soldiers to King Rama Thibodi II. The Portuguese were followed in the 17th century by the French, Dutch, and English. Rivalry for supremacy over Chiang Mai and the Mon people pitted Ayutthaya against the Burmese Kingdom. Several wars with its ruling dynasty Taungoo Dynasty starting in the 1540s in the reign of
Tabinshwehti Tabinshwehti ( my, တပင်‌ရွှေထီး, ; 16 April 1516 – 30 April 1550) was king of Myanmar, Burma (Myanmar) from 1530 to 1550, and the founder of the First Toungoo Empire. His military campaigns (1534–1549) created the lar ...
and
Bayinnaung , image = File:Bayinnaung.JPG , caption = Statue of Bayinnaung in front of the National Museum of Myanmar , reign = 30 April 1550 – 10 October 1581 , coronation = 11 January 1551 at Taungo ...

Bayinnaung
were ultimately ended with the capture of the capital in 1570. Then was a brief period of vassalage to Burma until
Naresuan King Naresuan The Great ( th, สมเด็จพระนเรศวรมหาราช, , ) or Sanphet II ( th, สรรเพชญ์ที่ ๒), ( my , နရဲစွမ် (သို့) ဗြနရာဇ်) was the 18th monar ...
proclaimed independence in 1584. Ayutthaya then sought to improve relations with European powers for many successive reigns. The kingdom especially prospered during cosmopolitan
Narai King Narai the Great ( th, สมเด็จพระนารายณ์มหาราช, , ) or Ramathibodi III ( th, รามาธิบดีที่ ๓ ) was the 27th monarch of Ayutthaya Kingdom, the 4th and the last monarch of the ...
's reign (1656–1688) when some European travelers regarded Ayutthaya as an Asian great power, alongside China and India. However, growing French influence later in his reign was met with nationalist sentiment and led eventually to the
Siamese revolution of 1688 The Siamese revolution of 1688 was a major popular upheaval in the Siamese Ayutthaya Kingdom (modern Thailand ) , royal_anthem = '' Sansoen Phra Barami''( en, "Glorify His prestige") , image_map = , map_caption = , ...
. However, overall relations remained stable, with French missionaries still active in preaching Christianity. After a bloody period of dynastic struggle, Ayutthaya entered into what has been called the Siamese "
golden age#REDIRECT Golden Age The term Golden Age comes from Greek mythology, particularly the ''Works and Days'' of Hesiod, and is part of the description of temporal decline of the state of peoples through five Ages of Man, Ages, Gold being the first a ...

golden age
", a relatively peaceful episode in the second quarter of the 18th century when
art Art is a diverse range of (products of) human activities Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most populous and widespread species of primates, characterized by bipedality, opposable thumbs, hairlessness, and intelligence allowing the use ...
,
literature Literature broadly is any collection of written Writing is a medium of human communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share") is the act of developing Semantics, meaning among Subject (philosophy), entitie ...
, and learning flourished. There were seldom foreign wars, apart from conflict with the
Nguyễn Lords The Nguyễn lords (, 主阮; 1558–1777), also known as the Nguyễn clan or House of Nguyễn, were rulers of Đàng Trong (Inner Realm) in Central Vietnam, Central and Southern Vietnam, as opposed to Đàng Ngoài or Outer Realm, ruled by t ...
for control of
Cambodia Cambodia (; also Kampuchea ; km, កម្ពុជា, ), officially the Kingdom of Cambodia, is a country located in the southern portion of the Indochinese peninsula in Southeast Asia. It is in area, bordered by Thailand to Cambodia–T ...

Cambodia
starting around 1715. The last fifty years of the kingdom witnessed bloody succession crises, where there were purges of court officials and able generals for many consecutive reigns. In 1765, a combined 40,000-strong force of Burmese armies invaded it from the north and west. The Burmese under the new
Alaungpaya Alaungpaya ( my, အလောင်းဘုရား, ; also spelled Alaunghpaya or Alaung Phra; 11 May 1760) was the founder of the Konbaung Dynasty of Myanmar, Burma (Myanmar). By the time of his death from illness during his Burmese–Siamese ...

Alaungpaya
dynasty quickly rose to become a new local power by 1759. After a 14-month siege, the capital city's walls fell and the city was burned in April 1767.


Thonburi Kingdom

The capital and much territories lied in chaos after the war. The former capital was occupied by the garrison army and five local leaders declared themselves overlords, including the lords of Sakwangburi,
Phitsanulok Phitsanulok ( th, พิษณุโลก, ) is an important, historic city in Northern Thailand#Regional classification of northern Thailand, lower northern Thailand and is the capital of Phitsanulok Province. Phitsanulok is home to Naresuan ...

Phitsanulok
,
Pimai Lao New Year, called Pi Mai ( lo, ປີໃໝ່, ) or less commonly Songkran ( lo, ສົງກຣານ, ), is celebrated every year from 13/14 April to 15/16 April. History Lao New Year is a popular English name for a traditional celebra ...
,
Chanthaburi Chanthaburi ( th, จันทบุรี) is a town ('' thesaban mueang'') in the east of Thailand ) , royal_anthem = '' Sansoen Phra Barami''( en, "Glorify His prestige") , image_map = , map_caption = , capit ...
, and
Nakhon Si Thammarat Nakhon Si Thammarat Municipality ( th, เทศบาลนครนครศรีธรรมราช, ; from Pali ''Nagara Sri Dhammaraja'') is a municipality (''thesaban nakhon'') in Southern Thailand, capital of the Nakhon Si Thammarat Pr ...
. Chao Tak, a capable military leader, proceeded to make himself a lord by
right of conquest The ''right of conquest'' is a right Rights are law, legal, social, or ethics, ethical principles of Liberty, freedom or entitlement; that is, rights are the fundamental normative rules about what is allowed of people or owed to people accordi ...
, beginning with the legendary sack of
Chanthaburi Chanthaburi ( th, จันทบุรี) is a town ('' thesaban mueang'') in the east of Thailand ) , royal_anthem = '' Sansoen Phra Barami''( en, "Glorify His prestige") , image_map = , map_caption = , capit ...
. Based at Chanthaburi, Chao Tak raised troops and resources, and sent a fleet up the
Chao Phraya The Chao Phraya ( or ) ( th, แม่น้ำเจ้าพระยา , or ) is the major river in Thailand, with its low alluvial plain forming the centre of the country. It flows through Bangkok Bangkok is the capital and most po ...

Chao Phraya
to take the fort of
Thonburi __NOTOC__ 300px, The village of Thonburi, on the right (west) bank of the Chao Phraya (here in the lower left corner of the map), facing the fortress of Bangkok, during the 1688 Siege of Bangkok. Thonburi ( th, ธนบุรี) is an area o ...

Thonburi
. In the same year, Chao Tak was able to retake Ayutthaya from the Burmese only seven months after the fall of the city. Chao Tak then crowned himself as
Taksin King Taksin the Great ( th, สมเด็จพระเจ้าตากสินมหาราช, , ) or the King of Thonburi ( th, สมเด็จพระเจ้ากรุงธนบุรี, ; ; : Dên Chao; : ''Trịnh Quốc ...
and proclaimed
Thonburi __NOTOC__ 300px, The village of Thonburi, on the right (west) bank of the Chao Phraya (here in the lower left corner of the map), facing the fortress of Bangkok, during the 1688 Siege of Bangkok. Thonburi ( th, ธนบุรี) is an area o ...

Thonburi
as temporary capital in the same year. He also quickly subdued the other warlords. His forces engaged in wars with Burma, Laos, and Cambodia, which successfully drove the Burmese out of Lan Na in 1775, captured
Vientiane Vientiane ( , ; lo, wikt:ວຽງຈັນ, ວຽງຈັນ, ) is the capital city, capital and largest city of Laos, on the banks of the Mekong River near the border with Thailand. Vientiane became the capital in 1573, due to fears of a ...

Vientiane
in 1778 and tried to install a pro-Thai king in Cambodia in the 1770s. In his final years there was a coup, caused supposedly by his "insanity", and eventually Taksin and his sons were executed by his longtime companion General (the future Rama I). He was the first king of the ruling and founder of the Rattanakosin Kingdom on 6 April 1782.


Modernisation and centralisation

Under
Rama I Phra Phutthayotfa Chulalok Maharaj (, 20 March 1737 – 7 September 1809), personal name Thongduang (), also known as Rama I, was the founder of the Rattanakosin Kingdom and the first Monarchy of Thailand, monarch of the reigning Chakri dynas ...

Rama I
(1782–1809), Rattanakosin successfully defended against Burmese attacks and put an end to Burmese incursions. He also created suzerainty over large portions of Laos and Cambodia. In 1821, Briton
John Crawfurd John Crawfurd (13 August 1783 – 11 May 1868) was a Scottish physician, colonial administrator and diplomat, and author. He is now best known for his work on Asian languages, his ''History of the Indian Archipelago'', and his role in founding ...

John Crawfurd
was sent to negotiate a new trade agreement with Siam – the first sign of an issue which was to dominate 19th century Siamese politics. Bangkok signed the
Burney Treaty The treaty between Kingdom of Siam and Great Britain commonly known as the Burney Treaty was signed at Bangkok Bangkok is the capital and most populous city of Thailand. It is known in Thai language, Thai as Krung Thep Maha Nakhon or simply Kru ...
in 1826, after the British victory in the
First Anglo-Burmese War The First Anglo-Burmese War ( my, ပထမ အင်္ဂလိပ် မြန်မာ စစ်; ; 5 March 1824 – 24 February 1826), also known as the First Burma War, was the first of three wars fought between the British British ma ...
.
Anouvong Chao Anouvong ( lo, ເຈົ້າອານຸວົງສ໌; th, เจ้าอนุวงศ์; ), or regnal name A regnal name, or reign name, is the name used by monarch A monarch is a head of stateWebster's II New College DictionarMon ...
of Vientiane, who mistakenly held the belief that Britain was about to launch an invasion of Bangkok, started the Lao rebellion in 1826 which was suppressed. Vientiane was destroyed and a large number of
Lao people The Lao people are a Tai ethnic group An ethnic group or ethnicity is a grouping of people A people is any plurality of person A person (plural people or persons) is a being that has certain capacities or attributes such as reason, ...
were relocated to
Khorat Plateau The Khorat Plateau ( th, ที่ราบสูงโคราช) is a plateau in the northeastern Thailand, Thai region of Isan. The plateau forms a natural region, named after the short form of Nakhon Ratchasima, a historical barrier controllin ...
as a result. Bangkok also waged several wars with
Vietnam Vietnam ( vi, Việt Nam, ), officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam,, group="n" is a country in Southeast Asia Southeast Asia, also spelled South East Asia and South-East Asia, and also known as Southeastern Asia or SEA, is the ...
, where Siam successfully regained hegemony over Cambodia. From the late-19th century, Siam tried to rule the ethnic groups in the realm as colonies. In the reign of
Mongkut Mongkut ( th, มงกุฏ; 18 October 18041 October 1868) was the fourth monarch A monarch is a head of stateWebster's II New College DictionarMonarch Houghton Mifflin. Boston. 2001. p. 707. Life tenure, for life or until abdication, and ...
(1851–1868), who recognised the potential threat Western powers posed to Siam, his court contacted the
British government The Government of the United Kingdom, domestically referred to as Her Majesty's Government, is the central government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
directly to defuse tensions. A British mission led by Sir
John Bowring Sir John Bowring ( Chinese translated name: 寶寧, 寶靈 (for Mandarin speakers) or 包令 (for Cantonese)) (Thai: พระยาสยามมานุกูลกิจ สยามมิตรมหายศ) (17 October 1792 – 23 Novem ...
, Governor of
Hong Kong Hong Kong (; , ), officially the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China (HKSAR), is a city A city is a large human settlement.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Pe ...
, led to the signing of the
Bowring Treaty The Bowring Treaty was a treaty signed between the British Empire and the Kingdom of Siam on 18 April 1855. The treaty had the primary effect of liberalizing foreign trade in Siam, and was signed by five Siamese plenipotentiaries (among them Won ...
, the first of many
unequal treaties Unequal treaty is the name given by the Chinese to a series of treaties signed between China (mostly referring to the Qing dynasty The Qing dynasty, officially the Great Qing (), was the last Dynasties in Chinese history, dynasty in t ...
with Western countries. This, however, brought trade and economic development to Siam. The unexpected death of Mongkut from
malaria Malaria is a mosquito-borne infectious disease that affects humans and other animals. Malaria causes symptoms Signs and symptoms are the observed or detectable signs, and experienced symptoms of an illness, injury, or condition. A sign fo ...

malaria
led to the reign of underage , with
Somdet Chaophraya Sri Suriwongse Somdet Chaophraya Borom Maha Sri Suriwongse ( th, สมเด็จเจ้าพระยาบรมมหาศรีสุริยวงศ์, , ; also spelled ''Suriyawong'', etc.; 23 December 1808 – 19 January 1883), whose personal n ...
(Chuang Bunnag) acting as regent. Chulalongkorn (r. 1868–1910) initiated centralisation, set up a privy council, and abolished slavery and the
corvée Corvée () is a form of unpaid, forced labour Unfree labour, or forced labour, is any work relation, especially in modern or early modern history, in which people are employed against their will with the threat of destitution, detention, ...

corvée
system. The Front Palace crisis of 1874 stalled attempts at further reforms. In the 1870s and 1880s, he incorporated the protectorates up north into the kingdom proper, which later expanded to the protectorates in the northeast and the south. He established twelve ''krom'' in 1888, which were equivalent to present-day ministries. The Franco-Siamese War, crisis of 1893 erupted, caused by French demands for Laotian territory east of Mekong. Thailand is the only Southeast Asian nation never to have been colonised by a Western power, in part because Britain and France agreed in 1896 to make the
Chao Phraya The Chao Phraya ( or ) ( th, แม่น้ำเจ้าพระยา , or ) is the major river in Thailand, with its low alluvial plain forming the centre of the country. It flows through Bangkok Bangkok is the capital and most po ...

Chao Phraya
valley a buffer state. Not until the 20th century could Siam renegotiate every unequal treaty dating from the Bowring Treaty, including extraterritoriality. The advent of the ''monthon'' system marked the creation of the modern Thai nation-state. In 1905, there were unsuccessful rebellions in the ancient Patani area, Ubon Ratchathani, and Phrae in opposition to an attempt to blunt the power of local lords. The Palace Revolt of 1912 was a failed attempt by Western-educated military officers to overthrow the Siamese monarchy. Vajiravudh (r. 1910–1925) responded by propaganda for the entirety of his reign, which promoted the Thaification, idea of the Thai nation. In 1917, Siam joined the First World War on the side of Allies of World War I, the Allies. In the aftermath Siam had a seat at the Paris Peace Conference, 1919, Paris Peace Conference, and gained freedom of taxation and the revocation of extraterritoriality.


Constitutional monarchy, World War II and Cold War

A Siamese revolution of 1932, bloodless revolution took place in 1932, in which Prajadhipok was forced to grant the country's first constitution, thereby ending centuries of feudal and
absolute monarchy Absolute monarchy (or absolutism as doctrine) is a form of monarchy in which the monarch holds supreme autocracy, autocratic authority, principally not being restricted by written laws, legislature, or customs. These are often hereditary monar ...
. The combined results of economic hardships brought on by the Great Depression, sharply falling rice prices, and a significant reduction in public spending caused discontent among aristocrats. In 1933, Boworadet rebellion, a counter-revolutionary rebellion occurred which aimed to reinstate absolute monarchy, but failed. Prajadhipok's conflict with the government eventually led to abdication. The government selected Ananda Mahidol, who was studying in Switzerland, to be the new king. Later that decade, the army wing of Khana Ratsadon came to dominate Siamese politics. Plaek Phibunsongkhram who became premier in 1938, started political oppression and took an openly anti-royalist stance. His government adopted nationalism and Westernisation, Sinophobia, anti-Chinese and anti-French policies. In 1939, there was a decree changing the name of the country from "Siam" to "Thailand". In 1941, Thailand was in French–Thai War, a brief conflict with Vichy France resulting in Thailand gaining some Lao and Cambodian territories. On 8 December 1941, Japanese invasion of Thailand, the Empire of Japan launched an invasion of Thailand, and fighting broke out shortly before Phibun ordered an armistice. Japan was granted free passage, and on 21 December Thailand and Japan signed a military alliance with a secret protocol, wherein the Japanese government agreed to help Thailand regain lost territories.Werner Gruhl,
Imperial Japan's World War Two, 1931–1945
', Transaction Publishers, 2007
The Thai government declared war on the United States and the United Kingdom. The Free Thai Movement was launched both in Thailand and abroad to oppose the government and Japanese occupation. After the war ended in 1945, Thailand signed formal agreements to end the state of war with Allies of World War II, the Allies. The main Allied powers had ignored Thailand's declaration of war. In June 1946, young King Ananda was found dead under mysterious circumstances. His younger brother Bhumibol Adulyadej ascended to the throne. Thailand joined the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO) to become an active ally of the United States in 1954. Field Marshal
Sarit Thanarat Field Marshal Sarit Thanarat (also spelt ''Dhanarajata''; th, สฤษดิ์ ธนะรัชต์, ; 16 June 1908 – 8 December 1963) was a Thai general who staged a coup in 1957, replacing Plaek Phibunsongkhram as Thailand's prime min ...

Sarit Thanarat
launched a coup in 1957, which removed Khana Ratsadon from politics. His rule (premiership 1959–1963) was autocratic; he built his legitimacy around the god-like status of the monarch and by channelling the government's loyalty to the king. His government improved the country's infrastructure and education. After the United States joined the Vietnam War in 1961, there was a secret agreement wherein the U.S. promised to protect Thailand. The period brought about increasing modernisation and Westernisation of Thai society. Rapid urbanisation occurred when the rural populace sought work in growing cities. Rural farmers gained class consciousness and were sympathetic to the Communist Party of Thailand. Economic development and education enabled the rise of a middle class in Bangkok and other cities. In October 1971, there was a 1973 Thai popular uprising, large demonstration against the dictatorship of Thanom Kittikachorn (premiership 1963–1973), which led to civilian casualties. Bhumibol installed Sanya Dharmasakti (premiership 1973–1975) to replace him, making it the first time that the king intervened in Thai politics directly since 1932. The aftermath of the event marked a short-lived parliamentary democracy, often called the "era when democracy blossomed" (ยุคประชาธิปไตยเบ่งบาน).


Contemporary history

Constant unrest and instability, as well as fear of a communist takeover after the fall of Saigon, made some ultra-right groups brand leftist students as communists. This culminated in the Thammasat University massacre in October 1976. A coup d'état on that day brought Thailand a new ultra-right government, which cracked down on media outlets, officials, and intellectuals, and fuelled the Communist insurgency in Thailand, communist insurgency. Another coup the following year installed a more moderate government, which offered amnesty to communist fighters in 1978. Fueled by Indochina refugee crisis, Vietnamese border raids in Thailand, Vietnamese border raids and economic hardships, Prem Tinsulanonda became the Prime Minister from 1980 to 1988. The communists abandoned the insurgency by 1983. Prem's premiership was dubbed "semi-democracy" because the Parliament was composed of all elected House and all appointed Senate. The 1980s also saw increasing intervention in politics by the monarch, who rendered two coups in 1981 Thai military rebellion, 1981 and 1985 Thai coup d'état attempt, 1985 attempts against Prem failed. Thailand had its first elected prime minister in 1988. Suchinda Kraprayoon, who was National Peace Keeping Council, the coup leader in 1991 and said he would not seek to become prime minister, was nominated as one by the majority coalition government after the March 1992 Thai general election, 1992 general election. This caused a popular demonstration in Bangkok, which ended with Black May (1992), a bloody military crackdown. Bhumibol intervened in the event and signed an amnesty law, Suchinda then resigned. The 1997 Asian financial crisis originated in Thailand and ended the country's 40 years of uninterrupted economic growth. Chuan Leekpai's government took an IMF loan with unpopular provisions. The populist Thai Rak Thai party, led by prime minister
Thaksin Shinawatra Thaksin Shinawatra ( th, ทักษิณ ชินวัตร; ; ; Chinese Chinese can refer to: * Something related to China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the List of co ...
, governed from 2001 until 2006. His policies were successful in reducing rural poverty and initiated universal healthcare in the country. A South Thailand insurgency escalated starting from 2004. The 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami hit the country, mostly in the south. Massive protests against Thaksin led by the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) started in his second term as prime minister and his tenure ended with 2006 Thai coup d'état, a coup d'état in 2006. The junta installed a military government which lasted a year. In 2007, a civilian government led by the Thaksin-allied People's Power Party (Thailand), People's Power Party (PPP) was 2007 Thai general election, elected. 2008 Thai political crisis, Another protest led by PAD ended with the dissolution of PPP, and the Democrat Party (Thailand), Democrat Party led a coalition government in its place. The pro-Thaksin United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD) protested both 2009 Thai political unrest, in 2009 and 2010 Thai political protests, in 2010, the latter of which ended with 2010 Thai military crackdown, a violent military crackdown causing more than 70 civilian deaths. After 2011 Thai general election, the general election of 2011, the Populism, populist Pheu Thai Party won a majority and Yingluck Shinawatra, Thaksin's younger sister, became prime minister. The People's Democratic Reform Committee organised 2013–2014 Thai political crisis, another anti-Shinawatra protest after the ruling party proposed an amnesty bill which would benefit Thaksin. Yingluck dissolved parliament and 2014 Thai general election, a general election was scheduled, but was invalidated by the Constitutional Court of Thailand, Constitutional Court. The 2013–2014 Thai political crisis, crisis ended with 2014 Thai coup d'état, another coup d'état in 2014. The country had been led by the National Council for Peace and Order, a military junta led by General Prayut Chan-o-cha until 2019. Civil and political rights were restricted, and the country saw a surge in lèse-majesté cases. Political opponents and dissenters were sent to "attitude adjustment" camps, academics mentioned as the rise of fascism. Bhumibol, the longest-reigning Thai king, died in 2016, and his son Vajiralongkorn ascended to the throne. The referendum and adoption of Thailand's current constitution happened under the junta's rule. The junta also bound future governments to a 20-year national strategy 'road map' it laid down, effectively locking the country into guided democracy, military-guided democracy. In 2019, the junta agreed to schedule 2019 Thai general election, a general election in March. Prayut continued his premiership with the support of Palang Pracharath Party-coalition in the House and junta-appointed Senate, amid allegations of election fraud. The ongoing pro-democracy protests were triggered by increasing royal prerogative, democratic and economic regression from the Royal Thai Armed Forces, Military supported by the Monarchy of Thailand, Monarchy staging 2014 Thai coup d'état, dissolution of the pro-democracy Future Forward Party, distrust in the 2019 Thai general election, 2019 general election and the current political system, forced disappearance and deaths of political activists including Wanchalearm Satsaksit, political corruption scandals, which brought forward unprecedented demands to reform the monarchy and the highest sense of republicanism in the country.


Geography

Totalling , Thailand is the List of countries and dependencies by area, 50th-largest country by total area. It is slightly smaller than Yemen and slightly larger than Spain. Thailand comprises several distinct geographic regions, partly corresponding to the provincial groups. The north of the country is the mountainous area of the Thai highlands, with the highest point being Doi Inthanon in the Thanon Thong Chai Range at above sea level. The northeast, Isan, consists of the
Khorat Plateau The Khorat Plateau ( th, ที่ราบสูงโคราช) is a plateau in the northeastern Thailand, Thai region of Isan. The plateau forms a natural region, named after the short form of Nakhon Ratchasima, a historical barrier controllin ...
, bordered to the east by the Mekong River. The centre of the country is dominated by the predominantly flat
Chao Phraya The Chao Phraya ( or ) ( th, แม่น้ำเจ้าพระยา , or ) is the major river in Thailand, with its low alluvial plain forming the centre of the country. It flows through Bangkok Bangkok is the capital and most po ...

Chao Phraya
river valley, which runs into the
Gulf of Thailand The Gulf of Thailand, also known as the Gulf of Siam, is a shallow inlet in the southwestern South China Sea The South China Sea is a of the . It is bounded in the north by the shores of (hence the name), in the west by the , in the east ...

Gulf of Thailand
. Southern Thailand consists of the narrow Kra Isthmus that widens into the
Malay Peninsula The Malay Peninsula (Malay Malay may refer to: Languages * Malay language or Bahasa Melayu, a major Austronesian language spoken in Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei and Singapore ** History of the Malay language#Old Malay, the Malay language f ...
. Politically, there are six geographical regions which differ from the others in population, basic resources, natural features, and level of social and economic development. The diversity of the regions is the most pronounced attribute of Thailand's physical setting. The Chao Phraya and the Mekong River are the indispensable water courses of rural Thailand. Industrial scale production of crops use both rivers and their tributaries. The Gulf of Thailand covers and is fed by the Chao Phraya, Mae Klong River, Mae Klong, Bang Pakong River, Bang Pakong, and Tapi River, Thailand, Tapi Rivers. It contributes to the tourism sector owing to its clear shallow waters along the coasts in the southern region and the Kra Isthmus. The eastern shore of the Gulf of Thailand is an industrial centre of Thailand with the kingdom's premier deepwater port in Sattahip District, Sattahip and its busiest commercial port, Laem Chabang. The
Andaman Sea The Andaman Sea (historically also known as the Burma Sea) is a marginal sea of northeastern Indian Ocean bounded by the coastlines of Myanmar and Thailand along the Gulf of Martaban and west side of the Malay Peninsula, and separated from the B ...

Andaman Sea
is a precious natural resource as it hosts popular and luxurious resorts. Phuket Province, Phuket, Krabi Province, Krabi, Ranong, Phang Nga and Trang Province, Trang, and their islands, all lay along the coasts of the Andaman Sea and, despite the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami, 2004 tsunami, they remain a tourist magnet.


Climate

Thailand's climate is influenced by monsoon winds that have a seasonal character (the southwest and northeast monsoon). Most of the country is classified as Köppen climate classification, Köppen's tropical savanna climate. The majority of the south as well as the eastern tip of the east have a tropical monsoon climate. Parts of the south also have a tropical rainforest climate. Thailand is divided into three seasons. The first is the rainy or southwest monsoon season (mid–May to mid–October), which is caused by southwestern wind from Indian Ocean. Rainfall is also contributed by Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) and tropical cyclones. August and September being the wettest period of the year. The country receives a mean annual rainfall of . Winter or the northeast monsoon occurs from mid–October until mid–February. Most of Thailand experiences dry weather with mild temperatures. Summer or the pre–monsoon season runs from mid–February until mid–May. Due to its inland nature and latitude, the north, northeast, central and eastern parts of Thailand experience a long period of warm weather, where temperatures can reach up to during March to May, in contrast to close to or below in some areas in winter. Southern Thailand is characterised by mild weather year-round with less diurnal and seasonal variations in temperatures due to maritime influences. It receives abundant rainfall, particularly during October to November. Thailand is among the world's ten countries that are most exposed to climate change. In particular, it is highly vulnerable to sea level rise, rising sea levels and extreme weather events.


Environment and wildlife

Thailand has a mediocre but improving performance in the global Environmental Performance Index (EPI) with an overall ranking of 91 out of 180 countries in 2016. The environmental areas where Thailand performs worst (i.e., highest ranking) are air quality (167), environmental effects of the agricultural industry (106), and the climate and energy sector (93), the later mainly because of a high CO2 emission per KWh produced. Thailand performs best (i.e., lowest ranking) in water resource management (66), with some major improvements expected for the future, and sanitation (68). The country had a 2019 Forest Landscape Integrity Index mean score of 6.00/10, ranking it 88th globally out of 172 countries. The population of elephants, the country's List of national animals, national symbol, has fallen from 100,000 in 1850 to an estimated 2,000. Poachers have long hunted elephants for ivory and hides, and now increasingly for Elephant meat, meat. Young elephants are often captured for use in tourist attractions or as work animals, where there have been claims of mistreatment. However, their use has declined since the government banned logging in 1989. Poaching of protected species remains a major problem. Tigers, leopards, and other large cats are hunted for their pelts. Many are farmed or hunted for their meat, which supposedly has medicinal properties. Although such trade is illegal, the well-known Bangkok market Chatuchak Weekend Market, Chatuchak is still known for the sale of endangered species. The practice of keeping wild animals as pets affects species such as Asiatic black bear, Malayan sun bear, Lar gibbon, white-handed lar, pileated gibbon, and binturong.


Politics

Prior to 1932, Thai kings were feudal or absolute monarchy, absolute monarchs. During
Sukhothai Kingdom The Sukhothai Kingdom ( th, สุโขทัย, , : , ) was a Thai kingdom () in surrounding the ancient capital city of in present-day north-central . The kingdom was founded by in 1238 and existed as an independent polity until 1438, ...
, the king was seen as a ''Dharmaraja'' or 'king who rules in accordance with Dharma'. The system of government was a network of tributaries ruled by local lords. Modern absolute monarchy and statehood was established by Chulalongkorn when he transformed the decentralized protectorate system into a unitary state. On 24 June 1932, Khana Ratsadon (People's Party) carried out a bloodless revolution which marked the beginning of
constitutional monarchy A constitutional monarchy, parliamentary monarchy, or democratic monarchy is a form of monarchy in which the monarch exercises his authority in accordance with a constitution and is not alone in deciding. Constitutional monarchies differ from ...
. Thailand has had 20 constitutions and charters since 1932, including the latest and current 2017 Constitution. Throughout this time, the form of government has ranged from military dictatorship to electoral democracy. Thailand has had the fourth-most coups in the world. "Uniformed or ex-military men have led Thailand for 55 of the 83 years" between 1932 and 2009. Most recently, the National Council for Peace and Order ruled the country between 2014 and 2019. The politics of Thailand is conducted within the framework of a
constitutional monarchy A constitutional monarchy, parliamentary monarchy, or democratic monarchy is a form of monarchy in which the monarch exercises his authority in accordance with a constitution and is not alone in deciding. Constitutional monarchies differ from ...
, whereby a Hereditary monarchy, hereditary monarch serves as head of state. The current King of Thailand is Vajiralongkorn (or Rama X), who has reigned since October 2016. The powers of the king are limited by the constitution and he is primarily a symbolic figurehead. The monarch is head of the Royal Thai Armed Forces, armed forces and is required to be Buddhist as well as the Defender of the Faith. He has the power to appoint his heirs, the power to grant pardons, and the Royal Assent, royal assent. The king is aided in his duties by the Privy Council of Thailand. However, the monarch still occasionally intervenes in Thai politics, as all constitutions pave the way for customary royal rulings. Some academics outside Thailand, including Duncan McCargo and Federico Ferrara, noted extraconstitutional role of the monarch through a "network monarchy" behind the political scenes. The monarchy is protected by the severe Lèse majesté in Thailand, lèse majesté law, even though the people's attitude towards the institution varies from one reign to another. Government is Separation of powers, separated into three branches: * The legislative branch: the National Assembly of Thailand, National Assembly is composed of the Senate of Thailand, Senate, the 250-member fully appointed upper house, and House of Representatives of Thailand, House of Representatives, the 500-member lower house. Its most recent election is 2019 Thai general election, the 2019 general election. The coalition led by Palang Pracharath Party currently holds the majority. * The executive branch consisting of the Prime Minister of Thailand who was elected by the National Assembly and other cabinet members of up to 35 people. The cabinet was appointed by the king on the advice of the prime minister. The prime minister is the head of government. * The judiciary is supposed to be independent of the executive and the legislative branches, although judicial rulings are suspected of being based on political considerations rather than on existing law. Military and bureaucratic aristocrats fully controlled political parties between 1946 and 1980s. Most parties in Thailand are short-lived. Between 1992 and 2006, Thailand had a two-party system. Since 2000, two political parties dominated Thai general elections: one was the Pheu Thai Party (which was a successor of People's Power Party (Thailand), People's Power Party and the Thai Rak Thai Party), and the other was the Democrat Party (Thailand), Democrat Party. The political parties which support
Thaksin Shinawatra Thaksin Shinawatra ( th, ทักษิณ ชินวัตร; ; ; Chinese Chinese can refer to: * Something related to China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the List of co ...
won the most representatives every general election since 2001. The 2007 constitution was partially abrogated by the National Council for Peace and Order, military dictatorship that came to power in 2014 Thai coup d'état, May 2014. Later constitutions created a multi-party system where a single party cannot gain a majority in the house. The kings are protected by ''Lèse majesté in Thailand, lèse-majesté'' laws which allow critics to be jailed for three to fifteen years. After the 2014 Thai coup d'état, Thailand had the highest :People accused of lèse majesté in Thailand, number of lèse-majesté prisoners in the nation's history. In 2017, the military court in Thailand sentenced a man to 35 years in prison for violating the country's lèse-majesté law.Thailand jails man for 35 years for insulting the monarchy on Facebook
. ''The Independent''. 10 June 2017.
Human rights in Thailand has been rated ''Freedom in the World (report), not free'' on the Freedom House Index since 2014.


Administrative divisions

Thailand is a unitary state; the administrative services of the executive branch are divided into three levels by ''National Government Organisation Act, BE 2534'' (1991): central, provincial and local. Thailand is composed of 76 Provinces of Thailand, provinces (, changwat), which are first-level administrative divisions. There are also two specially governed districts: the capital
Bangkok Bangkok is the capital and most populous city of Thailand Thailand ( th, ประเทศไทย), historically known as Siam, () officially the Kingdom of Thailand, is a country in Southeast Asia Southeast Asia or Southeastern ...

Bangkok
and Pattaya. Bangkok is at provincial level and thus often counted as a province. Each province is divided into amphoe, districts (, amphoe) and the districts are further divided into sub-districts (, tambons). The name of each province's capital city (, mueang) is the same as that of the province. For example, the capital of Chiang Mai Province (''Changwat Chiang Mai'') is ''Mueang Chiang Mai'' or ''Chiang Mai''. All provincial governors and district chiefs, which are administrators of provinces and districts respectively, are appointed by the central government. Thailand's provinces are sometimes grouped into four to six regions, depending on the source.


Foreign relations

In 2000s period, Thailand participated fully in international and regional organisations. It is a major non-NATO ally and Priority Watch List Special 301 Report of the United States. The country remains an active member of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Thailand has developed increasingly close ties with other ASEAN members:
Indonesia Indonesia ( ), officially the Republic of Indonesia ( id, Republik Indonesia, links=yes ), is a country in Southeast Asia Southeast Asia, also spelled South East Asia and South-East Asia, and also known as Southeastern Asia or SEA, is t ...

Indonesia
,
Malaysia Malaysia ( ; ) is a country in Southeast Asia Southeast Asia, also spelled South East Asia and South-East Asia, and also known as Southeastern Asia or SEA, is the geographical southeastern subregion of Asia, consisting of the regions ...

Malaysia
, the Philippines, Singapore, Brunei,
Laos , national_anthem = "Pheng Xat Lao") , image_map = , map_caption = , capital = Vientiane , coordinates = , largest_city = capital , official_languages = Lao language, Lao , recognised_languages = , languages_type = Spoken langua ...

Laos
,
Cambodia Cambodia (; also Kampuchea ; km, កម្ពុជា, ), officially the Kingdom of Cambodia, is a country located in the southern portion of the Indochinese peninsula in Southeast Asia. It is in area, bordered by Thailand to Cambodia–T ...

Cambodia
,
Myanmar Myanmar, ); UK pronunciations: US pronunciations incl. . Note: Wikipedia's IPA conventions require indicating /r/ even in British English although only some British English speakers pronounce r at the end of syllables. As John C. Wells, John ...

Myanmar
, and
Vietnam Vietnam ( vi, Việt Nam, ), officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam,, group="n" is a country in Southeast Asia Southeast Asia, also spelled South East Asia and South-East Asia, and also known as Southeastern Asia or SEA, is the ...

Vietnam
, whose foreign and economic ministers hold annual meetings. Regional co-operation is progressing in economic, trade, banking, political, and cultural matters. In 2003, Thailand served as Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) host. Supachai Panitchpakdi, the former Deputy Prime Minister, served as Secretary-General of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). In 2005 Thailand attended the inaugural East Asia Summit. Thailand had taken an active role on the international stage. When East Timor gained independence from Indonesia, contributed troops to the international peacekeeping effort. As part of its effort to increase international ties, Thailand had reached out to such regional organisations as the Organization of American States (OAS) and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). Thailand had contributed troops to reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq. In
Thaksin Shinawatra Thaksin Shinawatra ( th, ทักษิณ ชินวัตร; ; ; Chinese Chinese can refer to: * Something related to China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the List of co ...
premiership, he initiated negotiations for several free trade agreements with China, Australia, Bahrain, India, and the US. The latter especially was criticised, with claims that uncompetitive Thai industries could be wiped out. Thaksin also announced that Thailand would forsake foreign aid, and work with donor countries to assist in the development of neighbours in the Greater Mekong Sub-region. Thaksin sought to position Thailand as a regional leader, initiating various development projects in poorer neighbouring countries like Laos. More controversially, he established close, friendly ties with the Burmese dictatorship. Thailand joined the US-led 2003 invasion of Iraq, invasion of Iraq, sending a Thai Humanitarian Assistance Task Force 976 Thai-Iraq, humanitarian contingent. It withdrew its troops on 10 September 2004. Two Thai soldiers died in Iraq in an insurgent attack. In April 2009, the Cambodian–Thai border dispute brought troops on territory immediately adjacent to the 900-year-old ruins of Cambodia's Preah Vihear Temple, Preah Vihear Hindu temple near the border. The Cambodian government claimed its army had killed at least four Thais and captured 10 more, although the Thai government denied that any Thai soldiers were killed or injured. Two Cambodian and three Thai soldiers were killed. Both armies blamed the other for firing first and denied entering the other's territory.


Armed forces

The Royal Thai Armed Forces (กองทัพไทย; ) constitute the military of the Kingdom of Thailand. It consists of the Royal Thai Army (กองทัพบกไทย), the Royal Thai Navy (กองทัพเรือไทย), and the Royal Thai Air Force (กองทัพอากาศไทย). It also incorporates various paramilitary forces. The Thai Armed Forces have a combined manpower of 306,000 active duty personnel and another 245,000 active reserve personnel. The Monarchy of Thailand, head of the Thai Armed Forces (จอมทัพไทย, ''Chom Thap Thai'') is the king, although this position is only nominal. The armed forces are managed by the Ministry of Defence (Thailand), Ministry of Defence of Thailand, which is headed by the Minister of Defence (a member of the cabinet of Thailand) and commanded by the Royal Thai Armed Forces Headquarters, which in turn is headed by the List of Commanders of the Royal Thai Armed Forces Headquarters, Chief of Defence Forces of Thailand. Thai annual defense budget almost tripled from 78 billion baht in 2005 to 207 billion baht in 2016, accounting for approximately 1.5% of 2019 Thai GDP. Thailand ranked 16th worldwide in the List of countries by Military Strength Index, Military Strength Index based on the Credit Suisse report in September 2015. The military is also tasked with humanitarian missions, such as escorting Rohingya to Malaysia or Indonesia, ensuring security and welfare for refugees during Indochina refugee crisis. According to the constitution, serving in the armed forces is a duty of all Thai citizens. Thailand still use active draft system for males over the age of 21. They are subjected to varying lengths of active service depending on the duration of reserve training as Territorial Defence Student and their level of education. Those who have completed three years or more of reserve training will be exempted entirely. The practice has long been criticized, as some media question its efficacy and value. It is alleged that conscripts end up as servants to senior officers or clerks in military cooperative shops. In a report issued in March 2020, Amnesty International charged that Thai military conscripts face institutionalised abuse systematically hushed up by military authorities. Critics observed that Thai military's main objective is to deal with internal rather than external threats. Internal Security Operations Command is called the political arm of the Thai military, which has overlapping social and political functions with civilian bureaucracy. It also has anti-democracy mission. The military is also notorious for numerous corruption incidents, such as accusation of human trafficking, and nepotism in promotion of high-ranking officers. The military is deeply entrenched in politics. Most recently, the appointed senators include more than 100 active and retired military. In 2017, Thailand signed and ratified the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.


Economy

The economy of Thailand is heavily export-dependent, with exports accounting for more than two-thirds of gross domestic product (GDP). Thailand exports over US$105 billion worth of goods and services annually. Major exports include cars, computers, electrical appliances, Rice production in Thailand, rice, textiles and footwear, fishery products, rubber, and jewellery. Thailand is an emerging markets, emerging economy and is considered a newly industrialised country. Thailand had a 2017 GDP of US$1.236 trillion (on a purchasing power parity basis). Thailand is the 2nd largest economy in Southeast Asia after Indonesia. Thailand ranks midway in the wealth spread in Southeast Asia as it is the 4th richest nation according to GDP per capita, after Singapore, Brunei, and Malaysia. Thailand functions as an anchor economy for the neighbouring developing economies of Laos, Myanmar, and Cambodia. In the third quarter of 2014, the unemployment rate in Thailand stood at 0.84% according to Thailand's National Economic and Social Development Board (NESDB).


Recent economic history

Thailand experienced the world's highest economic growth rate from 1985 to 1996 – averaging 12.4% annually. In 1997 increased pressure on the Thai baht, baht, a year in which the economy contracted by 1.9%, led to a crisis that uncovered financial sector weaknesses and forced the Chavalit Yongchaiyudh administration to Floating exchange rate, float the currency. Prime Minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh was forced to resign after his cabinet came under fire for its slow response to the economic crisis. The baht was pegged at 25 to the US dollar from 1978 to 1997. The baht reached its lowest point of 56 to the US dollar in January 1998 and the economy contracted by 10.8% that year, triggering the Asian financial crisis. Thailand's economy started to recover in 1999, expanding 4.2–4.4% in 2000, thanks largely to strong exports. Growth (2.2%) was dampened by the softening of the global economy in 2001, but picked up in the subsequent years owing to strong growth in Asia, a relatively weak baht encouraging exports, and increased domestic spending as a result of several mega projects and incentives of Prime Minister
Thaksin Shinawatra Thaksin Shinawatra ( th, ทักษิณ ชินวัตร; ; ; Chinese Chinese can refer to: * Something related to China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the List of co ...
, known as Thaksinomics. Growth in 2002, 2003, and 2004 was 5–7% annually. Growth in 2005, 2006, and 2007 hovered around 4–5%. Due both to the weakening of the US dollar and an increasingly strong Thai currency, by March 2008 the dollar was hovering around the 33 baht mark. While Thaksinomics has received criticism, official economic data reveals that between 2001 and 2011, Isan's GDP per capita more than doubled to US$1,475, while, over the same period, GDP in the Bangkok area increased from US$7,900 to nearly US$13,000. With the instability surrounding major 2010 protests, the GDP growth of Thailand settled at around 4–5%, from highs of 5–7% under the previous civilian administration. Political uncertainty was identified as the primary cause of a decline in investor and consumer confidence. The IMF predicted that the Thai economy would rebound strongly from the low 0.1% GDP growth in 2011, to 5.5% in 2012 and then 7.5% in 2013, due to the monetary policy of the Bank of Thailand, as well as a package of fiscal stimulus measures introduced by the former Yingluck Shinawatra government. Following the Thai military coup of 22 May 2014. In 2017, Concluded with information on the Thai economy's grew an inflation-adjusted 3.9%, up from 3.3% in 2016, marking its fastest expansion since 2012.


Income, poverty and wealth

Thais have median wealth per one adult person of $1,469 in 2016, increasing from $605 in 2010. In 2016, Thailand was List of countries by Human Development Index, ranked 87th in Human Development Index, and List of countries by inequality-adjusted HDI, 70th in the inequality-adjusted HDI. In 2017, Thailand's median household income was ฿26,946 per month. Top quintile households had a 45.0% share of all income, while bottom quintile households had 7.1%. There were 26.9 million persons who had the bottom 40% of income earning less than ฿5,344 per person per month. During 2013–2014 Thai political crisis, a survey found that anti-government People's Democratic Reform Committee, PDRC mostly (32%) had a monthly income of more than ฿50,000, while pro-government United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship, UDD mostly (27%) had between ฿10,000 and ฿20,000. In 2014, Credit Suisse reported that Thailand was the world's third most unequal country, behind Russia and India. The top 10% richest held 79% of the country's assets. The top 1% richest held 58% of the assets. Thai 50 richest families had a total net worth accounting to 30% of GDP. In 2016, 5.81 million people lived in poverty, or 11.6 million people (17.2% of population) if "near poor" is included. Proportion of the poor relative to total population in each region was 12.96% in the Northeast, 12.35% in the South, and 9.83% in the North. In 2017, there were 14 million people who applied for social welfare (yearly income of less than ฿100,000 was required). At the end of 2017, Thailand's total household debt was ฿11.76 trillion. In 2010, 3% of all household were bankrupt. In 2016, there were estimated 30,000 homeless persons in the country.


Exports and manufacturing

The economy of Thailand is heavily export-dependent, with exports accounting for more than two-thirds of gross domestic product (GDP). Thailand exports over US$105 billion worth of goods and services annually. Major exports include cars, computers, electrical appliances, Rice production in Thailand, rice, textiles and footwear, fishery products, rubber, and jewellery. Substantial industries include electric appliances, components, computer components, and vehicles. Thailand's recovery from the 1997–1998 Asian financial crisis depended mainly on exports, among various other factors. , the Automotive industry in Thailand, Thai automotive industry was the largest in
Southeast Asia Southeast Asia, also spelled South East Asia and South-East Asia, and also known as Southeastern Asia or SEA, is the geographical United Nations geoscheme for Asia#South-eastern Asia, southeastern subregion of Asia, consisting of the regions ...

Southeast Asia
and the List of countries by motor vehicle production, 9th largest in the world. The Thailand industry has an annual output of near 1.5 million vehicles, mostly commercial vehicles. Most of the vehicles built in Thailand are developed and licensed by foreign producers, mainly Japanese and United States, American. The Thai car industry takes advantage of the ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA) to find a market for many of its products. Eight manufacturers, five Japanese, two US, and Tata Group, Tata of India, produce pick-up trucks in Thailand. As of 2012, Due to its favorable taxation for 2-door pick-ups at only 3-12% against 17-50% for passenger cars, Thailand was the second largest consumer of pick-up trucks in the world, after the US. In 2014, pick-ups accounted for 42% of all new vehicle sales in Thailand.


Tourism

Tourism makes up about 6% of the country's economy. Thailand was the most visited country in Southeast Asia in 2013, according to the World Tourism Organisation. Estimates of tourism receipts directly contributing to the Thai GDP of 12 trillion baht range from 9 percent (1 trillion baht) (2013) to 16 percent. When including the indirect effects of tourism, it is said to account for 20.2 percent (2.4 trillion baht) of Thailand's GDP. Asian tourists primarily visit Thailand for Bangkok and the historical, natural, and cultural sights in its vicinity. Western tourists not only visit Bangkok and surroundings, but in addition many travel to the southern beaches and islands. The north is the chief destination for trekking and adventure travel with its diverse ethnic minority groups and forested mountains. The region hosting the fewest tourists is Isan. To accommodate foreign visitors, a separate tourism police with offices were set up in the major tourist areas and an emergency telephone number. Thailand ranks 5th biggest medical tourism destination of inbound medical tourism spending, according to World Travel and Tourism Council, attracting over 2.5 million visitors in 2018. The country is also Asia's number one. The country is popular for the growing practice of sex reassignment surgery (SRS) and cosmetic surgery. In 2010–2012, more than 90% of medical tourists travelled to Thailand for SRS. Prostitution in Thailand and sex tourism also form a ''de facto'' part of the economy. Campaigns promote Thailand as exotic to attract tourists. One estimate published in 2003 placed the trade at US$4.3 billion per year or about 3% of the Thai economy.Thailand mulls legal prostitution.
''The Age'', 26 November 2003
It is believed that at least 10% of tourist dollars are spent on the sex trade.


Agriculture and natural resources

Forty-nine per cent of Thailand's labour force is employed in agriculture in Thailand, agriculture. This is down from 70% in 1980. Rice is the most important crop in the country and Thailand had long been the world's leading exporter of rice, until recently falling behind both India and Vietnam. Thailand has the highest percentage of arable land, 27.25%, of any nation in the Greater Mekong Subregion. About 55% of the arable land area is used for rice production. Agriculture has been experiencing a transition from labour-intensive and transitional methods to a more industrialised and competitive sector.Henri Leturque and Steve Wiggins 2010
Thailand's progress in agriculture: Transition and sustained productivity growth
. London: Overseas Development Institute
Between 1962 and 1983, the agricultural sector grew by 4.1% per year on average and continued to grow at 2.2% between 1983 and 2007. The relative contribution of agriculture to GDP has declined while exports of goods and services have increased. Furthermore, access to biocapacity in Thailand is lower than world average. In 2016, Thailand had 1.2 global hectares of biocapacity per person within its territory, a little less than world average of 1.6 global hectares per person. In contrast, in 2016, they used 2.5 global hectares of biocapacity – their ecological footprint of consumption. This means they use about twice as much biocapacity as Thailand contains. As a result, Thailand is running a biocapacity deficit.


Informal economy

Thailand has a diverse and robust informal labour sector—in 2012, it was estimated that informal workers comprised 62.6% of the Thai workforce. The Ministry of Labour (Thailand), Ministry of Labour defines informal workers to be individuals who work in informal economies and do not have employee status under a given country's Labour Protection Act (LPA). The informal sector in Thailand has grown significantly over the past 60 years over the course of Thailand's gradual transition from an agriculture-based economy to becoming more industrialised and service-oriented.Kongtip, Pornpimol et al. "Informal Workers in Thailand: Occupational Health and Social Security Disparities". ''New solutions : a journal of environmental and occupational health policy : NS'' 25.2 (2015): 189–211. ''PMC''. Web. 12 March 2018. Between 1993 and 1995, ten percent of the Thai labour force moved from the agricultural sector to urban and industrial jobs, especially in the manufacturing sector. It is estimated that between 1988 and 1995, the number of factory workers in the country doubled from two to four million, as Thailand's GDP tripled. While the Asian Financial Crisis that followed in 1997 hit the Thai economy hard, the industrial sector continued to expand under widespread deregulation, as Thailand was mandated to adopt a range of structural adjustment reforms upon receiving funding from the IMF and World Bank. These reforms implemented an agenda of increased privatisation and trade liberalisation in the country, and decreased federal subsidisation of public goods and utilities, agricultural price supports, and regulations on fair wages and labour conditions. These changes put further pressure on the agricultural sector, and prompted continued migration from the rural countryside to the growing cities. Many migrant farmers found work in Thailand's growing manufacturing industry, and took jobs in sweatshops and factories with few labour regulations and often exploitative conditions. Those that could not find formal factory work, including illegal migrants and the families of rural Thai migrants that followed their relatives to the urban centres, turned to the informal sector to provide the extra support needed for survival—under the widespread regulation imposed by the structural adjustment programs, one family member working in a factory or sweatshop made very little. Scholars argue that the economic consequences and social costs of Thailand's labour reforms in the wake of the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis fell on individuals and families rather than the state. This can be described as the "externalisation of market risk", meaning that as the country's labour market became increasingly deregulated, the burden and responsibility of providing an adequate livelihood shifted from employers and the state to the workers themselves, whose families had to find jobs in the informal sector to make up for the losses and subsidise the wages being made by their relatives in the formal sector. The weight of these economic changes hit migrants and the urban poor especially hard, and the informal sector expanded rapidly as a result. Today, informal labour in Thailand is typically broken down into three main groups: subcontracted/self employed/home-based workers, service workers (including those that are employed in restaurants, as street vendors, masseuses, taxi drivers, and as domestic workers), and agricultural workers. Not included in these categories are those that work in entertainment, nightlife, and the sex industry. Individuals employed in these facets of the informal labour sector face additional vulnerabilities, including recruitment into circles of sexual exploitation and human trafficking. In general, education levels are low in the informal sector. A 2012 study found that 64% of informal workers had not completed education beyond primary school. Many informal workers are also migrants, only some of which have legal status in the country. Education and citizenship are two main barriers to entry for those looking to work in formal industries, and enjoy the labour protections and social security benefits that come along with formal employment. Because the informal labour sector is not recognised under the Labour Protection Act (LPA), informal workers are much more vulnerable labour to exploitation and unsafe working conditions than those employed in more formal and federally recognised industries. While some Thai labour laws provide minimal protections to domestic and agricultural workers, they are often weak and difficult to enforce. Furthermore, Thai social security policies fail to protect against the risks many informal workers face, including workplace accidents and compensation as well as unemployment and retirement insurance. Many informal workers are not legally contracted for their employment, and many do not make a living wage. As a result, labour trafficking is common in the region, affecting children and adults, men and women, and migrants and Thai citizens alike.


Science and technology

In modern times, Thai scientists have made many significant contributions in various fields of study. For example, In chemistry, Krisana Kraisintu as known as the "Gypsy pharmacist". She developed one of the first generic ARV fixed-dose combinations and dedicated her life to making medicines more affordable and accessible. Her efforts have saved countless lives in Africa, GPO-VIR has now been chosen by World Health Organization as the first regimen treatment for HIV/AIDS patients in poor countries. In Thailand, this drug (GPO-VIR) is used in the national HIV/AIDS treatment programme, making it free of charge for 100,000 patients. while Pongrama Ramasoota, He discoveries production of therapeutic human monoclonal antibodies against dengue virus and the world's first Dengue fever medication, include DNA vaccination, DNA vaccine development for dengue and Canine parvovirus. Thailand has also made significant advances technology in the development of ''Medical Robotics''. Medical robots have been used and promoted in Thailand in many areas, including surgery, diagnosis, rehabilitation and services. and their use has been increasing. such as, an elderly care robot made by Thai manufacturer that Japanese nursing homes are widely using. In surgery, in 2021, Mahidol University's "BART LAB" team successfully researched the invention of the robot-assisted surgery (Minimally invasive procedure, Minimal Invasive Surgery). back in 2019, The Medical Services Department has unveiled Thailand's robot created to help surgeons in brain surgery on patients afflicted with epilepsy. back in 2017, Ramathibodi Hospital, a leading government hospital in Bangkok and a reputable medical school, successfully performed the first robot-assisted brain surgery in Asia. For rehabilitation and therapy robots, were developed to help patients with arm and leg injuries perform practiced movements aided by the robots is the first prize winner of the i-MEDBOT Innovation Contest 2018 held by Thailand Center of Excellence for Life Sciences (TCELS). According to the UNESCO Institute for Statistics, Thailand devoted 1% of its GDP to science research and development in 2017. Between 2014 and 2016, Research and development workforce in Thailand increased from 84,216 people to 112,386 people. Thailand was ranked 44th in the Global Innovation Index in 2020, down from 43rd in 2019. The Thai government is developing new growth hubs by starting with the Eastern Economic Corridor of Innovation (EECi) to accelerating human resource and research development. The National Science and Technology Development Agency is an government agency, agency of the government of Thailand which supports research in science and technology and its application in the Economy of Thailand, Thai economy. By December 2020 with 308.35 Mbit/s Thailand had become world leader in terms of Internet fixed broadband internet speed, with Switzerland and France in Europe in positions 5 and 8 respectively, with the US at position 10 with 173.67 Mbit/s.


Infrastructure


Transportation

The State Railway of Thailand (SRT) operates all of Thailand's national rail lines. Bangkok Railway Station (Hua Lamphong Station) is the main terminus of all routes. Phahonyothin and ICD Lat Krabang are the main freight terminals. SRT had of track, all of it meter gauge except the Airport Link. Nearly all is single-track (4,097 km), although some important sections around Bangkok are double () or triple-tracked () and there are plans to extend this. Rail transport in Bangkok includes long-distance services, and some daily commuter trains running from and to the outskirts of the city during the rush hour, but passenger numbers have remained low. There are also three rapid transit rail systems in the capital. Thailand has of highways. According to the BBC Thailand has 462,133 roads and many multi-lane highways. Thailand has 37 million registered vehicles, 20 million of them motorbikes. A number of undivided two-lane highways have been converted into divided four-lane highways. A Bangkok – Chonburi (city), Chon Buri motorway (Route 7) now links to the new airport and Eastern Seaboard of Thailand, Eastern Seaboard. There are 4,125 public vans operating on 114 routes from Bangkok alone. Other forms of road transport includes Auto rickshaw, tuk-tuks, taxis—as of November 2018, Thailand has 80,647 registered taxis nationwide—vans (minibus), motorbike taxis and songthaews. , Thailand had 103 airports with 63 paved runways, in addition to 6 heliports. The busiest airport in the county is Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport.


Energy

75% of Thailand's electrical generation is powered by natural gas in 2014. Coal-fired power plants produce an additional 20% of electricity, with the remainder coming from biomass, hydro, and biogas. Thailand produces roughly one-third of the oil it consumes. It is the second largest importer of oil in SE Asia. Thailand is a large producer of natural gas, with reserves of at least 10 trillion cubic feet. After Indonesia, it is the largest coal producer in SE Asia, but must import additional coal to meet domestic demand.


Demographics

Thailand had a population of 69,799,978 as of 2020. Thailand's population is largely rural, concentrated in the rice-growing areas of the central, northeastern and northern regions. About 45.7% of Thailand's population lived in urban areas , concentrated mostly in and around the Bangkok Metropolitan Area. Thailand's government-sponsored family planning program resulted in a dramatic decline in population growth from 3.1% in 1960 to around 0.4% today. In 1970, an average of 5.7 people lived in a Thai household. At the time of the 2010 census, the average Thai household size was 3.2 people.


Ethnic groups

Thai nationals make up the majority of Thailand's population, 95.9% in 2010. The remaining 4.1% of the population are Burmese (2.0%), others 1.3%, and unspecified 0.9%. According to the Royal Thai Government's 2011 Country Report to the UN Committee responsible for the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, International Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, available from the Department of Rights and Liberties Promotion of the Thai Ministry of Justice, 62 ethnic communities are officially recognised in Thailand. Twenty million Central Thai (together with approximately 650,000 Khorat Thai) make up approximately 20,650,000 (34.1 percent) of the nation's population of 60,544,937 at the time of completion of the Mahidol University ''Ethnolinguistic Maps of Thailand'' data (1997). The 2011 Thailand Country Report provides population numbers for mountain peoples ('hill tribes') and ethnic communities in the Northeast and is explicit about its main reliance on the Mahidol University Ethnolinguistic Maps of Thailand data. Thus, though over 3.288 million people in the Northeast alone could not be categorised, the population and percentages of other ethnic communities circa 1997 are known for all of Thailand and constitute minimum populations. In descending order, the largest (equal to or greater than 400,000) are a) 15,080,000 Lao (24.9 percent) consisting of the Thai Lao (14 million) and other smaller Lao groups, namely the Thai Loei (400–500,000), Lao Lom (350,000), Lao Wiang/Klang (200,000), Lao Khrang (90,000), Lao Ngaew (30,000), and Lao Ti (10,000; b) six million Khon Muang (9.9 percent, also called Northern Thais); c) 4.5 million Pak Tai (7.5 percent, also called Southern Thais); d) 1.4 million Khmer Leu (2.3 percent, also called Northern Khmer); e) 900,000 Malay (1.5%); f) 500,000 Nyaw (0.8 percent); g) 470,000 Phu Thai (0.8 percent); h) 400,000 Kuy/Kuay (also known as Suay) (0.7 percent), and i) 350,000 Karen (0.6 percent). 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 Mon people, Mons, Khmers and various "Hill tribe (Thailand), hill tribes". The country's official language is Thai language, Thai and the primary religion is
Theravada Theravāda (; Pāli Pali () is a Middle Indo-AryanIndo-Aryan refers to: * Indo-Aryan languages ** Indo-Aryan superstrate in Mitanni or Mitanni-Aryan * Indo-Aryan peoples, the various peoples speaking these languages See also *Aryan inva ...
Buddhism, which is practised by around 95% of the population. Increasing numbers of migrants from neighbouring Myanmar, Laos, and Cambodia, as well as from Nepal and India, have pushed the total number of non-national residents to around 3.5 million , up from an estimated 2 million in 2008, and about 1.3 million in 2000. Some 41,000 British people, Britons and 20,000 Australians live in Thailand.


Population centres


Language

The official language of Thailand is Thai language, Thai, a Kra–Dai language closely related to Lao language, Lao, Shan language, Shan in Myanmar, and numerous smaller languages spoken in an arc from Hainan and Yunnan south to the Chinese border. It is the principal language of education and government and spoken throughout the country. The standard is based on the dialect of the central Thai people, and it is written in the Thai alphabet, an abugida script that evolved from the Khmer alphabet. Sixty-two languages were recognised by the Royal Thai Government. For the purposes of the national census, four dialects of Thai exist; these partly coincide with regional designations, such as Southern Thai language, Southern Thai and Northern Thai language, Northern Thai. The largest of Thailand's minority languages is the Lao language, Lao dialect of Isan language, Isan spoken in the northeastern provinces. Although sometimes considered a Thai dialect, it is a Lao dialect, and the region where it is traditionally spoken was historically part of the Lao kingdom of Lan Xang. In the far south, Kelantan-Pattani Malay is the primary language of Malay Muslims. Varieties of Chinese are also spoken by the large Thai Chinese population, with the Teochew dialect best-represented. Numerous tribal languages are also spoken, including many Austroasiatic languages such as Mon, Khmer language, Khmer, Vietnamese language, Viet, Mlabri language, Mlabri and Aslian languages, Orang Asli; Austronesian languages such as Cham language, Cham and Moken language, Moken; Sino-Tibetan languages like Lawa language, Lawa, Akha language, Akha, and Karen languages, Karen; and other Tai languages such as Tai Yo language, Tai Yo, Phu Thai language, Phu Thai, and Saek language, Saek. Hmong language, Hmong is a member of the Hmong–Mien languages, which is now regarded as a language family of its own.


Religion

The country's most prevalent religion is Theravada Buddhism, which is an integral part of Thai identity and culture. Active participation in Buddhism is among the highest in the world. Thailand has the second-largest number of Buddhists in the world after China. According to the 2000 census, 94.6% and 93.58% in 2010 of the country's population self-identified as Buddhists of the Theravada tradition. Islam in Thailand, Muslims constitute the second largest religious group in Thailand, comprising 5.4% of the population in 2018. Islam is concentrated mostly in the country's southernmost provinces: Pattani, Yala Province, Yala, Satun Province, Satun, Narathiwat Province, Narathiwat, and part of Songkhla Province, Songkhla Chumphon Province, Chumphon, which are predominantly Malays (ethnic group), Malay, most of whom are Sunni Muslims. Christians represented 1.13% (2018) of the population in 2018, with the remaining population consisting of Hinduism in Thailand#Thailand, Hindus and Sikhism in Thailand, Sikhs, who live mostly in the country's cities. There is also a small but historically significant Jews and Judaism in Thailand, Jewish community in Thailand dating back to the 17th century. The constitution does not name official state religion, and provides for freedom of religion. Even the authority formally does not register new religious groups that have not been accepted and limit the number of missionaries, unregistered religious organisations as well as missionaries who are allowed to operate freely. There have been no widespread reports of societal abuses or discrimination based on religious belief or practice. Thai law officially recognizes five religious groups: Buddhists, Muslims, Brahmin-Hindus, Sikhs, and Christians. However, some laws are inspired from Buddhist practices, such as banning alcohol sales on religious holidays.


Education

Thailand's youth literacy rate was 98.1% in 2015. Education is provided by a well-organised school system of kindergartens, primary, lower secondary and upper secondary schools, numerous vocational colleges, and universities. Education is compulsory up to and including age 14, with the government is mandated to provide free education through to age 17. The establishment of reliable and coherent curricula for its primary and secondary schools is subject to rapid changes. Issues concerning university entrance has been in constant upheaval for a number of years. The country is also one of the few that still mandates uniform up to the university years, which is still a subject of ongoing debate. The quality of providing education in the country is often questioned. In 2013, the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology (Thailand), Ministry of Information and Communication Technology announced that 27,231 schools would receive classroom-level access to internet, high-speed internet. However, the country's educational infrastructure was still underprepared for online teaching, as smaller and more remote schools were particularly hindered by COVID-19 restrictions. The number of higher education institutions in Thailand has grown strongly over the past decades to 156 officially. The two top-ranking universities in Thailand are Chulalongkorn University and Mahidol University. Thai universities research output still relatively low, even though the country's journal publications increased by 20% between 2011 and 2016. Recent initiatives, such as the ''National Research University'' and ''Graduate research intensive university: VISTEC'', are designed to strengthen Thailand's national research universities. The private sector of education is well developed and significantly contributes to the overall provision of education. Thailand has the second highest number of English-medium private international schools in ASEAN, Southeast Asian Nations. Cram schools are especially popular for university entrance exams. Students in ethnic minority areas score consistently lower in standardised national and international tests. This is likely due to unequal allocation of educational resources, weak teacher training, poverty, and low Thai language skill, the language of the tests. , Thailand was ranked 89th out of 100 countries globally for English proficiency. Extensive nationwide IQ tests were administered to 72,780 Thai students from December 2010 to January 2011. The average IQ was found to be 98.59, which is higher than previous studies have found. IQ levels were found to be inconsistent throughout the country, with the lowest average of 88.07 found in Narathiwat Province and the highest average of 108.91 reported in Nonthaburi Province. The Ministry of Public Health (Thailand), Ministry of Public Health blamed the discrepancies on iodine deficiency, and required that Iodised salt, iodine be added to table salt. Thailand is the third most popular study destination in ASEAN. The number of international degree students in Thailand increased by 9.7 times between 1999 and 2012, from 1,882 to 20,309 students. Most of international students come from neighbor countries from China, Myanmar, Cambodia and Vietnam.


Health

Thailand ranks world's 6th, and Asia's 1st in the 2019 Global Health Security Index of global health security capabilities in 195 countries, making it the only developing country on the world's top ten. Thailand had 62 hospitals accredited by Joint Commission International. In 2002, Bumrungrad International Hospital, Bumrungrad became the first hospital in Asia to meet the standard. Health and medical care is overseen by the Ministry of Public Health (Thailand), Ministry of Public Health (MOPH), along with several other non-ministerial government agencies, with total national expenditures on health amounting to 4.3 percent of GDP in 2009. Non-communicable diseases form the major burden of morbidity and mortality, while infectious diseases including malaria and tuberculosis, as well as traffic accidents, are also important public health issues. The current Minister for Public Health is Anutin Charnvirakul. In December 2018 the interim parliament voted to legalise the use of cannabis for medical reasons, making Thailand the first Southeast Asian country to allow the use of medical cannabis.


Culture

Thai culture and traditions incorporate a great deal of influence from India, China, Cambodia, and the rest of Southeast Asia. Thailand's national religion, Theravada Buddhism, is central to modern Thai identity. Buddhism in Thailand, Thai Buddhism has evolved over time to include many regional beliefs originating from Hinduism, animism, as well as ancestor worship. The Thai solar calendar, official calendar in Thailand is based on the Eastern version of the Buddhist calendar, Buddhist Era (BE). Thai identity today is a Thaification, social construct of Phibun regime in 1940s. Several ethnic groups mediated change between their traditional local culture, national Thai, and global cultural influences. Overseas Chinese also form a significant part of Thai society, particularly in and around Bangkok. Their successful integration into Thai society has allowed them to hold positions of economic and political power. Thai Chinese businesses prosper as part of the larger bamboo network. Respects for elderly and superiors (by age, position, monks, or certain professions) is Thai mores. As with other Asian cultures, respect towards ancestors is an essential part of Thai spiritual practice. Thais have strong sense of social hierarchy, reflecting in many classes of Thai honorifics, honorifics. Elders have by tradition ruled in family decisions or ceremonies. ''Thai greeting, Wai'' is a traditional Thai greeting, and is generally offered first by person who is younger or lower in social status and position. Older siblings have duties to younger ones. Thais have a strong sense of hospitality and generosity. Taboos in Thai culture include touching someone's head or pointing with the feet, as the head is considered the most sacred and the foot the lowest part of the body.


Art

The origins of Thai art were very much influenced by Buddhist art and by scenes from the Indian epics. Traditional Thai sculpture almost exclusively depicts Buddha image, images of the Buddha, being very similar with the other styles from
Southeast Asia Southeast Asia, also spelled South East Asia and South-East Asia, and also known as Southeastern Asia or SEA, is the geographical United Nations geoscheme for Asia#South-eastern Asia, southeastern subregion of Asia, consisting of the regions ...

Southeast Asia
. Traditional Thai paintings usually consist of book illustrations, and painted ornamentation of buildings such as palaces and temples. Thai art was influenced by indigenous civilisations of the Dvaravati, Mon and other civilisations. By the Sukothai and Ayutthaya period, thai had developed into its own unique style and was later further influenced by the other Asian styles, mostly by Indian art, Sri Lankan and Chinese art, Chinese. Thai sculpture and painting, and the royal courts provided patronage, erecting temples and other religious shrines as acts of merit or to commemorate important events. Traditional Thai paintings showed subjects in two dimensions without Perspective (graphical), perspective. The size of each element in the picture reflected its degree of importance. The primary technique of Composition (visual arts), composition is that of apportioning areas: the main elements are isolated from each other by space transformers. This eliminated the intermediate ground, which would otherwise imply perspective. Perspective was introduced only as a result of Western world, Western influence in the mid-19th century. Monk artist Khrua In Khong is well known as the first artist to introduce linear perspective to Thai traditional art. The most frequent narrative subjects for paintings were or are: the Jataka stories, episodes from the life of the Gautama Buddha, Buddha, the Buddhist heavens and hells, themes derived from the Thai versions of the Ramayana and Mahabharata, not to mention scenes of daily life. Some of the scenes are influenced by Thai folklore instead of following strict Buddhist iconography.


Architecture

Architecture is the preeminent medium of the country's cultural legacy and reflects both the challenges of living in Thailand's sometimes extreme climate as well as, historically, the importance of architecture to the Thai people's sense of community and religious beliefs. Influenced by the architectural traditions of many of Thailand's neighbours, it has also developed significant regional variation within its vernacular and religious buildings. The Ayutthaya Kingdom movement, which went from approximately 1350 to 1767, was one of the most fruitful and creative periods in Thai architecture The identity of architecture in Ayutthaya period is designed to display might and riches so it has great size and appearance. The temples in Ayutthaya seldom built eaves stretching from the masterhead. The dominant feature of this style is sunlight shining into buildings. During the latter part of the Ayutthaya period, architecture was regarded as a peak achievement that responded to the requirements of people and expressed the gracefulness of Thainess. Buddhist temples in Thailand are known as "wats", from the Pali, Pāḷi ''vāṭa'', meaning an enclosure. A temple has an enclosing wall that divides it from the secular world. Wat architecture has seen many changes in Thailand in the course of history. Although there are many differences in layout and style, they all adhere to the same principles.


Literature

Thai literature has had a long history. Even before the establishment of the Sukhothai Kingdom there existed oral and written works. During the
Sukhothai Kingdom The Sukhothai Kingdom ( th, สุโขทัย, , : , ) was a Thai kingdom () in surrounding the ancient capital city of in present-day north-central . The kingdom was founded by in 1238 and existed as an independent polity until 1438, ...
, Most literary works were written in simple prose with certain alliteration schemes. Major works include King Ram Khamhaeng Inscription describing life at the time, which is considered the first literary work in Thai script, but some historians questioned its authenticity. ''Trai Phum Phra Ruang'', written in 1345 by King
Maha Thammaracha I Maha Thammaracha I ( th, มหาธรรมราชาที่ ๑, ), born as Li Thai ( th, ลิไทย, ), was a king of the Sukhothai Kingdom, and the first Buddhist philosopher to write in the Thai language. He reigned from roughly 13 ...
, expounds Buddhist philosophy based on a profound and extensive study with reference to over 30 sacred texts and could be considered the nation's first piece of research dissertation. During the Ayutthaya Kingdom, new Thai poetry, poetic forms were created, with different rhyme schemes and metres. It is common to find a combination of different poetic forms in one poetic work. ''Lilit Yuan Phai'' is a narrative poem describing Ayutthaya–Lan Na War (1441–1474), the war between King
Borommatrailokkanat Borommatrailokkanat ( th, บรมไตรโลกนาถ, ) or Trailok (1431–1488) was the king of the Ayutthaya Kingdom from 1448 to 1488. He was one of many monarchs who gained the epithet ''King of White Elephants'' ( th, พระเ ...
of Ayutthaya and Prince Tilokkarat of
Lan Na The Lan Na or Lan Na Kingdom ( nod, , , "Kingdom of a Million Rice Fields"; th, อาณาจักรล้านนา, , ), also known as Lannathai, and most commonly called Lanna or Lanna Kingdom, was an Greater India#Indianized states, I ...
. One of the most beautiful literary works is ''Kap He Ruea'' composed by Prince Thammathibet in the ''nirat'' tradition. Traditionally, the verse is sung during the colourful royal barge procession and has been the model for subsequent poets to emulate. The same prince also composed the greatly admired ''Kap Ho Khlong'' on the Visit to Than Thongdaeng and ''Kap Ho Khlong Nirat Phrabat''. Despite its short period of 15 years, Thonburi Kingdom, Thon Buri Period produced ''Ramakian'', a verse drama contributed by King
Taksin King Taksin the Great ( th, สมเด็จพระเจ้าตากสินมหาราช, , ) or the King of Thonburi ( th, สมเด็จพระเจ้ากรุงธนบุรี, ; ; : Dên Chao; : ''Trịnh Quốc ...
the Great. The era marked the revival of literature after the fall of Ayutthaya. During the 18th century Rattanakosin Kingdom, Rattanakosin period, which still fought with the Burmese, many of the early Rattanakosin works deal with war and military strategy. Some examples are ''Nirat Rop Phama Thi Tha Din Daeng'', ''Phleng Yao Rop Phama Thi Nakhon Si Thammarat''. In the performing arts, perhaps the most important dramatic achievement is the complete work of ''Ramakian'' by King
Rama I Phra Phutthayotfa Chulalok Maharaj (, 20 March 1737 – 7 September 1809), personal name Thongduang (), also known as Rama I, was the founder of the Rattanakosin Kingdom and the first Monarchy of Thailand, monarch of the reigning Chakri dynas ...

Rama I
. In addition, There were also verse recitals with musical accompaniment, such as Mahori telling the story of ''Kaki Klon Suphap, Kaki'', Sepha relating the story of ''Khun Chang Khun Phaen''. Other recitals include Sri Thanonchai. The most important Thai poet in this period was Sunthorn Phu (สุนทรภู่) (1786–1855), widely known as "the bard of Rattanakosin" ( th, กวีเอกแห่งกรุงรัตนโกสินทร์). Sunthorn Phu is best known for his epic poem ''Phra Aphai Mani'' ( th, พระอภัยมณี), written during 1822 and 1844. ''Phra Aphai Mani'' is a versified fantasy-adventure novel, a genre of Siamese literature known as ( th, นิทานคำกลอน). Some of the most well-known modern Thai writers include Kukrit Pramoj, Kulap Saipradit, (penname Siburapha), Suweeriya Sirisingh (penname Botan), Chart Korbjitti, Prabda Yoon and Duanwad Pimwana. The works tended to be light fiction.


Music and dance

Aside from folk and regional dances (southern Thailand's Menora (dance) and Ramwong, for example), the two major forms of Thai classical dance drama are Khon and Lakhon nai. In the beginning, both were exclusively court entertainments and it was not until much later that a popular style of dance theatre, likay, evolved as a diversion for common folk who had no access to royal performances. Folk dance forms include dance theater forms like likay, numerous regional dances (''ram''), the ritual dance ram muay, and homage to the teacher, Wai khru ram muay, wai khru. Both ram muay and wai khru take place before all traditional muay Thai matches. The wai is also an annual ceremony performed by Thai classical dance groups to honor their artistic ancestors. Thai classical music is synonymous with those stylized court ensembles and repertoires that emerged in their present form within the royal centers of Central Thailand some 800 years ago. These ensembles, while being influenced by older practices are today uniquely Thai expressions. While the three primary classical ensembles, the Piphat, Khrueang sai and Mahori differ in significant ways, they all share a basic instrumentation and theoretical approach. Each employs small ching hand cymbals and krap wooden sticks to mark the primary beat reference. Thai classical music has had a wide influence on the musical traditions of neighboring countries. The traditional music of Myanmar was strongly influenced by the Thai music repertoire, called Yodaya (ယိုးဒယား), which was brought over from the Ayutthaya Kingdom. As Siam expanded its political and cultural influence to Laos and Cambodia during the early Rattanakosin period, its music was quickly absorbed by the Cambodia and Lao courts.


Entertainment

Thai films are exported and exhibited in
Southeast Asia Southeast Asia, also spelled South East Asia and South-East Asia, and also known as Southeastern Asia or SEA, is the geographical United Nations geoscheme for Asia#South-eastern Asia, southeastern subregion of Asia, consisting of the regions ...

Southeast Asia
. Thai cinema has developed its own unique identity and now being internationally recognized for their culture-driven. Films such as ''Ong-Bak: Muay Thai Warrior'' (2003) and ''Tom-Yum-Goong'' (2005), starred Tony Jaa, feature distinctive aspects of Thai martial arts "Muay Thai". Thai horror has always had a significant cult following, unique take on tales from beyond the grave. More recently, horror films such as ''Shutter (2004 film), Shutter'' (2004), was one of the best-known Thai horror movies and recognized worldwide. Other examples include ''The Unseeable'' (2006), ''Alone (2007 film), Alone'' (2007), ''Body (2007 film), Body'' (2007), ''Coming Soon (2008 film), Coming Soon'' (2008), ''4bia'' (2008), ''Phobia 2'' (2009), ''Ladda Land'' (2011), ''Pee Mak'' (2013), ''The Promise (2017 film), The Promise'' (2017), and ''The Medium (2021 film), The Medium'' (2021). Thai heist thriller film ''Bad Genius'' (2017), was one of the most internationally successful Thai film, It broke Thai film earning records in several Asian countries, Bad Genius won in 12 categories at the 27th Suphannahong National Film Awards, and also won the Jury Award at the 16th New York Asian Film Festival with a worldwide collection of more than $42 million. Thailand television dramas, known as Thai television soap opera, Lakorn, Lakorn have become popular in Thailand and its neighbors. Many dramas tend to have a romantic focus, such as ''Khluen Chiwit'', ''U-Prince'', ''Ugly Duckling (TV series), Ugly Duckling'', ''The Crown Princess'' and teen dramas television series, such as ''2gether: The Series (Thai TV series), 2gether: The Series'', ''The Gifted (Thai TV series), The Gifted'', ''Girl From Nowhere'', ''Hormones: The Series''. The Entertainment industries (film and television) are estimated to have directly contributed $2.1 billion in gross domestic product (GDP) to the Thai economy in 2011. They also directly supported 86,600 jobs. Amongst several Dance-pop artists who have made internationally successful can be mentioned "Lisa" Lalisa Manoban and Tata Young.


Cuisine

Cuisine of Thailand, Thai cuisine is one of the most popular in the world. Thai food blends five fundamental tastes: sweet, spicy, sour, bitter, and salty. The herbs and spices most used in Thai cooking themselves have medicinal qualities such as garlic, lemongrass, kaffir lime, galangal, turmeric, coriander, coconut milk. Each region of Thailand has its specialities: ''kaeng khiao wan'' (green curry) in the central region, ''som tam'' (green papaya salad) in the northeast, ''khao soi'' in the north, and Massaman curry, ''massaman'' curry in the south. In 2017, seven Thai dishes appeared on a list of the "World's 50 Best Foods"— an online worldwide poll by ''CNN Travel''. Thailand had more dishes on the list than any other country. They were: ''tom yam goong'' (4th), ''pad Thai'' (5th), ''som tam'' (6th), ''massaman'' curry (10th), green curry (19th), Thai fried rice (24th) and ''nam tok mu, mu nam tok'' (36th). The staple food in Thailand is rice, particularly jasmine rice (also known as ''hom Mali'') which forms part of almost every meal. Thailand is a leading exporter of rice, and Thais consume over 100 kg of milled rice per person per year.


Units of measurement

Thailand generally uses the metric system, but Thai units of measurement, traditional units of measurement for land area are used, and imperial units of measurement are occasionally used for building materials, such as wood and plumbing fixtures. Years are numbered as B.E. (Thai solar calendar, Buddhist Era) in educational settings, civil service, government, contracts, and newspaper datelines. However, in banking, and increasingly in industry and commerce, standard Western year (Christian or Common Era) counting is the standard practice.


Sports

Muay Thai ( th, มวยไทย, RTGS: Muai Thai, , lit. "Thai boxing") is a combat sport of Thailand that uses stand-up striking along with various clinch fighting, clinching techniques. Muay Thai became widespread internationally in the late-20th to 21st century, when Westernized practitioners from Thailand began competing in kickboxing and mixed rules matches as well as matches under muay Thai rules around the world, Famous practitioners such as Buakaw Banchamek, Samart Payakaroon, Dieselnoi Chor Thanasukarn and Apidej Sit-Hirun. Buakaw Banchamek has probably brought more international interest in Muay Thai than any other Muay Thai fighters ever had. Association football has overtaken muay Thai as the most widely followed sport in contemporary Thai society. Thailand national football team has played the AFC Asian Cup six times and reached the semifinals in 1972 AFC Asian Cup, 1972. The country has hosted the Asian Cup twice, in 1972 and in 2007 AFC Asian Cup, 2007. The 2007 edition was co-hosted together with
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. It is not uncommon to see Thais cheering their favourite English Premier League teams on television and walking around in replica kit. Another widely enjoyed pastime, and once a competitive sport, is kite flying. Volleyball is rapidly growing as one of the most popular sports. The Thailand women's national volleyball team, women's team has often participated in the FIVB Volleyball Women's World Championship, World Championship, FIVB Volleyball Women's World Cup, World Cup, and FIVB Volleyball World Grand Prix, World Grand Prix Asian Championship. They have won the Asian Women's Volleyball Championship, Asian Championship twice and AVC Cup for Women, Asian Cup once. By the success of the women's team, the Thailand men's national volleyball team, men team has been growing as well. Takraw (Thai: ตะกร้อ) is a sport native to Thailand, in which the players hit a rattan ball and are only allowed to use their feet, knees, chest, and head to touch the ball. Sepak takraw is a form of this sport which is similar to volleyball. The players must volley a ball over a net and force it to hit the ground on the opponent's side. It is also a popular sport in other countries in Southeast Asia. A rather similar game but played only with the feet is buka ball. Snooker has enjoyed increasing popularity in Thailand in recent years, with interest in the game being stimulated by the success of Thai snooker player James Wattana in the 1990s. Other notable players produced by the country include Ratchayothin Yotharuck, Noppon Saengkham and Dechawat Poomjaeng. Rugby is also a growing sport in Thailand with the Thailand national rugby union team rising to be ranked 61st in the world. Thailand became the first country in the world to host an international 80 welterweight rugby tournament in 2005. The national domestic Thailand Rugby Union (TRU) competition includes several universities and services teams such as Chulalongkorn University, Mahasarakham University, Kasetsart University, Prince of Songkla University, Thammasat University, Rangsit University, the Thai Police, the Thai Army, the Thai Navy and the Royal Thai Air Force. Local sports clubs which also compete in the TRU include the British Club of Bangkok, the Southerners Sports Club (Bangkok) and the Royal Bangkok Sports Club. Thailand has been called the golf capital of Asia as it is a popular destination for golf. The country attracts a large number of golfers from Japan, Korea, Singapore, South Africa, and Western countries who come to play golf in Thailand every year. The growing popularity of golf, especially among the middle classes and immigrants, is evident as there are more than 200 world-class golf courses nationwide, and some of them are chosen to host PGA and LPGA tournaments, such as Amata Spring Country Club, Alpine Golf and Sports Club, Thai Country Club, and Black Mountain Golf Club. Basketball is a growing sport in Thailand, especially on the professional sports club level. The Chang Thailand Slammers won the 2011 ASEAN Basketball League Championship. The Thailand national basketball team had its most successful year at the Basketball at the 1966 Asian Games, 1966 Asian Games where it won the silver medal. Other sports in Thailand are slowly growing as the country develops its sporting infrastructure. The success in sports like powerlifting, weightlifting and taekwondo at the last two summer Olympic Games has demonstrated that boxing is no longer the only medal option for Thailand. The well-known Lumpinee Boxing Stadium originally sited at Rama IV Road near Lumphini Park hosted its final Muay Thai boxing matches on 8 February 2014 after the venue first opened in December 1956. Managed by the Royal Thai Army, the stadium was officially selected for the purpose of muay Thai bouts following a competition that was staged on 15 March 1956. From 11 February 2014, the stadium will relocate to Ram Intra Road, due to the new venue's capacity to accommodate audiences of up to 3,500. Foreigners typically pay between 1,000 and 2,000 baht to view a match, with prices depending on the location of the seating. Thammasat Stadium is a multi-purpose stadium in Bangkok. It is currently used mostly for football matches. The stadium holds 25,000. It is on Thammasat University's Rangsit campus. It was built for the 1998 Asian Games by construction firm Christiani and Nielsen, the same company that constructed the Democracy Monument in Bangkok. Rajamangala National Stadium is the biggest sporting arena in Thailand. It currently has a capacity of 65,000. It is in Bang Kapi, Bangkok. The stadium was built in 1998 for the 1998 Asian Games and is the home stadium of the Thailand national football team.


See also

* Index of Thailand-related articles * International rankings of Thailand * Outline of Thailand


Notes


References


Further reading

* Chachavalpongpun, Pavin, ed. ''Routledge Handbook Of Contemporary Thailand'' (2020) * Cooper, Robert. ''Culture Shock! Thailand: A Survival Guide to Customs and Etiquette'' (2008) * London, Ellen. ''Thailand Condensed: 2000 Years of History & Culture'' (2008) * ''Lonely Planet's Best of Thailand'' (2020) * Mishra, Patit Paban. ''The History of Thailand'' (Greenwood, 2010) * Moore, Frank J. ed. ''Thailand: Its People, Its Society, Its Culture'' (HRAF Press, 1974). * Wyatt, David K. ''Thailand: A Short History'' (Yale University Press, 2003) * Zawacki, Benjamin. ''Thailand: Shifting ground between the US and a rising China'' (2nd ed. . Bloomsbury, 2021).


External links

; Government
Thaigov.go.th
– Government of Thailand


Mfa.go.th
– Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Thailand Internet information
– National Electronics and Computer Technology Center
Ministry of Culture
; General information
Thailand
''The World Factbook''. Central Intelligence Agency.
Thailand
entry in Library of Congress Country Studies. 1987
Thailand
from ''UCB Libraries GovPubs'' *
Thailand
from the BBC News
Thailand
''Encyclopædia Britannica'' entry *
Longdo Map
– Thailand maps in English and Thai
Key Development Forecasts for Thailand
from International Futures
2010 Thailand population census by Economic and Social statistics Bureau
; Travel
Tourism Authority of Thailand
– official tourism website ; Other
Thailand Country Fact Sheet
from the Common Language Project * {{Authority control Thailand, Countries in Asia Kingdoms Member states of ASEAN Member states of the United Nations Newly industrializing countries Southeast Asian countries States and territories established in 1932 1932 establishments in Siam 1932 establishments in Asia 1932 establishments in Southeast Asia Observer states of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation