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Thailand's history

Thailand's present extension is the result of the European colonial power's establishment of borders at the turn of the century 1900, even if Thailand as only country in the Southeast Asia never was colonized. Thailand's history is usually divided by the reign of the kingdoms Sukhothai (1238-1419), Ayutthaya (1351-1767) and Bangkok (from 1767), where of the last two are more commonly known as Siam. 1939 the official name changed from Siam to Thailand, but was then changed back to Siam during the period 1945-49MORE.

It is uncertain when the immigration to the present Thailand started, but during the 9th century many Thais occupied this region, which was dominated by the Buddhist Mon civilization and the Hindu-Buddhist Khmer civilization from which the originally animistic Thais received strong political, religious and cultural influences. The first independent kingdoms of Thailand, founded in Sukhothai around 1240 and Chiang Mai 1296, was thus important centers for Buddhist religion and culture. The original belief in spirits was integrated into Buddhism to a political ideology. Ever since the Buddhism, the royal power, and the nation has been closely linked to each other in Thailand. The oldest kingdom, Sukhothai, is regarded as the golden era with a community in harmony, from which a Thai alphabet and the first texts in Thai is considered to originate from.

The Angkorian kingdoms collapse during the 12th century gave the Thais the possibility to establish themselves as a regional factor of power, and the rapidly expanding kingdom of Ayutthaya gained control over large parts of the present Thailand. Sukhothai had a fragile political structure, based on personal alliances, and in 1378 they became a vassal state to Ayutthaya. To strengthen Ayutthaya the political powers were centralized, and the personal lord-client relationships that earlier founded the social organization of Thailand was conformed to a formalized hierarchy. A more bureaucratic system of government was developed, and many laws are considered to originate from this period. The center of the kingdom, the city of Ayutthaya, was a lively center for trade, where many European countries during the 15th century constructed trade depots. The largest threat came from the Burmese, which in 1569 invaded Ayutthaya and in 1767 finally brought the kingdom to its collapse in a point of time when it was shattered by inner conflicts.

A new era in the country's history began 1782 when the Chakri dynasty, which still possesses the throne of Thailand, moved the capital to Bangkok (after a short period in Thon Buri). In the beginning of the Bangkok era the nation expanded. Former vassal states in the present Laos, Cambodia and Malaysia were once again united with the kingdom, and new where added. Laws, work of literature and religious manuscripts was again brought down to reconstruct the cultural heritage of Ayutthaya. Foreign trade grew and with that the Europeans interest in the country, which during king Mongkut (1851-68) got under pressure from the colonial powers. Because the country never abandoned control of large areas in the present Laos, Cambodia and Malaysia and formed trade treaties with the foreign states contributed to that they never became colonized. Another reason was that Great Britain and France wanted Siam to be a buffer state between their colonies in Burma and Indochina. When forming the trading treaties an upswing of Siam's international trade, and a strong immigration of Chinese manpower took place. The confrontation with the colonial powers created a need for internal consolidation. From western patterns the administration was centralized by king Chulalongkorn (1868-1910) to bind the border areas closer to the center of the kingdom. For the first time in history Siam appeared as a country with well-defined borders. Railroads and telegraph lines were established, and the foundation for national culture was founded trough a standardized school system for both laymen and monks. Siam gradually evolved into a modern nation.

Trough these reforms the royal monocracy was strengthen, but after a coup in 1932 by the military and officials, constitutional monarchy was introduced. Ever since the military have been an important political participant, and military control has been shifted with democratically chosen governments. In 1975 culminated a longer period of dissatisfaction with the military control in student demonstrations, which lead to a period with civil governments and political influence for trade unions and agricultural associations. A bloody military takeover in 1976 stopped this democratic experiment. Despite takeover attempts, civil governments gained steady during the 1980's, but a military coup was performed in 1991. A heavy resistance by the middle class towards the military involvement came in 1992 to culminate in extensive demonstrations.

During World War II Thailand was allied with Japan but has after that connected to the western powers. For a long time Thailand was characterized by anti communistic politics and received during the 1950's and 1960's significant financial aid from the US, which was amongst others used to build the country's infrastructure. During the Vietnam War the US had bases in Thailand, from where they did bombings on targets in Laos and Cambodia. In pace with that the socialistic countries in the region have gone over to market economy and no longer poses as a threat, old principles has been abandoned. The current goal is to open countries for Thai investment, and in the mid 1990's Thailand answered for the largest foreign investments in Laos.

At Lang Rong Rien in northern Thailand the oldest settlements is calculated to be around 40 000 years old. The findings from the Spirit Cave indicates that domestification of plants may already have started around 10 000 B.C. New examinations will probablyMORE balance the traditional understanding that Thailand did have a general association with the Hoabinh culture. Findings amongst other from Non Nok Tha and Ban Chiang in the northeast indicates bronze managing and ceramic productions took place in Thailand before 2000 B.C.; because of rapacious diggers dating of many findings is doubtful. At the beginning of our chronology the mainland of Southeast Asia was most likely dominated by a mon-khmer speaking people. They did probably occupy the country Funan, mentioned in Chinese sources, which include parts of Thailand. In the northern Thailand around 500 B.C. the mon-country Dvaravati is established according to Indian sources. Around year 1000 from north immigrated Thai people occupied the lower extent of the Chao Phraya River.

Ancient City (MuangBoran)

Pesents back-in-time and cultural outdoor exhibition organized by region.

Thai Ways

Discusses the history, culture, religion, and language of Thailand.

Thailand-Burma Railway Centre

Presenting the history of the railway constructed by the Imperial Japanese Army during the World War II using Allied prisoners of war and impressed Asian labourers.

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