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Context of Thailand


Thailand ( TY-land, -⁠lənd), historically known as Siam () and officially the Kingdom of Thailand, is a country in Southeast Asia, located at the centre of the Indochinese Peninsula, spanning 513,120 square kilometres (198,120 sq mi), with a population of almost 70 million. The country is bordered to the north by Myanmar and Laos, to the east by Laos and Cambodia, to the south by the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia, and to the west by the Andaman Sea and the extremity of Myanmar. Thailand also shares maritime borders with Vietnam to the southeast, and Indonesia and India to the southwest. Bangkok is the nation's capital and largest city.

Tai peoples migrated from southwestern China to mainland Southeast Asia from the 11th century. Indianised kingdoms such as the Mon, Khmer Empire and Malay states ruled the region, competing with Thai states such as the Kingdoms of Ngoenyang, S...Read more


Thailand ( TY-land, -⁠lənd), historically known as Siam () and officially the Kingdom of Thailand, is a country in Southeast Asia, located at the centre of the Indochinese Peninsula, spanning 513,120 square kilometres (198,120 sq mi), with a population of almost 70 million. The country is bordered to the north by Myanmar and Laos, to the east by Laos and Cambodia, to the south by the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia, and to the west by the Andaman Sea and the extremity of Myanmar. Thailand also shares maritime borders with Vietnam to the southeast, and Indonesia and India to the southwest. Bangkok is the nation's capital and largest city.

Tai peoples migrated from southwestern China to mainland Southeast Asia from the 11th century. Indianised kingdoms such as the Mon, Khmer Empire and Malay states ruled the region, competing with Thai states such as the Kingdoms of Ngoenyang, Sukhothai, Lan Na and Ayutthaya, which also rivalled each other. European contact began in 1511 with a Portuguese diplomatic mission to Ayutthaya, which became a regional power by the end of the 15th century. Ayutthaya reached its peak during the 18th century, until it was destroyed in the Burmese–Siamese War. Taksin quickly reunified the fragmented territory and established the short-lived Thonburi Kingdom. He was succeeded in 1782 by Buddha Yodfa Chulaloke, the first monarch of the current Chakri dynasty. Throughout the era of Western imperialism in Asia, Siam remained the only nation in the region to avoid colonization by foreign powers, although it was often forced to make territorial, trade and legal concessions in unequal treaties. The Siamese system of government was centralised and transformed into a modern unitary absolute monarchy in the reign of Chulalongkorn. In World War I, Siam sided with the Allies, a political decision made in order to amend the unequal treaties. Following a bloodless revolution in 1932, it became a constitutional monarchy and changed its official name to Thailand, becoming an ally of Japan in World War II. In the late 1950s, a military coup under Field Marshal Sarit Thanarat revived the monarchy's historically influential role in politics. Thailand became a major ally of the United States, and played an anti-communist role in the region as a member of the failed SEATO, but from 1975 sought to improve relations with Communist China and Thailand's neighbours.

Apart from a brief period of parliamentary democracy in the mid-1970s, Thailand has periodically alternated between democracy and military rule. Since the 2000s the country has been caught in continual bitter political conflict between supporters and opponents of Thaksin Shinawatra, which resulted in two coups (in 2006 and 2014), along with the establishment of its current constitution, a nominally democratic government after the 2019 Thai general election, and large pro-democracy protests in 2020–2021 which included unprecedented demands to reform the monarchy. Since 2019, it has been nominally a parliamentary constitutional monarchy; in practice, however, structural advantages in the constitution have ensured the military's hold on power.

Thailand is a middle power in global affairs and a founding member of ASEAN, and ranks very high in the Human Development Index. It has the second-largest economy in Southeast Asia and the 24th-largest in the world by PPP. Thailand is classified as a newly industrialised economy, with manufacturing, agriculture, and tourism as leading sectors.

More about Thailand

Basic information
  • Currency Thai baht
  • Native name ประเทศไทย
  • Calling code +66
  • Internet domain .th
  • Mains voltage 220V/50Hz
  • Democracy index 6.04
Population, Area & Driving side
  • Population 66188503
  • Area 513119
  • Driving side left
    Map showing geographic distribution of Kra–Dai linguistic family....Read more
    Map showing geographic distribution of Kra–Dai linguistic family. Arrows represent general pattern of the migration of Tai-speaking tribes along the rivers and over the lower passes.[1]: 27 

    There is evidence of continuous human habitation in present-day Thailand from 20,000 years ago to the present day.[2]: 4  The earliest evidence of rice growing is dated at 2,000 BCE.[1]: 4  Bronze appeared circa 1,250–1,000 BCE.[1]: 4  The site of Ban Chiang in northeast Thailand currently ranks as the earliest known centre of copper and bronze production in Southeast Asia.[3] Iron appeared around 500 BCE.[1]: 5  The Kingdom of Funan was the first and most powerful Southeast Asian kingdom at the time (2nd century BCE).[2]: 5  The Mon people established the principalities of Dvaravati and Kingdom of Hariphunchai in the 6th century. The Khmer people established the Khmer empire, centred in Angkor, in the 9th century.[2]: 7  Tambralinga, a Malay state controlling trade through the Malacca Strait, rose in the 10th century.[2]: 5  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.[4]

    The Thai people are of the Tai ethnic group, characterised by common linguistic roots.[5]: 2  Chinese chronicles first mention the Tai peoples in the 6th century BCE. While there are many assumptions regarding the origin of Tai peoples, David K. Wyatt, 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.[5]: 6  Thai people began migrating into present-day Thailand around the 11th century, which Mon and Khmer people occupied at the time.[6] Thus Thai culture was influenced by Indian, Mon, and Khmer cultures.[7]

    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 epigraphy", and "in the twelfth century, the bas-reliefs of Angkor Wat" where "a group of warriors" are described as Syam,[8]: 190–191, 194–195  though Cham accounts do not indicate the origins of Syam or what ethnic group they belonged to.[9] The origins and ethnicity of the Syam remain unclear, with some literature suggesting that Syam refers to the Shan people, the Bru people, or the Brau people.[9][10] However, mainland Southeast Asian sources from before the fourteenth century primarily used the word Syam as an ethnonym, referring to those who belonged to a separate cultural category different from the Khmer, Cham, Bagan, or Mon. This contrasts with the Chinese sources, where Xian was used as a toponym.[9]

    Early states and Sukhothai Kingdom
    Sukhothai Kingdom
    Sukhothai and neighbours, end of 13th century CE.
    Phra Achana, Wat Si Chum, Sukhothai Historical Park.
    The ruins of Wat Mahathat, Sukhothai Historical Park.

    After the decline of the Khmer Empire and Kingdom of Pagan 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.[5]: 38–9  During the 13th century, Tai people had already settled in the core land of Dvaravati and Lavo Kingdom to Nakhon Si Thammarat in the south. There are, however, no records detailing the arrival of the Tais.[5]: 50–1 

    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 in 1238.[5]: 52–3  Mainstream Thai historians count Sukhothai as the first kingdom of Thai people. Sukhothai expanded furthest during the reign of Ram Khamhaeng (r. 1279–1298). However, it was mostly a network of local lords who swore fealty to Sukhothai, not directly controlled by it.[5]: 55–6  He is believed have invented Thai script and Thai ceramics were an important export in his era. Sukhothai embraced Theravada Buddhism in the reign of Maha Thammaracha I (1347–1368).

    To the north, Mangrai, who descended from a local ruler lineage of Ngoenyang, founded the kingdom of Lan Na in 1292, centered in 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.[11]: 8  While in the port in Lower Chao Phraya Basin, a federation around Phetchaburi, Suphan Buri, Lopburi, and the Ayutthaya area was created in the 11th century.[11]: 8 

    Ayutthaya Kingdom
    Ayutthaya Kingdom
    Ayutthaya and neighbours, c. 1540 CE.
    Wat Phra Si Sanphet, Ayutthaya Historical Park.

    According to the most widely accepted version of its origin, the Ayutthaya Kingdom rose from the earlier, nearby Lavo Kingdom and Suvarnabhumi with Uthong 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.[12]: 355  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.[13]: 26  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 brought about bureaucratic reforms which lasted into the 20th century and created a system of social hierarchy called sakdina, where male commoners were conscripted as corvée labourers for six months a year.[14]: 107  Ayutthaya was interested in the Malay peninsula, but failed to conquer the Malacca Sultanate which was supported by the Chinese Ming dynasty.[2]: 11, 13 

    European contact and trade started in the early-16th century, with the envoy of Portuguese duke Afonso de Albuquerque in 1511. Portugal became an ally and ceded some soldiers to King Rama Thibodi II.[15] 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 Taungoo dynasty starting in the 1540s in the reign of Tabinshwehti and Bayinnaung were ultimately ended with the capture of the capital in 1570.[14]: 146–7  Then was a brief period of vassalage to Burma until Naresuan proclaimed independence in 1584.[11]: 11 

    Ayutthaya then sought to improve relations with European powers for many successive reigns. The kingdom especially prospered during cosmopolitan Narai's reign (1656–1688) when some European travelers regarded Ayutthaya as an Asian great power, alongside China and India.[1]: ix  However, growing French influence later in his reign was met with nationalist sentiment and led eventually to the Siamese revolution of 1688.[14]: 185–6  However, overall relations remained stable, with French missionaries still active in preaching Christianity.[14]: 186 

    After a bloody period of dynastic struggle, Ayutthaya entered into what has been called the Siamese "golden age", a relatively peaceful episode in the second quarter of the 18th century when art, literature, and learning flourished. There were seldom foreign wars, apart from conflict with the Nguyễn Lords for control of 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.[16]: 250  The Burmese under the new 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.[17]: 218 

    Thonburi Kingdom
    Taksin the Great enthroned himself as a Thai king in 1767.

    The capital and many of its territories lay in chaos after the war. The former capital was occupied by the Burmese garrison army and five local leaders declared themselves overlords, including the lords of Sakwangburi, Phitsanulok, Pimai, Chanthaburi, and Nakhon Si Thammarat. Chao Tak, a capable military leader, proceeded to make himself a lord by right of conquest, beginning with the legendary sack of Chanthaburi. Based at Chanthaburi, Chao Tak raised troops and resources, and sent a fleet up the Chao Phraya to take the fort of Thonburi. In the same year, Chao Tak was able to retake Ayutthaya from the Burmese only seven months after the fall of the city.[18]

    Chao Tak then crowned himself as Taksin and proclaimed 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,[14]: 225  captured Vientiane in 1778[14]: 227–8  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 Chao Phraya Chakri (the future Rama I). He was the first king of the ruling Chakri dynasty and founder of the Rattanakosin Kingdom on 6 April 1782.

    Modernisation and centralisation
    Rattanakosin Kingdom
    Detailed map of Siam's provinces, vassals, and monthons in 1900
    Emerald Buddha in Wat Phra Kaew. Considered the sacred palladium of Thailand.
    Chulalongkorn with Nicholas II in Saint Petersburg, 1897.

    Under 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.[19] In 1821, Briton 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.[20] Bangkok signed the Burney Treaty in 1826, after the British victory in the First Anglo-Burmese War.[14]: 281  Anouvong 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.[14]: 283–5  Vientiane was destroyed and a large number of Lao people were relocated to Khorat Plateau as a result.[14]: 285–6  Bangkok also waged several wars with Vietnam, where Siam successfully regained hegemony over Cambodia.[14]: 290–2 

    From the late-19th century, Siam tried to rule the ethnic groups in the realm as colonies.[14]: 308  In the reign of Mongkut (1851–1868), who recognised the potential threat Western powers posed to Siam, his court contacted the British government directly to defuse tensions.[14]: 311  A British mission led by Sir John Bowring, Governor of Hong Kong, led to the signing of the Bowring Treaty, the first of many unequal treaties with Western countries. This, however, brought trade and economic development to Siam.[21] The unexpected death of Mongkut from malaria led to the reign of underage Prince Chulalongkorn, with Somdet Chaophraya Sri Suriwongse (Chuang Bunnag) acting as regent.[14]: 327 

    Chulalongkorn (r. 1868–1910) initiated centralisation, set up a privy council, and abolished slavery and the corvée system. The Front Palace crisis of 1874 stalled attempts at further reforms.[14]: 331–3  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.[14]: 334–5  He established twelve krom in 1888, which were equivalent to present-day ministries.[14]: 347  The crisis of 1893 erupted, caused by French demands for Laotian territory east of Mekong.[14]: 350–3  Thailand is the only Southeast Asian nation never to have been colonised by a Western power,[22] in part because Britain and France agreed in 1896 to make the Chao Phraya valley a buffer state.[23] 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.[14]: 362–3  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.[14]: 371–3 

    The Palace Revolt of 1912 was a failed attempt by Western-educated military officers to overthrow the Siamese monarchy.[14]: 397  Vajiravudh (r. 1910–1925) responded by propaganda for the entirety of his reign,[14]: 402  which promoted the idea of the Thai nation.[14]: 404  In 1917, Siam joined the First World War on the side of the Allies.[14]: 407  In the aftermath Siam had a seat at the Paris Peace Conference, and gained freedom of taxation and the revocation of extraterritoriality.[14]: 408 

    Constitutional monarchy, World War II and Cold War
    Field Marshal Plaek Phibunsongkhram, the longest serving Prime Minister of Thailand

    A 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. 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.[2]: 25  In 1933, a counter-revolutionary rebellion occurred which aimed to reinstate absolute monarchy, but failed.[14]: 446–8  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.[14]: 448–9 

    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.[14]: 457  His government adopted nationalism and Westernisation, anti-Chinese and anti-French policies.[2]: 28 

    In 1939, there was a decree changing the name of the country from "Siam" to "Thailand". In 1941, Thailand was in a brief conflict with Vichy France resulting in Thailand gaining some Lao and Cambodian territories.[14]: 462 

    On 8 December 1941, 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.[24] The Thai government declared war on the United States and the United Kingdom.[14]: 465  The Free Thai Movement was launched both in Thailand and abroad to oppose the government and Japanese occupation.[14]: 465–6  After the war ended in 1945, Thailand signed formal agreements to end the state of war with the Allies. The main Allied powers had ignored Thailand's declaration of war.

    Coronation of King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

    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.[14]: 493  Field Marshal 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.[14]: 511  His government improved the country's infrastructure and education.[14]: 514  After the United States joined the Vietnam War in 1961, there was a secret agreement wherein the U.S. promised to protect Thailand.[14]: 523 

    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.[14]: 528  Economic development and education enabled the rise of a middle class in Bangkok and other cities.[14]: 534  In October 1971, there was a large demonstration against the dictatorship of Thanom Kittikachorn (premiership 1963–1973), which led to civilian casualties.[14]: 541–3  Bhumibol installed Sanya Dharmasakti (premiership 1973–1975) to replace him, marking the first time that the king had intervened in Thai politics directly since 1932.[25] The aftermath of the event marked a short-lived parliamentary democracy,[25] 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.[14]: 548  This culminated in the Thammasat University massacre in October 1976.[14]: 548–9  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. Another coup the following year installed a more moderate government, which offered amnesty to communist fighters in 1978.[citation needed]

    Fuelled by Indochina refugee crisis, 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 and 1985 attempts against Prem failed. Thailand had its first elected prime minister in 1988.[26]

    Suchinda Kraprayoon, who was 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 1992 general election. This caused a popular demonstration in Bangkok, which ended with a bloody military crackdown. Bhumibol intervened in the event and signed an amnesty law, Suchinda then resigned.[citation needed]

    United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship, Red Shirts, protest in 2010

    The 1997 Asian financial crisis originated in Thailand and ended the country's 40 years of uninterrupted economic growth.[27]: 3  Chuan Leekpai's government took an IMF loan with unpopular provisions.[14][failed verification]: 576  The populist Thai Rak Thai party, led by prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, governed from 2001 until 2006. His policies were successful in reducing rural poverty[28] and initiated universal healthcare in the country.[29] 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 a coup d'état in 2006. The junta installed a military government which lasted a year.[citation needed]

    In 2007, a civilian government led by the Thaksin-allied People's Power Party (PPP) was elected. Another protest led by PAD ended with the dissolution of PPP, and the Democrat Party led a coalition government in its place. The pro-Thaksin United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD) protested both in 2009 and in 2010, the latter of which ended with a violent military crackdown causing more than 70 civilian deaths.[30]

    After the general election of 2011, the populist Pheu Thai Party won a majority and Yingluck Shinawatra, Thaksin's younger sister, became prime minister. The People's Democratic Reform Committee organised another anti-Shinawatra protest[a][unreliable source?] after the ruling party proposed an amnesty bill which would benefit Thaksin.[31] Yingluck dissolved parliament and a general election was scheduled, but was invalidated by the Constitutional Court. The crisis ended with another coup d'état in 2014.

    The ensuing National Council for Peace and Order, a military junta led by General Prayut Chan-o-cha, led the country 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;[32] this was described by academics as showing the rise of fascism.[33] 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.[b] The junta also bound future governments to a 20-year national strategy 'road map' it laid down, effectively locking the country into military-guided democracy.[35] In 2019, the junta agreed to schedule a general election in March.[32] Prayut continued his premiership with the support of Palang Pracharath Party-coalition in the House and junta-appointed Senate, amid allegations of election fraud.[36] The 2020–21 pro-democracy protests were triggered by increasing royal prerogative, democratic and economic regression from the Royal Thai Armed Forces supported by the Thai monarchy in the wake of the 2014 Thai coup d'état, dissolution of the pro-democracy Future Forward Party, distrust in the 2019 general election and the current political system, forced disappearance and deaths of political activists including Wanchalearm Satsaksit, and political corruption scandals,[37][38] which brought forward unprecedented demands to reform the monarchy[39] and the highest sense of republicanism in the country.[40]

    ^ a b c d e Baker, Chris; Phongpaichit, Pasuk (2017). A History of Ayutthaya. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-1-107-19076-4. ^ a b c d e f g Barbara Leitch LePoer (1989). Thailand: A Country Study. Federal Research Division, Library of Congress. ^ Higham, Charles; Higham, Thomas; Ciarla, Roberto; Douka, Katerina; Kijngam, Amphan; Rispoli, Fiorella (10 December 2011). "The Origins of the Bronze Age of Southeast Asia". Journal of World Prehistory. 24 (4): 227–274. doi:10.1007/s10963-011-9054-6. S2CID 162300712. Retrieved 10 February 2018 – via Researchgate.net. ^ Thailand. History Archived 2 April 2012 at the Wayback Machine. Encyclopædia Britannica ^ a b c d e f Wyatt, David K. (1984). Thailand: A Short History. New Haven: Yale University Press. ISBN 978-0-300-03054-9. ^ E. Jane Keyes; James A. Hafner; et al. (2018). "Thailand: History". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 4 April 2018. ^ Keyes, Charles F. (1997). Cultural Diversity and National Identity in Thailand. Government policies and ethnic relations in Asia and the Pacific. MIT Press. p. 203. ^ Cite error: The named reference Coedes-1968 was invoked but never defined (see the help page). ^ a b c Smith, John (2019). State, Community, and Ethnicity in Early Modern Thailand, 1351-1767 (Thesis thesis). ^ Juntanamalaga, Preecha (1 June 1988). "Thai or Siam?". Names. 36 (1): 69–84. doi:10.1179/nam.1988.36.1-2.69. ISSN 1756-2279. ^ a b c Baker, Christopher; Phongpaichit, Pasuk (2014). A History of Thailand. Singapore: C.O.S Printers Pte Ltd. ISBN 978-1-107-42021-2. ^ Higham, Charles (1989). The Archaeology of Mainland Southeast Asia. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-27525-3. Retrieved 6 September 2009. ^ เกษตรศิริ, ชาญวิทย์ (2005). อยุธยา: ประวัติศาสตร์และการเมือง. โรงพิมพ์มหาวิทยาลัยธรรมศาสตร์. ISBN 978-974-91572-7-5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an Wyatt, David K. (2013). Thailand: A Short History [ประวัติศาสตร์ไทยฉบับสังเขป] (in Thai). Translated by ละอองศรี, กาญจนี. มูลนิธิโครงการตำราสังคมศาสตร์และมนุษยศาสตร์, มูลนิธิโตโยต้าประเทศไทย. ISBN 978-616-7202-38-9. ^ "Ayutthaya history Foreign Settlements". ^ Harvey, G E (1925). History of Burma. London: Frank Cass & Co. Ltd. ^ Ruangsilp, Bhawan (2007). Dutch East India Company Merchants at the Court of Ayutthaya: Dutch Perceptions of the Thai Kingdom c. 1604–1765. Leiden, Netherlands: Koninklijke Brill NV. ISBN 978-0-300-08475-7. Retrieved 20 November 2009. ^ จรรยา ประชิตโรมรัน. (2548). สมเด็จพระเจ้าตากสินมหาราช. สำนักพิมพ์แห่งจุฬาลงกรณ์มหาวิทยาลัย. หน้า 55 ^ Nolan, Cathal J. (2002). The Greenwood Encyclopedia of International Relations: S-Z by Cathal J. Nolan. ISBN 978-0-313-32383-6. Retrieved 21 November 2015. ^ Hwa, Cheng Siok (1971). "The Crawford Papers — A Collection of Official Records relating to the Mission of Dr. John Crawfurd sent to Siam by the Government of India in the year 1821". Journal of Southeast Asian Studies. 3 (2): 324–325. doi:10.1017/S0022463400019421. ^ "Ode to Friendship, Celebrating Singapore – Thailand Relations: Introduction". National Archives of Singapore. 2004. Archived from the original on 3 March 2007. Retrieved 24 April 2007. ^ "King, country and the coup". The Indian Express. Mumbai. 22 September 2006. Archived from the original on 14 May 2011. Retrieved 3 November 2011. ^ Declaration between Great Britain and France with regard of the Kingdom of Siam and other matters Archived 31 March 2017 at the Wayback Machine London. 15 January 1896. Treaty Series. No. 5 ^ Werner Gruhl, Imperial Japan's World War Two, 1931–1945, Transaction Publishers, 2007 ISBN 978-0-7658-0352-8 ^ a b "The 1973 revolution and its aftermath". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 23 August 2019. ^ "Partial democracy and the search for a new political order". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 11 March 2018. ^ Warr, Peter (2007). Thailand Beyond the Crisis. Routledge Curzon. ISBN 978-1-134-54151-5. ^ "Thailand Economic Monitor, November 2005" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2 September 2009. Retrieved 19 February 2010. ^ Na Ranong, Viroj, Na Ranong, Anchana, Universal Health Care Coverage: Impacts of the 30-Baht Health Care Scheme on the Rural Poor in Thailand, TDRI Quarterly Review, September 2006 ^ Erawan EMS Center, รายชื่อผู้เสียชีวิตจากสถานการณ์การชุมนุมของกลุมนปช. Archived 6 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine ^ "Protests as Thailand senators debate amnesty bill". The Guardian. 11 November 2013. Retrieved 10 April 2019. ^ a b Beech, Hannah (8 February 2019). "Thailand's King Rejects His Sister's Candidacy for Prime Minister". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 11 February 2019. ^ Taylor, James (1 September 2021). "Thailand's new right, social cleansing and the continuing military–monarchy entente". Asian Journal of Comparative Politics. 6 (3): 253–273. doi:10.1177/2057891120980835. ISSN 2057-8911. S2CID 234182253. ^ Thai King Signs Military-Backed Constitution, National Public Radio, 6 April 2017 ^ Montesano, Michael J. (2019). "The Place of the Provinces in Thailand's Twenty-Year National Strategy: Toward Community Democracy in a Commercial Nation?" (PDF). ISEAS Perspective. 2019 (60): 1–11. Archived (PDF) from the original on 13 September 2020. Retrieved 23 August 2020. ^ "Thailand election results delayed as allegations of cheating grow". ABC News. 25 March 2019. Retrieved 26 March 2019. ^ "Thai protesters stage biggest anti-government demonstration in years". France 24. 16 August 2020. ^ "Thailand: youthful protesters break the kingdom's biggest political taboo". Financial Times. 27 August 2020. Archived from the original on 10 December 2022. ^ "[Full statement] The demonstration at Thammasat proposes monarchy reform". Prachatai English. 11 August 2020. Archived from the original on 20 August 2020. Retrieved 23 August 2020. ^ Cunningham, Philip J. "An unexpectedly successful protest". Bangkok Post. Retrieved 24 September 2020.

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Stay safe
    Stay safe

    The number one cause of death for visitors to Thailand is motorbike accidents, especially on the often narrow, mountainous and twisty roads of Phuket and Samui. Drive defensively, wear a helmet, don't drink and avoid travel at night. Violent crime is in general rare, and the foreigners who get into trouble are typically those that get into drunken fights.

    Political unrest

    Long-simmering tension between pro- and anti-government groups came to head in 2008, with the anti-government People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) first blockading several airports in the South for a few days in summer and in November taking over both of Bangkok's airports for a week, causing immense disruption to tourism and the Thai economy. However, while several protesters were killed or injured in scuffles, by and large the protests were peaceful and no tourists were harmed.

    Following the resignation of the prime minister in December 2008, things have gone back to normal for the time being, but the situation remains unstable. Keep an eye on the news and try to keep your plans flexible. Avoid demonstrations and other political gatherings.

    ...Read more
    Stay safe

    The number one cause of death for visitors to Thailand is motorbike accidents, especially on the often narrow, mountainous and twisty roads of Phuket and Samui. Drive defensively, wear a helmet, don't drink and avoid travel at night. Violent crime is in general rare, and the foreigners who get into trouble are typically those that get into drunken fights.

    Political unrest

    Long-simmering tension between pro- and anti-government groups came to head in 2008, with the anti-government People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) first blockading several airports in the South for a few days in summer and in November taking over both of Bangkok's airports for a week, causing immense disruption to tourism and the Thai economy. However, while several protesters were killed or injured in scuffles, by and large the protests were peaceful and no tourists were harmed.

    Following the resignation of the prime minister in December 2008, things have gone back to normal for the time being, but the situation remains unstable. Keep an eye on the news and try to keep your plans flexible. Avoid demonstrations and other political gatherings.

    Do not under any circumstances say anything negative about the Thai royal family.

    Bad news again in May 2010 when Red Shirt demonstrators occupied a large area of Bangkok, which was not dispersed for 2 months. This resulted in much violence, arson, etc., and some deaths. This problem is still simmering and although it poses no real threat to tourists it should always be borne in mind that things could easily flare up again.

    Thailand's military seized control of government in May 2014, making it the country's 12th successful coup since 1932. Despite sensationalist headlines warning of the dangers of Thailand, travellers using common sense and avoiding potentially risky areas or situations should enjoy a trouble-free holiday.

    The hand gesture

    Since 2020, there have been youth-led protests calling for the restoration of democracy, the ouster of the military-led government and the abolition of the monarchy, perhaps best symbolized by a raised hand with the three middle fingers pressed together (in the figure). Stay clear of such protests, as the authorities have been known to deal with them in a heavy-handed manner. There is also a strong anti-China, pro-West sentiment driving the protests, so mainland Chinese visitors should be exceptionally careful to avoid the protests.


    It's illegal to show disrespect to royalty (lèse-majesté), a crime with a mandatory punishment of 3 years up to 15 years imprisonment. Do not make any negative remarks or any remarks which might be perceived as disrespectful about the King, any members of the Royal Family, or anything related to them (such as their pets or appearance). This will usually land you in prison and your embassy/consulate will be of little help in getting you out. Since the King is on the country's currency, don't burn, tear, or mutilate it, especially in the presence of other Thais. If you drop a coin or bill, do not step on it to stop it — this is very rude, since you are stomping on the picture of the King's head that is printed on the coin. Also, anything related to the stories and movies The King and I and Anna and the King is illegal to possess in Thailand. Almost all Thais, even those in other countries, feel very strongly when it comes to any version of this story. They feel that it makes a mockery of their age-old monarchy and is entirely inaccurate.

    The hand gesture of raised up hand with three middle fingers pressed together (described in the previous section), which is often used as a protest symbol in the 2020 protests, is also deemed disrespectful of the royalty.

    Although it's mainly Thais who are prosecuted for lèse-majesté (sometimes as a political weapon), a few foreigners have been charged and even jailed for it, in some cases for publishing remarks that would not even ruffle feathers in the Western press. Pleading guilty and seeking a royal pardon is generally seen as the quickest path to freedom, and even that would probably not spare you from months of pretrial detention and some time spent in jail.


    While not as bad as in neighbouring Myanmar, Laos or Cambodia, corruption is unfortunately still fairly common in Thailand. Traffic police in Thailand often request bribes on the order of 200 baht or so from tourists who are stopped for seemingly minor traffic infringements. Immigration officers at the Malaysian border have been known to ask for a bribe of about 20 baht per person before they stamp your passport, though those at airports generally do not ask for bribes. On the road, if you are absolutely sure you haven't done anything wrong and all your papers are in order, be polite but refuse to pay a bribe and stand your ground even if threatened to be taken to the police station, eventually you'll be let go as the officer will have a harder time doing so and probably get into serious trouble with his superiors.


    Thailand has more than its fair share of scams, but most are easily avoided with some common sense.

    More a nuisance than a danger, a common scam by touts, taxi drivers and tuk-tuk drivers in Thailand is to wait by important monuments and temples and waylay Western travellers, telling them that the site is closed for a "Buddhist holiday", "repairs" or a similar reason. The "helpful" driver will then offer to take the traveller to another site, such as a market or store. Travellers who accept these offers will often end up at out-of-the-way markets with outrageous prices - and no way to get back to the centre of town where they came from. Always check at the front gate of the site you're visiting to make sure it's really closed.

    Tuk-tuks in Phuket

    Some tuk-tuk drivers might demand much higher price than agreed, or they might take you to a sex show, pretending they didn't understand the address (they get commissions from sex shows). For the same reason, avoid drivers who propose their services without being asked, especially near major tourist attractions. Generally, as a foreigner, it is cheaper to take a metered taxi than a tuk-tuk.

    Don't buy any sightseeing tours at the airport. If you do, they will phone several times to your hotel to remind you about the tour. During the tour, you will be shortly taken to a small temple, without a guide, and then one shop after another (they get commissions). They might refuse to take you back home until you see all the shops. On your way back, they pressure you to buy more tours.

    Easily identified with practice, it is not uncommon in tourist areas to be approached by a clean cut, well dressed man who will often be toting a cellphone. These scammers will start up polite conversation, showing interest in the unsuspecting tourist's background, family, or itinerary. Inevitably, the conversation will drift to the meat of the scam. This may be something as innocuous as over-priced tickets to a kantoke meal and show, or as serious as a gambling scam or (particularly in Bangkok) the infamous gem scam. Once identified, the wary traveller should have no trouble picking out these scammers from a crowd. The tell-tale well-pressed slacks and button-down shirt, freshly cut hair in a conservative style, and late-model cellphone comprise their uniform. Milling around tourist areas without any clear purpose for doing so, the careful traveller should have no difficulty detecting and avoiding these scammers.

    Many visitors will encounter young Thai ladies armed with a clipboard and a smile enquiring as to their nationality, often with an aside along the lines of "please help me to earn 30 baht". The suggestion is that the visitor completes a tourism questionnaire (which includes supplying their hotel name and room number) with the incentive that they just might win a prize - the reality is that everyone gets a call to say that they are a "winner"; however, the prize can only be collected by attending an arduous time-share presentation. The lady with the clipboard doesn't get her 30 baht if you don't attend the presentation; also that only English-speaking nationalities are targeted.

    A serious scam involves being accused of shoplifting in the duty-free shops in the Bangkok airport. This may involve accidentally straying across ill-defined boundaries between shops with merchandise in hand, or being given a "free gift". Always get a receipt. Those accused are threatened with long prison sentences, then given the opportunity to pay USD10,000 or more as "bail" to make the problem disappear and to be allowed to leave Thailand. If you end up in this pickle, contact your embassy and use their lawyer or translator, not the "helpful" guy hanging around.

    Fake monks

    Theravada Buddhism is an integral part of Thai culture, and it is customary for Buddhist monks to roam the streets collecting alms in the morning. Unfortunately, the presence of foreign tourists unaware of local Buddhist customs has led to some imposters preying on unsuspecting visitors. Genuine monks only go on alms rounds in the morning, as they are not allowed to eat after noon, and are also not allowed to accept or touch money. Alms bowls are solely for the purpose of collecting food. If you see a "monk" soliciting monetary donations, or with money in his alms bowl, he is fake.

    Robbery on overnight buses

    Thailand is quite safe for tourists. However, there have been some reports about people getting drugged and robbed while traveling on overnight buses. To avoid this, steer away from cheapish and non-government buses, make sure you have all your money stored safely in a money belt or another hard-to-reach place and always check your money balance before getting off. Warning your travel companions about this danger is also advised. In case this happens, firmly refuse to get off the bus, tell the rest of the people about the situation and immediately call the police. It may not be possible to stay on the bus, as your refusal may prompt the staff to unload your hold luggage onto the street and then continue to drive the bus without your luggage, forcing you to disembark or lose it.


    Thailand's age of consent is 15 but a higher minimum age of 18 applies in the case of prostitutes. Thai penalties for sex with minors are harsh, and even if your partner is over the age of consent in Thailand, tourists who have sex with minors may be prosecuted by their home country. As far as ascertaining the age of your partner goes, all adult Thais must carry an identity card, which will state that they were born in 2543 or earlier if they were over the age of 18 on 1 Jan 2018 (in the Thai calendar, 2018 is the year 2561).

    Some prostitutes are "freelancers", but most are employed by bars or similar businesses. Bar girls, go-go girls and freelancers are all professionals, who are far more likely to be interested in money you can give them than in any continuing relationship for its own sake. Cases of visitors falling desperately in love and then being milked out of all they are worth abound. Thailand has a high rate of STD infection, including HIV/AIDS, both among the general population and among prostitutes. Condoms can be bought easily in Thailand in all convenience shops and pharmacies but may not be as safe as Western ones.

    Some aspects of prostitution in Thailand are illegal (e.g., soliciting, pimping), but enforcement is liberal and brothels are commonplace. It's not illegal to pay for sex due to the "Special Services" exemption in Thai law or to pay a "bar fine".


    Thailand has extremely harsh laws regarding the use of e-cigarettes. Possession carries a sentence of up to 10 years in prison. Especially in Phuket and Bangkok, you are likely to get arrested if you vape in public.


    Long infamous for its extremely strict drug laws, Thailand did a bit of a U-turn in 2018 when it became the first country in Southeast Asia to legalize medical marijuana. Recreational use of cannabis (กัญชา ganchaa) remains banned, but there are plans afoot to decriminalize it, possibly as soon as 2022. Kratom (ต้นกระท่อม ton krathom), a local plant whose leaves are chewed for their mildly stimulant effects, was also fully legalized in 2021. Hemp products including cannabis-laced foods are also widely sold, but don't get too excited when you spot the familiar leaf, since these must contain less than 0.2% of THC.

    Thailand continues to maintain an extremely hard line on all other drugs, particularly methamphetamine (ยาบ้า ya ba, "crazy medicine"), which is a major social problem. Your foreign passport is not enough to get you out of legal hot water. Possession and trafficking offenses that would merit traffic-ticket misdemeanors in other countries can result in life imprisonment or even death in Thailand. Police frequently raid nightclubs, particularly in Bangkok, with urine tests and full body searches on all patrons. Ko Pha Ngan's notoriously drug-fueled Full Moon Parties also often draw police attention.

    Penalties for drug possession in Thailand vary in harshness depending on the following: category of drug, amount of drug, and intent of the possessor. If you do take the risk and get arrested on drug-related charges, you would do well to immediately contact your embassy as a first step. The embassy cannot get you out of jail but can inform your family back home of your arrest, and can often give you a list of lawyers and translators you can contact.

    The Thai legal system limits the amount of the defending and the usefulness of a lawyer. For minor offences, i.e. peeing positive for cannabis, the penalty can be something like a 2,000-baht fine and deportation. However, to actually get this sentencing, someone not familiar with the system would need external help, translations, bail posted, etc. Stay clean, so you won't have to worry about penalties.

    Civil conflict and terrorism
    Fishing Village in Narathiwat

    In 2004, long-simmering resentment in the southern-most Muslim-majority provinces burst into violence in Narathiwat, Pattani and Yala provinces. All are off the beaten tourist trail, although the eastern rail line from Hat Yai to Sungai Kolok (gateway to Malaysia's east coast) passes through the area and has been disrupted several times by attacks.

    Hat Yai (Thailand's largest city in the South) in Songkhla has also been hit by a series of related bombings; however, the main cross-border rail line connecting Hat Yai and Butterworth (on the west coast) has not been affected, and none of the islands or the west coast beaches have been targeted.

    In September 2006, three foreigners were killed in bombings in Hat Yai. Some rebel groups have threatened foreigners, but while targets have included hotels, karaoke lounges and shopping malls, Westerners have not been singled out for attacks. There are Islamist and jihadist groups in south Thailand, such as Jemaah Islamiyah. That said, there is usually a strong Thai military presence in the major towns and cities to keep things in order, and the vast majority of foreign visitors do not encounter any problems.

    In 2015, Uyghur separatists also carried a terrorist attack in Bangkok the Erawan Shrine, a site popular with Chinese tourists. This is, however, largely regarded as an isolated incident, and the odds of it happening again are regarded as remote.


    Make a photocopy of your passport and the page with your visa stamp. A picture of your passport, shot from your phone, will work as well. Always keep your passport or the photocopy with you (the law requires that you carry your actual passport at all times, but in practice a photocopy will usually suffice). Many night clubs insist on a passport (and ONLY a passport) as proof of age. It is not required that you leave your passport with a hotel when you check in.

    Motorbike rental places are likely to ask for you passport as collateral. Leaving another document (drivers license, int. drivers license, second passport, ID card) might be the better option. Or consider offering a cash deposit instead.


    Carrying your own padlock is a good idea, as budget rooms sometimes use them instead of (or as well as) normal door locks; carry a spare key someplace safe, like your money belt, otherwise considerable expense as well as inconvenience may result should you lose the original. Also consider some type of cable to lock your bag to something too big to fit through the door or window.


    Thailand has a few dangerous animals. The most common menace is stray dogs which frequent even the streets of Bangkok. The vast majority are passive and harmless, but a few of which may carry rabies, so steer clear of them and do not, by any means, feed or pet them. If they try to attack you, don't run as this will encourage them to chase you as if you were prey. Instead, try to walk away slowly.

    Monkeys may be cute and friendly, but in any area where unaware tourists have corrupted them, they expect to get food from humans. They can be very sneaky thieves, and they can bite. As with dogs, you won't want to get bitten, whether or not they have rabies. Most urban areas do not have "stray" monkeys, but Lopburi is famous for them.

    Venomous snakes can be found throughout Thailand, hiding in tall brush or along streams. You're unlikely to ever see one, as they shy away from humans, but they may bite if surprised or provoked. The best course of action when confronted with an unknown snake is to stay still until it leaves. The Siamese crocodile, on the other hand, is nearly extinct and found only in a few remote national parks. Monitor lizards are common in jungles, but despite their scary reptilian appearance they're harmless.

    Racial issues

    Thais are normally very tolerant of tourists, who are unlikely to encounter aggressive racial abuse regardless of skin colour. However, some visitors may notice their ethnicity attracting some innocent attention. Usually, these situations are limited to stares or unwanted attention in shops. Thais are often curious to find out the nationality of the travellers they meet. Apart from this curiosity, most travellers find it easy to strike up a rapport with Thais.


    Do not get into fights with Thais. Foreigners will eventually be outnumbered and weapons can be involved. Trying to break up someone else's fight is a bad idea, and your intention to help may get you hurt. Also be sure to avoid raising your voice, as Thais consider this to be very insulting, and there have been cases of people being murdered after doing so for making the other person lose face.

    Earthquakes & tsunami

    Southern Thailand is seismically active, with earthquakes and tsunami. The chief culprit is the Indian tectonic plate (carrying the Indian ocean & subcontinent) which, like a skidding truck, is barrelling northwards while spinning anti-clockwise. In this region it collides with the small Burma plate, which carries the Andaman Sea. When the plates grind past each other (a “slip-strike” collision), they cause earthquakes. But the Indian plate is also being subducted – forced beneath the Burma plate – which lifts the sea-bed, displaces the water, and sets off a tsunami. A most violent event occurred on 26 Dec 2004, when along 1000 miles of fault line the sea-bed was suddenly jacked up by several metres. Two hours later, tsunami hit the west coast of Thailand in three waves 20 min apart, and over 8000 people here were killed.

    There was, and is, no effective local warning system, as (unlike the Pacific) major tsunamis in the Indian Ocean are seen as a once-in-a-century event: “Not since Krakatoa in 1883” is the stock refrain. But memory of the 2004 tragedy remains strong. Expect frantic fleeing from the coast if an earthquake is felt, with gridlock and traffic casualties. Your decision will be whether to rush out of the building before it collapses, or rush indoors to try and get above the third floor.

    The Burma plate is in turn being shunted against the Sundah plate, which carries the Peninsula mainland and eastern sea. This movement is less violent, but this fault line lies right under the western coastline, so these earthquakes have more local impact and tsunami could strike immediately. Central and Northern Thailand are less quake-prone but the 2014 Mae Lao earthquake, centred on Chiang Rai, caused one death.

    LGBT travellers

    Thailand is one of the most tolerant countries in Asia with regard to LGBT travellers. There are no laws against homosexuality in Thailand, and LGBT tourism forms a big part of the Thai economy. In the main tourist areas, there is no shortage of gay bars and other gay-friendly establishments to cater to that crowd, and transgender cabarets are also a major tourist attraction. Thailand is one of the world's largest centres of medical tourism for sex reassignment surgery. That being said, same-sex relationships are not given any legal recognition, and transgender individuals are still not allowed to change their legal gender. Thais also tend to be rather conservative, and LGBT people are often relegated to the fringes of society. Fortunately, anti-LGBT violence is extremely rare.

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