The History of Thailand's Royal Family

Thailand’s monarchy made national headlines following the tragic passing and subsequent funeral of King Bhumibol Adulyadej, or Rama IX, in October 2016. As the longest reigning monarch in history, he played a vital role in shaping his country, as have generations of his family since taking to the throne in 1782. From establishing the country as we know to working towards prosperity for all, here’s the history of Thailand’s royal family.

Brief History of Thailand

The Thai people established their own states in the early 20th century, with the Ayutthaya kingdom showing itself to be the most dominant for a time. The states were all constantly threatened by the Khmers, Burma, and Vietnam, not to mention the presence of the French and British who were vying for colonies in Southeast Asia at the time. When European colonial powers threatened in the 19th and 20th centuries, Thailand managed to escape as the only country not to fall under colonial rule. This was due to a compromise between the French and British to keep it as a neutral territory between them. The Siamese Revolution was sparked by young military personnel and other civil workers in 1932. This event ended the absolute monarchy of the Ayutthaya Kingdom and established a constitutional monarchy that was largely overseen by military personnel. Civilian and military factions bickered over power in the newly established government, and fear of communism and ultra-nationalism caused instability amongst them. Thailand endured sixty years of military rule, oftentimes with no clear direction or leader aside from the top general.

The current military leaders at the time of World War II opted to ally Thailand with Japan to avoid becoming a victim in its path. During the postwar era, Thailand maintained close ties with the United States, avoiding adherence to the communist influences that many of its neighbors embraced. A democratic government was established in 1992 which has resumed to the present day.

Ancient History

A number of indigenous Mon-Khmer and Malay civilizations used to live in the region now known is Thailand. Yet little is known about the area prior to the 13th century since literary sources are scarce and most of the knowledge we have today is taken from archeology only. Thailand's cultural influences have included the culture and religions of India, the Kindgom of Funan, and the Khmer Empire. The &ldquoIndianized&rdquo kingdoms &ndash what is now central Thailand, Srivijaya, and Cambodia &ndash contributed to the flow of Buddhism from India to what was known as Siam. Other influences throughout the centuries included the Maurya Empire, the Pallava dynasty, and Gupta Empires of India.

From about the 10th to the 14th centuries, Thailand saw a period of Khmer domination over a large portion of what is now Central Thailand, as well as a southward expansion of Thai tribes. Thai city states gradually became independent as the Khmer Empire weakened. The Lanna - based in Chiang Mai, Sukhothai, and Ayutthaya Kingdoms, among others, ended up wrestling amongst each other for control. The Kingdom of Ayutthaya ended up being successful in retaining its independence from other countries and city states. Ayutthaya maintained independence for about 400 years before falling to the Burmese as other city states had previously done. The state of Thonburi, located in the region that now contains Bangkok, was taken back by General Taksin in 1768. From his capital of Thonburi, Taksin used his power throughout Thailand to liberate the city states from Burmese control and reunite them. The resulting country was then called Siam. The Lanna kingdom was also effectively liberated and retained its own form of independence in Northern Thailand.

Thailand's diplomacy skills led them to enter into various treaties with western nations during the period starting in the late 18th century. Thai relations were built particularly with Britain and France. Many say this diplomatic strategy may be the only reason that they retained control during a time of such heavy western colonization in the region.

Post-war uncertainty

1945 - End of World War II. Thailand compelled to return territory it had seized from Laos, Cambodia and Malaya. Exiled King Ananda returns.

1946 - King Ananda dies in mysterious shooting incident.

1947 - Military coup by the wartime, pro-Japanese leader Phibun Songkhram. The military retain power until 1973.

1965 onwards - Thailand permits US to use bases there during the Vietnam War. Thai troops fight in South Vietnam.

Facts about animals in Thailand

13. The country has its own brand of patented cats — Siamese cats — which are native to this island nation. And it’s good luck to give one to a bride as a wedding gift!

14. PETA will surely appreciate this animal loving country, which treats its animals as gods. The annual Monkey Buffet Festival, a unique part of Siamese tradition, is exactly what it says it is….a buffet for monkeys, organized in Lopburi, Thailand.

15. Siamese crocodiles are nearly extinct, but a few remain at various national parks in Thailand.

16. Thailand is the land of white elephants, but don’t expect to see white elephants roaming around, literally. White is just a color used to signify Thailand’s purity. The elephant, though, happens to be Thailand’s national animal.

17. Thailand’s fascination with elephants doesn’t end there. Thailand is one of the two places on earth where people actually play elephant polo. Yes, you read it right! In case you are wondering, the other place is India.

18. The Land of Elephants is down to only 5000 Asian elephants. But many elephants on the borders of Myanmar are fed methamphetamines to make them work overtime on illegal logging. No bad karma for evil loggers?

19. Thailand is also home to the world’s largest fish, the whale shark.

20. Thailand is also home to the world’s smallest mammal, the bumble bat.

21. The most expensive pet wedding happened in Thailand between two cats named Phet and Ploy. The wedding bill amounted to $16,241.

22. Watch out for Thai ants. They have a huge extended family, with too many members and species to count, and they are not shy with humans. Stay away from Red Weaver ants, in particular they don’t wait for trespasser excuses before they bite.

23. Some time in Thailand prepares you for any kind of monkey business. The country is overrun with monkeys, many of which go from cute to menacing in a snap. These indulged creatures even have a festival to themselves in Lopburi, where they are fed mountains of food in an all-you-can-eat fashion.

24. The Khao Yai National Park is home to macaques, who are clever opportunists and great tool-users. In fact, they earned the name crab-eating macaques because they have been known to comb beaches for crabs. Keep your bottled water, food and even asthma inhaler safe from their curious hands!

Thailand’s Songkran Festival: its origins, history and modern day observance

Bangkok, 26 March, 2021 – The traditional Thai New Year of Songkran, the biggest and most important of Thailand’s annual festivals, has been celebrated for centuries and is full of tradition and culture.

The word Songkran is derived from ancient Sanskrit, a language dating back thousands of years, and means to ‘step into’, ‘enter’ or ‘pass into’. It describes the monthly movement or ‘astrological passage’ within the zodiac from one sphere to the next in April the sun leaves the sphere of Aries and enters that of Taurus, a period known as Maha Songkran or the Great Songkran. This signifies the start of the Thai New Year.

The festival is said to have its origins in a Hindu spring festival that marked the arrival of the new harvest season in ancient India. While other Southeast Asian countries celebrate a similar traditional new year holiday, Thailand’s Songkran is the most well-known around the world.

Songkran in Thailand is officially observed as a three-day national holiday from 13-15 April, although celebrations can go on for longer – up to a week in some places.

The first day of the festival, 13 April and which is known as Songkran Day, sees people clean their homes and public places likes temples and schools to get rid of any bad luck from the previous year and ready them for the new year. Another main activity is Song Nam Phra, a ritual that involves the pouring of scented water onto a temple’s sacred Buddha images. It is important to note the water (traditionally scented with a perfume called Nam Ob) is poured not onto the head of the image, but rather the torso and body.

The second day, 14 April, is referred to as Wan Nao and is when people prepare food and offerings to be given to monks and temples the following day. It is also a time to pay respect to elders, and young people prepare rose and jasmine water as well as Nam Op scented water with which to wash their parents’ feet in a ceremony called Rot Nam Dam Hua. The parents in return give the children their blessings, typically along with a jasmine floral garland. Many people will also make sand stupas – known as Chedi Sai – in the grounds of their local temple as a kind of personal pagoda and a fun family way to make a spiritual offering.

People also like creating a dash of good karma by releasing caged birds, or fish into waterways. This happens nationwide, although one of the best places to watch or even partake in it is at Phra Pradaeng in Samut Prakan province. The ceremony has been part of the tradition at Wat Proteket Chettaram for decades.

15 April, the third day of Songkran, is known as Wan Payawan and people typically start the day by visiting their local temple to present food and clothing to the monks, who then pray for them. They also partake in other rituals believed to bring good luck for the new year.

Also indispensable at Songkran are floral garlands, which add a fragrant and beautiful touch to festivities. Three main types of fragrant flowers are typically used to make these garlands – dok mali (jasmine), dok champhi (white champaca) and roses. The Phuang Malai or floral garland is popular to give to elder relatives to express love and respect.

Songkran is celebrated by everyone, everywhere throughout Thailand and is a time for people who have moved to other cities or towns to travel back home and spend time with their family. Public transportation and hotels can be fully booked up months in advance, and so it is a good idea to plan as far ahead as possible.

And needless to say, always be careful if using the roads during this celebratory time, when people can tend to be less cautious than usual. Do not even consider driving if you have been drinking alcohol. If using a motorbike wear a helmet.

History of the U.S. and Thailand

The United States and Thailand established relations in 1818 and signed a Treaty of Amity and Commerce in 1833, formalizing diplomatic relations. The Treaty of 1833 was the United States’ first treaty with a country in Asia, making Thailand truly our oldest friend in the region.

Spotlight on Treaty of Amity

Treaty of Amity and Commerce between Siam and the United States

Signed at Sia-Yut’hia (Bangkok), 20th March, 1833
(Ratifications exchanged at Bangkok, 14th April 1836)

His Majesty the Sovereign and Magnificent King in the City of Sia-Yut’hia, has appointed the Chau Phaya-Phraklang, one of the first Ministers of State, to treat with Edmund Roberts, Minister of the United States of America, who has been sent by the Government thereof, on its behalf, to form a treaty of sincere friendship and entire good faith between the two nations. For this purpose the Siamese and the citizens of the United States of America shall, with sincerity, hold commercial intercourse in the Ports of their respective nations as long as heaven and earth shall endure.

This Treaty is concluded on Wednesday, the last of the fourth month of the year 1194, called Pi-marong-chat-tavasok, or the year of the Dragon, corresponding to the 20th day of March, in the year of our Lord 1833. One original is written in Siamese, the other in English but as the Siamese are ignorant of English, and the Americans of Siamese, a Portuguese and a Chinese translation are annexed, to serve as testimony to the contents of the Treaty. The writing is of the same tenor and date in all the languages aforesaid. It is signed on the one part, with the name of the Chau Phaya-Phraklang, and sealed with the seal of the lotus flower, of glass. On the other part, it is signed with the name of Edmund Roberts, and sealed with a seal containing an eagle and stars.

One copy will be kept in Siam, and another will be taken by Edmund Roberts to the United States. If the Government of the United States shall ratify the said Treaty, and attach the Seal of the Government, then Siam will also ratify it on its part, and attach the Seal of its Government.

There shall be a perpetual Peace between the Magnificent King of Siam and the United States of America.

The Citizens of the United States shall have free liberty to enter all the Ports of the Kingdom of Siam, with their cargoes, of whatever kind the said cargoes may consist and they shall have liberty to sell the same to any of the subjects of the King, or others who may wish to purchase the same, or to barter the same for any produce or manufacture of the Kingdom, or other articles that may be found there. No prices shall be fixed by the officers of the King on the articles to be sold by the merchants of the United States, or the merchandise they may wish to buy, but the Trade shall be free on both sides to sell, or buy, or exchange, on the terms and for the prices the owners may think fit. Whenever the said citizens of the United States shall be ready to depart, they shall be at liberty so to do, and the proper officers shall furnish them with Passports: Provided always, there be no legal impediment to the contrary. Nothing contained in this Article shall be understood as granting permission to import and sell munitions of war to any person excepting to the King, who, if he does not require, will not be bound to purchase them neither is permission granted to import opium, which is contraband or to export rice, which cannot be embarked as an article of commerce. These only are prohibited.

Article III

Vessels of the United States entering any Port within His Majesty’s dominions, and selling or purchasing cargoes of merchandise, shall pay in lieu of import and export duties, tonnage, licence to trade, or any other charge whatever, a measurement duty only, as follows: The measurement shall be made from side to side, in the middle of the vessel’s length and, if a single-decked vessel, on such single deck if otherwise, on the lower deck. On every vessel selling merchandise, the sum of 1700 Ticals, or Bats, shall be paid for every Siamese fathom in breadth, so measured, the said fathom being computed to contain 78 English or American inches, corresponding to 96 Siamese inches but if the said vessel should come without merchandise, and purchase a cargo with specie only, she shall then pay the sum of 1,500 ticals, or bats, for each and every fathom before described. Furthermore, neither the aforesaid measurement duty, nor any other charge whatever, shall be paid by any vessel of the United States that enters a Siamese port for the purpose of refitting, or for refreshments, or to inquire the state of the market.

If hereafter the Duties payable by foreign vessels be diminished in favour of any other nation, the same diminution shall be made in favour of the vessels of the United States.

If any vessel of the United States shall suffer shipwreck on any part of the Magnificent King’s dominions, the persons escaping from the wreck shall be taken care of and hospitably entertained at the expense of the King, until they shall find an opportunity to be returned to their country and the property saved from such wreck shall be carefully preserved and restored to its owners and the United States will repay all expenses incurred by His Majesty on account of such wreck.

If any citizen of the United States, coming to Siam for the purpose of trade, shall contract debts to any individual of Siam, or if any individual of Siam shall contract debts to any citizen of the United States, the debtor shall be obliged to bring forward and sell all his goods to pay his debts therewith. When the product of such bona fide sale shall not suffice, he shall no longer be liable for the remainder, nor shall the creditor be able to retain him as a slave, imprison, flog, or otherwise punish him, to compel the payment of any balance remaining due, but shall leave him at perfect liberty.

Article VII

Merchants of the United States coming to trade in the Kingdom of Siam and wishing to rent houses therein, shall rent the King’s Factories, and pay the customary rent of the country. If the said merchants bring their goods on shore, the King’s officers shall take account thereof, but shall not levy any duty thereupon.

Article VIII

If any citizens of the United States, or their vessels, or other property, shall be taken by pirates and brought within the dominions of the Magnificent King, the persons shall be set at liberty, and the property restored to its owners.

Merchants of the United States, trading in the Kingdom of Siam, shall respect and follow the laws and customs of the country in all points.

If thereafter any foreign nation other than the Portuguese shall request and obtain His Majesty’s consent to the appointment of Consuls to reside in Siam, the United States shall be at liberty to appoint Consuls to reside in Siam, equally with such other foreign nation.

Whereas, the undersigned, Edmund Roberts, a citizen of Portsmouth, in the State of New Hampshire, in the United States of America, being duly appointed as Envoy, by Letters Patent, under the Signature of the President and Seal of the United States of America, bearing date at the City of Washington, the 26th day of January, in the year of our Lord 1832, for negotiating and concluding a Treaty of Amity and Commerce between the United States of America and His Majesty, the King of Siam.

Now know ye, that I, Edmund Roberts, Envoy as aforesaid, do conclude the foregoing Treaty of Amity and Commerce, and every Article and Clause therein contained reserving the same, nevertheless, for the final Ratification of the President of the United States of America, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate of the said United States.

Done at the Royal City of Sia-Yut’hia (commonly called Bangkok), on the 20th day of March, in the year of our Lord 1833, and of the Independence of the United States of America the 57th.

Edmund Roberts
Source: Library of Congress

U.S. Ambassadors to Thailand (1882 – Present)

  • Michael George DeSombre – State of Residency: Illinois Title: Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Appointment: January 9, 2020 Presentation of Credentials: October 25, 2020 Termination of Mission: Left post January 20, 2021
  • Glyn T. Davies – State of Residency: Washington, D.C. Title: Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Appointment: August 5, 2015 Presentation of Credentials: September 22, 2015 Termination of Mission: Left post September 29, 2018
  • Kristie A. Kenney – State of Residency: Washington, D.C. Title: Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Appointment: January 10, 2011 Presentation of Credentials: April 27, 2011 Termination of Mission: Left post November 6, 2014.
  • Eric G. John – State of Residency: Indiana Title: Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Appointment: May 21, 2007 Presentation of Credentials: January 8, 2008 Termination of Mission: Left post December 4, 2010
  • Ralph L. Boyce – State of Residency: Virginia Title: Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Appointment: July 2, 2004 Presentation of Credentials: March 9, 2005 Termination of Mission: Left post December 28, 2007
  • Darryl N. Johnson -State of Residency: Washington Title: Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Appointment: November 26, 2001 Presentation of Credentials: March 29, 2002 Termination of Mission: Left post December 28, 2004
  • Richard E. Hecklinger – State of Residency: Virginia Title: Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Appointment: December 1, 1998 Presentation of Credentials: March 9, 1999 Termination of Mission: Left post December 21, 2001
  • William H. Itoh – State of Residency: New Mexico Title: Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Appointment: Dec 19, 1995 Presentation of Credentials: February 20, 1996 Termination of Mission: Left post February 1, 1999
  • David Floyd Lambertson – State of Residency: Kansas Title: Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Appointment: July 22, 1991 Presentation of Credentials: September 24, 1991 Termination of Mission: Left post August 25, 1995
  • Daniel Anthony O’Donohue – State of Residency: Virginia Title: Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Appointment: Jul 11, 1988 Presentation of Credentials: August 13, 1988 Termination of Mission: Left post August 10, 1991
  • William Andreas Brown – State of Residency: New Hampshire Title: Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Appointment: June 6, 1985 Presentation of Credentials: July 5, 1985 Termination of Mission: Left post August 5, 1988
  • John Gunther Dean – State of Residency: New York Title: Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Appointment: October 1, 1981 Presentation of Credentials: October 26, 1981 Termination of Mission: Left post June 6, 1985
  • Morton I. Abramowitz – State of Residency: Massachusetts Title: Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Appointment: June 27, 1978 Presentation of Credentials: August 9, 1978 Termination of Mission: Left post July 31, 1981
  • Charles S. Whitehouse – State of Residency: Virginia Title: Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Appointment: May 8, 1975 Presentation of Credentials: May 30, 1975 Termination of Mission: Left post June 19, 1978
  • William R. Kintner – State of Residency: Pennsylvania Title: Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Appointment: September 28, 1973 Presentation of Credentials: November 29, 1973 Termination of Mission: Left post March 15, 1975
  • Leonard Unger – State of Residency: Maryland Title: Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Appointment: August 11, 1967 Presentation of Credentials: October 4, 1967 Termination of Mission: Left post November 19, 1973
  • Graham A. Martin – State of Residency: Florida Title: Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Appointment: September 10, 1963 Presentation of Credentials: November 7, 1963 Termination of Mission: Left post September 9, 1967
  • Kenneth Todd Young – State of Residency: New York Title: Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Appointment: March 29, 1961 Presentation of Credentials: June 22, 1961 Termination of Mission: Left post August 19, 1963
  • U. Alexis Johnson – State of Residency: California Title: Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Appointment: January 30, 1958 Presentation of Credentials: February 14, 1958 Termination of Mission: Left post April 10, 1961
  • Max Waldo Bishop – State of Residency: Arkansas Title: Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Appointment: December 3, 1955 Presentation of Credentials: January 9, 1956 Termination of Mission: Left post January 6, 1958 Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate recommissioned after confirmation on January 18, 1956.
  • John E. Peurifoy – State of Residency: South Carolina Title: Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Appointment: September 15, 1954 Presentation of Credentials: December 3, 1954 Termination of Mission: Died near Hua Hin, August 12, 1955 Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate recommissioned after confirmation on December 3, 1954.
  • William J. Donovan – State of Residency: New York Title: Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Appointment: August 3, 1953 Presentation of Credentials: September 4, 1953 Termination of Mission: Left post August 21, 1954.
  • Edwin F. Stanton – State of Residency: California Title: Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary Appointment: April 27, 1946 Presentation of Credentials: July 4, 1946 Termination of Mission: Promoted to Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Note: Commissioned to Siam.
  • Charles W. Yost – State of Residency: New York Title: Charg้ d’Affaires Appointment: [see note] Presentation of Credentials: January 5, 1946 Termination of Mission: Superseded, July 4, 1946 Note: Not commissioned letter of credence sent to Yost by telegram, October 16, 1945.
  • Willys R. Peck – State of Residency: California Title: Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary Appointment: August 19, 1941 Presentation of Credentials: September 16, 1941 Termination of Mission: Japanese forces occupied Bangkok, December 8, 1941 Note: Thailand declared war on the United States January 25, 1942. Peck, having been interned, left post June 29, 1942.
  • Hugh Gladney Grant – State of Residency: Alabama Title: Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary Appointment: April 3, 1940 Presentation of Credentials: August 20, 1940 Termination of Mission: Left post August 30, 1941
  • Edwin L. Neville – State of Residency: Ohio Title: Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary Appointment: May 28, 1937 Presentation of Credentials: October 2, 1937 Termination of Mission: Left post May 1, 1940 Note: Commissioned to Siam.
  • James Marion Baker – State of Residency: South Carolina Title: Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary Appointment: August 30, 1933 Presentation of Credentials: December 9, 1933 Termination of Mission: Left post May 2, 1936 Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate recommissioned after confirmation on January 15, 1934. Commissioned to Siam.
  • David E. Kaufman – State of Residency: Pennsylvania Title: Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary Appointment: June 12, 1930 Presentation of Credentials: December 9, 1930 Termination of Mission: Left post June 15, 1933 Note: Commissioned to Siam.
  • Harold Orville MacKenzie – State of Residency: New Jersey Title: Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary Appointment: March 3, 1927 Presentation of Credentials: June 28, 1927 Termination of Mission: Left post March 29, 1930 Note: Commissioned to Siam.
  • William E. Russell – State of Residency: District of Columbia Title: Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary Appointment: September 28, 1925 Presentation of Credentials: [January 9, 1926] Termination of Mission: Left post January 7, 1927 Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate recommissioned after confirmation on December 17, 1925. Commissioned to Siam. Officially received on January 9, 1926.
  • Edward E. Brodie – State of Residency: Oregon Title: Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary Appointment: October 8, 1921 Presentation of Credentials: January 31, 1922 Termination of Mission: Left post May 2, 1925 Note: Commissioned to Siam.
  • George W. P. Hunt – State of Residency: Arizona Title: Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary Appointment: May 18, 1920 Presentation of Credentials: September 6, 1920 Termination of Mission: Left post October 1, 1921 Note: Commissioned to Siam.
  • George Pratt Ingersoll – State of Residency: Connecticut Title: Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary Appointment: August 8, 1917 Presentation of Credentials: November 24, 1917 Termination of Mission: Left post June 23, 1918 Note: Commissioned to Siam.
  • William H. Hornibrook – State of Residency: Oregon Title: Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary Appointment: February 12, 1915 Presentation of Credentials: May 31, 1915 Termination of Mission: Presented recall, October 24, 1916 Note: Commissioned to Siam.
  • Fred W. Carpenter – State of Residency: California Title: Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary Appointment: September 12, 1912 Presentation of Credentials: January 22, 1913 Termination of Mission: Left post November 16, 1913 Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate recommissioned after confirmation on March 1, 1913. Commissioned to Siam.
  • Hamilton King – State of Residency: Michigan Title: Minister Resident/Consul General Appointment: January 14, 1898 Presentation of Credentials: April 26, 1898 Termination of Mission: Promoted to Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary Note: Commissioned to Siam.
  • John Barrett – State of Residency: Oregon Title: Minister Resident/Consul General Appointment: February 14, 1894 Presentation of Credentials: November 15, 1894 Termination of Mission: Presented recall, April 26, 1898 Note: Commissioned to Siam.
  • Sempronius H. Boyd – State of Residency: Missouri Title: Minister Resident/Consul General Appointment: October 1, 1890 Presentation of Credentials: January 17, 1891 Termination of Mission: Relinquished charge, June 13, 1892 Note: Commissioned to Siam.
  • Jacob T. Child – State of Residency: Missouri Title: Minister Resident/Consul General Appointment: March 9, 1886 Presentation of Credentials: June 5, 1886 Termination of Mission: Presented recall, January 17, 1891 Note: Commissioned to Siam.

Official State Visits Over the Years

Interested in information about official states visits by American and Thai Heads of State and Heads of Government through the years? Visit the links below for more. (Available in English only.)

Great and Good Friends

Our story begins two centuries ago when an American sea captain entered the port of Bangkok and initiated a historic friendship between two nations.

However, over decades, the expeditions, treaties, and state visits that became the chapters of this shared history forged what today is an important and lasting relationship.

To commemorate 200 years of friendship, Great and Good Friends featured royal gifts from King Bhumibol Adulyadej and Queen Sirikit, King Prajadhipok, King Chulalongkorn, and King Mongkut. These gifts, many of which were being displayed in Thailand for the first time, embody the significant chapters from this history and tell a story of two worlds uniting on the basis of goodwill and understanding.


The formal name of Thailand is Kingdom of Thailand (Ratcha Anachak Thai). The term for citizen(s) is Thai (singular and plural). By some translations Thailand means "Land of the Free" (Prathet Thai ) and this is an apt name for this country where anything goes. By other translations it simply means “Land of the Thais.” The Thais call their country “Muang Thai,” which also means “Land of the Free.” They call themselves the “Khon Tha,” which means “free people.” “Siam” and “Siamese” are terms mainly used by foreigners. From 1855 to 1939 and from 1946 to 1949 Thailand was known as Siam—Prathet Sayam, a historical name referring to people in the Chao Phraya Valley—the name used by Europeans since 1592).

Thai nationalism is summed up by the expression “king, country and religion.” The land known today as Thailand has a long history of human habitation dating back to the Neolithic Period. Excavations of settlements from the Bronze Age at Ban Chiang uncovered ancient earthenware believed to date from around 3600 B.C. The Mon, Khmer, and Tai tribes later migrated from southern China. Presently, the Mon are settled in Myanmar and the Khmer in Cambodia, while the Tai set up their Thai city states, starting in northern Thailand, with three main cities: Lanna, Sukhothai, and Phayao.

A unified Thai kingdom was established in the mid-14th century. Known as Siam until 1939, Thailand is the only Southeast Asian country never to have been taken over by a European power. A bloodless revolution in 1932 led to a constitutional monarchy. In alliance with Japan during World War II, Thailand became a US treaty ally in 1954 after sending troops to Korea and later fighting alongside the United States in Vietnam. Thailand since 2005 has experienced several rounds of political turmoil including a military coup in 2006 that ousted then Prime Minister Thaksin Chinnawat, followed by large-scale street protests by competing political factions in 2008, 2009, and 2010. Demonstrations in 2010 culminated with clashes between security forces and pro-Thaksin protesters, elements of which were armed, and resulted in at least 92 deaths and an estimated $1.5 billion in arson-related property losses. Thaksin's youngest sister,Yinglak Chinnawat, in 2011 led the Puea Thai Party to an electoral win and assumed control of the government. Yinglak's leadership was almost immediately challenged by historic flooding in late 2011 that had large swathes of the country underwater and threatened to inundate Bangkok itself. Throughout 2012 the Puea Thai-led government struggled with the opposition Democrat Party to fulfill some its main election promises, including constitutional reform and political reconciliation. Since January 2004, thousands have been killed and wounded in violence associated with the ethno-nationalist insurgency in Thailand's southern Malay-Muslim majority. [Source: CIA World Factbook]

The spelling of Thai names, places and words sometimes varies. This is because the Thai language has its own script that is quite different from western Roman writing and the way Thai sounds are interpreted can be a judgment call or a matter of opinion.

Historical Themes of Thailand

Thailand lies at the converging point of the empires of China, India, Burma, the Khmers and Vietnam. The traditional founding date for Thailand is 1238. Thais and Burmese have traditionally been enemies. Unlike other nations in Southeast Asia, Thailand was never colonized.

Little is known of the earliest inhabitants of what is now Thailand, but 5,000-year-old archaeological sites in the northeastern part of the country are believed to contain the oldest evidence of rice cultivation and bronze casting in Asia and perhaps in the world. In early historical times, a succession of tribal groups controlled what is now Thailand. The Mon and Khmer peoples established powerful kingdoms that included large areas of the country. They absorbed from contact with South Asian peoples religious, social, political, and cultural ideas and institutions that later influenced the development of Thailand's culture and national identity. [Source: Library of Congress]

The Tai, a people who originally lived in southwestern China, migrated into mainland Southeast Asia over a period of many centuries. The first mention of their existence in the region is a twelfth-century A.D. inscription at the Khmer temple complex of Angkor Wat in Cambodia, which refers to syam, or "dark brown" people (the origin of the term Siam) as vassals of the Khmer monarch. In 1238 a Tai chieftain declared his independence from the Khmer and established a kingdom at Sukhothai in the broad valley of the Mae Nam (river)Chao Phraya, at the center of modern Thailand. Sukhothai was succeeded in the fourteenth century by the kingdom of Ayutthaya. The Burmese invaded Ayutthaya and in 1767 destroyed the capital, but two national heroes, Taksin and Chakkri, soon expelled the invaders and reunified the country under the Chakkri Dynasty.

Over the centuries Thai national identity evolved around a common language and religion and the institution of the monarchy. Although the inhabitants of Thailand are a mixture of Tai, Mon, Khmer, and other ethnic groups, most speak a language of the Tai family. A Tai language alphabet, based on Indian and Khmer scripts, developed early in the fourteenth century. Later in the century a famous monarch, Ramathibodi, made Theravada Buddhism the official religion of his kingdom, and Buddhism continued into the twentieth century as a dominant factor in the nation's social, cultural, and political life. Finally, the monarchy, buttressed ideologically by Hindu and Buddhist mythology, was a focus for popular loyalties for more than seven centuries. In the late twentieth century the monarchy remained central to national unity.

During the nineteenth century, European expansionism, rather than Thailand's traditional enemies, posed the greatest threat to the kingdom's survival. Thai success in preserving the country's independence (it was the only Southeast Asian country to do so) was in part a result of the desire of Britain and France for a stable buffer state separating their dominions in Burma, Malaya, and Indochina. More important, however, was the willingness of Thailand's monarchs, Mongkut (Rama IV, 1851-68) and Chulalongkorn (Rama V, 1868-1910), to negotiate openly with the European powers and to adopt European-style reforms that modernized the country and won it sovereign status among the world's nations. Thailand (then known as Siam) paid a high price for its independence, however: loss of suzerainty over Cambodia and Laos to France and cession of the northern states of the Malay Peninsula to Britain. By 1910 the area under Thai control was a fraction of what it had been a century earlier.

In the early decades of the twentieth century, Thailand's political system, armed forces, schools, and economy underwent drastic changes. Many Thai studied overseas, and a small, Western-educated elite with less traditional ideas emerged. In 1932 a bloodless coup d'etat by military officers and civil servants ended the absolute monarchy and inaugurated Thailand's constitutional era. Progress toward a stable, democratic political system since that time, however, has been erratic. Politics has been dominated by rival military-bureaucratic cliques headed by powerful generals. These cliques have initiated repeated coups d'etat and have imposed prolonged periods of martial law. Parliamentary institutions, as defined by Thailand's fourteen constitutions between 1932 and 1987, and competition among civilian politicians have generally been facades for military governments.

Geography, Culture and History in Thailand

Thailand's 514,000 square kilometers lie in the middle of mainland Southeast Asia. The nation's axial position influenced many aspects of Thailand's society and culture. The earliest speakers of the Tai language migrated from what is now China, following rivers into northern Thailand and southward to the Mae Nam (river) Chao Phraya Valley. The fertile floodplain and tropical monsoon climate, ideally suited to wet-rice (thamna) cultivation, attracted settlers to this central area rather than to the marginal uplands and mountains of the northern region or the Khorat Plateau to the northeast. By the twelfth century, a number of loosely connected rice-growing and trading states flourished in the upper Chao Phraya Valley. [Source: Library of Congress*]

Starting in the middle of the fourteenth century, these central chiefdoms gradually came under the control of the kingdom of Ayutthaya at the southern extremity of the floodplain. Successive capitals, built at various points along the river, became centers of great Thai kingdoms based on rice cultivation and foreign commerce. Unlike the neighboring Khmer and Burmese, the Thai continued to look outward across the Gulf of Thailand and the Andaman Sea toward foreign ports of trade. When European imperialism brought a new phase in Southeast Asian commerce in the late 1800s, Thailand (known then as Siam) was able to maintain its independence as a buffer zone between British-controlled Burma to the west and French-dominated Indochina to the east. *

Ancient History of Thailand

Over the course of millennia, migrations from southern China peopled Southeast Asia, including the area of contemporary Thailand. The earliest known inhabitation of present-day Thailand dates to the Paleolithic period, about 20,000 years ago. Archaeology has revealed evidence in the Khorat Plateau in the northeast of prehistoric inhabitants who forged bronze implements as early as 3000 B.C. and cultivated rice during the fourth millennium B.C.

Thailand is home to one of the world's oldest rice-based civilizations. Rice is believed to have first been being cultivated in there around 3,500 B.C. Evidence of ancient rice agriculture includes rice marking found on pottery fragments unearthed in graves unearthed at Non Noktha village in Khon Kaen province in northeast Thailand that have been dated to be 5,400 years old and rice husks found in pottery in the north, at Pung Hung Cave, Mae Hong Son dated to be around 5,000 years old. People that lived in a site called Khok Phanom Di in Thailand between 4,000 and 3,500 year ago practiced rice farming and buried their dead facing east in shrouds of bark and asbestos fibers. The oldest rice grains ever discovered in China they date back to about 5000 B.C.

The pace of economic and social development was uneven and conditioned by climate and geography. The dense forests of the Chao Phraya Valley in the central part of Thailand and the Malay Peninsula in the south produced such an abundance of food that for a long time there was no need to move beyond a hunting-and- gathering economy. In contrast, rice cultivation appeared early in the highlands of the far north and hastened the development of a more communal social and political organization.

Bronze Age and Thailand

Some natural copper contains tin. During the forth millennium in present-day Turkey, Iran and Thailand man learned that these metals could be melted and fashioned into a metal—bronze—that was stronger than copper, which had limited use in warfare because copper armor was easily penetrated and copper blades dulled quickly. Bronze shared these limitations to a lesser degree, a problem that was rectified until the utilization of iron which is stronger and keeps a sharp edge better than bronze, but has a much higher melting point. [Source: "History of Warfare" by John Keegan, Vintage Books]

The Bronze Age lasted from about 4,000 B.C. to 1,200 B.C. During this period everything from weapons to agricultural tools to hairpins was made with bronze (a copper-tin alloy). Weapons and tools made from bronze replaced crude implements of stone, wood, bone, and copper. Bronze knives are considerable sharper than copper ones. The terms the Stone Age, Bronze Age and Iron Age were coined by the Danish historian Christian Jurgen Thomsen in his Guide to Scandinavian Antiquities (1836) as a way of categorizing prehistoric objects. The Copper Age was added latter.

Bronze is much stronger than copper. It is credited with making war as we know it today possible. Bronze sword, bronze shield and bronze armored chariots gave those who had it a military advantage over those who didn't have it. Scientists believe, the heat required to melt copper and tin into bronze was created by fires in enclosed ovens outfitted with tubes that men blew into to stoke the fire. Before the metals were placed in the fire, they were crushed with stone pestles and then mixed with arsenic to lower the melting temperature. Bronze weapons were fashioned by pouring the molten mixture (approximately three parts copper and one part tin) into stone molds.

According to the Library of Congress: Excavations at Ban Chiang, a small village on the Khorat Plateau in northeastern Thailand, have revealed evidence of prehistoric inhabitants who may have forged bronze implements as early as 3000 B.C. and cultivated rice around the fourth millennium B.C. If so, the Khorat Plateau would be the oldest rice-producing area in Asia because the inhabitants of China at that time still largely consumed millet. Archaeologists have assembled evidence that the bronze implements found at the Thai sites were forged in the area and not transported from elsewhere. They supported this claim by pointing out that both copper and tin deposits (components of bronze) are found in close proximity to the Ban Chiang sites. If these claims are correct, Thai bronze forgers would have predated the "Bronze Age," which archaeologists had traditionally believed began in the Middle East around 2800 B.C. and in China about a thousand years later. [Source: Library of Congress]

World's First Bronze Age Culture in Thailand?

Bronze artifacts discovered in northeastern Thailand, around the village of Ban Chiang, were originally dated to 3600 to 4000 B.C., more than a thousand years before the Bronze Age was thought to have begun in the Middle East. The discovery of these tools resulted in a major revision of theories regarding the development of civilization in Asia.

The first discoveries of early Bronze Age culture in Southeast Asia were made by Dr. G. Solheim II, a professor of anthropology at the University of Hawaii. In the early 1970s, he found a socketed bronze ax, dated to 2,800 B.C., at a site in northern Thailand called Non Nok Tha. The ax was about 500 years older than the oldest non-Southeast-Asia bronze implements discovered in present-day Turkey and Iran, where it is believed the Bronze Age began. [Source: Wilhelm G. Solheim II, Ph.D., National Geographic, March 1971]

Non Nok Tha also yielded a copper tool dating back to 3,500 B.C.. and some double molds used in the casting of bronze, dating back to 2300 B.C, significantly older than similar samples found in India and China where it is believed bronze metal working began. Before Solheim it was thought that the knowledge of bronze working was introduced to Southeast Asia from China during the Chou dynasty (1122-771 B.C.). Solheim is sometimes called "Mr. Southeast Asia” for his role in putting ancient Southeast Asia on the cultural and historical map.

Ban Chiang Archeological Site

Ban Chiang is an archeological site located on he Khorat Plateau in northeastern Thailand. Among the discoveries made at a 124-acre mound site there were bracelets and bronze pellets (used for hunting with splits-string bows), and lovely painted ceramics first dated to 3500 B.C. [Source: John Pfeiffer, Smithsonian magazine]

The Ban Chiang site was discovered in 1966 by Steve Young, an anthropology and government student at Harvard College who was living in the village conducting interviews for his senior honors thesis. Young, a speaker of Thai, was familiar with Solheim’s work and his theory of possible ancient origins of civilization in Southeast Asia. One day while walking down a path in Ban Chiang with his assistant, an art teacher in the village school, Young tripped over a root of a Kapok tree and fell on his face in the dirt path. Under him were the exposed tops of pottery jars of small and medium sizes. Young recognized that the firing techniques used to make the pots were very rudimentary but that the designs applied to the surface of the vessels were unique. He took samples of pots to Princess Phanthip Chumbote who had the private museum of Suan Pakkad in Bangkok and to Chin Yu Di of the Thai Government's Fine Arts Department Later, Elisabeth Lyons, an art historian on the staff of the Ford Foundation, sent sherds from Ban Chiang to the University of Pennsylvania for dating. [Source: Wikipedia]

During the first formal scientific excavation in 1967, several skeletons, together with bronze grave gifts, were unearthed. Rice fragments have also been found, leading to the belief that the Bronze Age settlers were probably farmers. The site's oldest graves do not include bronze artifacts and are therefore from a Neolithic culture the most recent graves date to the Iron Age.

Most of the bronze made Ban Chiang is ten percent tin and 90 percent copper. This it turns out is an ideal proportion. Any less tin, the metal fails to reach maximum hardness. Any more, the metal becomes too brittle and there is more of a chance it will break during forging. The Ban Chiang culture also developed bronze jewelry with a silvery sheen by adding 25 percent tin to the surface layers of the bronze at a heat of 1000°F and plunging it quickly into water.

Iron was developed at Ban Chiang around 500 B.C. Ceramic funerary vessels dating between 3600 B.C. and 1000 B.C. contained the remains infants between one month and two years old. Others contain remains of rice, fish and turtles. The vessels come in a number of different styles and sizes. The largest are three feet tall. Some are painted with human, animal and plant figures as well as abstract circular and linear designs. Others have chord makings made by placing chord in wet clay.

Ban Chiang Culture

According to the UNESCO World Heritage site description of Ban Chiang: “ Until the 1960s. south-east Asia was considered to have been a culturally backward area in prehistory. The generally accepted view was that its cultural development resulted from external influences, principally from China to the north and India to the west. Recent archaeological work at Nok Nok Tha and, later, Ban Chiang on the Khorat plateau of north-east Thailand has demonstrated this view to be incorrect: this area of modem Thailand has been shown by excavation and field survey to have been the centre of an independent, and vigorous, cultural development in the 4th millennium B.C. which shaped contemporary social and cultural evolution over much of southeast Asia and beyond. into the Indonesian archipelago. [Source: UNESCO World Heritage Advisory Body Evaluation]

Settlement of the Khorat plateau began around 3600 B.C. The settlers came from the neighbouring lowlands, bringing with them a hunter-gatherer economy that was beginning to develop sedentary farming, with domesticated cattle, pigs, and chickens and an elementary form of dry-rice cultivation. The settled village life of this Early Period at Ban Chiang lasted until c. 1000 B.C. Agricultural methods were refined and improved, along with other skills such as house construction and pottery manufacture. The equipment of burials reflects an increasing social complexity. Of especial importance was the growing use of bronze, for weapons and personal ornament in the earlier phase but spreading to more utilitarian applications in the later phases.

The Middle Period (1000-500/300 B.C). was notable for the introduction of wet-rice farming, as evidenced by the presence of waterbuffalo bones, and technological developments in ceramic and metal production, It was a period of considerable prosperity, as shown by the grave-goods, and one which saw the introduction of iron into common use.

In the Late Period (500/300 BC-AD 200/300) there was further social and technological development. especially in ceramic design and production. Although occupation appears to have ended at Ban Chiang in the 3rd century AD, at other sites in the region, such as Non Maung and Ban Prasat, settlement was continuous into the 16th century and later.

Ban Chiang is considered to have been the principal settlement in this area of the Khorat plateau and has given its name to a distinctive archaeological culture. Scores of contemporary sites have been discovered in the region, at several of which excavations have been carried out. The prehistoric settlement lies beneath the modern village of Ban Chiang (established by Laotian refugees in the late 18th century). It is a low oval mound some 500m by 1.3km. Only very limited excavation has been possible in the settlement site, but this has established the existence of deep stratification and long cultural continuity.

The main excavations have taken place on the perimeter of the modem village, where a large number of burials from all three periods, with rich ceramic and metal grave-goods, have been revealed and recorded. One of the excavations has been preserved for public viewing, with a permanent cover building: there is an excellent site museum in another part of the village.

Better Dating of the Ban Chiang Culture and Looting of the Ban Chiang Site

According to Wikipedia: “The first datings of the artifacts using the thermoluminescence technique resulted in a range from 4420 B.C. to 3400 B.C., which would have made the site the earliest Bronze Age culture in the world. However, with the 1974/75 excavation, sufficient material became available for radiocarbon dating, which resulted in more recent dates—the earliest grave was about 2100 B.C., the latest about 200 AD. Bronze making began circa 2000 B.C., as evidenced by crucibles and bronze fragments. Bronze objects include bracelets, rings, anklets, wires and rods, spearheads, axes and adzes, hooks, blades, and little bells. [Source: Wikipedia*]

However, the date of 2100 B.C. was obtained by Joyce White on the basis of six AMS radiocarbon dating crushed potsherds containing rice chaff temper and one on the basis of rice phytoliths. The potsherds came from mortuary offerings. This method of dating is now known to be unreliable, because the clay from which the pots were made might well itself contain old carbon. Specialists in radiocarbon dating now encourage that the method is not employed. A new dating initiative for this site has now been undertaken by Professor Thomas Higham of the AMS dating laboratory at Oxford University, in conjunction with Professor Charles Higham of the University of Otago. This has involved dating the bones from the people who lived at Ban Chiang and the bones of animals interred with them. The resulting determinations have been analysed using the Bayesian statistic OxCal 4.0, and the results reveal that the initial settlement of Ban Chiang took place by Neolithic rice farmers in about 1500 B.C., with the transition to the Bronze Age in about 1000 B.C. These dates are a mirror image of the results from the 76 determinations obtained from a second and much richer Bronze Age site at Ban Non Wat. The mortuary offerings placed with the dead at Ban Chiang during the Neolithic and Bronze Ages were in fact, few and poor. *

The site made headlines in January 2008 when thousands of artifacts from the Ban Chiang cultural tradition and other prehistoric traditions of Thailand were found to illegally be in several California museums and other locations. The plot involved smuggling the items into the country and then donating them to the museums in order to claim large tax write offs. There were said to be more items in the museums than at the site itself. This was brought to light during high profile raids conducted by the police after a National Park Service agent had posed under cover as a private collector. If the US government wins its case, which is likely to take several years of litigation, the artifacts are to be returned to Thailand. *

Early Proto-Kingdoms in Thailand

Joe Cummings wrote in the Lonely Planet guide for Thailand: “With no written records or chronologies it is difficult to say with certainty what kind of cultures existed in Thailand before the middle of the first millennium AD. However, by the 6th century an important network of agricultural communities was thriving as far south as modern-day Pattani and Yala, and as far north and northeast as Lamphun and Muang Fa Daet (near Khon Kaen). [Source: Joe Cummings, Lonely Planet guide for Thailand]

Before the end of the first millennium B.C., tribal territories had begun to coalesce into protohistorical kingdoms whose names survive in Chinese dynastic annals of the period.Funan, a state of substantial proportions, emerged in the second century B.C. as the earliest and most significant power in Southeast Asia. Its Hindu ruling class controlled all of present-day Cambodia and extended its power to the center of modern Thailand. The Funan economy was based on maritime trade and a well-developed agricultural system Funan maintained close commercial contact with India and served as a base for the Brahman merchant-missionaries who brought Hindu culture to Southeast Asia. [Source: Library of Congress]

On the narrow isthmus to the southwest of Funan, Malay city states controlled the portage routes that were traversed by traders and travelers journeying between India and Indochina. By the tenth century A.D. The strongest of them, Tambralinga (present-day Nakhon Si Thammarat), had gained control of all routes across the isthmus. Along with other city-states on the Malay Peninsula and Sumatra, it had become part of the Srivijaya Empire, a maritime confederation that between the seventh and thirteenth centuries dominated trade on the South China Sea and exacted tolls from all traffic through the Strait of Malacca. Tambralinga adopted Buddhism, but farther south many of the Malay city-states converted to Islam, and by the fifteenth century an enduring religious boundary had been established on the isthmus between Buddhist mainland Southeast Asia and Muslim Malaya.

Although the Thai conquered the states of the isthmus in the thirteenth century and continued to control them in the modern period, the Malay of the peninsula were never culturally absorbed into the mainstream of Thai society. The differences in religion, language, and ethnic origin caused strains in social and political relations between the central government and the southern provinces into the late twentieth century.

Early Mon and Khmer Influence in Thailand

In the A.D. ninth century, Mon and Khmer people established kingdoms that included large areas of what is now Thailand. Much of what these people absorbed from contacts with South Asian peoples—religious, social, political, and cultural ideas and institutions—later influenced the development of Thailand’s culture and national identity. In the second century B.C., the Hindu-led state of Funan in present-day Cambodia and central Thailand had close commercial contact with India and was a base for Hindu merchant-missionaries. In the southern Isthmus of Kra, Malay city-states controlled routes used by traders and travelers journeying between India and Indochina (present-day Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam). [Source: Library of Congress]

The closely related Mon and Khmer peoples entered Southeast Asia along migration routes from southern China in the ninth century B.C. The Khmer settled in the Mekong River Valley, while the Mon occupied the central plain and northern highlands of modern Thailand and large parts of Burma. Taking advantage of Funan's decline in the sixth century A.D., the Mon began to establish independent kingdoms, among them Dvaravati in the northern part of the area formerly controlled by Funan and farther north at Haripunjaya.

Dvaravati Civilization

Nakhon Pathom in central Thailand was the centre of the Mon Dvaravati culture, which arose in the 9th century and quickly declined in the 11th century under pressure from invading Khmers. A Mon kingdom – Hariphunchai – in today’s Lamphun Province, held out until the late 12th or early 13th century, when it was annexed by northern Thais.

Joe Cummings wrote in the Lonely Planet guide for Thailand: “Dvaravati is a Sanskrit name meaning Place of Gates, referring to the city of Krishna in the Indian epic poem Mahabharata. The French art historian Georges Coedès discovered the name on some coins that were excavated in the Nakhon Pathom area. The Dvaravati culture is known for its art work, including Buddha images (showing Indian Gupta influence), stucco reliefs on temple walls and in caves, architecture, exquisite terracotta heads, votive tablets and various sculptures. Dvaravati may have also been a cultural relay point for the Funan and Chenla cultures of ancient Laos and Cambodia to the northeast and east. The Chinese, through the travels of the famous pilgrim Xuan Zang, knew the area as Tuoluobodi, between Sriksetra (Myanmar) and Isanapura (Laos-Cambodia). [Source: Joe Cummings, Lonely Planet guide for Thailand]

The Mon were receptive to the art and literature of India, and for centuries they were the agents for diffusing Hindu cultural values in the region. The frequent occurrence of Sanskrit place-names in modern Thailand is one result of the long and pervasive Indian influence. In the eighth century, missionaries from Ceylon (present-day Sri Lanka) introduced the Mon to Theravada Buddhism. The Mon embraced Buddhism enthusiastically and conveyed it to the Khmer and the Malay of Tambralinga. The two Indian religious systems--Hindu and Buddhist--existed side by side without conflict. Hinduism continued to provide the cultural setting in which Buddhist religious values and ethical standards were articulated. Although Buddhism was the official religion of the Mon and the Khmer, in popular practice it incorporated many local cults.

In spite of cultural dominance in the region, the Mon were repeatedly subdued by their Burmese and Khmer neighbors.In the tenth century Dvaravati and the whole of the Chao Phraya Valley came under the control of Angkor.

Khmer and Srivijaya Civilzations of Thailand

In the tenth century Dvaravati and the whole of the Chao Phraya Valley came under the control of Angkor. The Khmer maintained the Hindu-Buddhist culture received from the Mon but placed added emphasis on the Hindu concept of sacred kingship. The history of Angkor can be read in the magnificent structures built to glorify its monarchy. Ultimately, however, obsession with palaces and temples led the Khmer rulers to divert too much manpower to their construction and to neglect the elaborate agricultural system-- part of Angkor's heritage from Funan--that was the empire's most important economic asset.

The Khmer empire lasted from the ninth to fifteenth centuries A.D. It was centered at Angkor (near modern Siem Reap) in Cambodia. The Khmers ruled much of Southeast Asia from Angkor Wat. In present-day Thailand a regional headquarters was set up in Lopburi. The Khmers referred to the Thais as the Syamas, or Siamese, then a group of people who lived in forest settlements.

Joe Cummings wrote in the Lonely Planet guide for Thailand: “The Khmer kingdom, with its capital in present-day Cambodia, expanded westward into a large swath of present-day Thailand between the 9th to 11th centuries. Much of Thailand made up the Khmer frontier with administrative capitals in Lopburi, Sukhothai and Phimai. Roads and temples were built linking these centres to the capital at Angkor. As a highly developed society, Khmer culture infused the border regions with its art, language, religion and court structure. Monuments from this period located in Kanchanaburi, Lopburi and many northeastern towns were constructed in the Khmer style, most notably found in Angkor. [Source: Joe Cummings, Lonely Planet guide for Thailand]

“Elements of the Khmer religions – Hinduism, Theravada Buddhism and Mahayana Buddhism – were intermixed as Lopburi became a religious centre, and some elements of each Buddhist school – along with Hinduism – remain in Thai religious and court ceremonies today. A number of Thais became mercenaries for the Khmer armies in the early 12th century, as depicted on the walls of Angkor Wat. The Khmers called the Thais ‘Syam’, and this was how the Thai kingdom eventually came to be called Syam, or Sayam. In Myanmar and northwestern Thailand the pronunciation of Syam became ‘Shan’. [Ibid]

“Meanwhile southern Thailand – the upper Malay Peninsula – was under the control of the Srivijaya empire, the headquarters of which is believed to have been located in Palembang, Sumatra, between the 8th and 13th centuries. The regional centre for Srivijaya was Chaiya, near modern Surat Thani. Remains of Srivijaya art can still be seen in Chaiya and its environs.” Srivijaya was a maritime empire that lasted for 500. It ruled a string of principalities in what is today Southern Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia. [Ibid]

Origin of the Thais

The Thai people are thought to have originated in the southern Chinese province of Yunnan. They are related to other people that either live there now or originated there such as the Dai and the Lao. The Thais began migrating southward in successive waves, perhaps as early as A.D. 1050.

Speaking of the "Thai" actually means speaking about members of the Tai-Kadai language family, which consists of six subgroups, defined by their geographical settlement: 1) Western Thai (Shan) 2) Southern Thai (Siamese) 3) Mekong Thai (Lao, etc) 4) Upland Thai ("Coloured" Thai) 5) Eastern Thai (Nung, etc) 6) Kadai (Li, Kelao, Laqua). This way we can find many members of this language family in China, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar.

The origin of the Thai and Thai-(Dai-) related people is matter of some debate. They have been in southwest China and Southeast Asia for some time. According to some their ancestors are mentioned in historical records dating back to the A.D. 1st century. The Dai established powerful local kingdoms such as Mong Mao and Kocambi in Dehong in the 10th and 11th centuries, the Oinaga (or Xienrun) in Xishuangbanna in the 12th century and the Lanna (or Babai Xifu) in northern Thailand in the 13th to 18th century.

According to the Library of Congress: The forebears of the modern Thai were Tai-speaking people living south of the Chang Jiang (Yangtze River) on the mountainous plateau of what is now the Chinese province of Yunnan. Early Chinese records (the first recorded Chinese reference to the Tai is dated sixth century B.C.) document the Tai cultivating wetland rice in valley and lowland areas.During the first millennium A.D., before the emergence of formal states governed by Tai-speaking elites, these people lived in scattered villages drawn together into muang, or principalities. Each muang was governed by a chao, or lord, who ruled by virtue of personal qualities and a network of patron-client relationships. Often the constituent villages of a muang would band together to defend their lands from more powerful neighboring peoples, such as the Chinese and Vietnamese.

The Dai have a tradition of dominating other ethnic groups such as the De’ang, Blang, Hani, Lahu, Achang and Jingpo. In some cases the Dai were powerful landlords and other tribes were like their serfs. Dai-controlled areas were on the fringes of the Chinese empire and separated from the main population centers by rugged mountains and rain forests. Beginning in the 14th century, the Chinese approved the Dai kings and nobles and officially recognized their control over other ethnic groups.

See Southeast Asia, See Dai, China

Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, Lonely Planet Guides, Library of Congress, Tourist Authority of Thailand, Thailand Foreign Office, The Government Public Relations Department, CIA World Factbook, Compton’s Encyclopedia, The Guardian, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, AFP, Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic Monthly, The Economist, Global Viewpoint (Christian Science Monitor), Foreign Policy, Wikipedia, BBC, CNN, NBC News, Fox News and various books and other publications.

The History Of Thai Food

Undoubtedly, one of the most popular cuisines worldwide, but what makes Thai dishes so well loved? How did they originate?

Thai cuisine is a simple yet clever combination of Eastern and Western influences harmoniously combined into that je ne sais quoi. Sour, sweet, salty, bitter and spicy flavours work together to make each dish come alive. Thai food varies depending upon the area or region of Thailand the dish originates from. These regions include the north, northeast, south and central.

Historically, aquatic animals, plant and herbs were popular ingredients included in most meals. Large quantities of meat were mainly avoided, thanks in part to the Buddhist background, and instead strips of meat were flavoured with herbs and spices, or meat was cooked or roasted and then shredded.

Traditional Thai cookery involved stewing and baking, or grilling. However, the area that is now Thailand, Laos, Burma (Myanmar), Cambodia and Vietnam were settled by the ancient Chinese an estimated 1,400 hundred years ago. With the migration of Chinese people into Southeast Asia, frying, stir-frying and deep-frying of food became more popular techniques, and to this day pad thai (fried noodles) and khao pad (fried rice) remain classic Thai dishes.

Other culinary influences from the 17th century onwards included Portuguese, Dutch, French and Japanese.

We have blogged previously about the history of the chilli in Thailand. By way of reminder, or in case you missed our post, chillies initially came to Thailand during the late 1600s by Portuguese missionaries who had taken a liking to the fiery ingredient in South America.

Thais are well known for their commitment and resourcefulness, and even in cookery they were adapt at replacing ingredients – for example the ghee used in Indian cooking was replaced by coconut oil, and coconut milk (which remain today two very popular ingredients in Thai cookery).

It might be hard to believe, but Thai food used to be a lot more spicy than it is now, but over the years to was toned down, and fewer and less spices were used in Thai curries, while the use of fresh herbs, such as lemon grass and galangal, increased.

Thai food was traditionally eaten with the right hand while seated on mats or carpets on the floor as still happens in the more traditional households. It is now generally eaten with a fork and spoon. Despite China having such an influence on both the country and the food, chopsticks are rarely used, even when eating noodles.

Nowadays, Thailand as a tourist destination and a regional economic power has had a major impact on the cuisine, and the growth of fast food restaurants such as McDonalds, Subway, KFC, Pizza Hut and other restaurants has boomed, especially in the large cities and tourist areas. Not only are the tourists and expats eating it, but Thai people are as well. Whilst generally Thai people are not fans of what they consider to be “farang food” viewing it as bland, the acceptance of fast food, suggests there could be further changes to come in the future with Thai cuisines.


Etymology of Siam

The country has always been called Mueang Thai by its citizens. By outsiders, prior to 1949, it was usually known by the exonym Siam (Thai: สยาม RTGS: sayam , pronounced [sajǎːm] , also spelled Siem, Syâm, or Syâma). The word Siam may have originated from Pali (suvaṇṇabhūmi, 'land of gold') or Sanskrit श्याम (śyāma, 'dark') or Mon ရာမည(rhmañña, 'stranger'). The names Shan 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. [ clarification needed ] [15] Another theory is the name derives from Chinese: "Ayutthaya emerged as a dominant centre in the late 14th century. The Chinese called this region Xian, which the Portuguese converted into Siam." [16] : 8 A further possibility is that Mon-speaking peoples migrating south called themselves syem as do the autochthonous Mon-Khmer-speaking inhabitants of the Malay Peninsula. [ citation needed ]

The signature of King Mongkut (r. 1851–1868) reads SPPM (Somdet Phra Poramenthra Maha) Mongkut Rex Siamensium (Mongkut King of the Siamese), giving the name Siam official status until 24 June 1939 when it was changed to "Thailand". [17] Thailand was renamed Siam from 1946 to 1948, after which it again reverted to "Thailand".

Etymology of "Thailand"

According to George Cœdès, the word Thai (ไทย) means 'free man' in the Thai language, "differentiating the Thai from the natives encompassed in Thai society as serfs". [18] : 197 A famous Thai scholar argued that Thai ( ไท ) simply means 'people' or 'human being', since his investigation shows that in some rural areas the word "Thai" was used instead of the usual Thai word khon (คน) for people. [19] According to Michel Ferlus, the ethnonyms Thai-Tai (or Thay-Tay) would have evolved from the etymon *k(ə)ri: 'human being' through the following chain: *kəri: > *kəli: > *kədi:/*kədaj > *di:/*daj > *daj A (Proto-Southwestern Tai) > tʰaj A2 (in Siamese and Lao) or > taj A2 (in the other Southwestern and Central Tai languages classified by Li Fangkuei). [20] Michel Ferlus's work is based on some simple rules of phonetic change observable in the Sinosphere and studied for the most part by William H. Baxter (1992). [21]

While Thai people will often refer to their country using the polite form prathet Thai (Thai: ประเทศไทย ), they most commonly use the more colloquial term mueang Thai (Thai: เมืองไทย ) or simply Thai the word mueang, archaically referring to a city-state, is commonly used to refer to a city or town as the centre of a region. Ratcha Anachak Thai (Thai: ราชอาณาจักรไทย ) means 'kingdom of Thailand' or 'kingdom of Thai'. Etymologically, its components are: ratcha (Sanskrit: राजन् , rājan, 'king, royal, realm') -ana- (Pali āṇā 'authority, command, power', itself from the Sanskrit आज्ञा , ājñā, of the same meaning) -chak (from Sanskrit चक्र cakra- 'wheel', a symbol of power and rule). The Thai National Anthem (Thai: เพลงชาติ ), written by Luang Saranupraphan during the patriotic 1930s, refers to the Thai nation as prathet Thai (Thai: ประเทศไทย ). The first line of the national anthem is: prathet thai ruam lueat nuea chat chuea thai (Thai: ประเทศไทยรวมเลือดเนื้อชาติเชื้อไทย ), 'Thailand is the unity of Thai flesh and blood'.


There is evidence of continuous human habitation in present-day Thailand from 20,000 years ago to the present day. [23] : 4 The earliest evidence of rice growing is dated at 2,000 BCE. [22] : 4 Bronze appeared circa 1,250–1,000 BCE. [22] : 4 The site of Ban Chiang in northeast Thailand currently ranks as the earliest known centre of copper and bronze production in Southeast Asia. [24] Iron appeared around 500 BCE. [22] : 5 The Kingdom of Funan was the first and most powerful Southeast Asian kingdom at the time (2nd century BCE). [23] : 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. [23] : 7 Tambralinga, a Malay state controlling trade through the Malacca Strait, rose in the 10th century. [23] : 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. [25]

The Thai people are of the Tai ethnic group, characterised by common linguistic roots. [26] : 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. [26] : 6 Thai people began migrating into present-day Thailand around the 11th century, which Mon and Khmer people occupied at the time. [27] Thus Thai culture was influenced by Indian, Mon, and Khmer cultures. [28]

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. [18] : 190–191, 194–195

Early states and Sukhothai Kingdom

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. [26] : 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. [26] : 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. [26] : 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. [26] : 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. [16] : 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. [16] : 8

Ayutthaya Kingdom

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. [29] : 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. [30] : 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. [31] : 107 Ayutthaya was interested in the Malay peninsula, but failed to conquer the Malacca Sultanate which was supported by the Chinese Ming Dynasty. [23] : 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 allied and ceded some soldiers to King Rama Thibodi II. [32] 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 and Bayinnaung were ultimately ended with the capture of the capital in 1570. [31] : 146–7 Then was a brief period of vassalage to Burma until Naresuan proclaimed independence in 1584. [16] : 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. [22] : ix However, growing French influence later in his reign was met with nationalist sentiment and led eventually to the Siamese revolution of 1688. [31] : 185–6 However, overall relations remained stable, with French missionaries still active in preaching Christianity. [31] : 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. [33] : 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. [34] : 218

Thonburi Kingdom

The capital and much territories lied 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, 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. [35]

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, [31] : 225 captured Vientiane in 1778 [31] : 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

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. [36] 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. [37] Bangkok signed the Burney Treaty in 1826, after the British victory in the First Anglo-Burmese War. [31] : 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. [31] : 283–5 Vientiane was destroyed and a large number of Lao people was relocated to Khorat Plateau as a result. [31] : 285–6 Bangkok also waged several wars with Vietnam, where Siam successfully regained hegemony over Cambodia. [31] : 290–2

From the late-19th century, Siam tried to rule the ethnic groups in the realm as colonies. [31] : 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. [31] : 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. [38] 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. [31] : 327

Chulalongkorn (r. 1868–1910) initiated centralisation, set up a privy council, and abolished slavery and the corvée system. [31] The Front Palace crisis of 1874 stalled attempts at further reforms. [31] : 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. [31] : 334–5 He established twelve krom in 1888, which were equivalent to present-day ministries. [31] : 347 The crisis of 1893 erupted, caused by French demands for Laotian territory east of Mekong. [31] : 350–3 Thailand is the only Southeast Asian nation never to have been colonised by a Western power, [39] in part because Britain and France agreed in 1896 to make the Chao Phraya valley a buffer state. [40] 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. [31] : 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. [31] : 371–3

The Palace Revolt of 1912 was a failed attempt by Western-educated military officers to overthrow the Siamese monarchy. [31] : 397 Vajiravudh (r. 1910–1925) responded by propaganda for the entirety of his reign. [31] : 402 He promoted the idea of the Thai nation. [31] : 404 In 1917, Siam joined the First World War on the side of the Allies as there were concerns that the Allies might punish neutral countries and refuse to amend past unequal treaties. [31] : 407 In the aftermath Siam joined the Paris Peace Conference, and gained freedom of taxation and the revocation of extraterritoriality. [31] : 408

Constitutional monarchy, World War II and Cold War

A bloodless revolution took place in 1932, carried out by a group of military and civilian officials Khana Ratsadon. Prajadhipok was forced to grant the country's first constitution, thereby ending centuries of 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. [23] : 25 In 1933, a counter-revolutionary rebellion occurred which aimed to reinstate absolute monarchy, but failed. [31] : 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. [31] : 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. [31] : 457 His government adopted nationalism and Westernisation, anti-Chinese and anti-French policies. [23] : 28 In 1940, 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. [31] : 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. [41] The Thai government declared war on the United States and the United Kingdom. [31] : 465 The Free Thai Movement was launched both in Thailand and abroad to oppose the government and Japanese occupation. [31] : 465–6 After the war ended in 1945, Thailand signed formal agreements to end the state of war with the Allies. Most Allied powers had not recognised 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. [31] : 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. [31] : 511 His government improved the country's infrastructure and education. [31] : 514 After the United States joined the Vietnam War in 1961, there was a secret agreement wherein the U.S. promised to protect Thailand. [31] : 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. [31] : 528 Economic development and education enabled the rise of a middle class in Bangkok and other cities. [31] : 534 In October 1971, there was a large demonstration against the dictatorship of Thanom Kittikachorn (premiership 1963–1973), which led to civilian casualties. [31] : 541–3 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. [42] The aftermath of the event marked a short-lived parliamentary democracy, [42] 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. [31] : 548 This culminated in the Thammasat University massacre in October 1976. [31] : 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.

Fueled by Indochina refugee crisis, Vietnamese border raids and economic hardships, Prem Tinsulanonda launched a successful coup and 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 coup attempts against Prem failed. Thailand had its first elected prime minister in 1988. [43]

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 military crackdown. Bhumibol intervened in the event and Suchinda then resigned.

The 1997 Asian financial crisis originated in Thailand and ended the country's 40 years of uninterrupted economic growth. [44] : 3 Chuan Leekpai's government took an IMF loan with unpopular provisions. [31] : 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 [45] and initiated universal healthcare in the country. [46] 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.

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.

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 [c] after the ruling party proposed an amnesty bill which would benefit Thaksin. [47] Yingluck dissolved parliament and a general election was scheduled, but was invalidated by the Constitution Court. The crisis ended with another coup d'état in 2014, the second coup in a decade. [d] Since then, the country has been led by the National Council for Peace and Order, a military junta led by General Prayut Chan-o-cha. 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. [48] 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. [e] In 2019, the junta agreed to schedule a general election in March. [48] Prayut continued his premiership with the support of Palang Pracharath Party-coalition in the House and junta-appointed Senate, amid allegations of election fraud. [50] The pro-democracy 2020 Thai protests were triggered by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and enforcement of the lockdown Emergency Decree. [51] [52]

Prior to 1932, Thai kings were absolute monarchs. During Sukhothai Kingdom, 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.

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. [53] [54] Thailand has had the fourth-most coups in the world. [55] "Uniformed or ex-military men have led Thailand for 55 of the 83 years" between 1932 and 2009. [56] 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, whereby a 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 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. 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. The monarchy is widely revered and lèse majesté is a severe crime in Thailand.

Government is separated into three branches:

  • The legislative branch: the National Assembly is composed of the Senate, the 150-member fully appointed upper house, and House of Representatives, the 350-member lower house. Its most recent election is 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. [57]

Military and bureaucratic aristocrats fully controlled political parties between 1946 and 1980s. [58] : 16 Most parties in Thailand are short-lived. [59] : 246 Between 1992 and 2006, Thailand had a two-party system. [59] : 245 Since 2000, two political parties dominated Thai general elections: one was the Pheu Thai Party (which was a successor of People's Power Party and the Thai Rak Thai Party), and the other was the Democrat Party. The political parties which support Thaksin Shinawatra won the most representatives every general election since 2001. Later constitutions created a multi-party system where a single party cannot gain a majority in the house.

Lèse majesté

The 2007 constitution was partially abrogated by the military dictatorship that came to power in May 2014. [60]

Thailand's kings are protected by lèse-majesté laws which allow critics to be jailed for three to fifteen years. [61] After the 2014 Thai coup d'état, Thailand had the highest number of lèse-majesté prisoners in the nation's history. [62] [63] In 2017, the military court in Thailand sentenced a man to 35 years in prison for violating the country's lèse-majesté law. [63] Thailand has been rated not free on the Freedom House Index since 2014. [64] Thai activist and magazine editor Somyot Prueksakasemsuk, who was sentenced to eleven years' imprisonment for lèse-majesté in 2013, [65] is a designated prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International. [66]

Totalling 513,120 square kilometres (198,120 sq mi), Thailand is the 50th-largest country by total area. It is slightly smaller than Yemen and slightly larger than Spain. [1]

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 2,565 metres (8,415 ft) above sea level. The northeast, Isan, consists of the Khorat Plateau, bordered to the east by the Mekong River. The centre of the country is dominated by the predominantly flat Chao Phraya river valley, which runs into the Gulf of Thailand.

Southern Thailand consists of the narrow Kra Isthmus that widens into the Malay Peninsula. 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 320,000 square kilometres (124,000 sq mi) and is fed by the Chao Phraya, Mae Klong, Bang Pakong, and 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 and its busiest commercial port, Laem Chabang.

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


Thailand's climate is influenced by monsoon winds that have a seasonal character (the southwest and northeast monsoon). [67] : 2 Most of the country is classified as Köppen's tropical savanna climate. [68] 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. [67] : 2 The first is the rainy or southwest monsoon season (mid–May to mid–October), which is caused by southwestern wind from Indian Ocean. [67] : 2 Rainfall is also contributed by Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) and tropical cyclones. [67] : 2 August and September being the wettest period of the year. [67] : 2 The country receives a mean annual rainfall of 1,200 to 1,600 mm (47 to 63 in). [67] : 4 Winter or the northeast monsoon occurs from mid–October until mid–February. [67] : 2 Most of Thailand experiences dry weather with mild temperatures. [67] : 2,4 Summer or the pre–monsoon season runs from mid–February until mid–May. [67] : 3 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 40 °C (104 °F) during March to May, [67] : 3 in contrast to close to or below 0 °C (32 °F) in some areas in winter. [67] : 3 Southern Thailand is characterised by mild weather year-round with less diurnal and seasonal variations in temperatures due to maritime influences. [67] : 3 It receives abundant rainfall, particularly during October to November. [67] : 2

Thailand is among the world's ten countries that are most exposed to climate change. In particular, it is highly vulnerable to rising sea levels and extreme weather events. [69] [70]

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). [72] [73] The country had a 2019 Forest Landscape Integrity Index mean score of 6.00/10, ranking it 88th globally out of 172 countries. [74]

The population of elephants, the country's national symbol, has fallen from 100,000 in 1850 to an estimated 2,000. [71] Poachers have long hunted elephants for ivory and hides, and now increasingly for meat. [75] Young elephants are often captured for use in tourist attractions or as work animals, where there have been claims of mistreatment. [76] 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 is still known for the sale of endangered species. [77] The practice of keeping wild animals as pets affects species such as Asiatic black bear, Malayan sun bear, white-handed lar, pileated gibbon, and binturong. [78]

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 ( จังหวัด , changwat), [79] which are first-level administrative divisions. There are also two specially governed districts: the capital Bangkok and Pattaya. Bangkok is at provincial level and thus often counted as a province. Each province is divided into districts ( อำเภอ , amphoe) and the districts are further divided into sub-districts ( ตำบล , tambons). The name of each province's capital city ( เมือง , 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. [80] Thailand's provinces are sometimes grouped into four to six regions, depending on the source.

The foreign relations of Thailand are handled by the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Thailand participates 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 ASEAN Association of Southeast Asian Nations. Thailand has developed increasingly close ties with other ASEAN members: Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Brunei, Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar, and 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 APEC (Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation) host. Dr. Supachai Panitchpakdi, the former Deputy Prime Minister of Thailand, currently serves as Secretary-General of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). In 2005 Thailand attended the inaugural East Asia Summit.

In recent years, Thailand has taken an increasingly active role on the international stage. When East Timor gained independence from Indonesia, Thailand, for the first time in its history, contributed troops to the international peacekeeping effort. Its troops remain there today as part of a UN peacekeeping force. As part of its effort to increase international ties, Thailand has reached out to such regional organisations as the Organization of American States (OAS) and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). Thailand has contributed troops to reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Thaksin 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. [81]

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. [82] 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. [83]

Thailand joined the US-led invasion of Iraq, sending a 423-strong humanitarian contingent. [84] It withdrew its troops on 10 September 2004. Two Thai soldiers died in Iraq in an insurgent attack.

Abhisit appointed Peoples Alliance for Democracy leader Kasit Piromya as foreign minister. In April 2009, fighting broke out between Thai and Cambodian troops on territory immediately adjacent to the 900-year-old ruins of Cambodia's 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. [85] [86]

The Royal Thai Armed Forces (กองทัพไทย RTGS: Kong Thap Thai ) 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. [87] The head of the Thai Armed Forces (จอมทัพไทย, Chom Thap Thai) is the king, [88] although this position is only nominal. The armed forces are managed by the 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 Chief of Defence Forces of Thailand. [89] 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. [90] Thailand ranked 16th worldwide in the 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, [91] ensuring security and welfare for refugees during Indochina refugee crisis. [92]

According to the constitution, serving in the armed forces is a duty of all Thai citizens. [93] 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. [94] [95] It is alleged that conscripts end up as servants to senior officers [96] or clerks in military cooperative shops. [97] [98] In a report issued in March 2020, Amnesty International charged that Thai military conscripts face institutionalised abuse systematically hushed up by military authorities. [99]

Critics observed that Thai military's main objective is to deal with internal rather than external threats. [100] 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. [100] The military is also notorious for numerous corruption incidents, such as accusation of human trafficking, [101] and nepotism in promotion of high-ranking officers. [102] The military is deeply entrenched in politics. Most recently, the appointed senators include more than 100 active and retired military. [103]

In 2018 the literacy rate was 93.8%. The youth literacy rate was 98.1% in 2015. [105] Education is provided by a well-organised school system of kindergartens, primary, lower secondary and upper secondary schools, numerous vocational colleges, and universities. The private sector of education is well developed and significantly contributes to the overall provision of education which the government would not be able to meet with public establishments. Education is compulsory up to and including age 14, with the government providing free education through to age 17. Thailand is the 3rd most popular study destination in Asean. The number of international degree students in Thailand increased by fully 979% between 1999 and 2012, from 1,882 to 20,309 students. The most of international students come from Asian neighbor countries [106] from China, Myanmar, Cambodia and Vietnam. [107] The number of higher education institutions in Thailand has grown strongly over the past decades from just a handful of universities in the 1970s to 156 officially. The two top-ranking universities in Thailand are Chulalongkorn University and Mahidol University. [108] Thai universities research output still relatively low by international ranking comparison, Recent initiatives, such as the National Research University from 9 universities around the country [109] and Graduate research intensive university: VISTEC, designed to strengthen Thailand's national research universities, however, appear to be gaining traction. Thailand's research output, as measured by journal publications, increased by 20% between 2011 and 2016. [110]

Teaching relies heavily on rote learning rather than on student-centred methodology. The establishment of reliable and coherent curricula for its primary and secondary schools is subject to such rapid changes that schools and their teachers are not always sure what they are supposed to be teaching, and authors and publishers of textbooks are unable to write and print new editions quickly enough to keep up with the volatility. Issues concerning university entrance has been in constant upheaval for a number of years. Nevertheless, Thai education has seen its greatest progress in the years since 2001. Most of the present generation of students are computer literate. Thailand was ranked 74th out of 100 countries globally for English proficiency. [111] Thailand has the second highest number of English-medium private international schools in Southeast Asian Nations, according to the International School Consultancy Group 181 schools around the country in 2017 compared to just 10 international schools for expatriate children in 1992. [106]

Students in ethnic minority areas score consistently lower in standardised national and international tests. [112] [113] [114] This is likely due to unequal allocation of educational resources, weak teacher training, poverty, and low Thai language skill, the language of the tests. [112] [115] [116]

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 the southern region of Narathiwat Province and the highest average of 108.91 reported in Nonthaburi Province. The Ministry of Public Health blames the discrepancies on iodine deficiency, and as of 2011 [update] steps were being taken to require that iodine be added to table salt, a practice common in many Western countries. [117]

In 2013, the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology announced that 27,231 schools would receive classroom-level access to high-speed internet. [118]

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". [119] 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. [120] In Thailand, this drug (GPO-VIR) is used in the national HIV/AIDS treatment programme, making it free of charge for 100,000 patients. [121] while Pongrama Ramasoota, He discoveries production of therapeutic human monoclonal antibodies against dengue virus and the world's first Dengue fever medication, include DNA vaccine development for dengue and Canine parvovirus. [122]

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. [123] and their use has been increasing. such as, an elderly care robot made by Thai manufacturer that Japanese nursing homes are widely using. [124] In 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. [125] 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. [126] 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). [127]

According to the UNESCO Institute for Statistics, Thailand devoted 1% of its GDP to science research and development in 2017. [128] Between 2014 and 2016, Research and development workforce in Thailand increased from 84,216 people to 112,386 people. [129] 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. [130] The National Science and Technology Development Agency is an agency of the government of Thailand which supports research in science and technology and its application in the Thai economy. [131]

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. [132]

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. [1] Major exports include cars, computers, electrical appliances, rice, textiles and footwear, fishery products, rubber, and jewellery. [1]

Thailand is an 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). [133] 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). [134]

Economic indicators for Thailand

Economic indicators
Nominal GDP ฿14.53 trillion (2016) [135]
GDP growth 3.9% (2017) [136]
• Headline
• Core

0.7% (2017)
0.6% (2017)
Employment-to-population ratio 68.0% (2017) [137] : 29
Unemployment 1.2% (2017) [136]
Total public debt ฿6.37 trillion ( Dec. 2017) [138]
Poverty 8.61% (2016) [137] : 36
Net household worth ฿20.34 trillion (2010) [139] : 2

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 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 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, 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. [140]

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. [141]

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. [142]

Income, poverty and wealth

Thais have median wealth per one adult person of $1,469 in 2016, [143] : 98 increasing from $605 in 2010. [143] : 34 In 2016, Thailand was ranked 87th in Human Development Index, and 70th in the inequality-adjusted HDI. [144]

In 2017, Thailand's median household income was ฿26,946 per month. [145] : 1 Top quintile households had a 45.0% share of all income, while bottom quintile households had 7.1%. [145] : 4 There were 26.9 million persons who had the bottom 40% of income earning less than ฿5,344 per person per month. [146] : 5 During 2013–2014 Thai political crisis, a survey found that anti-government PDRC mostly (32%) had a monthly income of more than ฿50,000, while pro-government UDD mostly (27%) had between ฿10,000 and ฿20,000. [147] : 7

In 2014, Credit Suisse reported that Thailand was the world's third most unequal country, behind Russia and India. [148] The top 10% richest held 79% of the country's assets. [148] The top 1% richest held 58% of the assets. [148] Thai 50 richest families had a total net worth accounting to 30% of GDP. [148]

In 2016, 5.81 million people lived in poverty, or 11.6 million people (17.2% of population) if "near poor" is included. [146] : 1 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. [146] : 2 In 2017, there were 14 million people who applied for social welfare (yearly income of less than ฿100,000 was required). [148] At the end of 2017, Thailand's total household debt was ฿11.76 trillion. [137] : 5 In 2010, 3% of all household were bankrupt. [139] : 5 In 2016, there were estimated 30,000 homeless persons in the country. [149]

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. [1] Major exports include cars, computers, electrical appliances, rice, textiles and footwear, fishery products, rubber, and jewellery. [1]

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. As of 2012 [update] , the Thai automotive industry was the largest in Southeast Asia and the 9th largest in the world. [150] [151] [152] The Thailand industry has an annual output of near 1.5 million vehicles, mostly commercial vehicles. [152]

Most of the vehicles built in Thailand are developed and licensed by foreign producers, mainly Japanese and 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 of India, produce pick-up trucks in Thailand. [153] 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. [154] In 2014, pick-ups accounted for 42% of all new vehicle sales in Thailand. [153]


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. [155] When including the indirect effects of tourism, it is said to account for 20.2 percent (2.4 trillion baht) of Thailand's GDP. [156] : 1

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. [157]

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. [158] The country is also Asia's number one. [159] 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. [160]

Prostitution in Thailand and sex tourism also form a de facto part of the economy. Campaigns promote Thailand as exotic to attract tourists. [161] One estimate published in 2003 placed the trade at US$4.3 billion per year or about 3% of the Thai economy. [162] It is believed that at least 10% of tourist dollars are spent on the sex trade. [163]

Agriculture and natural resources

Forty-nine per cent of Thailand's labour force is employed in agriculture. [164] This is down from 70% in 1980. [164] 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. [165] Thailand has the highest percentage of arable land, 27.25%, of any nation in the Greater Mekong Subregion. [166] About 55% of the arable land area is used for rice production. [167]

Agriculture has been experiencing a transition from labour-intensive and transitional methods to a more industrialised and competitive sector. [164] 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. [164] 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 [168] of biocapacity per person within its territory, a little less than world average of 1.6 global hectares per person. [169] 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. [168]


75% of Thailand's electrical generation is powered by natural gas in 2014. [170] Coal-fired power plants produce an additional 20% of electricity, with the remainder coming from biomass, hydro, and biogas. [170]

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.

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 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. [171] 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. [172] 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. [173] 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. [174]

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. [173]

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. [171]

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. [171] As a result, labour trafficking is common in the region, affecting children and adults, men and women, and migrants and Thai citizens alike.

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. As of 2017 [update] SRT had 4,507 km (2,801 mi) 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 (303 km or 188 mi) or triple-tracked (107 km or 66 mi) and there are plans to extend this. [175] 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 390,000 kilometres (240,000 miles) of highways. [176] According to the BBC Thailand has 462,133 roads and many multi-lane highways. As of 2017 [update] 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 – Chon Buri motorway (Route 7) now links to the new airport and Eastern Seaboard. There are 4,125 public vans operating on 114 routes from Bangkok alone. [177] Other forms of road transport includes tuk-tuks, taxis—as of November 2018, Thailand has 80,647 registered taxis nationwide [178] —vans (minibus), motorbike taxis and songthaews.

As of 2012 [update] , Thailand had 103 airports with 63 paved runways, in addition to 6 heliports. The busiest airport in the county is Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport.

Thailand had a population of 66,558,935 as of 2019. [11] 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 as of 2010 [update] , 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%. [1]

According to the Royal Thai Government's 2011 Country Report to the UN Committee responsible for the 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, : 3 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 [181] at the time of completion of the Mahidol University Ethnolinguistic Maps of Thailand data (1997). [182]

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. [182] 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). : 7–13 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. [183] Thai Malays represent 3% of the population, with the remainder consisting of Mons, Khmers and various "hill tribes". The country's official language is Thai and the primary religion is Theravada 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 as of 2009 [update] , up from an estimated 2 million in 2008, and about 1.3 million in 2000. [184] Some 41,000 Britons and 20,000 Australians live in Thailand. [185] [186]

Population centres


The official language of Thailand is Thai, a Kra–Dai language closely related to Lao, 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 in the 2011 Country Report to the UN Committee responsible for the International Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, which employed an ethnolinguistic approach and is available from the Department of Rights and Liberties Promotion of the Thai Ministry of Justice. : 3 Southern Thai is spoken in the southern provinces, and Northern Thai is spoken in the provinces that were formerly part of the independent kingdom of Lan Na. For the purposes of the national census, which does not recognise all 62 languages recognised by the Royal Thai Government in the 2011 Country Report, four dialects of Thai exist these partly coincide with regional designations.

The largest of Thailand's minority languages is the Lao dialect of 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. [ citation needed ] 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, Viet, Mlabri and Orang Asli Austronesian languages such as Cham and Moken Sino-Tibetan languages like Lawa, Akha, and Karen and other Tai languages such as Tai Yo, Phu Thai, and Saek. Hmong is a member of the Hmong–Mien languages, which is now regarded as a language family of its own.

English is a mandatory school subject, but the number of fluent speakers remains low, especially outside cities.


Thailand'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. [188] 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. Muslims constitute the second largest religious group in Thailand, comprising 4.29% of the population in 2015. [189]

Islam is concentrated mostly in the country's southernmost provinces: Pattani, Yala, Satun, Narathiwat, and part of Songkhla Chumphon, which are predominantly Malay, most of whom are Sunni Muslims. Christians represented 1.17% (2015) of the population in 2015, with the remaining population consisting of Hindus and Sikhs, who live mostly in the country's cities. There is also a small but historically significant 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. [190]

Thailand ranks world's 6th, and Asia's 1st in the 2019 Global Health Security Index of global health security capabilities in 195 countries, [191] making it the only developing country on the world's top ten. Thailand had 62 hospitals accredited by Joint Commission International. [192] In 2002, Bumrungrad became the first hospital in Asia to meet the standard.

Health and medical care is overseen by the 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. Recreational use remained unlawful. The National Legislative Assembly had 166 votes in favour of the amendment to the Narcotics Bill, while there were no nay votes and 13 abstentions. The vote makes Thailand the first Southeast Asian country to allow the use of medical cannabis. [193]

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. Thai Buddhism has evolved over time to include many regional beliefs originating from Hinduism, animism, as well as ancestor worship. The official calendar in Thailand is based on the Eastern version of the Buddhist Era (BE). Thai identity today is a 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. [194]

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 honorifics. Elders have by tradition ruled in family decisions or ceremonies. 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. [ citation needed ]

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.

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 images of the Buddha, being very similar with the other styles from 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 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 Sri Lankan and 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. [195]

Traditional Thai paintings showed subjects in two dimensions without perspective. The size of each element in the picture reflected its degree of importance. The primary technique of 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 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. [196]

The most frequent narrative subjects for paintings were or are: the Jataka stories, episodes from the life of the 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. [195]


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. [197]

Buddhist temples in Thailand are known as "wats", from the 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. [198]


Thai literature has had a long history. Even before the establishment of the Sukhothai Kingdom there existed oral and written works.

During the Sukhothai, Most literary works were written in simple prose with certain alliteration schemes. Major works include King Ram Khamhaeng Inscription. King Ram Khamhaeng's Stone Inscription is considered the first Thai literary work in Thai script. It gives an account of the life of King Ramkhamhaeng the Great, the way of life of Thai people in general, laws, religion, economic and political stability. Trai Phum Phra Ruang, was written in 1345 by King Maha Thammaracha I, the fifth king of Sukhothai. It expounds Buddhist philosophy based on a profound and extensive study with reference to over 30 sacred texts. The work could be considered the nation's first piece of research dissertation. It was written in beautiful prose rich in allusions and imagery. It is a treatise on Buddhist cosmology, ethics, biology and belief system. [199]

During the Ayutthaya, The period produced a variety of forms on diverse subjects. New 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 the war between King Borommatrailokkanat of Ayutthaya and Prince Tilokkarat of Lan Na. One of the most beautiful literary works is Kap He Ruea composed by Prince Thammathibet comparing the scenic beauty to that of his beloved lady on a boat journey in the nirat tradition. Traditionally, the verse is sung during the colourful royal barge procession. It 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. [200]

Despite its short period of 15 years, Thon Buri Period produced Ramakian, a verse drama to which King Taksin the Great contributed his poetic talent. The revival of literature at this time is remarkable since the country had not quite recovered from the aftermath of war. Some poets who later became a major force in the early Rattanakosin Period had already begun writing at this time.

During the 18th century Rattanakosin Period. After sporadic fighting at the beginning of the period, the country gradually returned to normal. It is only natural that many of the early Rattanakosin works should 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. In addition, There were also verse recitals with musical accompaniment, such as Mahori telling the story of 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" (Thai: กวีเอกแห่งกรุงรัตนโกสินทร์ ). Sunthorn Phu is best known for his epic poem Phra Aphai Mani (Thai: พระอภัยมณี ), which he started in 1822 (while in jail) and finished in 1844. Phra Aphai Mani is a versified fantasy-adventure novel, a genre of Siamese literature known as nithan kham klon (Thai: นิทานคำกลอน ). [200]

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. [201]

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. 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.


Thai films are exported and exhibited in Southeast Asia. [202] Thai cinema has developed its own unique identity and now being internationally recognized for their culture-driven. [203] 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), was one of the best-known Thai horror movies and recognized worldwide. [204] Other examples include The Unseeable (2006), Alone (2007), Body (2007), Coming Soon (2008), 4bia (2008), Phobia 2 (2009), Ladda Land (2011), Pee Mak (2013), and The Promise (2017).

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, [205] 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. [206]

Thailand television dramas, known as Lakorn, Lakorn have become popular in Thailand and its neighbors. [207] Many dramas tend to have a romantic focus, such as Khluen Chiwit, U-Prince, Ugly Duckling, The Crown Princess and teen dramas television series, such as 2gether: The 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. [208] Amongst several Dance-pop artists who have made internationally successful can be mentioned "Lisa" Lalisa Manoban [209] and Tata Young.


Thai cuisine is one of the most popular in the world. [210] [211] 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. [212] 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 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 mu nam tok (36th). [213]

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. [214]

Units of measurement

Thailand generally uses the metric system, but 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. (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. [215]

Muay Thai (Thai: มวยไทย , RTGS: Muai Thai, [muaj tʰaj] , lit. "Thai boxing") is a combat sport of Thailand that uses stand-up striking along with various 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. [216]

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. The country has hosted the Asian Cup twice, in 1972 and in 2007. The 2007 edition was co-hosted together with Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam. 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 women's team has often participated in the World Championship, World Cup, and World Grand Prix Asian Championship. They have won the Asian Championship twice and Asian Cup once. By the success of the women's team, the 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. [217] Other notable players produced by the country include Ratchayothin Yotharuck, Noppon Saengkham and Dechawat Poomjaeng. [218]

Rugby is also a growing sport in Thailand with the Thailand national rugby union team rising to be ranked 61st in the world. [219] Thailand became the first country in the world to host an international 80 welterweight rugby tournament in 2005. [220] 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 [221] 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. [222] 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, [223] 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. [224] The Thailand national basketball team had its most successful year at the 1966 Asian Games where it won the silver medal. [225]

Other sports in Thailand are slowly growing as the country develops its sporting infrastructure. The success in sports like weightlifting and taekwondo at the last two summer Olympic Games has demonstrated that boxing is no longer the only medal option for Thailand.

Sporting venues

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. [226]

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.

Watch the video: Thajsko (January 2022).