Thailand (until 1939 and from 1946 to 1949 Siam) Southeast Asian state. In the 6th century. the Thais were pushed by the Chinese into the od. Yunnan, a Chinese province, where they founded the ta-li kingdom, which disappeared in 1253 following the Mongol invasion of China; they then moved south (Pagan and Cambodia), divided into large Thais (towards upper Burma) and small Thais (the current Siamese, residing in Thailand and Laos). In the 13th century. a Thai kingdom was established in northern Siam, which expanded its territory to the South and E, incorporating in the 14th century. also the Khmer kingdom; from the fusion of customs and traditions of two peoples the Thai state was born (modern Thailand, parts of Cambodia and Malacca). In 1350 the new capital Ayutthaya was founded. In the 16th-17th century. Europeans appeared: Portuguese (1511), Spanish (1598), Dutch (1604) and English (1621). In 1764 Siam was at war with the Burmese. After the brief reign of a general of Chinese origin (King Phra Chao Tak), a new dynasty was formed (➔ Chakri) with Rama I (with capital in Bangkok). In the 19th century. King Mongkut Rama IV (1851-68) established relations with the main European states and with the USA, opening the country to trade and Western influence. Under his son Chulalongkorn Rama V (1868-1910), Siam ceded large parts of Laos and Cambodia to France and Malaysia to Great Britain and promoted Western-inspired reforms (centralization of the state, administrative reforms, abolition of slavery, economic development). Siam joined the Allies in the First World War. After the international economic crisis, a coup d’état (1932) imposed an authoritarian constitutional regime and forced (1935) King Rama VII, known as Prajadhipok, to abdicate. In 1939 Siam changed its name to Thailand (“land of free men”). For Thailand 1998, please check constructmaterials.com.
The Thailand undertook a pro-Japanese foreign policy during the Second World War, obtaining part of Laos from France and declaring war on Great Britain and the USA (1942); participated in the Burma campaign and received four Malaysian provinces from Tokyo and the Shan States in Burma. With the decline of Japan (1944) the influence of the USA grew; at the end of the hostilities the territories conquered during the conflict were returned and the country experienced a short phase of democratic life, with a new Constitution in 1946, when Bhumibul Adulyadej Rama IX (still ruler of the Thailand) ascended the throne. In 1947 a military coup gave birth to a strictly authoritarian regime, interrupted for short periods, with prime ministers Pibul Songgram (1948), Sarit Thanarat (1958) and Thanom Kittikachorn (1963). Alongside the USA, Thailand it participated in the Korean War (1950-53) and in the foundation of SEATO (1954) and in the 1960s it was involved in the Indochinese crisis. In the 1970s and 1980s, short coalition governments and attempts at reform alternated with repressive regimes, while border clashes occurred with Laos and with Vietnamese troops on the borders with Cambodia, from where thousands of Cambodian refugees flowed. In the 1980s, the government led by the right-wing Thai Nation (NT) improved regional relations and promoted export-based economic development. The 1990s saw the creation of a National Council after a coup (1991), free elections with a victory for the Democratic Party (1992), the victory of the New Aspiration party (1996) and a serious economic crisis (1997-98).. In the 21st century. clashes caused by the Islamic separatist guerrillas in the south of the country and a violent tsunami caused thousands of victims (2004). The 2005 elections (victory of Thaksin Shinawatra’s party) was followed by a coup d’état (2006); new elections (2007) saw riots and allegations of fraud, up to the appointment of Abhisit Vejjajiva (Democratic Party) as prime minister in 2008.