thailand information

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Thailand history  dates  back  thousands of years, though the modern history  of Thailand began with the founding of the Kingdom of Sukhothai.

Dating back  to the Neolithic  civilization  situated at  the modern-day UNESCO World Heritage Site in Ban Chiang,  the  history  of Thailand  is  long,  proud, and fairly well documented.  Over  the early  centuries of  the Common  Era, tribes of Mon, Khmer, and Tai peoples established realms within the borders of modern Thailand; the Mon speaking Buddhist civilization of Dvaravati in the first millennium giving way to the Khmer empire of Angkor by the turn of the second millennium.

However, the history of  Thailand as we know it began when the  kingdoms of  Lan Na (Chiang Rai/Chiang Mai)  and Sukhothai, the  first truly independent  Thai Kingdoms, established highly  developed societies in the North and Central regions of Thailand in the 13th and 14th centuries. The Kingdom of Ayutthaya, which was   heavily  influenced  by   the  Khmer’s  of  Angkor,  eventually   conquered      neighboring  Sukhothai and  dominated  the  region  for the  next several hundred years of Thai history.  Unfortunately, first  Chaing Mai and  then Ayutthaya were overrun by  Burmese invaders, who occupied  the Lan Na capital  for several centuries and sacked Ayutthaya, forcing the central Thai kingdom to relocate farther south, establishing  a new capital in Thon Buri near Bangkok.  After the short lived Thon Buri Period (1767-1772), the capital was moved  across  the  Chao  Phraya  River,  and  the  first  of  the current line of Kings, Rama I of the Chakri Dynasty, established  the  modern  capital  of   Bangkok  to  commence  the Ratanakosin  Period of  Thai history.   The  adroit  diplomatic  leadership  of  Kings  Mongkut (Rama IV, 1851-1868) and  Chulalongkorn (Rama V,1868-1910) were responsible for maintaining a remarkable 700 year Thai history during which the kingdom was never officially colonized by foreign powers; a turbulent 20th century witnessed the transition to  a  system  of  constitutional  monarchy,  currently overseen by Head of State, King Bumibol Adulyadej (1946- present),  is  King  Rama  IX  of  the Chakri  Dynasty  and a tenuous but functional  democracy has existed under the regency of this much beloved king.
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 Fossilized  remains  of plants and animals have been discovered  in  many areas of Thailand,  particularly  in the Korat Plateau in northeastern Thailand. Most of the animal  fossils  found  are of  dinosaurs, which date primarily to the Jurassic era though some are from the late-Triassic, the oldest such evidence of dinosaurs in Southeast Asia.
The dinosaur  bones  encased  in  sandstone  in  the  Phu  Wiang  hills of  Khon Kaen  province included Phuwiangosaurus sirindhornae,  a  gigantic  plant-eating dinosaur that had a long neck and tail and a small head.
Four other species  of  dinosaur  unearthed  in Phu  Wiang include  Siamotyrannus isanensis,  a  smaller version  of  Tyrannosaurus rex,  Siamosauraus  suteethorni,  a crocodile –  like  creature, Compsognathus, the world’s smallest dinosaur, and Ornithomimosaur, an ostrich-like dinosaur.
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Sukhothai
:
Thais  began to  emerge  as  a dominant force in the region in the13th century
, gradually asserting independence  from existing  Khmer  and  Mon kingdoms.  Founded by Khun Pha Muang and  Khun Bang Klang Thao in 1238, the Kingdom was named by its rulers “the dawn of happiness”.  The Sukhothai Period is often  considered  the  golden  era  of Thai history, an  ideal  Thai  state  in a land of plenty governed by paternal and benevolent kings, the most famous of whom was King Ramkamhaeng the Great (c.1279-98), who greatly expanded the Kingdom’s borders.

In addition  to  developing some  of  the  most  beautiful  Thai art, the Sukhothai Kingdom is credited with developing the modern Thai alphabet.  However,  following  the  death of King Ramkamhaeng,  the mightier state of Ayutthaya gradually exerted its influence over Sukhothai.
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Ayutthaya
:

The Ayutthaya kings  adopted Khmer cultural influences from the very beginning.  No longer  the paternal and  accessible  rulers that  the  kings  of   Sukhothai  had  been, Ayutthaya’s  sovereigns  were  absolute monarchs and assumed the title devaraja (god-king). The early part of this period saw Ayutthaya extend its sovereignty  over  neighboring Thai principalities and come into conflict with its neighbors.  During the 17th century,  Siam started diplomatic and commercial relations with western countries. In 1767, after repeated attempts, the Burmese invaded and successfully captured Ayutthaya.
Despite their overwhelming victory, the  Burmese  did  not  retain  control  of  Siam  for  long. A young general  named  Phya Taksin  and  his   followers  broke  through  the   Burmese   lines  and  escaped  to Chantaburi.  Seven months after the fall of Ayutthaya, he and his forces sailed  back  up the  Chao Phraya River  to  Ayutthaya and expelled the Burmese occupation garrison, though tragically  the capital had been looted and nearly razed.
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Thonburi :
General Taksin
, as he is popularly known, decided  to transfer the capital from Ayutthaya to a site nearer to the sea,  a move that would  facilitate  foreign trade, ensure the procurement of arms, and make defense and withdrawal  easier in case of a renewed Burmese attack. He established his new capital at  Thon Buri, on the west bank of the Chao Phraya River, opposite modern-day Bangkok. The rule of Taksin was not an easy one.  The  lack  of  central  authority  since  the  fall  of   Ayutthaya  led  to the rapid disintegration of the kingdom, and Taksin’s reign was spent reuniting the provinces.
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Rattanakosin :
After Taksin’s death,  General  Chakri (Rama I) became  the  first  king of the Chakri Dynasty, ruling from 1782  to  1809.  His first action  as  king was to transfer the royal capital across the river from Thon Buri to Bangkok  and  build  the  Grand Palace.  Rama  II (1809 -1824)  continued  the  restoration  begun  by  his predecessor.   King  Nang  Klao, Rama III  ( 1824 – 1851 )  reopened  relations with  Western  nations and established trade with China.
King Mongkut,  Rama IV, (1851 – 1868)  may  have  achieved  western  fame  through the story “The King and I”,  but  won the  hearts of  Thais for his  accomplishments including the establishment of treaties with European  countries,  thus  avoiding  colonialization, and modernizing  Thailand  through  many social and economic  reforms.  King Chulalongkorn,  Rama V (1869-1910)  continued his  father’s tradition  of reform, abolishing slavery and improving the public welfare and administrative systems.

Educational reforms,  including  compulsory  education,  were  introduced  by King  Vajiravudh, Rama VI (1910-1925).  During the reign  of  King  Prajadhipok,  Rama VII  (1925-1935),  Thailand  changed  from  an absolute monarchy  to a constitutional  monarchy. The king abdicated in 1933 and was succeeded  by his nephew,  King  Ananda  Mahidol  Rama VIII (1935-1946).  The  country’s name was  changed from Siam to Thailand  with  the  advent  of  a  democratic  government  in 1939.  Our  current  monarch,  King Bhumibol Adulyadej (R. Jun. 9, 1946 - present), is King Rama IX of the Chakri Dynasty.
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