Thailand - History
The most well known pre-historic settlement in Thailand is often associated to the major archaeological site at Ban Chiang. Dating of artifacts from this site is a consensus that at least by 1500 BC, the inhabitants had developed bronze tools and also grew rice. According to Funan epigraphy and the records of Chinese historians(Coedes), a number of trading settlements of the South appear to have been organized into several Indianised states, among the earliest of which are believed to be Langkasuka and Tambralinga.
Thai chieftains gained independence from the Khmer Empire at Sukhothai, which was established as a sovereign Kingdom by Pho Khun Si Indrathit in 1238. King Ramkhamhaeng, who established the Thai alphabet, but after his death in 1365 it fell into decline.
Another Thai state that coexisted with Sukhothai was the northern state of Lanna. This state emerged in the same period as Sukhothai,. Its independent history ended in 1558, when it fell to the Burmese
The first ruler of the Kingdom of Ayutthaya, King Ramathibodi I, established and promoted Buddhism as the official religion – to differentiate his kingdom from the neighbouring Hindu kingdom of Angkor. In 1767, the Burmese attacked the capital city and conquered it. The royal family fled the city where the king died of starvation ten days later. The Ayutthaya royal line had been extinguished. Overall there are 33 kings in this period, including an unofficial king.
In the 1790s Burma was defeated and driven out of Siam, as it was then called. Lanna also became free of Burmese occupation, but the king of a new dynasty who was installed in the 1790s was effectively a puppet ruler of the Chakri monarch.
The heirs of Rama I became increasingly concerned with the threat of European colonialism after British victories in neighboring Burma in 1826. The first Thai recognition of Western power in the region was the Treaty of Amity and Commerce with the United Kingdom in 1826.
The Anglo-Siamese Treaty of 1909 defined the modern border between Siam and British Malaya by securing Thai authority over the provinces of Pattani, Yala, Narathiwat and Satun. The Siamese coup d'état of 1932 transformed the Government of Thailand from an absolute to a constitutional monarchy. King Prajadhipok initially accepted this change but later surrendered the throne to his ten year old nephew, Ananda Mahidol. He was succeeded by his brother Bhumibol Adulyadej, the longest reigning king of Thailand, and very popular with the Thais.
In early January 1941, Thailand invaded French Indochina, beginning the French-Thai War. The Thais, better equipped and outnumbering the French forces, easily reclaimed Laos. The French decisively won the naval Battle of Koh Chang.
On December 21, 1941, Thailand and Japan signed a military alliance with a secret protocol wherein Tokyo agreed to help Thailand regain territories lost to the British and French (i.e. the Shan States of Burma, Malaya, Singapore, & part of Yunnan, plus Laos & Cambodia), Thailand undertook to 'assist' Japan in its war against the Allies.
After the end of World War II, Prime Minister Pridi Phanomyong agreed to return the captured territories to France, as a condition for admission to the newly created United Nations.
After Japan's defeat in 1945 Thailand enjoyed close relations with the United States, which it saw as a protector from the communist revolutions in neighboring countries.
More recently, Thailand has been an active member in the regional Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), especially after democratic rule was restored in 1992.
Post-1973 has been marked by a struggle to define the political contours of the state. It was won by the King and General Prem Tinsulanonda, who favored a monarchy constitutional order.
The post-1973 years have seen a difficult and sometimes bloody transition from military to civilian rule, with several reversals along the wayOn September 19, 2006, with the prime minister in New York for a meeting of the UN, Army Commander-in-Chief Lieutenant General Sonthi Boonyaratglin launched a successful coup d'état. A general election on 23 December 2007 restored a civilian government, lead by Samak Sundaravej of the People Power Party.
In mid-2008, the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) led large protests against the government of Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej, whom they criticize for his ties to former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.
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