Capital : Bangkok (Krungthep, 'City of Angels')
Size: 198 000 sq m Popn: 57 760
There has been a civilization in this area since ancient times with artifacts from at least 4000 BC being found. Siam became a united kingdom in 1350. The first Europeans to arrive were Portuguese traders in 1511. The British East India Company and the Dutch joined them during the C17th and Britain became dominant, making friendship and trade treaties in 1826 and 1855 and opening Siam to foreign trade. King Mongkut (1851-68) was made famous by the musical, 'The King and I', based on the book 'Anna and the king of Siam' by Anna Leonowens, the English governess of the royal children. Under his son, King Chulalongkorn (1868-1910), there was some economic modernization during his reign and Anglo-French agreements in 1896 and 1904 made Siam a neutral buffer kingdom between French Indochina and Burma which was under British control.
After the First World War, a nationalist renaissance movement developed, leading to a coup against King Prajadhipok. Representative government in 1932 replaced the system of absolute monarchy and in 1939, Siam adopted the name 'Muang Thai' or 'Land of the Free'. From 1941-4, it was occupied by Japan and although the government collaborated, there was a guerrilla resistance movement. Instability followed the Japanese withdrawal and King Ananda Mahidol was assassinated in 1946. The army seized power in 1947 under Field Marshall Pibul Songgram and retained power for two decades. The leadership changed in a series of bloodless coups. Field Marshall Sarit Thanarat took over in 1957 and General Thanom Kittikchorn in 1963. King Bhumibol Adulyadej remained as a figurehead and there were elected assemblies from 1957-8 and 1968-71. Under the military junta, Thailand allied itself with the USA and faced serious insurgency by communist guerrillas on the borders with Cambodia, Laos and Malaysia. There were some economic achievements but the junta was overthrown by violent student riots in October 1973.
Free elections were held in 1975 and 1976 but there was a lack of stability under a series of coalition governments and the military resumed power. The supreme commander, General Kriangsak Chomanan, was in power from 1977 and set up a mixed civilian and military government under the king's direction. He was deposed in October 1980 by General Prem Tinsulanonda, who formally gave up his army office to become prime minister of an elected civilian government. His cautious, apolitical rule led to economic improvements and Thailand became an export-orientated, newly industrialized country. Prem survived coup attempts in 1983 and 1985.
In 1988, the leader of the Thai Nation Party, Chatichai Choonhavan, was elected prime minister but was overthrown in February 1991 by a bloodless coup led by the supreme military commander, General Sunthorn Kongsompong, and army chief General Suchinda Kraprayoon, the 17th coup, successful or otherwise, since 1932. An interim prime minister, the civilian Anand Panyarachun, was appointed, ultimately subject to the military junta. General Suchinda replaced him in the elections of March 1992 but huge street demonstrations forced him to resign. In May, the ruling coalition agreed to a constitutional reform package, including the proviso that the prime minister should not be a military man, and Anand returned as interim prime minister in June. In the elections of September 1992, the Democratic coalition won 185 of the 360 seats and Chuan Leekpai became prime minister. Far-left parties, such as the Communist Party, remained illegal and so do parties that field candidates in fewer than half of the constituencies. Effective political power remained with the army leadership.
Quasi-military rule had been given some justification by the civil war in Cambodia and Laos which led to over 500 000 refugees entering Thailand from 1975-90. Martial law was maintained until May 1991. Thailand had become closer to its allies in the Association of South East Asian Nations which supported the Cambodian guerrillas in their resistance to the Vietnamese-imposed government. In July 1989, the shelling of a refugee camp in Thailand drew the country more deeply into the Cambodian civil war but tensions lessened with the Cambodian peace agreement in 1991.
The country's religion is Buddhist but society has absorbed many outside influences. Intermarriage with the Chinese is quite common, usually Chinese man with Thai woman, and Western influences are visible.
Most names are pronounced with the last syllable stressed. Some can be used for either males or females. Native Thai surnames tend to be fairly short. The very long surnames are often those of the large number of Chinese immigrants who moved into the country after the Communist revolution and adopted Thai names. Apparently, a newly registered name has to be one that does not already exist and longer names are less likely to be duplicated
These usually come before the given name, but in the West, Thai names are often written with the given name first so I've probably got some of these the wrong way around.
These usually come before the given name.
|'ch' and 'j'||interchangeable|
|'ph' and 'bh'||like p|
|'th' and 'dh'||like t|
|'ae'||like 'ai' in air|
|final 'b'||like p|
|final 'j'||like d|
|final 'l'||like 'n'|
|final 'se'||not pronounced|
|ng at beginning||like ng at end|
|Ramkamhaeng||1279-c.99||son of Intradit|
|Li Thai (Thammaraja)||1347-68|
|Rama 1 (Chao Phya Chakri)||1782-1809||General under Taksin|
|Rama 3 (Chesda)||1824-51|
|Rama 4 (Mongkut)||1851-68||brother of Rama 3|
|Rama 5 (Chulalongkorn/Chulalongkura)||1868-1910||son of Rama 4||Saowapa
|Rama 6 (Prajadipok)||1910-25|
|Rama 8 (Ananda Mahidol)||1935-46||nephew of Rama 7, son of Mahidol and Sangwan|
|Rama 9 (Bhumipol Adulyadej)||1946-||brother of Rama 8||Sirikit|
|son of Rama 9|
This collection of names was compiled by Kate Monk and is ©1997, Kate Monk.
Copies may be made for personal use only.
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