Thailand is a country in Southeast Asia. Its neighbours are Laos, Cambodia, Malaysia, and Myanmar. The country's name was Siam until June 24 1939. It was again called Siam between 1945 and May 11 1949, when it changed back to Thailand. The word Thai (ไทย) comes from the ethnic group in the centre of Thailand. The capital city is Bangkok. Thailand is the only country in Southeast Asia that was not ruled by Western countries as it served as a buffer zone between English and French colonies.
Thailand is a constitutional monarchy. It has a King as a head of state. The present king is Bhumibol Adulyadej. He has been the head of state for longer than other heads of state (kings) today.
Most of the people of Thailand (95%) follow the philosophy called Buddhism. However, a small number, mostly in the southern part of the country, follow the religion Islam. Other religions in Thailand are Christianity, Hinduism, and Sikhism. Now, some of the Muslims in the south have begun fighting the government of Thailand, because they want to be more independent (free of the control of another country).
Many people believe that the first Thai state was the Buddhist kingdom named Sukhothai founded in 1238. Sukhothai achieved independence from the kingdom of Cambodia.
A century later, a bigger Thai kingdom named Ayuthaya appeared in the South of Sukhothai. Later Sukhothai became a part of Ayuthaya. Ayuthaya existed for more than 400 years before its fall by the attack of a Burmese kingdom.
A Thai soldier of Chinese origin then founded a new capital city at Thonburi, and became King Tāksin. Thonburi was the capital for a short period.
The current era, Rattanakosin, started on the foundation of Bangkok as the capital city by King Rama I of Chakri Dynasty.
Before 1932, Thailand was an absolute monarchy, meaning the King had total power in the country. On June 24, 1932, a group of people staged a coup and changed Thailand to a constitutional monarchy. It was not until 1973 that Thai people voted for a Prime Minister in an election. There were coups both before and after this year.
On September 19, 2006, the army staged another coup d'état and took control from Thaksin Shinawatra's government.
Thailand is divided into 77 provinces (จังหวัด, changwat), which make up 5 groups of provinces. There are also 2 special governed districts: the capital Bangkok (Krung Thep Maha Nakhon) and Pattaya. The 77 provinces are as follows:
- Ang Thong
- Bangkok (Krung Thep Maha Nakhon), Special Governed District of
- Chai Nat
- Nakhon Nayok
- Nakhon Pathom
- Pathum Thani
- Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya
- Prachuap Khiri Khan
- Samut Prakan
- Samut Sakhon
- Samut Songkhram
- Sing Buri
- Suphan Buri
- Sa Kaeo
- Thailand (Siam) History, CSMngt-Thai.