Tuesday, September 13, 2005

History of Thailand

History of Thailand. This is a good short essay on the history of the Asian nation of Thailand.

Wikipedia notes, "The Kingdom of Thailand is a country in Southeast Asia, bordering Laos and Cambodia to the east, the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia to the south, and the Andaman Sea and Myanmar to the west. Thailand is also known as Siam, which was the country's official name until May 11, 1949. The word Thai (ไทย) means "freedom" in the Thai language. It is also the name of the Thai people - leading some inhabitants, particularly the sizeable Chinese minority, to continue to use the name Siam."

From the site:

Southeast Asia has been inhabited for more than half a million years. Recent archaeological studies suggest that by 4000 BC, communities in what is now Thailand had emerged as centers of early bronze metallurgy. This development, along with the cultivation of wet rice, provided the impetus for social and political organization. Research suggests that these innovations may actually have been transmitted from there to the rest of Asia, including to China.

The Thai are related linguistically to Tai groups originating in southern China. Migrations from southern China to Southeast Asia may have occurred in the 6th and 7th centuries. Malay, Mon, and Khmer civilizations flourished in the region prior to the arrival of the ethnic Tai.

Thais date the founding of their nation to the 13th century. According to tradition, in 1238, Thai chieftains overthrew their Khmer overlords at Sukhothai and established a Thai kingdom. After its decline, a new Thai kingdom emerged in 1350 on the Chao Praya River. At the same time, there was an equally important Tai kingdom of Lanna, centered in Chiang Mai, which rivaled Sukothai and Ayutthaya for centuries, and which defines northern Thai identity to this day.

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