Thailand History

Thailand History

Middle Ages to the 15th century

The Thai people immigrated from China to what is now Thailand in the 12th century. By this time, there had been various Buddhist (Dwarawati) and Hindu (Khmer) empires here. The Thais founded the Kingdom of Siam with Indratitya as the first ruler around 1238 in the former Khmer city of Sukhothai. Under King Rama Kamhaeng (1275-1317) the empire expanded many times over. In addition to the area of ​​today’s Thailand, the southeast of Myanmar and the north of Laos also belonged to the empire at the time. After the king’s death, the empire fell into several independent Thai states. Under Rama Thibodi I, a new large empire emerged with Ayutthaya (near today’s Bangkok) as the center (1350-1369).

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Modern times

In the 16th century, the Portuguese, who had settled on the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, followed by the Spaniards, the Dutch, the English and the French, first made contact with the King of Siam. However, the Europeans failed to colonize the Thai empire. After the magnificent capital of Siam, Ayutthaya, was completely destroyed by invading Burmese in 1767, a new center emerged after the conquerors were driven out: Thon Buri in the mouth of the Menam Chao Phraya. Rama I. Thibodi (formerly General Paya Chakri) founded the Chakri dynasty that still ruled in Thailand in 1782.

In the middle of the 19th century, the kingdom increasingly opened up to European influences, for example Great Britain was guaranteed free trade. Trade agreements have also been concluded with the United States and France. At around the same time, slave trade and serfdom were abolished, and the postal system and administration were built on the Western model. Siam was the only country in Southeast Asia to remain independent, but lost parts of its territory to French Indochina (now Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia) and the British. During the First World War, Siam sided with the European Western Powers and was one of the founding members of the League of Nations in 1920.

From the beginning of the 20th century until today

According to AbbreviationFinder, western ideas and the consequences of the global economic crisis at the beginning of the 1930s, which caused unrest among the population, led to the abdication of the ruling monarch Rama VII. Prajadipok (1935). Three years earlier, the military had transformed the absolute into a constitutional monarchy after a non-violent coup by the military. In 1939 the country was officially renamed Siam in Thailand (Prathet Thai, “Land of the Free”). At the end of the 1930s, the country terminated the contracts with the western powers with the declared aim of reversing the cession of territories from the past century. Anti-western and nationalist tendencies within the Pibul Songgram government led to an alliance with Japan and Nazi Germany in 1942.This alliance ended in 1944 with the overthrow of the military dictatorship and the formation of a new civil government. In 1946 Thailand became a member of the UN. A year later, a military government under Pibul Songgram took over as prime minister for 10 years. This time Pibul Songgram was pro-western oriented. Thailand tied itself more closely to the United States. Until 1973, Thanom Kittikachorn (1957/58, 1963-73) and Sarit Thanarat (1958-63) were two dictatorial heads of government: they imposed martial law on the country, banned political parties and overruled the constitution.The orientation towards the United States and its support in the fight against communist rebels in the north of the country meant that the United States was able to use Thailand as an air force base in the Vietnam War. In 1973, after political unrest in Bangkok, numerous political parties and a civilian government were founded, which was replaced by a military government just three years later. In the following years there were numerous further changes of government, which were only partly due to election results. The King Rama IX rarely attacked. Bhumipol Adulyadej (since 1946), such as 1992 when he emphatically ordered parliamentary elections.

From the early 1980s to the mid-1990s, the country experienced strong economic growth based mainly on exports. This changed from 1997 when the national currency, the baht, lost more than half its value and a severe economic crisis occurred. The problems of the economy resulted in frequent changes of government. In November 1997, the leader of the Democratic Party, Chuan Leekpai, became Prime Minister of Thailand. His government managed to stabilize the Thai currency.

In the parliamentary elections in January 2001, the billionaire and former minister Thaksin Shinawatra prevailed against Leekpai. Despite ongoing corruption proceedings and significant election irregularities, he was appointed new prime minister. Thaksin was confirmed in office in the 2005 elections, but allegations were made again of electoral fraud, populism and corruption. After the defeat of his party Thei Rak Thai (“Thais Dear Thais”, TRT) in the early elections in 2006, Thaksin did not withdraw from his office despite his promises and despite massive protests The leadership of Lieutenant General Sonthi Boonyaratkalin fell and went into exile. The TRT was banned

In October 2006, at the request of the so-called “National Security Council”, the king confirmed Surayud Chulanont as the new head of a transitional government. In August 2007, the people approved the new constitution put to the vote by the interim government with only a small majority. In the same month, the supporters of the overthrown former Prime Minister Thaksin founded the Phak Palang Prachachon (“People’s Power Party”, PPP) as a successor party to the banned TRT. The PPP emerged as the clear winner from the election for the House of Representatives in December 2007. Her boss Samak Sundaravej was elected Prime Minister in late January 2008. The “National Security Council” dissolved a few days earlier.In the Samak (coalition) government, the military-related Royalist People ‘ s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) was the only party to go into opposition. Thaksin’s supporters held numerous offices in the new government.

In the following months there were repeated protests against Samak, whom the monarchists called “Marionette Thaksins”. He was also accused of inactivity in combating price increases for food and energy. The situation finally escalated in late August after thousands of PAD supporters occupied the Prime Minister’s office and several ministries. There were serious street battles between government and opposition supporters. Samak, who refused all requests to resign, had to resign in September due to a part-time job as a television cook. The parliament elected Samak’s brother-in-law Somchai Wongsawat (PPP) to succeed him. As a result, the worst unrest in Thailand occurred in Bangkok in more than 15 years. At the end of November tens of thousands of opponents of the government surrounded the parliament and also drove the cabinet out of its provisional office; other demonstrators occupied Bangkok’s main airport. Eventually, the Constitutional Court ordered the PPP to be dismantled for election fraud, and Somchai had to resign. In December 2008, Parliament elected Abhisit Vejjajiva from the opposition PAD as his successor.

In early April 2009, the ASEAN summit in Pattaya, Thailand had to be canceled after hundreds of anti-government protesters of the “red shirts” (representatives of the “United Front for Democracy and Against Dictatorship”, UDD) stormed the venue. On April 7, the government temporarily declared a state of emergency. In spring 2010, the protests of the “red shirts” flared up again, occupying several streets in Bangkok. The so-called “red zone”, in which the UDD activists had entrenched themselves, was finally evacuated by the military. Around 90 people died in the riots and around 2,000 were injured. In May 2010, an arrest warrant was issued against Thaksin and eleven leaders of the demonstrators were sentenced to death.

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After the House of Representatives was dissolved by royal decree, a parliamentary election was held in July 2011. This won the party “Pheu Thai” (PTP) led by Yingluck Shinawatra, a sister of Thaksin Shinawatra. In the second half of 2011, the greatest flood disaster occurred in half a century, nearly 800 people lost their lives. After street demonstrations by the opposition from October 2013 and the resignation of the opposition MPs, Yingluck dissolved the parliament in December 2013. New elections were held in February 2014. However, since numerous electoral districts could not vote, these did not produce a new parliament. In January and February 2014, parts of Bangkok had already been blocked by the demonstrators.In early May, the Constitutional Court removed the prime minister and several cabinet members from her posts. On May 20, the commander-in-chief of the army, General Prayuth Chan-ocha, issued martial law. Two days later he launched a coup d’¨¦tat and placed the country under direct military rule.

In the southern provinces of Yala, Narathiwat, Pattani and Songkhla, Muslim separatists have continued to carry out attacks that have claimed more than 5,500 lives since 2004. Attempts by the various governments to reach an agreement have so far been unsuccessful.

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