Thailand, land of free, formerly known as Siam which is the only country in Southeast Asia never to have been colony.
Before human beings roamed the northeastern plateau, the region was once home of dinosaur. In 1984, fossils from a plant-eating dinosaur were found in Phu Wiang district, Khon Kean, and was named Phuwianggosaurus Sirindhornae, while a more recent fossil discovery unearthed the Siamotyrannus Isanensis, a fierce meat-eating ancestor of the infamous Tyrannosaurus rex (T-rex).
The most important archaeological discoveries confirming the ancient people were made in the tiny village of Ban Chiang near Udon Thani province, northeast of Thailand. Settlement began about 5,600 years ago. Painted pottery, jewelry, bronze and iron tools were found there. And others of historical sites including cave paintings were found around Thailand.
Over the centuries, the area was influenced by various cultures, from the Indians in the 3rd century, the Mons between the 6th to the 11th centuries, and the Khmers who built the wondrous Angkor Wat and who also left their legacy in the form of numerous stone sanctuaries scattered across the Thai kingdom. By the early 1200s, Thai had established small northern city, states in Lanna, Phayao and Sukhothai. In 1238, two Thai chieftains rebelled against Khmer suzerainty and established the first truly independent Thai kingdom in Sukhothai.
The Sukhothai Era (1238 – 1438)
“The first Thai kingdom”, Sukhothai, has been established in 1238. By the 13th century, the Thais has begun to emerge as a dominant force in the region, slowly absorbing the weakened empires of the Mons and Khmers. The Sukhothai period developed a distinctive civilization with there own administrative institution, arts, Buddha images and architecture. The Thai scrip was invented in the reign of King Ramkamhaeng the great. Sukhothai lost its 140-years old independence and become a vassal of the kingdom of Ayutthaya until its was annexed by Ayutthaya in 1438.
The Ayutthaya Era
(1350 – 1767) The founder of Ayutthaya as the capital of the Thai Kingdom in 1350 was King U-Thong. The Ayuthaya kings adopted Khmer cultural influences from the very beginning. No longer the paternal and accessible rules that the kings of Sukhothai have been, Ayutthaya’s sovereigns were absolute monarchs whose position was the god-king. The 16th century was marked by first arrival of Europeans especially in the reign of King Narai the great. In 1569, Ayutthaya first fell to Burmese forces that thoroughly sacked and plundered the city. The Siamese kingdom, however, was reconsolidated by King Naresuan the Great. In 1767, Burmese invaded Ayuthaya, the city including Thai civilization were completely destroyed.
The Thonburi Era (1767- 1782)
After Ayutthaya was conpletely destroyed and could not renovated, Chao Phraya(Genneral) Taksin decided to transfer the capital from Ayutthaya to Thonburi, the west side of Chaophaya River, and he became the only one king in the Thonburi Era.
The Rattanakosin Era (1782- present)
Chao Phraya Chakri became the first king of Chakri dynasty (King Rama I) after the reign of King Taksin.
King Rama I decided to transfer his administrative headquarters across the Chaophaya River from Thonburi to Bangkok. The Grand Palace and Royal Temple, where revered The Emerald Buddha was installed, were built according to pattern of old palace at Ayutthaya.
King Mongkut (Rama IV) who reigned between 1851-1868, and his son King Chulalongkorn (Rama V, 1868-1910) saved Thailand from western colonization through adroit diplomacy and selective modernization.
King Rama IX is the present Thailand’s king. “We will reign with righteousness, for the benefit and happiness of the Siamese people”, was the coronation pledge of King Bhumibol Adulyadej. His Majesty’ s actions since then have thoroughly reflected those worlds and have always been directed towards increasing the welfare and prosperity of the Thai nation.
Thailand is a constitutional monarchy. Since 1932, Thai kings, including the present monarch, H.M. King Bhumibol Adulyadej (Rama IX), have exercised legislative powers through a national assembly, executive powers through a cabinet headed by a prime minister, and judicial powers through the law courts.