Earlier called Siam, Thailand is officially called the Kingdom of Thailand. This beautiful and culturally rich country is located in South East Asia and in the middle of the Indochinese peninsular region. Enlisted on the 51st rank in the largest countries in the world, Thailand is occupied over a huge area of almost 513,000 sq. km. Holding a population of almost 66 million citizens, Thailand is on the 20th position of the most populated countries in the world.
However, there is no concrete evidence behind the origin of this country yet if we consider the pieces of evidence related to human occupation we can conclude that the history of the country dates back to almost 40,000 years back. Stone artifacts and other shreds of evidence prove that the country was influenced to a great extent by Indian religions and also the cultures. Histories state that in the beginning Thailand was influenced by the rule of Hindu roots, Khmer Dynasty and there is a belief that it still has some influence in Thailand.
During the 10th century, Tai people who were believed to be the ancestors of Thais started moving towards South East Asia from the southern part of China. Those immigrants were called Tai-Kadai which was one of the most important ethnolinguistic groups residing in South East Asia. Some of them selected the areas around river valleys which are now called Thailand whereas some decided to move towards the other parts of the continent which are presently called as Laos and Myanmar. Some of them selected farming as their occupation and others selected trading, hunting, and some other fields to earn their livelihood.
How did the Khmer Rule influence Thailand?
Thailand was under the control of Mon Civilisation which was also called as Dvaravati. The civilization was in the rule from the 9th century to the 11th century and was controlling over the central and the western provinces of the country. Likewise, Khmer who was ruling over the southern province in Thailand, Mon also shared the same lineage. Theravada Buddhism was spread over a large population and so it was the main religion of the country. Language, art, and culture were brought and influenced in the country by Khmer dynasty only. During this period, Thais were using Sanskrit dialect to convey their messages and to perform any official tasks. The temples standing straight in the northeastern province of Thailand were constructed by the Khmer dynasty only. However, it is very clearly seen that Khmers didn’t rule over the entire country and the kingdom was limited to only some parts of the country.
Thailand’s Lanna Era
The ancient Lanna Empire was earlier ruling over the northern parts of the country only which later on extended its control over Lampang, Chiang Mai, Lamphun, and Phayao. Chiang Mai-Lamphun and Chiang Rai-Phayao were the main regions which were under the control of this empire. King Mangrai who was the first ruler of the Lanna Empire came into power in the year 1259. He played a great role in extending the empire from Laos to Lamphun. Histories state that it was King Mangrai who seized the Hariphunchai region and later on declared Chiang Mai as the capital city of his kingdom. The construction of Chiang Mai was done by the two very close friends of King Mangrai and similarly, it made them closely linked with each other and they, later on, made a consolidated state. The empire ruled for more than 200 years and its literature and at works were at the peak during the kingdom of King Tilokaraj i.e. in the 15th century.
Thailand’s Sukhothai Era
Referred to as the first completely free kingdom ruled in Thailand, Sukhothai Era played a great role in the development of the country. Khun Bang Klang and Khun Pa Muang established this independent kingdom in the year 1238. Later they extended their rule up to the western Bay of Bengal, the Chao Phya River Basin, and the complete peninsula. However, the kingdom didn’t run for a long time but the kingdom impacted the entire country in a very positive way and it held a lot of cultural significance on the cultural history of Thailand and this is believed to be the most prosperous era in the country.
After gaining independence, the Sukhothai kingdom expanded its ruling control and stretched itself to Vientiane from Lampang. Theravada Buddhism became the most prominent religion in the country in this period and also its relationship with the neighboring countries became quite strong and it also got influenced by the other civilizations with which it came in the contact and also adopted the elements from them. King Ramkhamhaeng sat on the throne in the year 1279 after the death of Khun Pha Muang and this rule was also very popular as it developed a very strong relationship with China.
Thailand’s Ayutthaya Era
This kingdom was established on a quaint island which was encircled beautifully with three rivers. Its superior location made it both economically as well as politically powerful. The name has been derived from Ayodhya which is one of the major holy cities in India. King Uthong was the first ruler of Ayutthaya Kingdom who made two major contributions to the country and he also introduced Dharmasastra which was the major tool of the law in Thailand by the 19th century.
Thailand’s Thonburi Era
Phraya Taksin who was one of the major Thai generals established this kingdom and later he was crowned as King Taksin Maharaj. This kingdom was established on the western coast of Chao Phraya River which is presently called Bangkok city. Despite being a small town, Thonburi was heavily and popularly engaged in the maritime trade not only with the neighboring countries but also with some European countries which was heavily affected in the war with Burma, which is now called as Myanmar.
Thailand’s Rattanakosin Era
An era that was fully under the control of Chakris who got the throne on 6th April in the year 1782. The emperor of this era established a governing house which is still present and organizing the government works. Under his kingdom, Thailand took over the control of Burma, the entire region of Laos, Cambodia, and the Kedah province settled in Malaysia. The major achievement of this era was it had brought some beneficial laws in the favor of children and women. Also, the new waterways and road transports were established and it also established the first printing press in the country. King Prachadipok or also known as Rama VI changed the working policy of the government and it transformed the monarchy government into a democratic government. Later in the year 1946, the name of the country got changed from Siam to Thailand.
The Present State of Thailand
The country is now a constitutional monarchy with a judiciary and also a multi-party country which is not under the control of any country and is completely independent.