Thailand Facts

Thailand Facts and History


Thailand – a breathtaking holiday destination

Thailand has become a classic travel destination with its countless islands and beaches, as well as its fantastic cuisine and very affordable prices. It offers both sophisticated hotel complexes and simple, inexpensive bamboo huts by the sea. Last but not least, the Asian-Buddhist hospitality is responsible for the fact that many travelers like to return to Thailand again and again. All over the country there are Buddhist temples (see also Buddhism) that are open to travelers.

Elephants are valuable farm animals in Thailand. They live to be around 30 to 40 years old and have to undergo years of tough training before they can do their job. Good working elephants are correspondingly expensive. In Thailand there are still “elephant schools” that provide training.

Thailand is scenically varied. The north at the foot of the Himalayas is a rugged mountain region that is inhabited by different hill tribes. The middle of the country, on the other hand, is flat and fertile. Rice and vegetables are grown here. Unfortunately, another face of Thailand is international prostitution and child prostitution. The cultivation of opium for the illegal drug trade is also still booming in the so-called “Golden Triangle” in the north of the country on the border with Laos and Myanmar.

Name of the country Kingdom of Thaila
Form of government Constitutional monarchy
Geographical location Southeast Asia on the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Thaila
National anthem Phleng chat
Population approximately 69.5 million (Credit: Countryaah: Thailand Population)
Ethnicities 75% Thais, 14% Chinese and hill tribes, Khmer, Laotians, Malays, Moken, Indians and whites
Religions 94% Buddhists, 4% Muslims, the rest mostly Hindus and Christians
Languages The official language is Thai.
Capital Bangkok with approx. 12 million residents (metropolitan area)
Surface 513,115 km²
Highest mountain Doi Inthanon, with a height of 2,576 m
Longest river The border river Mekong, with a total length of 4,330 km
Largest lake in area Khao Leam Lake
Largest island in area Phuket, with an area of 543 km²
National currency Baht (THB) = 100 satang
Time difference to CET + 6 h
International phone code 0066
Mains voltage, frequency 220 volts and 50 hertz
Internet TLD (Top Level Domain) .
International license plate THA

Thailand: history

Until 1300

Around 10,000 BC BC people first settled on the Mekong and in the Khorat plain. The oldest known bronze culture in the world lived around 3,000 BC. in Ban Chiang. In the second half of the 1st millennium AD, two cultures ruled in the region of today’s Thailand: In central Thailand, the Buddhist kingdom Dvaravati (see also Buddhism) established by the Mon around the capital Lop Buri and the Khmer empire of Angkor had advanced into what is now Cambodia and brought elements of Hinduism into the country. In northern Thailand there was a settlement by tribes of the Thai, who settled from the 11th/ 12th. Century mixed with the Mon. The Khmer called the Thais Siam – hence the original name of Thailand “Siam”.

According to Abbreviationfinder website, in the 13th century the Thai and the Mon ended the supremacy of the kings of Angkor and founded the first Thai empire, the empire of Sukothai (“Origin of Bliss”) under King Sri Indraditya (around 1240 to 1270). Under King Ramkhamhaeng (around 1279 – 1298) Sukothai became the center of power in the Menam Basin. His sphere of influence ranged from Luang Prabang in the north to Nakhon Si Thammarat on the Malay Peninsula in the south. To the north of Sukothai the kingdom of Lan Na was established under King Mangrai (1259-1317). He conquered the Haripunjaya monarchy in 1281 and moved to the newly built capital Chiang Mai in 1296.

1300 to 1800

There were disputes about supremacy among the Thai principalities south of Sukothai, from which Prince Uthon Thong emerged victorious in the middle of the 14th century. He founded the city of Ayutthaya and established the kingdom of Ayutthaya under his leadership (King Ramathibodi I). The location of the city of Ayutthaya was strategically well chosen: It was surrounded by rice fields with access to the sea and thus to trade routes. It developed accordingly quickly. King Ramathibodi I conquered Sukothai and Cambodia. Long fighting with Burma soon ensued. Ayutthaya was defeated in 1569 and became a vassal state of Burma. Only King Naresuan (1590-1605) restored the empire’s independence.

In 1686, a treaty allowed France to set up temporary trading posts, missionary work for priests and the stationing of troops in the capital, Ayutthaya. In 1767, however, Ayutthaya was conquered and destroyed by the Burmese King Alaungpaya. King Taksin (1767-82) expelled the Burmese and conquered the Khmer territories. His successor was King Rama I (1782-1809). He ascended the throne as the founder of the Chakri dynasty, which is still ruling today, and founded the new capital Bangkok.

1800 to 1900

From now on the country began to open up to major European powers and the USA. A successful foreign and trade policy made Thailand the only country in Southeast Asia to remain independent of colonialism. In 1855 there was a friendship agreement with Great Britain, in 1856 a trade agreement with the USA and France. Nevertheless, under pressure from France and Great Britain, Thailand had to cede territories to Laos and Cambodia at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century. King Rama V modernized all areas of public life: he introduced a western-oriented school, tax and judicial system, abolished slavery and forced labor and began building roads and railways.

From 1900

At the beginning of the 20th century, dissatisfaction with the absolutist system of government grew among Thai officers and officials. In 1930 the so-called People’s Party was founded under the leadership of Luang Pridi Banomjong (1900-1983). He initiated a coup d’état in June 1932, as a result of which King Rama VII had to proclaim a new constitution on December 10, 1932. Siam became a constitutional monarchy with a unicameral system, half of which were appointed by the king and half of which were elected through two-tier suffrage.

General Pibul Songkhram (1887-1964) became Prime Minister in 1938 and established a military dictatorship. In 1939 he renamed Siam in Thailand, with the idea of declaring the Siamese state’s claim to rule over all Thais living in neighboring countries. During the Second World War, Thailand was an ally of Japan. In 1942, Thailand declared war on the United States and Britain. A resistance movement against Pibul Songkhram formed in the country, so that he had to resign in 1944.

After the Second World War, a new constitution came into force on April 30, 1946. King Bhumibol Adulyadej, Rama IX. (1927-2016), took the throne in 1949. There were repeated unrest in the country, fueled by Pibul Songkhram, who in the meantime established a new military dictatorship from 1947 to 1951. In 1957 he was overthrown for good. In the years that followed, there was constant change between an authoritarian-dictatorial style of leadership and parliamentary-democratic structures.

Social tensions also gradually worsened. Against this background, a guerrilla movement, supported by Vietnamese and Laotian communists, developed in the 1960s, especially in northeastern Thailand, which the Thai government fought with the help of the USA. In return, Thailand took part in the Vietnam War as a member of SEATO (see also Vietnam).

Since 1992 Thailand has been establishing itself as a democratic state. In 1997 a democratic constitution was adopted. however, this democratization process was interrupted when the military took power in the country in September 2006 with the support of the king. The elected Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra (born 1949), who ruled the country since February 2001, had to go into exile. In the elections in December 2007, however, the newly founded “Party of People’s Power” (PPP) clearly won the elections. She won 230 of the 480 seats in parliament. The PPP is considered a Thaksin-affiliated political grouping. The chairman of the PPP Samak Sundaravej (born 1935) announced after his election victory that he wanted to form a government under his leadership. In January 2008 – around 16 months after the military coup – he was elected the country’s new head of government by 310 to 163 (with some abstentions). On September 9, 2008, the Constitutional Court ruled that Samak had violated the constitution by working as a cook on a television show. Due to the judgment, Samak was deposed shortly thereafter. He was succeeded by Sonchai Wongsawat (born 1947).

The political crisis since 2008

After the election of Sonchai Wongsawat, the protests continued on the part of the government opponents. On October 7th, some protesters occupied the parliament building. The police cracked down on; two people died and 400 were injured. Furthermore, on November 20, 2008, an opposition member was killed as a result of an attack in front of the parliament building. On November 25th and November 27th, 2008, demonstrators occupied two airports in Bangkok, so that all air traffic came to a standstill. On December 2, there was a bomb attack on the Don Mueang regional airport, in which one person died and around 20 people were injured. Now the Constitutional Court – probably with the silent approval of the king – removed the government and banned its party PPP on the grounds that the elections had been fraudulent. In addition, Prime Minister Sonchai Wongsawat and 30 other high-ranking party members were banned from holding office in government for five years. The interim Prime Minister Chaovarat Chanweerakul was succeeded on December 15, 2008 by the opposition politician Abhisit Vejjajiva. Abhisit Vejjajiva declared a state of emergency at the beginning of April 2009 when several hundred protesters critical of the government blocked the ASEAN summit in Pattaya. These unrest now flared up in Bangkok, where street fights with police and military broke out. The sad result was two deaths. December 2008 the opposition politician Abhisit Vejjajiva after. Abhisit Vejjajiva declared a state of emergency in early April 2009 when several hundred protesters critical of the government blocked the ASEAN summit in Pattaya. These unrest now flared up in Bangkok, where street fights with police and military broke out. The sad result was two deaths. December 2008 the opposition politician Abhisit Vejjajiva after. Abhisit Vejjajiva declared a state of emergency at the beginning of April 2009 when several hundred protesters critical of the government blocked the ASEAN summit in Pattaya. These unrest now flared up in Bangkok, where street fights with police and military broke out. The sad result was two deaths.

In March 2010 protests flared up again by the so-called “red shirts” (National United Front of Democracy Against Dictatorship – UDD). These Protestants are mostly made up of people from poorer rural regions who profess their support for the former head of government Thaksin Shinawatra and Abhisit Vejjajiva’s resignation because he was not legitimately elected. During the protests in March, protesters broke into the parliamentary grounds, prompting Abhisit to declare a state of emergency again in Bangkok. The actions of the security forces against the demonstrators resulted in deaths and injuries. But at the beginning of May, Abhisit Vejjajiva – forced by the ongoing protest – agreed to have early elections in mid-November 2010. His conditions were accepted by the opposition.

But the so-called “red shirts” called for the protests to be followed up and blocked Bangkok’s business district. Major General Seh Daeng, the leader of the protest movement, was shot dead during further escalations (since May 12, 2010), resulting in an open battle between government opponents and the military. Several people were killed in the process, especially as the government deliberately relied on snipers. After the army advanced further, the leaders of the government opponents gave up and surrendered to the police.

Nevertheless, some militant “red shirt” groups continued to protest and set fire to several buildings in downtown Bangkok. King Bhumibol passed away on October 13, 2016.

On May 4, 2019, Maha Vajiralongkorn (born 1952) was officially crowned as Rama X as the 10th king of the Chakri dynasty, which had ruled since 1782. The coronation ceremony was a multi-day event. The climax of the Zeronomy was the moment when he had put on the 7.3 kg golden crown. However, after the death of his father Bhumibol Adulyadej (1927-2016), the king had ruled since October 13, 2016. The Chakri dynasty was governed by the general Phraya Chakri (1737-1809), known as Phra Phutthayotfa Chulalok – Rama I. den Ascended the throne had been established.

Thailand Facts