Friday, March 6, 2009


The history of Thailand goes back to the year 1238 when two chieftains from the area now known as Cambodia where the Khmers ruled rebelled and formed the independent kingdom which was known as Siam until 1938. The kingdom of Siam was an absolute monarchy for hundreds of years except for a brief period in the 1700's when the country was conquered by neighboring Burmese peoples. The monarchy was reestablished, following the expulsion of the Burmese and lasted until 1932 when the government changed to a constitutional monarchy.

Gradually over the next several years, a more democratic government evolved, although the negative influence of the military meant frequent returns to military rule. The history of Thailand has included no less than 17 military coups in the years since 1932. When the U.S. and the Soviet Union were at a cold war stalemate, the role of Thailand was seen by the U.S. as being a democratic bulwark against the evils of encroaching Communism. Since the end of the Cold War, Thai has attempted to strengthen its role as an regional leader in an economically strong trading bloc of nations.

Following a coup in 1992, which removed power from Chatichai Choonhaven and returned the country to a democratic mode, which seems shaky at best, King Bhumibol has used his role as a semi-deity to calm and settle the tensions of his countrymen, but there have still been 4 elections and multiple coalition governments in the years between 1992 and 1997.

During the pivotal year in the history of Thailand of 1997, a new constitution was put in place which limited the power of the military. Elections were held under the new constitution in 2000 for the members of the Senate and in 2001 for the House of Representatives. The winner Thaksin Shinawatra, was later indicted for fraud and tax evasion. He managed to hold onto his seat and even won a 2nd election, but was overthrown in a bloodless and almost humorous coup in 2006.

In 2004, the Christmas tsunami literally washed much of the Thai tourist trade infrastructure into the sea. Thousands died or are still missing.

The economic history of Thailand has had a checkered past, It was mainly agricultural, but is moving more into manufacturing and service areas. Nevertheless, the agricultural products of sugar, maize, cassava, rubber and cotton are still significant export commodities and boost the healthy Thailand economy.

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