Published By: Rinks

History Of Thailand: Journey From The First Invasions To Democracy

Like most countries, the history of Thailand is adventurous. Read on to know some highlights from their history.

Thailand, in Southeast Asia, is a beautiful country known for its expansive beaches, beautiful temples, and lush countryside. About 1430 islands make up Thailand. Bangkok, the capital of Thailand, is a top tourist destination. Thailand's tourism industry contributes significantly to the country's Economy. So, how could Thailand get its start and develop into the well-known tourist hotspot that it is today? Let's go even deeper into Thailand's past.

Thai heritage

The ancestors of current Thais, according to historical accounts, were Tai speakers who settled south of the Yangtze River, in what is now Yunnan Province, China. Once the Thai-speaking Sukhothai Kingdom collapsed, the Ayutthaya Empire steadily established itself in Thailand and adopted the country under its protection. It rose to prominence in Southeast Asia & ruled over portions of Burma, Laos, and Cambodia around the turn of the 16th century. During his reign, King Rama IV modernized Siam by embracing Western discoveries and technology to spur economic growth. The employment with Western advisors and also the construction of a railway network were two ways in which King Chulalongkorn furthered this idea. During World War I, Siam joined the British side in 1917. In all of Asia, only Thailand has never been colonized by a European power.

The 1932 Uprising in Siam

The Siamese Revolution was a watershed moment in Thai history. The coup that changed the country from an absolute to a constitutional monarchy was relatively bloodless. It was in Paris when a Thai man named Pridi Phanomyong was impressed by the constitutional monarchy system, that the idea for this revolution was planted. He returned to Siam with the organization Khana Ratsadon, and they plotted to overthrow the king by recruiting powerful and prominent people. On June 24, 1932, they announced victory and arrested the princes within a couple of hours. While away from Bangkok, the monarch decided to surrender rather than risk a bloodbath. The new parliamentary constitutional monarchy has taken power. The first Prime Minister of Siam was the conservative barrister Phraya Manopakorn Nititada. He was chosen despite not being a member of any political party to dispel rumors that the Khana Ratsadon was behind the coup. Pridi Phanomyong's socialist economic policies, however, led to his exile in 1933 at the hands of the military generals.

Totalitarian Government

Phibul Songkhram, the dictator, governed the country fascistically. He hoped to witness Thai society modernize and develop its own identity. Changing the name of Siam to Thailand in 1939 was seen as a way to promote the Thai nationality and downplay the country's rich ethnic variety. To improve Thailand's standing, a set of regulations was enacted that, among other things, discouraged the use of languages besides Thai and also its regional variants, mandated reverence for the national flag, and encouraged the purchase of Thai goods. It was clear from his policies that he agreed with Hitler's philosophy.

Thailand's Struggle During World War Two

Initially neutral before World War II broke out, Thailand changed its stance after being pressured by the Japanese Empire to provide passage for Japanese forces on their route to attack Burma and Malaya, then ruled by the British.