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Thailand (Thai: ประเทศไทย) (English: /ˈtlænd/ ), officially the Kingdom of Thailand and formerly known as Siam (Thai: สยาม), is a country at the center of the Southeast Asian Indochinese peninsula composed of 76 provinces. At and over 68 million people, Thailand is the world's 50th largest country by total area and the 21st-most-populous country. The capital and largest city is Bangkok, a special administrative area. Thailand is bordered to the north by Myanmar and Laos, to the east by Laos and Cambodia, to the south by the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia, and to the west by the Andaman Sea and the southern extremity of Myanmar. Its maritime boundaries include Vietnam in the Gulf of Thailand to the southeast, and Indonesia and India on the Andaman Sea to the southwest. Although nominally a constitutional monarchy and parliamentary democracy, the most recent coup in 2014 established a de facto military dictatorship. Tai peoples migrated from southwestern China to mainland Southeast Asia from the 11th century; the oldest known mention of their presence in the region by the exonym Siamese dates to the 12th century. Various Indianised kingdoms such as the Mon, the Khmer Empire and Malay states ruled the region, competing with Thai states such as Ngoenyang, the Sukhothai Kingdom, Lan Na and the Ayutthaya Kingdom, which rivaled each other. European contact began in 1511 with a Portuguese diplomatic mission to Ayutthaya, one of the great powers in the region. Ayutthaya reached its peak during cosmopolitan Narai's reign (1656–88), gradually declining thereafter until being ultimately destroyed in 1767 in a war with Burma. Taksin quickly reunified the fragmented territory and established the short-lived Thonburi Kingdom. He was succeeded in 1782 by Buddha Yodfa Chulaloke, the first monarch of the Chakri dynasty and founder of the Rattanakosin Kingdom, which lasted into the early 20th century.

Through the 18th and 19th centuries, Siam faced pressure from France and the United Kingdom, including forced concessions of territory, but nevertheless it remained the only Southeast Asian country to avoid direct Western rule. Following a bloodless revolution in 1932, Siam became a constitutional monarchy and changed its official name to "Thailand". While it joined the Allies in World War I, Thailand was an Axis satellite in World War II. In the late 1950s, a military coup revived the monarchy's historically influential role in politics. Thailand became a major ally of the United States and played a key anti-communist role in the region. Apart from a brief period of parliamentary democracy in the mid 1970s, Thailand has periodically alternated between democracy and military rule. In the 21st century, Thailand endured a political crisis that culminated in two coups and the establishment of its current and 20th constitution by the military junta.

Thailand is a unitary parliamentary constitutional monarchy under a military junta. Thailand is a founding member of Association of Southeast Asian Nations and remains a major ally of the US. Despite its comparatively sporadic changes in leadership, it is considered a regional power in Southeast Asia and a middle power in global affairs. With a high level of human development, the second largest economy in Southeast Asia, and the 20th largest by PPP, Thailand is classified as a newly industrialized economy; manufacturing, agriculture, and tourism are leading sectors of the economy.

Etymology

Thailand (English: /ˈtlænd/ or English: /ˈtlənd/ ; Thai: [[:wikt:ประเทศไทย, , Thai: [pratʰêːt tʰaj]), officially the Kingdom of Thailand (Thai: [[:wikt:ราชอาณาจักรไทย, Thai: [râːtt͡ɕʰaʔaːnaːt͡ɕàk tʰaj], Chinese: 泰国), formerly known as Siam (Thai: [[:wikt:สยาม, Thai: [sajǎːm]), is a country at the centre of the Indochinese peninsula in Southeast Asia.

Etymology of "Siam"

The country has always been called Mueang Thai by its citizens. By outsiders prior to 1949, it was usually known by the exonym Siam (Thai: linktext , Thai: [sajǎːm], also spelled Siem, Syâm, or Syâma). The word Siam may have originated from Pali (suvaṇṇabhūmi, “land of gold”) or Sanskrit श्याम (śyāma, “dark”) or Mon ရာမည(rhmañña, “stranger”). The names Shan and A-hom seem to be variants of the same word. The word Śyâma is possibly not its origin, but a learned and artificial distortion. Another theory is the name derives from Chinese: "Ayutthaya emerged as a dominant centre in the late fourteenth century. The Chinese called this region Xian, which the Portuguese converted into Siam." (Baker and Phongpaichit, A History of Thailand, 8) A further possibility is that Mon-speaking peoples migrating south called themselves 'syem' as do the autochthonous Mon-Khmer-speaking inhabitants of the Malay Peninsula.

The signature of King Mongkut (r. 1851–1868) reads SPPM (Somdet Phra Poramenthra Maha) Mongkut King of the Siamese, giving the name "Siam" official status until 24 June 1939 when it was changed to Thailand. Thailand was renamed to Siam from 1946 to 1948, after which it again reverted to Thailand.

Etymology of "Thailand"

According to George Cœdès, the word Thai () means "free man" in the Thai language, "differentiating the Thai from the natives encompassed in Thai society as serfs". A famous Thai scholar argued that Thai () simply means "people" or "human being", since his investigation shows that in some rural areas the word "Thai" was used instead of the usual Thai word "khon" () for people. According to Michel Ferlus, the ethnonyms Thai/Tai (or Thay/Tay) would have evolved from the etymon *k(ə)ri: 'human being' through the following chain: *kəri: > *kəli: > *kədi:/*kədaj > *di:/*daj > *dajA (Proto-Southwestern Tai) > tʰajA2 (in Siamese and Lao) or > tajA2 (in the other Southwestern and Central Tai languages classified by Li Fangkuei). Michel Ferlus' work is based on some simple rules of phonetic change observable in the Sinosphere and studied for the most part by William H. Baxter (1992).

While Thai people will often refer to their country using the polite form prathet Thai (Thai: ประเทศไทย), they most commonly use the more colloquial term mueang Thai (Thai: เมืองไทย) or simply Thai; the word mueang, archaically referring to a city-state, is commonly used to refer to a city or town as the centre of a region. Ratcha Anachak Thai (Thai: ราชอาณาจักรไทย) means "kingdom of Thailand" or "kingdom of Thai". Etymologically, its components are: ratcha (Sanskrit: राजन्, rājan, "king, royal, realm") ; -ana- (Pali āṇā "authority, command, power", itself from the Sanskrit , ājñā, of the same meaning) -chak (from Sanskrit cakra- "wheel", a symbol of power and rule). The Thai National Anthem (Thai: เพลงชาติ), written by Luang Saranupraphan during the extremely patriotic 1930s, refers to the Thai nation as prathet Thai (Thai: ประเทศไทย). The first line of the national anthem is: prathet thai ruam lueat nuea chat chuea thai (Thai: ประเทศไทยรวมเลือดเนื้อชาติเชื้อไทย), "Thailand is the unity of Thai flesh and blood."

History

Prehistory

There is evidence of continued human habitation in present-day Thailand dated to 20,000 years before present. Earliest evidence of rice growing was dated 2,000 BCE. Bronze appeared during 1,250–1,000 BCE. The site of Ban Chiang in Northeast Thailand currently ranks as the earliest known center of copper and bronze production in Southeast Asia. Iron appeared around 500 BCE. Kingdom of Funan was the first and most powerful South East Asian kingdom at the time (2nd century BCE). Mon people established principalities of Dvaravati and kingdom of Hariphunchai in the 6th century. Khmer people established Khmer empire centered in Angkor in the 9th century. Tambralinga, a Malay state controlling trade through Malacca Strait, rose in the 10th century. Indochina peninsula was heavily influenced by the culture and religions of India, starting with the Kingdom of Funan to the Khmer Empire.

Thai people are in Tai ethnic group, which were characterized by common linguistic roots. Chines…

Text taken from Wikipedia - Thailand under the CC-BY-SA-3.0 on December 18, 2018

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