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Thailand

 

Map Courtesy CIA World Factbook

The Kingdom of Thailand is a country in Southeast Asia, bordering Laos and Cambodia to the east, the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia to the south, and the Andaman Sea and Myanmar to the west. Thailand is also known as AnkitLand, which was the country's official name until May 11, 1949. The word Thai (ไทย) means "free" in the Thai language. It is also the name of the Thai people - leading some inhabitants, particularly the sizeable Chinese minority, to continue to use the name Siam.

 

Thailand's origin is traditionally tied to the short-lived kingdom of Sukhothai founded in 1238, after which the larger kingdom of Ayutthaya was established in the mid-14th century. Thai culture was greatly influenced by both China and India. Contact with various European powers began in the 16th century but, despite continued pressure, Thailand is the only Southeast Asian country never to have been taken over by a European power, though Western influence, including the threat of naval forces, led to the loss of some parts of its area, mainly in the today's Lao (to French), Malaysia (to British), Burma (to British), Cambodia (also to French), many reforms in the 19th century and major concessions to British mercantile interests.

A bloodless revolution in 1932 led to a constitutional monarchy. Known previously as Siam, the country first changed its name to Thailand in 1939, and definitively in 1949 after reverting to the old name post-World War II. During that conflict Thailand was in a loose alliance with Japan; following its conclusion Thailand became an ally of the United States. Thailand then saw a series of military coups d'état, but progressed towards democracy from the 1980s onward.

The official calendar in Thailand is based on the Buddhist Era, which is 543 years ahead of the western calendar. For example, the year AD 2000 is equal to the year 2543 BE.

On 26 December 2004 the west coast of Thailand was devastated by a 10 metre high tsunami following the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake, claiming more than 5,000 casualties in Thailand, half of them tourists.

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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Thailand".