The Kingdom of Thailand has a rich and unique history dating back to the early 1200s. Centuries of rule by absolute monarchies, invasions by the Burmese Kingdom, endeavours to fend off European colonialism and internal revolutions demanding greater freedom have all amalgamated to offer the country of Thailand, formerly known as Siam, an eclectic foundation on which modern Thai society has been built.
For four centuries Thailand was ruled by the Ayutthaya Kingdom. The capital city of Ayutthaya was described to be one of the wealthiest and most cosmopolitan cities in the world during the 17th century, gradually turning into a thriving international trade emporium. After the Ayutthaya Kingdom was overthrown by Burmese forces, Thailand came to be ruled by the Thon Buri Kingdom, but it was the reign of the Chakri Kings that moulded modernist ideals in Thai society. Over their decades-long rule the Chakri kings propagated aspects of western culture, appointing western advisors, mandating education for all, and modernising notions of acceptable dress code.
Thailand also came to be the only South East Asian country to not have been colonised by European powers. The rulers of Thailand were able to leverage Thailand’s location and its importance as a trade hub in negotiating terms that would keep Thailand sovereign. Increased interaction with the world started to influence Thai society and in 1932, after centuries of absolute monarchical rule, an internal revolution lead by western educated college students succeeded in changing Thailand into a constitutional monarchy. This paved the way for democracy but didn’t take away any of the respect or reverence that kings in Thailand have historically received, and this way of life has continued in Thailand to this day.
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