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A BRIEF HISTORY OF THAILAND - FACTS & FIGURES
Thailand, formally the Kingdom of Thailand, is a country in Southeast Asia. To its east lie Laos and Cambodia; to its south, the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia; and to its west, the Andaman Sea and Myanmar. Its capital and largest city is Bangkok.. The country's official name was Siam Sayam origin unknown) until June 24, 1939.It was again called Siam between 1945 and May 11, 1949, when it was once more changed by official proclamation. The word Thai is derived from the word Thai meaning "freedom" in the Thai language and is also the name of the majority ethnic group . The region known today as Thailand has been inhabited by human beings since the paleolithic period (about 500,000 - 10,000 years ago). Due to its geographical location, Thai culture has always been greatly influenced by India and China as well as the neighboring cultures of Southeast Asia. However, the first Thai or Siamese state is traditionally considered to be the Buddhist kingdom of Sukhothai, which was founded in 1238, followed by the decline and fall of the Khmer empire in the 13th - 15th century AD.. A century later, Sukhothai's power was overshadowed by the larger Siamese kingdom of Ayutthaya, established in the mid-14th century. After the sack of Angkor by the Siamese armies in 1431, much of the Khmer court and its Hindu customs were brought to Ayuthaya, and Khmer customs and rituals were adopted into the courtly culture of Siam. After Ayuthaya fell in 1767 to the Burmese, Thonburi was the capital of Thailand for a brief period under King Taksin the Great. The current (Ratthanakosin) era of Thai history began in 1782 following the establishment of Bangkok as capital of the Chakri dynasty under King Rama I the Great.. European powers began travelling to Thailand in the 16th century. Despite European pressure, Thailand is the only Southeast Asian country never to have been colonised by a European country. The two main reasons for this is that Thailand had a long succession of very able rulers in the 1800s and that it was able to exploit the rivalry and tension between the French and the British. As a result, the country remained as a buffer state between parts of Southeast Asia that were colonised by the two European colonial powers. Despite this, Western influence led to many reforms in the 19th century and major concessions to British trading interests. This included the loss of the three predominantly ethnic Malay southern provinces, which later became Malaysia's three northern states. However, another ethnic Malay province named Pattani, now subdivided further into four smaller districts, has remained as Siamese territory to this day. In 1932, a bloodless revolution resulted in a new constitutional monarchy. During the war, Thailand was allied with Japan. Yet after the war, it became an ally of the United States. Thailand then went through a series of coups d'état, but eventually progressed towards democracy in the 1980s. In 1997, Thailand was hit with the Asian financial crisis and the Thai baht for a short time peaked at 56 baht to the U.S. dollar compared to about 25 baht to the dollar before 1997. Since then the baht has regained most of its strength and as of May 23, 2007, is valued at 33 baht to the US dollar. The official calendar in Thailand is based on Eastern version of the Buddhist Era, which is 543 years ahead of the Gregorian (western) calendar. For example, the year AD 2007 is called 2550 BE in Thailand. The 1997 Constitution was the first constitution to be drafted by popularly-elected Constitutional Drafting Assembly, and was popularly called the "People's Constitution". The 1997 Constitution created a bicameral legislature consisting of a 500-seat House of Representatives (sapha phutan ratsadon) and a 200-seat Senate (wuthisapha). For the first time in Thai history, both houses were directly elected. Many human rights are explicitly acknowledged, and measures were established to increase the stability of elected governments. The House was elected by the first-past-the-post system, where only one candidate with a simple majority could be elected in one constituency. The Senate was elected based on the province system, where one province can return more than one Senator depending on its population size. Members of the House of Representatives served four-year terms, while Senators served six-year terms. The court system (saan) included a constitutional court with jurisdiction over the constitutionality of parliamentary acts, royal decrees, and political matters. The January 2001 general election, the first elections under the 1997 Constitution, were called the most open, corruption-free election in Thai history.The subsequent government was the first in Thai history to complete a 4-year term. The 2005 election had the highest voter turnout in Thai history and was noted for a marked reduction in vote-buying compared to previous elections. In early 2006, significant pressure from corruption allegations led Thaksin Shinawatra to call for a snap election. The opposition boycotted the elections and Thaksin was re-elected. Pressure continued to build, leading to a military coup on 19 September 2006. 2006 Thai coup d'état . A military junta overthrew the elected government of Thaksin Shinawatra on 19 September 2006. The junta abrogated the constitution, dissolved Parliament and the Constitutional Court, detained and later removed several members of the government, declared martial law, and appointed one of the King's Privy Councillors, General Surayud Chulanont, as Prime Minister. The junta later wrote a highly abbreviated interim constitution and appointed a panel to draft a permanent constitution. The junta also appointed a 250-member legislature, called by one critic a "chamber of generals". The head of the junta was allowed to remove the Prime Minister at any time. The legislature was not allowed to hold a vote of confidence against the Cabinet and the public was not allowed to file comments on bills. Martial law was partially revoked in January 2007. The junta continues to censor the media and was accused of several other human rights violations. (our thailand forum members posted details and pics as it happened live!) The ban on political activities was lifted in July 2007, following the May 30 dissolution of the Thai Rak Thai party. The new constitution has been approved by a referendum on August 19, which will lead to a return to democratic elections in December. Thailand remains an active member of the regional Association of Southeast Asian Nations. ASEAN. Subdivisions of Thailand. Thailand is divided into 75 provinces (changwat), which are gathered into 5 groups of provinces by location. There are also 2 special governed districts: the capital Bangkok (Krung Thep Maha Nakhon) and Pattaya, of which Bangkok is at provincial level and thus often counted as a 76th province. Each province is divided into smaller districts. As of 2000 there are 877 districts (amphoe) and the 50 districts of Bangkok (khet). Some parts of the provinces bordering Bangkok are also referred to as Greater Bangkok ( pari monthon). These provinces include Nonthaburi, Pathum Thani, Samut Prakan, Nakhon Pathom and Samut Sakhon. The name of each province's capital city ( mueang) is the same as that of the province: for example, the capital of Chiang Mai province (changwat Chiang Mai) is Mueang Chiang Mai or Chiang Mai. see our gay thailand forum for more information.
TING & TONGS GAY THAILAND FORUM - GAY ASIAN FORUMS
Theravada Buddhism is central to modern Thai identity and belief. In practice, has evolved over time to include many regional beliefs originating from animism as well as ancestor worship. In areas in the southernmost parts of THAILAND, Islam is prevalent. Several different ethnic groups, many of which are marginalized, populate THAILAND. Some of these groups overlap into Myanmar, and Malaysia and have maintained a distinctly traditional way-of-life despite strong Thai cultural influence. Overseas Chinese also form a significant part of Thai society, particularly in and around Bangkok. Their successful integration into Thai society has allowed for this group to hold positions of economic and political power, the most noteworthy of these being the Thai Prime Minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, who held power from 2001 until September 19, 2006 when he was ousted by a military coup d'état.
Like most Asian cultures, respect towards ancestors is an essential part of Thai spiritual practice. Thais have a strong sense of hospitality and generosity, but also a strong sense of social hierarchy. Seniority is an important concept in Thai culture. The elders always rule in family decisions or ceremonies. Find out more about Thai religion and culture inside the forum.
The traditional Thai greeting, the wai, is offered first by the youngest of the two people meeting, with their hands pressed together, fingertips pointing upwards as the head is bowed to touch their face to the hands, usually coinciding with the spoken word "Sawat-dii khrap" for male speakers, and "Sawat-dii ka" for females. The elder then is to respond afterwards in the same way. When children leave to go to school, they wai to their parents to represent their respect for them. They do the same when they come back. It is a sign of respect and reverence for another, similar to the namaste greeting of other cultures. Learn more Thai language skills from our members in the chat forums.
Muay Thai, or Thai boxing, is the national sport in THAILAND and its native martial art call "Muay". In the past, "Muay" was taught to Royal soldiers for combat on battlefield if unarmed. After they retired from the army, they often became Buddhist monks and stayed at the temples. Thai people's lives are closely tied to Buddism and temples; they often send their sons to be educated with the monks. ”Muay” is also one of the subjects taught in the temples..
Muay Thai achieved popularity all over the world in the 1990s. Although similar martial arts styles exist in other countries, few enjoy the recognition that Muay Thai has received with its full-contact rules allowing strikes including elbows, throws and knees. Association football, however, has possibly overtaken Muay Thai's position as most widely viewed and liked sport in contemporary Thai society and it is not uncommon to see Thais cheering their favourite English Premier League teams on television and walking around in replica kits. Another widely enjoyed pastime, and once a competitive sport, is kite flying. More Thai sports reports inside our forum.
Taboos include touching someone's head or pointing with the feet, as the head is considered the most sacred and the foot the dirtiest part of the body. Stepping over someone, or over food, is considered insulting. However, Thai culture as in many other Asian cultures, is succumbing to the influence of westernization and some of the traditional taboos are slowly fading away with time.
Books and other documents are the most revered of secular objects - therefore one should not slide a book across a table or place it on the floor. Thai culture does and donts - tips and advice in ting tongs Gay THAILAND forum.
Thai cuisine blends five fundamental tastes: sweet, spicy, sour, bitter and salty. Some common ingredients used in Thai cuisine include garlic, chillies, lime juice, lemon grass, and fish sauce. The staple food in THAILAND is rice, particularly jasmine variety rice (also known as Hom Mali rice) which is included in almost every meal. THAILAND is the world's largest exporter of rice, and Thais domestically consume over 100 kg of milled rice per person per year . Over 5000 varieties of rice from THAILAND are preserved in the rice gene bank of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), based in the Philippines. The King of THAILAND is the official patron of IRRI.
Thai society has been influenced in recent years by its widely-available multi-language press and media. There are numerous English, Thai and Chinese newspapers in circulation; most Thai popular magazines use English headlines as a chic glam factor. Most all big businesses in Bangkok operate in English, spoken even between Thais, as a way of showing off their educated, high-society status. THAILAND is the largest newspaper market in South East Asia . More Thai food & cuisine can be found in the bangkok and pattaya chat forums.