The Land of Smiles
According to the Thai calendar, Thais entered the new millennium long ago. The year 2000 in the Thai calendar is year 2543 (some 543 years ahead of the Gregorian calendar). The nickname "Land of Smiles" has been associated with this ancient Oriental kingdom for centuries. The Siamese people, known nowadays as Thais, have been shaped by a compelling history full of mystery and controversy. Through the ages, they've learned to confront and overcome adversity, troubles, and hardships with a resilient smile on their faces.
The origins of the Thai kingdom are traced to 1096 A.D. when a fledgling kingdom at Payao was settled in what's known now as northern Thailand. "A Million Rice Fields" ౼ the Lanna Kingdom with Chiang Mai as its capital, founded by the tribal leader Mengrai, and the Sukhothai Kingdom under the reign of King Ramkhamhaeng ౼ hailed as the inventor of the Thai writing ౼ were the ancestors of the Thai nation, and till now stand strong as a citadel of traditional Thai ways, refer to the Thai Marriage for some leads.
Chronological Retrospect of Key Events in Thailand's Modern History and Politics.
In the 14th century, under King Ramathibodi, the kingdom's capital was founded in Ayutthaya. Spanning four centuries, an Ayutthaya kingdom that first fell to the Burmese in 1569 and then finally burned to the ground in 1767 was a pivotal period of establishing solid traditions in fine arts and literature. Under the leadership of General Phya Taksin, Thais once again defeated Burmese invaders and reinstated the capital city at Thonburi on the west bank of Chao Phraya River near its outlet into the Gulf of Siam. In 1782, Taksin's successor, King Rama I, set up his new capital on the opposite river bank at a small trading village called Krung Thep, thus founding the nowadays far-famed city known the world over as Bangkok ౼ the City of Angels.
Unlike most of its neighbors, the kingdom of Siam has never felt the harness of direct European colonialism. As early as the 17th century, due to wise diplomacy, the kings of Siam were set on maintaining independence while the Portuguese, French, British, Dutch, and others carved up the entire region over the next hundred years. The kings wisely played competing Europeans against each other, ensuring that no one power would gain a dominant presence. This strategy paid off rather handsomely, as the quaint kingdom of Siam remained autonomous while harvesting most of whatever benefits the colonial system had to offer.
HM The King Bhumibol Adulyadej - Rama IX
The current Thai monarchy is inherited from the Chakri dynasty, founded by King Rama I. The longest reigning monarch, H.M. King Bhumibol ascended to the throne in 1946.
In the '80s, Thailand emerged as one of Asia's leading 'Tiger Economies', even though the kingdom's economy for ages has been solely based on agriculture. A collapse of these economies preamble by the rampant devaluation of their currencies originated in Thailand in the summer of 1997, primarily due to a renowned "Orient Syndrome" ౼ greed and corruption that comes from deep within and sweeps all levels of the political system, government, army, and society as well.
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