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The Kingdom of Thailand has an area of 514,000 sq. kilometres (198,455 sq mi), more than twice that of the United Kingdom. It lies between latitude 6° and 21° N and between longitude 97° and 106° E, with a length of 1700 km and a greatest width of 770 km. Thailand has a population of […]

EARLY HISTORY The Thais entered their present territory from south-western China at a comparatively late date. The earliest reports of their presence come from Chinese annals, which, however, are very vague until about 650 A.D., when we hear more definite accounts with the foundation of the first important Thai state of Nan Chao (though this […]

Ethnographically speaking, the Indochinese peninsula is one of the most interesting regions in the world. For thousands of years until quite recent times, waves of incomers from the plains of Central Asia have spread southwards over the peninsula. All these varied races and cultures have left traces of their passing, giving Thailand its considerable ethnic […]

SUKHOTHAI PERIOD The region of Sukhothai was at first a province of the Khmer Kingdom, but the power of the Cambodian governor did not extend very far. Thus, when the Kingdom of Angkor was in decline, two Thai governors were able to stage a successful revolt and declare the independence of Sukhothai (1238). One of […]

AYUTTHAYA PERIOD In the 14th century the centre of gravity of Thai settlement had shifted farther south from Sukhothai. In 1350 a prince of U-Thong and Lopburi founded the Kingdom of Ayutthaya, which annexed Sukhothai by the end of the 14th century and grew into a powerful state. The Thais now entered regions which had […]

BANGKOK PERIOD The Burmese left no garrisons behind, and within a few months various small Thai principalities were formed, all claiming the inheritance of the King of Ayutthaya. However a general of half Chinese blood, Phya Taksin, soon defeated all his rivals, and as early as 1769, with the aid of the few loyal survivors […]

20TH CENTURY His successor King Chulalongkorn (Somdetj Phra Chula Chom Klao, Rama V, 1868-1910) continued his father’s reforms. He is considered the great reformer of Thailand. During his 42-year reign the country gained extraordinarily in prosperity. The first western-style postal service was established, the first roads and the first railways were built. The King succeeded […]

The term Buddhism is derived from the honorific title given to the founder of the teaching. Buddha means the Awakened or Enlightened One; and Buddhists maintain that their religion is universal and eternal, and that its “light” is periodically rediscovered and proclaimed by Buddha – a name applied to all such “prophets and not only […]

The Buddhist church of Thailand has its own organization, which resolves on its own authority any problems which arise within the order of monks. All the monks (bhikkhus), who number about 150,000, and the novices (samaneras) belong to the Sangha (Order). At their head is the Sangharaja or Patriarch, who is elected by the Order […]

Buddhism teaches that all life is suffering and disappointment, from which the wise man must seek to deliver himself. The aim is thus to transcend the cycle of births and attain the final liberation of Nirvana. Nirvana (literally the act of erasing or extinguishing: the word is used, for example, of putting out a fire) […]

To a western visitor the most impressive witnesses to Thai artistic culture are undoubtedly the magnificent Wats. The visitor gets confused by the profusion of strange-looking buildings, and the following account of the individual parts of a Wat may therefore be helpful. The word Wat originally denoted any religious edifice, but is now applied to […]

In popular belief the complex concepts of the Buddhist doctrine have been considerably simplified. Among these is the idea of karma. The doctrine of karma, taken over from Brahmanism, rests on the transcendent power of deeds. It teaches that every gesture, every word, every thought produces, in addition to its visible effect, another effect which […]

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