The Thais first began settling their present homeland in the 6th century, and by the end of the 13th century ruled most of the western part of the country. During the next 400 years, they fought sporadically with the Cambodians to the east and the Burmese to the west. Formerly known as Siam, Thailand has never experienced foreign colonization.
During the 19th century, while the rest of South East Asia was being colonised, Thailand managed to remain independent. By playing off one European power against another, Thailand’s rulers managed to obtain many of the material benefits of colonisation, including the expansion of the road network and introduction of railways.
Recent Thai history has been characterized by an unstable government and a number of military coups, however what has remained stable is the monarchy. King Bhumibol is the world’s longest reigning monarch having ascended the throne in 1946.
While gaining Western influence, the lack of colonisation has meant that the country has retained the rich culture it is so famous for. Thailand boasts the most amazing palaces, temples and sites, which are particular to each of the historical periods, many of which can still be visited today.
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