Thailand's History
Thailand :: History

THE EARLY KINGDOMS - Sukhothai and Ayutthaya
AD 1238 Sri Indradit led the the Tai people and chased the Khmer rulers from the city of Sukhothai. He established the first Siamese kingdom ... the Sukhothai (pronounced soo-KOH-ty; means "dawn of happiness") kingdom in the north.
1279-99 His son, King Ramkhamhaeng (pronounced rahm-kahm-HANG), expanded the kingdom and created the Thai alphabet that is currently used today.

In the late 13th century, the "Tai" people were calling themselves "Thai".
1350 The city Ayutthaya (pronounced ah-YOO-tah-yah) in the south was founded.
1376 The kingdom of Ayutthaya took control of the kingdom of Sukhothai.
1500s-1600s The Europeans came to trade.
1658-88 King Narai safeguarded the nation's sovereignty by playing off one European power against another thus preventing any one power from gaining dominance.
1767 The Burmese invaded Ayuthhaya and destroyed the city.

A Siamese official named Phya Taksin gathered an army and chased the Burmese back. He was crowned king and established his capital at Thonburi near what is now Bangkok.

1782 General Chao Phraya - who succeeded King Taksin - was given the name Rama. He was the first king of the current Chakri dynasty.

All the kings since then have also taken the name Rama ... Rama II, Rama III, Rama IV and so on.
1784 King Rama I established his capital at present-day Bangkok and the name of the state was changed from Ayuthhhaya to Siam.
1851 King Mongkut (Rama IV) ascended the throne and encouraged contact with the West.
1868 Prince Chulalongkorn (pronounced chu-lah-LAWNG-kawn) was crowned King Rama V. He modernized the country by constructing railways, schools and hospitals. In 1909, he abolished slavery.

Chulalongkorn University, Thailand's first university - which was established in 1916 - was named in his honour.

Due to the diplomatic skills of King Mongkut and King Chulalongkorn, Siam was never colonized, unlike many of its Southeast Asia neighbours. They achieved this by maintaining friendly relations with European powers, granting them rights to set up courts of law for their people and giving up control of land.

1932 A group of Western-educated military officers staged a bloodless coup and forced King Rama VII to change the government from an absolute monarchy to a constitutional monarchy with parliamentary government.
1935 King Rama VII gave up his throne to his 10-year-old nephew, Prince Anandha Mahidol (pronounced ah-NAHN-dah mah-hee-dawn) who remained in Switzerland to complete his studies.

A group of government officials, called the Council of Regents, ruled the country for the young king.
1939 The governmental leaders changed the name of the country from Siam to Thailand (Prathet Thai = "Land of the Free").
1941 After negotiations, Thailand allowed the Japanese to advance towards British-controlled Malaya Peninsula, Singapore and Burma.
1946 King Rama VIII was found dead of a gunshot wound.

His 19-year-old brother, Prince Phumiphon Adulyadej (pronounced poo-mee-PAWN ah-dool-YAH-deh) was crowned King Rama IX.
1967 ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) established by the governments of Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand.

1973 Student riots in Bangkok brought down the military government.
1973-76 Thailand experimented with parliamentary democracy but the resulting governments lack stability.

1976 In October, the military again seized power after violent student demonstrations took place in Bangkok.
1980 General Prem Tinsulanonda assumed power.

1983 Prem gave up his military position and led a civilian government. He was re-elected in 1986.
1988 General Chatichai Choonhaven replaced Prem after elections.
1991 Another military coup and Anand Panyarachun, a civilian, was installed as prime minister.
1992 In September, Thais elected a non-military person, Chuan Leekpai, as prime minister.
1995 Government collapsed and Banharn Silpa-archa elected prime minister.
1996 Accused of corruption, Banharn's government resigned and Chavalit Yongchaiyudh won the elections.
1997 The baht fell sharply against the US dollar, losing half of its value ... leading to bankruptcies and unemployment. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) stepped in.

Chuan Leekpai became prime minister, a second time.

2001 Thaksin Shinawatra won the elections. Allegations of vote-buying forced partial re-run of poll. Thaksin formed a coalition government.
2003 Crackdown on drugs began - more than 2,000 suspects were killed. The government blamed many killings on criminal gangs; rights groups claimed extra-judicial killings were encouraged by the authorities.
2004 (1) More than 100 were killed in attacks in the largely-Muslim south. The government blamed Islamic militants and imposed martial law. (2) Many suspected Islamic insurgents were killed in their dawn attacks on police bases. (3) 85 Muslim protesters died, many from suffocation, while in army custody following violence at a rally.
2005 Thaksin began a second term as PM after his party won February's elections by a landslide.

Violent unrest continued in the south. In November, the death toll since January 2004 reached 1,000.

2006 Amid mass rallies led by the royalist People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) against him, the PM called snap elections. Opposition parties boycotted the election which was subsequently annulled, leaving a political vacuum.

On 19 September, General Sonthi Boonyaratglin overthrew Thaksin in a non-violent coup while the latter was in New York. The constitution was abolished.

Retired General Surayut Chulanon became Prime Minister on 1 October.
2007 On 30 May, ousted prime minister Thaksin's Thai Rak Thai (Thais Love Thais) party was dissolved for electoral fraud. 111 members of the party, including Thaksin, were barred from participating in politics for five years.

In a national referendum on 19 August, 58% of voters approved a new, military-drafted constitution.

In December, general elections were held. The People Power Party (PPP), seen as the reincarnation of Thaksin's Thai Rak Thai party, won the most votes.
2008 A coalition government was formed and Samak Sundaravej was sworn in as prime minister.

February - Ousted prime minister Thaksin returned from exile to face graft charges.

Thai Prime Minister Samak's five-month-old government was in disarray after it lost three top officals.
  • 8 July - Former parliamentary speaker and deputy leader, Yongyut Tiyapairat was stripped of his seat by Thai election officials for vote buying in northern Thailand during last December elections.
  • 9 July - Health minister Chiya Sasomsub was removed from office by the Constitutional Court which found that he had illegally concealed his wife's assets upon taking up his post.
  • 10 July - Foreign minister Noppadon Pattama resigned over failure to seek parliamentary approval for a deal supporting Cambodia's bid to seek World Heritage status for the 900-year-old Preah Vihear temple on the border.

  • Border dispute with Cambodia over a tiny piece of land surrounding the ancient Preah Vihear temple which was awarded World Heritage status on July 8.

    July 31 - Thaksin's wife, Pojaman was convicted and sentenced to three years in prison for tax evasion and released on bail.

    August - Thaksin and Pojaman obtained special permission from Thai courts to travel and attend the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympic Games but they skipped their return flight and fled to Britain. They said that would not return to Thailand to face graft charges, blaming political interference in the justice system.

    August 28 - Thousands of Thai protesters belonging to the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) stormed the TV station and the Government House and demanded the resignation of Prime Minister Samak - accusing him of being a puppet of ousted premier Thaksin.

    September 9 - Prime Minister Samak was forced to resign, following a Constitutional Court ruling that he had acted improperly by accepting payments for hosting two television cooking progammes.

    September 17 - Somchai Wongsawat (brother-in-law of ousted premier Thaksin) won a majority of votes in parliament to become Thailand's new prime minister

    October - Thaksin is sentenced in absentia to two years in jail for corruption. Army chief also calls on government to step down.

    "Yellow shirts" protesters from the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) movement seized control of Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi international airport on Nov 25 night and blockaded the old Don Muang airport on Nov 27 in another attempt to force Prime Minister Somchai to resign.

    December 2 - A Constitutional Court ruled that the People Power Party (PPP) be disbanded because one of their party executives was convicted of vote buying during the December 2007 elections. Two other ruling coalition parties (Chart Thai and Matchima) were ordered to be dissolved. The Court also banned Prime Minister Somchai from politics for five years.

    PAD lifts airport blockade.

    December 15 - Thai opposition leader Abhisit Vejjajiva secured a coalition within the Parliament and was elected as new PM - Thailand's third prime minister in four months.
    2009 March - Thousands of "red shirts" supporters of former PM Thaksin Shinawatra staged mass rallies in an attempt to push PM Abhisit to dissolve his government and hold elections.

    April 12 - The 14th ASEAN Summit at Pattaya was aborted and foreign leaders evacuated after Thai anti-government protesters stormed the venue.

    April 13 - Dozens injured as troops crack down on Bangkok protests to enforce a state of emergency and clear a key road junction in Bangkok.

    April 17 - Sondhi Limthongkul, founder of the "Yellow Shirts" royalist movement that helped topple the previous pro-Thaksin government was shot and wounded in an assassination attempt.

    November - Row with Cambodia intensified over the appointment of Thaksin Shinawatra as an economic adviser to the Cambodian government.
    2010 February 26 - Thailand's Supreme Court confiscated US$1.4 billion of Thaksin's wealth, after ruling that he had abused his power.

    March - Red shirts rallied in Bangkok to force Abhisit to call new elections. The protesters dramatically spilled their own blood at the gates of Thailand's government headquarters.

    April - Red shirts swarmed Bangkok's commercial and retail heartland and set up camp at Ratchaprasong. Abhisit declared a state of emergency. Troops' attempts to clear the red shirts from their camp sparked clashes that left 25 people dead and more than 800 injured.

    May - Abhisit offered elections on November 14 under a reconciliation roadmap. Red shirts accepted his offer conditional upon Deputy PM Suthep Thaugsuban's surrender to the police over April's deadly crackdown.

    May 13-18 - Five days of clashes between red shirt protesters and troops left 39 dead (including a renegade general allied with the red shirts) and 300 injured. Protest leaders surrendered to police on May 19 after troops stormed their camp, triggering widespread rioting and looting by militants. At least 15 people were killed and 96 wounded.

    May 25 - A Thai court issued an arrest warrant for ousted prime minister Thaksin on terrorism charges, accusing him of stirring two months of unrest and funding the protests in Bangkok.