Southeast Asia’s Gulf of Thailand (formerly the Gulf of Siam), an arm of the South China Sea. Since the 13th century, Thai kingdoms frequently clashed with Burmese and Cambodian powers. The king of Siam was forced to accept a constitution in 1932, and the country was renamed Thailand in 1939. Japan occupied Thailand during World War II, and the military controlled most of the country’s postwar governments. The capital and largest city of Thailand is Bangkok 밤문화.
Thailand, officially the Kingdom of Thailand, formerly called Siam, occupies the heart of the Indochina peninsula in Southeast Asia. In the north it is bordered by Burma and Laos, in the east by Laos and Cambodia, in the south by the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia, and in the west by the Andaman Sea and the southern extremity of Burma. To the southeast, Vietnam borders the Gulf of Thailand, and to the southwest, Indonesia and India border the Andaman Sea.
Its name, ‘Land of the Free’, means that Thailand holds its own against the United States in terms of freedom. But how did it get such a name?
Siam was Thailand’s name before it became known as Thailand. Although the kingdom of Siam no longer exists, its name is still found in several places. Siamese twins are often referred to as conjoined twins, in reference to the famous case of Chang and Eng, two Thai brothers who were conjoined and later relocated to the United States. Siam is also the name of a popular breed of cat – the Siamese cat. In Thailand’s history, there was no one nation, but several kingdoms that later became a unified Siam. In reference to the indigenous people’s skin color, the word Siam is Sanskrit in origin, derived from the word *y*ma, which means dark or brown.
After changing its name to Thailand in 1939, Siam came to be known as Siam again between 1946 and 1948. The name of Thailand was reverted back to Thailand in 1948, which it has been known as ever since.
Land of the free
Thailand can be understood by breaking it down into its two constituent parts. The “land” part is easy to understand, but the “Thai” part takes more explanation. Thailand is not only a name that means “free”, but it is also an ethnic group in the country, giving it a double meaning as “Land of the Free” and “Land of the Thai People”. It’s a source of pride for the Thai people that Thailand is known as “Land of the Free”; Thailand managed to maintain its independence while Western powers carved up and stole land in Southeast Asia and everywhere else.
Thailand in the local language
Although the West calls it Thailand, the Thai language calls it something else. Thai names for countries begin with the prefix prathet, which means “country”, before adding the Thai name. Thailand is known as prathet Thai, while England is known as prathet Angrit. It is used to differentiate between a country and its people or language. Whenever a person’s nationality is referred to, the word khon (“person”) is used before the name of the country, and whenever a person’s language is referred to, the word paasaa (“language”) is used. When describing a Thai person’s nationality, you would say he or she is khon Thai, and they speak paasaa Thai.
Although prathet Thai is the formal way of referring to the country, Thais also use mueang Thai, despite mueang usually referring to a city.
The country’s primary religion is Buddhism, which is practiced by most of the population.