Peace & Quiet
The Shaping of Thailand
4000 BC A pottery-producing society is established at Ban Chiang in Khon Kaen province (northeastern Thailand). AD 100 Mon culture of Dvaravati develops in the Chao Phraya Valley. Traders and Theravada Buddhist missionaries introduce Indic culture. 400-1000 Eastern and central Thailand form part of the Khmer Empire. Thai-speaking peoples gradually migrate south from China into present-day Thailand. 1238 The first independent Thai Kingdom is founded at Sukhothai (northern Thailand), marking the start of a golden age. 1279-98 King Ramkhamhaeng of Sukhothai develops the Thai script and extends Thai control to present-day peninsular Thailand. 1296 King Mengrai establishes Chiang Mai as capital of the second independent Thai Kingdom of Lan Na. 1351 Siamese power moves to the central plains with the founding of the Ayuthaya Kingdom north of present-day Bangkok. 1432 Ayuthaya sacks Angkor, supplanting the Khmer Empire as the major regional power. 1511 Portugal establishes the first European embassy in Ayuthaya. 1549 Burma begins a series of destructive attacks on Ayuthaya, eventually succeeding in over-running the country. 1558 Burma conquers Chiang Mai and makes the former Lan Na Kingdom its tributary. 1587 King Naresuan drives out the Burmese. 1657-88 King Narai establishes diplomatic relations with several European powers. 1767 Ayuthaya is invaded and burned by the Burmese. General Taksin reorganises the Siamese armies and drives out the invaders. He becomes king and transfers the capital to Thonburi, on the west bank of the Chao Phraya River opposite the small settlement of Bangkok. 1782 King Taksin, accused of madness, is toppled by his leading general, Chao Phraya Chakri, and put to death. The new ruler proclaims himself King Rama I, founder of the Chakri Dynasty that is still in place today. He moves his capital to Bangkok, which he renames Krungthep ('City of Angels'). 1851-68 King Mongkut (Rama IV), a well-educated and far-sighted reformer, signs a friendship treaty with Great Britain and begins a modernisation process that will eventually protect his country from colonisation. 1868-1910 King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) advances his father's policies, instituting wide-ranging reforms and leading an independent Siam into the 20th century. 1917 Siam enters World War 1 as an ally of the victorious powers. 1932 A military coup ends the absolute powers of the king. Siam becomes a constitutional monarchy. 1935 Ten-year-old Ananda Mahidol becomes King Rama VIII. 1939 Military strongman Pibul Songkhram becomes Prime Minister. Siam changes its name to Thailand. 1939-45 During World War II Thailand becomes an ally of Japan. After the war, Britain initially seeks to punish the country, but the United States steps in as Thailand's main ally. 1945-73 Thailand remains a firm ally of the West in the Cold War, but is plagued by military coups. 1946 King Mahidol dies. His younger brother, Bhumibol Adulyadej, accedes to the throne and is crowned King Rama IX in 1950. 1973 Student demonstrators are involved in street battles with soldiers, resulting in almost 70 deaths. The military government is forced to resign, but, despite a new constitution, the army retains real power. 1976-92 Thailand achieves major economic advances but remains essentially autocratic. Tourism begins to thrive. 1992 General Suchinda comes to power, following an army coup the previous year. Resulting protests lead to the deaths of more than 50 demonstrators and Suchinda's resignation. Democracy is established and Chuan Leekpai becomes Prime Minister. 1997 Asia's economic collapse weakens Thailand's 'tiger economy' status. 2000 King Bhumibol is revered at home. Thailand's economy and democratic institutions are strengthening. 2001 Thaksin Shinawatra, Thailand's wealthiest entrepreneur, becomes prime minister.