Thailand History

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Political and Administrative History

The Buddhist kingdom of Sukhothai in southeast Asia is considered to have been the first historical state of Thailand. Sukhothai was established in the 13th century by migrants from Nanchao, China following its fall to Mongols in 1253. The immigrants captured territory from the Khmer Empire in the southern delta region, adopted the Khmer Cambodian alphabet, and the Thai nation was born. The new kingdom was succeeded by the kingdom of Ayutthaya in the 14th century. The Ayutthaya established or stabilized most of the Thai laws and traditions.

The Portuguese in 1511 were the first Europeans to gain influence in the area. Dutch, British and French traders and missionaries also had contact until 1688 when an anti-foreign coup d’état was initiated ironically by the French. Foreigners were not allowed to return until after the disruption of the government following the Burmese invasion of 1767.

The new Chakkri Dynasty of Siam was established in 1782. General Chakkri founded the new capitol city of Bangkok, and was the first to gain control of the northern Lao territories. His descendants have ruled Thailand ever since. The first official recognition of western powers came when treaties were signed with the United Kingdom (1826) and the United States (1833). The diplomatic skills and modernizing reforms of Thai leaders enabled Siam to remain the only country in Southern Asia to avoid Western colonization. British influence however, was widespread prior to World War II. The benevolent and progressive Siamese monarchy failed however, to provide desired human rights to its people. A series of coups by the military and other groups succeeded in 1932 in adding a constitution to the monarchy, and established a number of democratic institutions. In 1938 the name of the country was changed from Siam to Thailand, which means “Land of the Free.”

Local Histories and Gazetteers

Research use: Supplement genealogies and official records for historical periods. Contain unique information on widows and wives not found elsewhere.

Record Type: These are historical, geographic studies of specific villages and towns that include some biographical and genealogical information.

Time Period: 1500 to present.

Contents: Each history covers a specific city, county or prefecture. Topics covered include local legends, folklore, famous or influential families or clans, historical events, population, trade, education, transportation, local literary contributions, and biographies of prominent individuals, and mention of local officials, persons who lived long lives, and widows.

Location: Found scattered in libraries and archives in Thailand and other countries.

Population coverage: Include mainly important personalities and categories of individuals in a specific area; cover less than 5% of the population.

Reliability: Generally very reliable.[1]



  1. The Family History Department of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, “Family History Record Profile: Thailand,” Word document, private files of the FamilySearch Content Strategy Team, 2001.