L'histoire de la Thaïlande est très complexe. De nombreux royaumes, principautés ou empires se partagent le pays dans une histoire imbriquée, les invasions et dominations étrangères se perpétuant jusqu'à la fin du XVIIe siècle. Résumé chronologique :
Ier au VIe siècle, le royaume connu par son nom chinois de Fou-nan domine la région
IIIe au Ve siècle, royaume connu sous le nom chinois de Dun-sun (sud)
VIe au XIe siècle, royaume môn de Dvaravati (centre)
VIIe siècle, relation avec le royaume de Sriwijaya (sud)
VIIIe siècle au XIIIe siècle, royaume môn de Haripunjaya (nord)
XIe et XIIe siècles, invasions khmères
XIIIe siècle, royaume thaï de Sukhothaï (centre)
XIIIe au XVIIe siècle, royaume thaï du Lan Na (nord)
XVe siècle, royaume d'Ayutthaya (centre)
XVIIIe siècle à nos jours, dynastie Chakri à Bangkok (ou krungthep en thaï).
The region known as Thailand has been inhabited by humans since the paleolithic period, about 10,000 years ago. Prior to the fall of the Khmer Empire in the 13th century, various states thrived there, such as the various Tai, Mon, Khmer and Malay kingdoms, as seen through the numerous archaeological sites and artifacts that are scattered throughout the Siamese landscape. Prior to the 12th century however, the first Thai or Siamese state is traditionally considered to be the Buddhist kingdom of Sukhothai, which was founded in 1238.
Following the decline and fall of the Khmer empire in the 13th - 14th century, the Buddhist Tai Kingdoms of Sukhothai, Lanna and Lan Chang were on the ascension. However, a century later, Sukhothai's power was overshadowed by the new kingdom of Ayutthaya, established in the mid-14th century.
After the fall of the Ayutthaya in 1767 to the Burmese, King Taksin the Great moved the capital of Thailand to Thonburi for a brief period. The current Rattanakosin era of Thai history began in 1782, following the establishment of Bangkok as capital of the Chakri dynasty under King Rama I the Great.
Thailand retains a tradition of trade with its neighboring states, and the cultures of the Indian ocean and the South China sea. European trade and influence arrived to Thailand in the 16th century, beginning with the Portuguese. Despite European pressure, Thailand is the only Southeast Asian nation never to have been colonised. Two main reasons for this were that Thailand had a long succession of very able rulers in the 1800s and that it was able to exploit the rivalry and tension between the French and the British. As a result, the country remained as a buffer state between parts of Southeast Asia that were colonized by the two colonial powers. Despite this, Western influence led to many reforms in the 19th century and major concessions, most notably being the loss of large territory on the east side of the Mekong to the French and the step by step absorption by Britain of the Shan (Thai Yai) States (now in Burma) and the Malay Peninsula. The loss initially included Penang and Tumasik and eventually culminated in the loss of three predominantly ethnic-Malay southern provinces, which later became Malaysia's three northern states, under the Anglo-Siamese Treaty of 1909.
In 1932, a bloodless revolution resulted in a new constitutional monarchy. During World War II, Thailand became an ally of Japan while at the same time maintaining an active anti-Japanese resistance movement known as the Seri Thai. After the war, Thailand emerged as an ally of the United States. As with many of the developing nations during the Cold War, Thailand then went through decades of political transgression characterised by coups d'état as one military regime replaced another, but eventually progressed towards a stable prosperity and democracy in the 1980s.
In 1997, Thailand was hit with the Asian financial crisis and the Thai baht for a short time peaked at 56 baht to the US dollar compared to about 25 baht to the dollar before 1997. Since then, the baht has regained most of its strength and as of 26 December 2008, is valued at 34.71 baht to the US dollar.
The official calendar in Thailand is based on Eastern version of the Buddhist Era, which is 543 years ahead of the Gregorian (western) calendar. For example, the year AD 2008 is called 2551 BE in Thailand.
Peninsular Malaysia was once known as Tanah Melayu (Malay Land). It extends from Singapore to the Ithsmus of Kra bordering Burma, Thailand and Malay Land. Phuket is Bukit (hill) in Malay, "Satun" is "Setoi" (a tropical fruit) was the Province of "Kedah" under the Malay Sultanate and Patani (Land of Farmers) was also part of the Malay Sultanate. In these areas people once spoke both Malay as well as Sam-sam, a local version of the Siamese language. The majority of residents were Muslims. Thailand tried to dominate the Peninsula as far as Malacca in the 1400s but failed.
The Northern states of the Malay Sultanate presented an annual gift to the Thai King in the form of a golden flower, who looked on this as a form of tribute. The British intervened in the Malay State and with the Anglo-Siamese Treaty tried to build a railway from the south to Bangkok, Thailand relinquished sovereignty over what are now the northern Malay provinces of Kedah, Pelis, and Kelantan to the British. Kedah provinces and Patani were given to Thailand.
The Malay Peninsula provinces were infiltrated by the Japanese in the World War II in 1942 and also by the Malayan Communist Party (CPM) from 1948 to 1998 decided to sign for peace with the Malaysian and Thai Governments after the CPM lost its support from Vietnam and China after the Cultural Revolution.
Recent insurgent uprisings are a continuation of separatist fighting which started after World War II with Sukarno's support for the PULO and has intensified with US President Bush's initiation of the War on Terror. Since the uprisings, most victims have been Buddhist and Muslim bystanders