Thailand - Country history and economic development

1300s TO 1500s. Thailand's very first kingdom, Sukhothai, is established. It is remembered for its contribution to Thailand's art, architecture, and politics.

1378. King Borommaracha I of Ayutthaya conquers Sukhothai's frontier city of Chakangrao. The Kingdom of Ayutthaya becomes the dominant power in the Chao Phraya Basin, site of the present capital, Bangkok. This period, which ends in 1767, marks Thailand's earliest achievements in the area of international trade.

1767-82. General Phraya Taksin, former governor of Tak, defeats the Burmese invaders that destroyed the Ayutthaya kingdom and establishes his kingdom at Thon Buri, across the river from what is presently Bangkok.

1782-1809. Rama I, ancestor of the present monarch, establishes Bangkok as the capital of Thailand and rebuilds the Thai state. Some of Thailand's greatest structures are built during King Rama I's reign, including the Grand Palace and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha.

1821-68. The Thai Kingdom faces the challenge of avoiding Western imperialism during the consecutive reigns of the monarchs Rama II and his 2 sons, Rama III and Rama IV. Under the reign of King Rama IV,

Thailand signs a significant trade treaty with Britain in 1855 called the Bowring Treaty which paves the way for greater Thai presence in the world market.

1868-1910. Under King Chulalongkorn's reign, Thai-land's communication system is modernized with the introduction of post and telegraph services. Mass transportation is also introduced with the construction of a railway network. Under his reign, a more centralized and bureaucratic political structure is established, the slave system is abolished, and Thailand becomes more outward looking.

1910-32. The reigns of Rama VI and VIII are marked by their contributions to Thailand's educational system. In 1917, Thailand's first university, Chulalongkorn University, is founded. In 1921, Rama VI issues a law on compulsory primary education. Upon his brother's death, Rama VIII accedes the throne. He works on establishing Thailand in the international community.

1932. Thailand becomes a constitutional monarchy after a bloodless coup d'etat on 24 June. A formal constitution is promulgated and a National Assembly is established with the monarch as Head of State. In the same year, the first formal comprehensive education plan is implemented.

1942. The Bank of Thailand Act establishes the country's central bank. The Bank of Thailand holds the main accounts of the Thai government including those of government enterprises.

1946. On 9 June, King Bhumibol Adulyadej ascends to the throne. In the same year, Thailand becomes a member of the United Nations.

1949. Thailand becomes a member of the World Bank.

1955. King Bhumibol Adulyadej becomes the first Thai ruler to travel to the poorest provinces of Thailand, in the northeast region, to check for himself the living conditions of the people. This begins the implementation of more than a thousand social projects.

1957. The premiership transfers from Field Marshal Pibul to Field Marshal Sarit Thanarat. The policies of his administration are focused on economic development and national security. Under his administration, the first national economic development plan is formulated.

1959. Thailand's Board of Investment is established. Its main tasks are to promote investment of both foreign and local capital in the private sector.

1962. The automobile industry is established as part of the government's import substitution policy.

1967. Through the primary initiative of Thailand, the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) is established in accordance with the Bangkok Declaration.

1972. In December, Field Marshall Thanom Kittikachorn announces a new interim constitution that provides for a totally appointed legislative assembly, two-thirds of the members of which would be drawn from the military and police.

1973. In May and June, students and workers rally in the streets to demand a more democratic constitution and genuine parliamentary elections. On 14 October the military government of Field Marshal Thanom Kittikachorn and Field Marshal Prapass Charusathien is overthrown by student-led mass demonstrations which culminate in shoot-outs with almost 100 people killed.

1974. The Stock Exchange of Thailand is established and placed under the supervision of the Ministry of Finance and the Bank of Thailand.

1975. The pullout of 27,000 United States military personnel based in Thailand as part of the Vietnam War effort begins in March and is completed in mid-1976.

1976. A bloody coup d'etat is staged at the Thammasat University on 6 October.

1977. Another violent coup d'etat brings to an end the 1-year civilian regime of Thanin Kraivichien. General Kriengsak Chamanand becomes the prime minister. Under his administration, Thailand achieves some kind of political stability, thereby attracting foreign investors who establish businesses in the country.

1978. A new constitution is promulgated in December.

1980. In February, the government's decision to increase the prices of oil, gas, and electricity provokes opposition from elected politicians and demonstrations by students and workers, reminiscent of the 1973 demonstrations. As opposition grows, Prime Minister Kriangsak resigns and is replaced in March by General Prem Tinsulanonda.

1984. The Thai baht is devalued after much pressure from the International Monetary Fund and as part of the government's austerity measures.

1987. The manufacturing sector surpasses the performance of the agricultural sector in exports by a wide margin, marking the beginning of Thailand's industry-led economic development.

1989. Thailand becomes a founding member of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC).

1991. In February, a coup d'etat establishes yet another military government led by General Suchinda Kraprayoon.

1992. The Office of the Securities and Exchange Commission is established to closely monitor and supervise the operations of Thailand's stock exchange.

1995. Thailand joins the World Trade Organization as one of its founding members.

1997. A financial crisis hits the East Asian region, causing the Thai economy to nosedive with GDP growth falling to-0.14 percent from the previous year's 5.52 percent.

1998. Thailand's economy makes an impressive recovery. For the first time, the country registers a positive trade balance caused by an influx of foreign direct investment.

2000. National elections are conducted and culminate in the election of Thaksin Shinawatra, a successful Thai businessman and leader of the Thai Rak Thai Party.

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