Thailand profile

A chronology of key events:

7th-10th cent AD - Hindu and Buddhist Dvaravati culture, thought to be of the ethnic Mon people, predominates.

Gardener in front of ruins of Sukhothai, capital of the 13th-15th Thai-speaking kingdom of the same name Ruins of Sukhothai, capital of the first major Thai kingdom

10th-14th cent - Southern Thailand is ruled by the mainly Mon Lavo Kingdom, but with growing influence from the Khmer neighbouring Empire. (modern-day Cambodia). The Tai people - the antecedents of modern ethnic Thais - start to move southwards into the area.

1238-1448 - Thai-speaking Sukhothai kingdom expands its rule further south, coming to dominate much of modern-day Thailand, before being eclipsed by a rival Thai kingdom in the south, Ayutthaya.

1350-1767 - Ayutthaya kingdom gradually brings Thailand under its control and becomes a major power in Southeast Asia. At its greatest extent around 1600, it rules parts of modern-day Cambodia, Laos and Burma.

1448 - King Ramesuan joins Ayutthaya and Sukhothai in personal union.

1590-1605 - Reign of Naresuan. Seen as Ayutthaya's greatest king, he ends a period of Burmese overlordship and briefly conquers Cambodia and parts of southern Burma.

1767 - Invading Burmese forces sack the capital, Ayutthaya, bringing an end to the kingdom.

Thai Royal navy oarsmen in ancient warrior costume row the Royal barge on the Chao Phraya river during the Royal celebrations in 2007 Thai Royal navy oarsmen in ancient warrior costume

1768-1782 Under Taksin the Great, an ethnic Thai Chinese, the briefly-lived Thonburi Kingdom re-establishes Thai control. Taksin is toppled by a coup launched by General Chao Phraya Chakri, who founds a new dynasty centred on Bangkok.

Rise of modernThailand

1782 - Beginning of the Chakri dynasty under King Rama I, which rules to this day. The country is known as Siam. New capital of Bangkok founded.

1804-1868 - Reign of King Mongkut (Rama IV), who embraces Western innovations and initiates Thailand's modernisation.

1868-1910 - Reign of King Chulalongkorn. Employment of Western advisers to modernise Siam's administration and commerce. Railway network developed.

1917 - Siam becomes ally of Great Britain in World War I.

1932 - Bloodless coup against absolute monarch King Prajadhipok. Constitutional monarchy introduced with parliamentary government.

1939 - Siam changes its name to Thailand ("Land of the Free").

1941 - Japanese forces land. After negotiations Thailand allows Japanese to advance towards British-controlled Malay Peninsula, Singapore and Burma.

1942 - Thailand declares war on Britain and US, but Thai ambassador in Washington refuses to deliver declaration to US government.

Post-war uncertainty

1945 - End of World War II. Thailand compelled to return territory it had seized from Laos, Cambodia and Malaya. Exiled King Ananda returns.

Capital: Bangkok

A Thai Buddhist monk rides a ferry on Bangkok's Chao Phraya river

Bangkok, known as "Krung Thep" - City of Angels

  • Population: 7.2 million
  • Original settlement established by Chinese traders
  • Became capital of Kingdom of Siam in 1782

1946 - King Ananda assassinated.

1947 - Military coup by the wartime, pro-Japanese leader Phibun Songkhram. The military retain power until 1973.

1965 onwards - Thailand permits US to use bases there during the Vietnam War. Thai troops fight in South Vietnam.

Short-lived civilian rule

1973 - Student riots in Bangkok bring about the fall of the military government. Free elections are held but the resulting governments lack stability.

1976 - Military takes over again.

1978 - New constitution promulgated.

1980 - General Prem Tinsulanonda assumes power.

1983 - Prem gives up his military position and heads a civilian government. He is re-elected in 1986.

1988 - General Chatichai Choonhaven replaces Prem after elections.

1991 - Military coup, the 17th since 1932. A civilian, Anand Panyarachun, is installed as prime minister.

Temples

Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep temple

Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep temple is located near northern city of Chiang Mai

1992 - New elections in March replace Anand with General Suchinda Kraprayoon. There are demonstrations against him, forcing him to resign. Anand is re-instated temporarily. Elections in September see Chuan Leekpai, leader of the Democratic Party, chosen as prime minister.

1995 - Government collapses. Banharn Silpa-archa, of the Thai Nation party, elected prime minister.

1996 - Banharn's government resigns, accused of corruption. Chavalit Yongchaiyudh of the New Aspiration party wins elections.

Financial turmoil

1997 - Asian financial crisis: The baht falls sharply against the dollar, leading to bankruptcies and unemployment. The IMF steps in. Chuan Leekpai becomes prime minister.

1998 - Tens of thousands of migrant workers are sent back to their countries of origin. Chuan involves the opposition in his government in order to push through economic reforms.

1999 - Economy begins to pick up again. Thai media highlight high cost of drug treatments for Aids and HIV. Thailand begins to put pressure on drugs companies to find ways to make the drugs cheaper.

Drugs

Eradication of opium

Thousands were killed in controversial anti-drug drive

2001 January - New Thai Love Thai party wins elections after partial re-run of poll. Leader Thaksin Shinawatra forms coalition government.

2001 June - Burma-Thailand border crossing, which was closed after clashes between the two countries' troops in February, re-opens after Thaksin visits Burma.

2002 May - Burma closes border with Thailand again after Thai army fires shells into Burma during battle between Burmese army and ethnic Shan rebels. Border reopens in October.

Temple row

2003 January - More than 500 Thai nationals are evacuated from Cambodia amid angry protests after remarks attributed to by a Thai actress that Cambodia "stole" its Angokr Wat temple complex from Thailand.

2003 February - Controversial crackdown on drugs starts; more than 2,000 suspects are killed. The government blames many of the killings on criminal gangs; rights groups say extra-judicial killings were encouraged by the authorities.

2004 January-March - Martial law is imposed in largely-Muslim south after more than 100 killed in a wave of attacks blamed on Islamic militants.

2004 February - More than 100 Islamic militants die in coordinated attacks on police bases in the south.

2004 October - 85 Muslim protesters die, many from suffocation, while in army custody following violence at a rally in the south. An enquiry concludes they were not killed deliberately.

Tsunami

2004 December - Thousands of people - both Thais and foreign tourists - are killed as when a massive tsunami, triggered by an undersea earthquake off the coast of Sumatra, devastates communities on the south-west coast, including the resort of Phuket.

Hero for a time

Thaksin Shinawatra

Policeman-turned-tycoon Thaksin Shinawatra transformed Thai politics but was ousted in a military coup

2005 March - Thaksin Shinawatra begins a second term as PM after his party wins February's elections by a landslide.

2005 July - As violent unrest continues in the south, Prime Minister Thaksin is given new powers to counter suspected Muslim militants in the region. In November the death toll in violence since January 2004 tops 1,000.

2005 October - Thailand redoubles efforts to fight bird flu as fresh outbreaks of the disease are reported.

Coup

2006 April-May - Snap election called by the PM amid mass rallies against him is boycotted by the opposition and is subsequently annulled, leaving a political vacuum. The PM takes a seven-week break from politics.

2006 August - Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra accuses several army officers of plotting to kill him after police find a car containing bomb-making materials near his house.

2006 19 September- Military leaders stage a bloodless coup while Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra is at the UN General Assembly. Retired General Surayud Chulanont is appointed as interim prime minister in October.

2007 January - Martial law is lifted in more than half of the country.

2007 April - First draft of a new constitution is approved by a committee appointed by the military administration.

2007 May - Ousted PM Thaksin Shinawatra's Thai Rak Thai party is banned. Thousands of soldiers are put on alert.

2007 August - Voters approve a new, military-drafted constitution in a referendum.

Democracy restored

2007 December- General elections mark the first major step towards a return to civilian rule. The People Power Party (PPP), seen as the reincarnation of Thaksin's Thai Rak Thai (Thais Love Thais) party, wins the most votes.

Temple row

Cambodian soldiers patrol past the Preah Vihear temple near the Thai border

The Preah Vihear temple sparked a border standoff with Cambodia

2008 February - Return to civilian rule. Samak Sundaravej of the Thaksin-linked People Power Party (PPP) is sworn in as prime minister. Ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra returns from exile.

2008 July - Pojaman Shinawatra, the wife of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, is found guilty of fraud and sentenced to three years in jail. She is granted bail pending an appeal.

2008 August - Thaksin flees to Britain with his family after failing to appear in court to face corruption charges.

Unrest

2008 September - Opposition protesters occupy Bangkok's main government complex and begin mass anti-government protests calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej.

Constitutional Court dimisses PM Sundaravej for violating a conflict of interest law by hosting two television cooking shows while in office. Somchai Wongsawat chosen by parliament as the new prime minister, but the street protests against the PPP government continue.

2008 October - Thai troops shoot dead two Cambodian soldiers in a firefight on the disputed stretch of the two countries' border, near the Preah Vihear temple.

Thai Supreme Court gives fugitive former PM Thaksin Shinawatra a two-year jail sentence after finding him guilty of corruption over a land deal.

Hmong expulsion

An Ethnic Hmong refugee sits inside a police truck during the operation to deport thousands of Hmong to Laos

The UN voiced concern over the fate of Hmong repatriated from Thailand

2008 November - Tens of thousands of opposition People's Alliance for Democracy supporters rally around parliament in Bangkok and blockade Thailand's main airports in "final battle" to topple the government.

Anti-Thaksin forces in power

2008 December - Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat is forced from office by a Constitutional Court ruling disbanding the governing People Power Party for electoral fraud and barring its leaders from politics for five years.

Opposition leader Abhisit Vejjajiva forms a coalition to become Thailand's new prime minister, the country's third new leader in three months.

2009 March-April - Supporters of former PM Thaksin Shinawatra hold mass rallies against the government's economic policies.

2009 April - Continuing unrest forces the cancellation of an ASEAN summit after anti-government protesters storm the summit venue in the resort of Pattaya.

PM Abhisit Vejjajiva moves troops into Bangkok to end an opposition protest sit-in. More than 120 people injured in resulting clashes.

2009 June - Leaders of the protest group that helped topple Thaksin Shinawatra apply to register themselves as the New Politics Party.

2009 November - Row with Cambodia grows over the appointment of Thaksin Shinawatra as an economic adviser to the Cambodian government. Cambodia takes over Thai-owned air traffic control firm.

2009 December - Up to 20,000 Thaksin supporters rally in Bangkok to demand fresh elections. Mr Thaksin addressed them by video-link.

Thailand deports about 4,000 ethnic Hmong back to communist-ruled Laos, deeming them to be economic migrants. The UN and US expressed concern about their possible reception in Laos.

2010 February - Supreme Court strips Mr Thaksin's family of half of its wealth after ruling that he illegally acquired $1.4bn during his time as PM. Security forces placed on high alert amid fear of clashes with Thaksin supporters.

Red Shirts

2010 March-May - Tens of thousands of Thaksin supporters - in trademark red shirts - paralyse parts of central Bangkok with months-long protests calling for PM Abhisit's resignation and early elections. Troops eventually storm the protesters' barricades in a bid to break the deadlock and end the demonstrations. The death toll in the violence - the worst in the country's modern history - is put at 91.

2010 August - Thailand resumes diplomatic ties with Cambodia after Phnom Penh announces that ousted Thai PM Thaksin Shinawatra is stepping down as its economic advisor.

Protest politics

Red-shirt protesters

Thailand's polarised politics has led to waves of mass protest

2010 November - Thailand extradites Russian national Viktor Bout to the US on charges of arms dealing, after months of legal wrangling. Russia says the move is a "glaring injustice" and politically motivated.

2011 January - Tensions rise as Cambodia charges two Thai citizens with spying after arresting them for crossing the disputed border.

2011 February - After an exchange of fire across the Thai-Cambodian border, the two countries agree to allow Indonesian monitors access to the area to prevent further clashes.

2011 April - Eighteen people are left dead after border dispute over land near the ancient Preah Vihear temple on the Thai-Cambodian sparks armed clashes.

Election sweep

2011 July - The pro-Thaksin Pheu Thai party wins a landslide victory in elections. Yingluck Shinawatra - the sister of Mr Thaksin Shinawatra - becomes prime minister.

2011 October - The government introduces a rice subsidy scheme with the aim of ensuring that farmers - who form the main part of Pheu Thai's social base in the rural north of Thailand - receive a guaranteed price for their rice crop. The scheme causes government debt to soar, and the resulting increase in the price of Thai rice causes the country to lose its rank as the world's number one rice exporter.

2012 June - Anti-government yellow-shirts blockade parliament to prevent debate on proposed reconciliation bill aimed at ending six-tear-old political tensions. Group fears that a proposed amnesty would enable the return of ousted PM Thaksin Shinawatra.

2012 November - Police disperse 10,000-strong protest in Bangkok calling for overthrow of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.

New Pitak Siam (Protect Thailand) movement led by retired Gen Boonlert Kaewprasit unites yellow-shirts and others who see the government as a puppet of exiled former PM Thaksin Shinawatra.

2012 December - Former Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva is charged with responsibility for the death of a taxi driver shot by troops during anti-government protests in Bangkok in 2010.

Peace moves

2013 February - Government, Muslim separatists in south sign first-ever peace talks deal.

2013 April - Constitutional Court blocks moves by ruling Pheu Thai party to amend 2007 post-coup constitution.

2013 June - Government cuts guaranteed price for rice, provoking an angry reaction from farmers and protests in Bangkok.

PM Yingluck Shinawatra reshuffles cabinet for fifth time, sacking commerce minister responsible for rice price subsidy cut and taking on defence portfolio herself.

2013 July - Government, Muslim separatists in south agree to Ramadan ceasefire.

2013 November - Tens of thousands of opposition supporters protest in Bangkok against a proposed political amnesty bill that critics say would allow ousted leader Thaksin Shinawatra - the brother of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra - to return to Thailand without facing jail.

2013-14 mass protests

Thai protester

Demonstrators tried to force prime minister to quit

2013 December - In response to opposition pressure, PM Yingluck Shinawatra announces that early elections will be held in February 2014 but rejects calls for her to step down in the meantime.

Former prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva charged with murder over 2010 crackdown on demonstrators in which more than 90 people died. Mr Abhisit, leader of the opposition Democrat Party, denies the charges and is granted bail.

2014 February - General elections go ahead but the Constitutional Court declares them invalid because of disruption by the opposition.

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