Timeline: Thailand

Timeline: Thailand

A chronology of key events:

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

Thai capital Bangkok
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

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.

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.

Traditional Thai dance performer

Classical dance is inspired by ancient myths, religious tales

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.

Emerald Buddha temple, Bangkok
Golden figure guards Temple of Emerald Buddha, Bangkok

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

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.

Opium crop eradication underway near Thai-Burmese border
Thousands were killed in controversial anti-drug drive

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

2001 January – Elections won by Thaksin
Shinawatra of new Thai Love Thai party. Allegations of vote-buying
force partial re-run of poll. Thaksin forms coalition government.

2001 March – A plane Thaksin is due to board explodes. Police say a bomb is to blame.

2001 June – Prime Minister Thaksin visits Burma
to discuss drugs and border tensions. He says relations are now back on
track. Within days the Mae Sai-Tachilek border crossing is opened again
after clashes between Thai and Burmese troops in February.

2001 August – Thaksin is cleared of assets
concealment. A conviction by the Thai Constitutional Court could have
meant a five-year ban from politics.

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

Temple row

2003 January – Serious diplomatic upset with
Cambodia over comments attributed to a Thai actress that Cambodia’s
Angkor Wat temple complex was stolen from Thailand. Angry crowds attack
the Thai embassy in the Cambodian capital. More than 500 Thai nationals
are evacuated.

Soldier on patrol in Bacho, southern Thailand
Violence plagues the mainly-Muslim south

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

2004 January-March – More than 100 are killed in
a wave of attacks in the largely-Muslim south. The government blames
Islamic militants. Martial law is imposed.

2004 April – More than 100 suspected Islamic
insurgents are killed after launching coordinated dawn 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 that they were not killed


Thai king, June 2006
King Bhumibol Adulyadej – the world’s longest-reigning monarch

2004 December – Thousands of people are killed when massive
waves, caused by a powerful undersea earthquake off the Indonesian
coast, devastate communities on the south-west coast, including the
resort of Phuket.

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.

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.

Soldier outside government house, Bangkok, September 2006
A military coup saw the ousting of Prime Minister Thaksin

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 September – Six simultaneous motorcycle
bombs kill three people and wound more than 60 on a busy street in the
southern town of Hat Yai.

2006 19 September – Military leaders stage a bloodless coup while Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra is at the UN General Assembly.

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