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Introduction

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Thailand (Thai: ประเทศไทย) (/ˈtlænd, -lənd/ TY-land, -⁠lənd), officially the Kingdom of Thailand and formerly known as Siam (Thai: สยาม), is a country at the center of the Southeast Asian Indochinese peninsula composed of 76 provinces. At 513,120 km2 (198,120 sq mi) and over 68 million people, Thailand is the world's 50th largest country by total area and the 21st-most-populous country. The capital and largest city is Bangkok, a special administrative area. Thailand is bordered to the north by Myanmar and Laos, to the east by Laos and Cambodia, to the south by the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia, and to the west by the Andaman Sea and the southern extremity of Myanmar. Its maritime boundaries include Vietnam in the Gulf of Thailand to the southeast, and Indonesia and India on the Andaman Sea to the southwest. Although nominally a constitutional monarchy and parliamentary democracy, the most recent coup in 2014 established a de facto military dictatorship.

Tai peoples migrated from southwestern China to mainland Southeast Asia from the 11th century; the oldest known mention of their presence in the region by the exonym Siamese dates to the 12th century. Various Indianised kingdoms such as the Mon, the Khmer Empire and Malay states ruled the region, competing with Thai states such as Ngoenyang, the Sukhothai Kingdom, Lan Na and the Ayutthaya Kingdom, which rivaled each other. European contact began in 1511 with a Portuguese diplomatic mission to Ayutthaya, one of the great powers in the region. Ayutthaya reached its peak during cosmopolitan Narai's reign (1656–88), gradually declining thereafter until being ultimately destroyed in 1767 in a war with Burma. Taksin quickly reunified the fragmented territory and established the short-lived Thonburi Kingdom. He was succeeded in 1782 by Buddha Yodfa Chulaloke, the first monarch of the Chakri dynasty and founder of the Rattanakosin Kingdom, which lasted into the early 20th century.

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In the news

8 February 2019 – 2019 Thai general election
Thai Princess Ubolratana conveyed a message of thanks to Thais on Saturday morning after King Vajiralongkorn issued a royal announcement late on Friday night saying political involvement by a senior royal is inappropriate.(Bangkok Post)
4 February 2019 –
25-year-old Australian footballer and refugee from Bahrain, Hakeem al-Araibi, is ordered to defend an extradition order back to Bahrain in a Bangkok court, after being detained upon arrival in Thailand for his honeymoon with his wife in November 2018. International community is treating it as a human rights issue; a campaign to free al-Araibi and return him to Australia is growing. (news.com.au)
18 January 2019 – South Thailand insurgency
Unknown gunmen shoot dead two Buddhist monks and injure two others in an attack at a temple in Thailand’s mainly Muslim south. (Reuters)
10 January 2019 – South Thailand insurgency
Four civil defense volunteers were shot dead by suspected militants in a school in Pattani's Yarang District. Police suspect the attack could have been done by Barisan Revolusi Nasional. Two insurgents were later killed by the police. (The Thaiger)

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