Known as Siam until 1939, Thailand is the only South-East Asian country never to have been taken over by a European power, and fiercely proud of that fact. The independence was remained by King Rama V, who reigned from 1868 to 1910, which was the period to force with the French and English colonization.
Rama V was also the king of the administrative restructuring and the modernization of the country. Even nowadays, almost century after his death, this monarch remains profoundly respected by Thai people.
In 1932, peaceful coup d’état transformed the political face of the Kingdom, led an absolute monarchy to a parliamentary monarchy. Although 18 constitutions promulgated from 1932 till 2007 guarantee the respect of the democracy, but until the 1980s, Thai political life was especially affected by coup d’état.
Thailand knew the second wave of modernization during the Vietnam War, in which Vietnam obtained helps from the United States in return Vietnam authorized American base on its territory. However, Thai society remains traditionalist. The religion and the monarchy keep an important place in society.
Thailand remains a parliamentary monarchy. The new constitution, accepted by the people by referendum in August, 2007, guarantees the separation of the powers and the democratic principles. King, His Majesty Bhumipole (or Rama IX) has officially no political power, but enjoys an immense respect with his 60 million subjects. Above it all preside before the King Bhumibol Adulyadej (Rama IX), the world's longest-reigning monarch and a deeply loved and respected figure of near-mythic proportions.
This respect can be explained by its constant interest for the development of poor areas and his arbitrary attitude.
At 513 115 km2 (198,000 sq mi), Thailand is situated in the heart of the South-East Asia, between India and China, between the Indo-Chinese peninsula and the Malay Peninsula. It is similar in land size to France. Thailand is divided into four main parts: the north of the country is mountainous; the northeast consists of the Khorat Plateau, the centre plain and the south. Big cities, such as Bangkok, Nakhon Ratchassima and Chiang Mai, welcome the drift from the land which began since the mid-1970s, and which is expected continue to 2020s.Thailand is even, in 2008, a country mainly rural. The farming sector employs nearly of 40 % of working population, while the secondary sector and the services represent 16 % and 54 %.