THAILAND THE COUNTRY
The only country in Southeast Asia never colonized, Thailand was known for centuries as Siam until 1939 and again between 1945 and 1949. On May 11, 1949, an official proclamation changed the name of the country to ‘Thailand’ or ‘Prathet Thai’ (in Thai language), by which it has since been known. The word ‘Thai’ means ‘Free’, and therefore ‘Thailand’ means ‘Land of the Free.’
Thailand’s distinctive and unparalleled characteristics stem from Indian and Chinese influences (harmoniously blended by Thai eclecticism), rich ethnic diversity, abundant natural and human resources, and over seven hundred years of cherished independence. Thailand’s traditional culture is delicately tuned to the time-honoured Buddhist’s non-confrontational approach to life, and ideals of charity, tolerance and loving-kindness.