Thailand is a country at the centre of the Indochinese peninsula in Mainland Southeast Asia, with a total area of approximately 513,000 km2 (198,000 sq mi), Thailand is the world’s 51st-largest country. It is the 20th-most-populous country in the world, with around 66 million people.
Thailand experienced rapid economic growth between 1985 and 1996, becoming a newly industrialised country and a major exporter. Manufacturing, agriculture, and tourism are leading sectors of the economy.Among the ten ASEAN countries, Thailand ranks third in quality of life and the country’s HDI is rated as “high”. Its large population and growing economic influence have made it a middle power in the region and around the world.
These photos below are from BU Int’l Center for E. Asian Archaeology & Cultural History’s collection, taken by a Hasselblad 500C camera.
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The history of Thailand since 1973 saw an unstable period of democracy, with military rule being reimposed after a bloody coup in 1976. (The previous military rulers had been removed, as a result of the revolution of 14 October 1973.)
For most of the 1980s, Thailand was ruled by prime minister Prem Tinsulanonda, a democratically-inclined strongman who restored parliamentary politics. Thereafter the country remained a democracy apart from a brief period of military rule from 1991 to 1992. The populist Thai Rak Thai party, led by prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, governed from 2001 until 2006. In 2006 mass protests against the Thai Rak Thai party’s alleged corruption, prompted the military to stage a coup d’état, in September. A general election in December 2007 restored a civilian government, but in May 2014 another military coup returned the absolute power to the army.
The events of October 1973 amounted to a revolution in Thai politics. For the first time the urban middle class, led by the students, had challenged the ruling junta, and had gained the apparent blessing of the king for a transition to democracy. The leaders of the junta were forced to step down; they took refuge in the United States or Taiwan.
Thailand, however, had not yet produced a political class able to make this bold new democracy function smoothly. The January 1975 elections failed to produce a stable party majority, and fresh elections in April 1976 produced the same result. The veteran politician Seni Pramoj and his brother Kukrit Pramoj alternated in power, but were unable to carry out a coherent reform program. The sharp increase in oil prices in 1974 led to recession and inflation, weakening the government’s position. The democratic government’s most popular move was to secure the withdrawal of American forces from Thailand. The communist insurgency led by the Thai communist party gradually became more active in the countryside, allying with urban intellectuals and students.
South Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia fell to communist forces in 1975. The threat of the communists in the neighboring countries soon led to panic among the people. The arrival of communist regimes on Thailand’s borders, the abolition of the 600-year-old Lao monarchy, and the arrival of a flood of refugees from Laos and Cambodia swung public opinion in Thailand to the right, and conservatives did much better in the 1976 elections than they had done in 1975.