The Thais migrated to the present territory from Nan Chao in the Yunnan area of China in the 8th and 9th centuries. Thailand’s leading general, Chao Phraya Chakkri, assumed the throne in 1782, thus establishing the dynasty which still heads the Thai state. Siam, as Thailand was called until 1939, remained an independent state ruled by an absolute monarchy until 24 June 1932. Discontented with the social, political and economic stagnation of the country, a group of rebels calling themselves the People’s Party precipitated a bloodless coup. The rebels seized control of the army and persuaded the king to accept the introduction of constitutional monarchy. When, the following year, the king tried to dissolve the newly appointed General Assembly, the army moved to prevent him, thus becoming the dominant force behind the government, which they have remained ever since. Nationalism dominated political life through the 1930s. In 1939 Field Marshal Pibul Songgram became premier and embarked on a pro-Japanese policy that brought Thailand into the Second World War on Japan’s side.
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