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By outsiders prior to 1949, it was usually known by the exonym Siam (Thai: with the Sanskrit Śyāma (श्याम, meaning "dark" or "brown").

The names Shan and A-hom seem to be variants of the same word.

According to George Cœdès, the word Thai (ไทย) means "free man" in the Thai language, "differentiating the Thai from the natives encompassed in Thai society as serfs.") means "kingdom of Thailand" or "kingdom of Thai".

Etymologically, its components are: ratcha (Sanskrit राजन्, rājan, "king, royal, realm") ; -ana- (Pali āṇā "authority, command, power", itself from the Sanskrit आज्ञा, ājñā, of the same meaning) -chak (from Sanskrit चक्र cakra- "wheel", a symbol of power and rule).

The Thai National Anthem (Thai: ), written by Luang Saranupraphan during the extremely patriotic 1930s, refers to the Thai nation as: prathet Thai (Thai: ประเทศไทย).

The first line of the national anthem is: prathet thai ruam lueat nuea chat chuea thai (Thai: There is evidence of human habitation in Thailand that has been dated at 40,000 years before the present, with stone artifacts dated to this period at Tham Lod Rockshelter in Mae Hong Son.

According to George Cœdès, "The Thai first enter history of Farther India in the eleventh century with the mention of Syam slaves or prisoners of war in" Champa epigraphy, and "in the twelfth century, the bas-reliefs of Angkor Wat" where "a group of warriors" are described as Syam.

Indian influence on Thai culture was partly the result of direct contact with Indian settlers, but mainly it was brought about indirectly via the indianized kingdoms of Dvaravati, Srivijaya, and Cambodia.Thailand is a constitutional monarchy and has switched between parliamentary democracy and military junta for decades, the latest coup being in May 2014 by the National Council for Peace and Order. It 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.Western influence nevertheless led to many reforms in the 19th century and major concessions, most notably the loss of a large territory on the east side of the Mekong to the French and the step-by-step absorption by Britain of the Shan and Karen people areas and Malay Peninsula.As part of the concessions which the Chakri dynasty offered to the British Empire in return for their support, Siam ceded four predominantly ethnic-Malay southern provinces to the British Empire in the Anglo-Siamese Treaty of 1909.

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