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It is the 20th-most-populous country in the world, with around 69 million people.
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.
In 1431, the Khmer abandoned Angkor after Ayutthaya forces invaded the city.
Thailand retained a tradition of trade with its neighbouring states, from China to India, Persia, and Arab lands.
In 1287, three Thai chiefs, Mangrai, Ngam Muang, and Ram Khamhaeng formed a "strong pact of friendship".
After the fall of the Khmer Empire in the 13th century, various states thrived there, established by the various Tai peoples, Mons, Khmers, Chams and Ethnic Malays, as seen through the numerous archaeological sites and artefacts that are scattered throughout the Siamese landscape.
The country has always been called Mueang Thai by its citizens.
By outsiders prior to 1949, it was usually known by the exonym Siam (Thai: with the Sanskrit Śyāma (श्याम, meaning "dark" or "brown").
The Thai National Anthem (Thai: ), written by Luang Saranupraphan during the extremely patriotic 1930s, refers to the Thai nation as: prathet Thai (Thai: ประเทศไทย).
Ayutthaya became one of the most vibrant trading centres in Asia.
European traders arrived in the early 16th century, beginning with the envoy of Portuguese duke Afonso de Albuquerque in 1511, followed by the French, Dutch, and English.
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.
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.