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Why Was Siam Changed to Thailand?

For those who are not familiar with the history of Southeast Asia, the name “Siam” might still be synonymous with the country that is now known as Thailand. But officially, the country has been called Thailand since 1939. This raises the question: why was Siam changed to Thailand?

The Origin of the Name “Siam”

To answer this question, we first have to go back to the origin of the name “Siam.” The name “Siam” has its roots in the Sanskrit word “Shyam,” which means dark or brown. It was the name of a kingdom that was founded in the southern part of present-day Thailand in the 13th century.

Over the centuries, the kingdom expanded its territory and became a major power in Southeast Asia. It also changed its name several times. In the 16th century, the kingdom was known as Ayutthaya, which was the capital city at the time. In the 17th century, it was renamed Siam again.

The Change to Thailand

The change from Siam to Thailand happened in 1939, during the reign of King Rama VIII. The exact reason for the change is not entirely clear, but there are several theories.

One theory is that the name “Siam” had become outdated and did not reflect the modernization and development that the country had undergone in recent years. Changing the name to Thailand, which means “Land of the Free,” was intended to promote national unity and emphasize the country’s independence and sovereignty.

Another theory is that the change was motivated by political considerations. At the time, several other countries in Southeast Asia were also changing their names to promote a sense of national identity and independence. These included Burma (now Myanmar), which had changed its name in 1937, and the Philippines, which had become independent from the United States in 1935.

Finally, it has been suggested that the change to Thailand was also intended to emphasize the unity of the country. Siam had been ruled by a series of powerful monarchs who had expanded the kingdom’s territory and influence, but who had also faced challenges from regional factions that had sought to break away. By changing the name to Thailand, King Rama VIII may have hoped to promote a sense of national unity and solidarity among the country’s diverse regions.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the change from Siam to Thailand was a significant moment in the country’s history. While the exact reasons for the change are not entirely clear, it was likely motivated by a combination of political, cultural, and social factors. Today, the name Thailand is known and recognized around the world, and is an important part of the country’s identity and heritage.

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