A century later Sukhothai's power was overshadowed by the larger Siamese kingdom of Ayutthaya, established in the mid-14th century. After the sack of Angkor by the Siamese armies in 1431, much of the Khmer court and its Hindu customs were brought to Ayutthaya Kingdom, and Khmer customs and rituals were adopted into the courtly culture of Siam.
After Ayutthaya fell in 1767 to the Burmese, Thonburi was the capital of Thailand for a brief period under King Taksin the Great. The current (Rattanakosin) era of Thai history began in 1782 following the establishment of Bangkok as capital of the Chakri dynasty under King Rama I the Great.
European powers began traveling to Thailand in the 16th century. Despite European pressure, Thailand is the only Southeast Asian nation never to have been colonised by a European country. Two main reasons for this were that Thailand had a long succession of very able rulers in the 1800s and that it was able to exploit the rivalry and tension between the French and the British. As a result, the country remained as a buffer state between parts of Southeast Asia that were colonised by the two colonial powers. Despite this, Western influence led to many reforms in the 19th century and major concessions, most notably being the loss of large territory on the east side of the Mekong to the French and the loss of three predominantly ethnic-Malay southern provinces, which later became Malaysia's three northern states (Anglo-Siamese Treaty of 1909).
In 1932, a bloodless revolution resulted in a new constitutional monarchy. During World War II, Thailand was allied with Japan, while at the same time having an active anti-Japanese resistance movement known as the Seri Thai. After the war, Thailand emerged as an ally of the United States. As with much of the developing nations during the Cold war, Thailand then went through decades of political transgression characterised by coups d'états as one military regime replaced another, but eventually progressed towards a stable democracy in the 1980s.
In 1997, Thailand was hit with the Asian financial crisis and the Thai baht for a short time peaked at 56 baht to the U.S. dollar compared to about 25 baht to the dollar before 1997. Since then the baht has regained most of its strength and as of May 23, 2007, is valued at 33 baht to the US dollar.
The official calendar in Thailand is based on Eastern version of the Buddhist Era, which is 543 years ahead of the Gregorian (western) calendar. For example, the year AD 2007 is called 2550 BE in Thailand.
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