The name “Thailand” is associated with the dominant ethnic group, Thai. Thailand was never under European colonial rule. It was an absolute monarchy until 1932, when it became a constitutional monarchy. In 1939 the country’s name was changed from Siam to Thailand.
The population estimate for 2000 is approximately 62 million. There are about 75 ethnic groups, and approximately 84 percent of the population is Thai, including people from other Tai-speaking ethnic groups; the Thai, constitute about 36 percent of the population.
About eighty-five percent of the people are Theravada Buddhists, and the monarch must be a Buddhist. The Buddhism of Central Tais often is referred to as Lankavamsa, reflecting its origins in Sri Lanka.
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