Population: 67,741,401 (July 2014 est.) - Note: estimates take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS
Ethnic groups: Thai 95.9%, Burmese 2%, other 1.3%, unspecified 0.9% (2010 est.)
Religions: Buddhist (official) 93.6%, Muslim 4.9%, Christian 1.2%, other 0.2%, none 0.1% (2010 est.)
History of Thailand:
Formerly known as Siam, the Thais began settling in the 6th century, and by the end of the 13th century, ruled most of the western portion. During the next 400 years, they fought sporadically with the Cambodians to the east and the Burmese to the west. The British gained a colonial foothold in the region in 1824, but by 1896 an Anglo-French accord guaranteed the independence of Thailand.
A bloodless revolution in 1932 led to a constitutional monarchy. In alliance with Japan during World War II, Thailand became a United States treaty ally following the conflict.
Following several years of unprecedented economic growth, Thailand's economy collapsed under the weight of foreign debt in 1997. The Thai government accepted restructuring guidelines as a condition of the $17 billion bailout from the International Monetary Fund. Thaksin Shinawatra, head of the Thai Rak Thai Party, became prime minister in January 2001.
In February 2003, Thaksin announced plans to eliminate the drug trade from Thailand. When the operation concluded, nearly 2,300 people had been killed. Government officials claimed responsibility for about 35 of the casualties, blaming drug dealers and gang members for the other deaths. Human rights activists suspected police forces had been overly aggressive in the campaign.
Violence plagued Thailand's Muslim-dominated southern provinces since the beginning of 2004, with armed insurgents attacking police stations, security stations, and military depots.The violence intensified in July 2005, prompting Thaksin to declare a state of emergency in the south.
Thaksin made history in the February 2005 elections, becoming the first prime minister to serve two consecutive terms. In 2006, Thaksin was criticized when he sold his family's share of a communications company for nearly $2 billion without paying taxes. About 60,000 demonstrators gathered in Bangkok and called for his resignation. Two cabinet members resigned in protest. Thaksin dissolved parliament in late February and called for early elections. In April, he announced his resignation. After leaving office for seven weeks, Thaksin returned to the role of prime minister.
In September 2006, the military, led by Gen. Sondhi Boonyaratkalin, staged a bloodless coup and declared martial law while Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra was at the meeting of the UN General Assembly in New York. In October, Surayud Chulanont was sworn in as prime minister.
In May 2007, a constitutional court found the political party of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, Thai Rak Thai, guilty of election fraud and banned it from participating in government for five years. The interim government held elections in December 2007 that saw the People's Power Party (PPP) emerge at the head of a coalition government. In May 2008, the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) began street demonstrations against the new government, eventually occupying the prime minister's office.
In July 2008, Unesco designated the Preah Vihear temple, which sits on the Cambodian side of the Cambodian-Thai border, as a UN World Heritage Site. The move stirred tensions on both sides. Both countries moved troops to disputed land near the temple. Skirmishing broke out between Cambodian and Thai troops in October 2008, and two Cambodian soldiers were killed.
In August 2008, thousands of PAD protesters staged a sit-in outside the government buildings in Bangkok, calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej. Demonstrators were seeking to change the governing and electoral process that has empowered the rural majority, who PAD members say are "ill educated," at the expense of the elite. About a week into the sit-in, pro-government protesters launched a counter-demonstration, which turned violent, prompting the government to declare a state of emergency, which the military and police did not enforce. Army commander Gen. Anupong Paochinda declared neutrality in the conflict.
Samak was forced to resign in September when Thailand's Constitutional Court ruled that he violated the constitution, which prohibits working in the private sector while in office, by being paid to appear on the cooking show "Tasting and Complaining." Somchai Wongsawat, the first deputy prime minister, became acting prime minister.
On October 7, 2008, two people were killed and more than 400 wounded in fighting between security forces and anti-government protesters when demonstrators barricaded lawmakers inside the Parliament building and the army was deployed. PAD protesters were buoyed by an October ruling by Thailand's anti-corruption court that found Thaksin guilty of corruption over a land deal. The court sentenced him to two years in prison.
On November 25, 2008, protesters shut down Bangkok's Suvarnaabhumi International Airport, creating a national crisis and stranding tourists. The next day, Thailand's army chief, Gen. Anupong Paochinda, urged Prime Minister Somchai to resign and call new elections. Somchai refused to heed Anupong's advice and declared a state of emergency and authorized the police and military to evict the protesters.
The PAD ended their protests in early December 2008 following a court ruling that dissolved the ruling PPP and two other coalition parties for election violations. The Democrat Party then formed a new coalition government with the support of some of Thaksin's former political allies, and Abhisit Vejjajiva became prime minister.
By April of 2009, mass political unrest had returned to Thailand. Protesters loyal to former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, called red shirts, interrupted a meeting of Asian leaders that was being held at a Thai resort. Prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva cancelled the meeting and declared a state of emergency. He then ordered the Thai army to break up the protest in the capital of Bangkok. On April 14th, the protestors surrendered and peace was restored to the streets.
Pro- and anti-Thaksin demonstrations continued throughout 2009, peaking in December when some 20,000 Thaksin supporters gathered in Bangkok to demand new elections. In March 2010, about 100,000 red shirts assembled in Bangkok and demanded that Prime Minister Abhisit dissolve Parliament and call new elections. Abhisit refused, but did agree to meet with opposition leaders. At the meeting, he agreed to call new elections but did not set a timetable. Abhisit declared a state of emergency in early April after protesters broke into the Parliament building, prompting government officials to flee the structure by helicopter. The protests continued into May, with the red shirts taking over central Bangkok.
Abhisit offered to hold early elections if the protesters called off their demonstrations, but they rejected the gesture. Abhisit withdrew his offer and ordered troops to blockade the protest area. What started as a peaceful protest disintegrated into violence, and the military fired upon the protesters, hitting Khattiya Sawatdiphol, a general who sided with the red shirts. He later died of his injuries. His death sparked further violence, and the protesters retaliated with grenade attacks. The red shirts then offered to negotiate with government, but were rebuffed and engaged in large-scale rioting, looting, and the firebombing of several buildings, including Thailand's stock exchange and largest department store. The government cracked down on the movement, and on May 19, the rioters dispersed and protest leaders surrendered and will face terrorism charges. In the 68 days of the protests, 68 people died.
Border skirmishes with Cambodia resumed again in April 2011, as both sides accused each other of trying to seize ancient temples.
In July 2011, the Pheu Thai party, backed by former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, won a majority in Parliament. Yingluck Shinawatra, the younger sister of Thaksin Shinawatra, became prime minister.
In February 2013, the government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra agreed to peace talks with leaders of the Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN).
In early November 2013, Thailand's lower house passed a bill granting amnesty to those accused of offenses committed after the coup. The amnesty law would have covered Thaksin Shinawatra. The bill failed to pass the Senate. Thousands of people took to the streets demanding the resignation of Yingluck Shinawatra. On December 9, Yingluck dissolved parliament and called for early elections.
The opposition boycotted elections on February 2, 2014, preventing the delivery of ballot boxes to some precincts. Under Thailand's constitution, 95% of parliament must be seated in order for a government to be formed.
The Constitutional Court ordered Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to resign in May 2014 after ruling that she abused power when she removed a civil servant from his post and replaced him with a relative. Deputy Prime Minister Niwattumrong Boonsongpaisan took over as acting prime minister.
On May 20, 2014, Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha, the army chief, declared martial law. Two days later, Gen. Prayuth announced he had seized power from the interim government in a coup.
The following are some Scriptures that deal with end-time events. All prophecies concerning the nations are leading up to fulfillment of end-time judgments (events).
Ezekiel chapters 38 & 39
Zechariah 13: 8-9
Zechariah 14: 1-16
Daniel chapters 2, 4, 7-12
Matthew 24: 1-51
Mark 13: 1-37
Luke 21: 6-38
The book of Revelation
The book of Joel
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