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Thailand never colonized by European countries

Thailand never colonized by European countries

Thailand never colonized by European countries

Colonial period. These two words mark one of the darkest moments in the history of any Southeast Asian country. However, if you read your history book carefully, you might find that “Thailand was never colonized, was it?”

Thailand was never officially colonized by a European country. Although the country had been a target of Britain and France, they had managed to escape their clutches. But that doesn’t mean Thailand got off clean. Drastic loss of territory and political and cultural changes.

Was Thailand Colonized?

Thailand was never officially colonized by a European country. It is the only country in the region that has retained its independence. And that was no easy task. 

Even Britain and France failed to conquer Siam (which became Thailand in the present). That fact alone proved that Siam was something special.

Since both Britain and France were two of the most prominent colonizers at the time, they should have had no problem taking over this small country. But this was not the case.

While Britain ruled the country of Burma (now Myanmar) to the west, France took over eastern Laos, Vietnam, and Cambodia to the east. (source, source, source). 

Both country couldn’t reach their hands beyond those territories. And as a result, Siam managed to escape with minor injuries.

Even though escaping the clutches of the Europeans was impressive, that doesn’t mean Thailand was never colonized. Thailand had been occupied by foreign powers before. The country that Siam was able to conquer long before the rise of colonialism was Burma, Thailand’s greatest nemesis. 

During the days of the Siamese-Burmese War (which happened many times between 1547 and 1855), Siam had twice lost its sovereignty. Once, it was 1564, and once in 1767.

While Siam managed to regain its independence both times, the fact that it was conquered remains.  

However, there is a significant difference between the Burmese and European efforts to take over Siam. While Burma used brute force in wars, Britain and France tried to settle things through diplomatic tactics. Which means they didn’t get much out of Siam.

Thailand never colonized by European countries

How Did Siam Avoid Colonization by a European Nation? 

Thailand never colonized by European countries

With Siam where it was, neither Britain nor France could brazenly invade. If one country did, the other would quickly counterattack; neither wanted the other to conquer the Gulf of Thailand, a valuable trade. Website and a gateway to China. But despite all these tensions, the Pak Nam Incident happened in 1893. 

During the Siamese-French War, three French gunboats ignored Siam’s warning and entered Pak Nam, resulting in a naval battle between the two countries.

The French gunboats were victorious in the end and invaded Bangkok, stationing their guns in the royal palace.  

King Rama V was forced to sacrifice western Laos and several islands in the Mekong to France to save the capital. Also, the French mobilized their fleet and blocked the entrance to Pak Nam, closing the entire trade route. Unable to stand by, Britain was pressured to step in and demand that the French stop.

To avoid further conflict, the French agreed. They withdrew the fleet and reopened Pak Nam but did not give back their newly won territory.

Prepare and modernize the nation by introducing map-making. This avoided the border issues that Europeans might raise to justify colonization. He also centralized administrative power for himself and created the first official army. This may sound strange, but Europeans then loved the idea of ​​a great ruler, so they approved of Siam as a civilized country.

So What Exactly Made Thailand Survive Colonization? 

Now that you’re here, you might conclude that “Thailand got lucky. If Britain and France had come at any other time, Siam would never have become a buffer zone between the two great powers and would have been “trampled fairly easily.” 

If the Europeans had targeted Siam before other Southeast Asian nations, the Siamese monarch would not have had time to prepare. This makes Siam extremely vulnerable.

If these conditions were not met, Siam would have been colonized. But since Siam/Thailand was lucky with such situations, it survived the colonial period. 

This is how Thailand has maintained its independence.

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