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The country has always been called Mueang Thai by her citizens; but by others, by the exonym Siam (Thai: สยาม RTGS: Sayam. Also spelled Siem, Syâm or Syâma, it has been identified with the Sanskrit Śyâma (श्याम, meaning "dark" or "brown"). The names Shan and A-hom seem to be variants of the same word, and Śyâma is possibly not its origin but a learned and artificial distortion.

The signature of King Mongkut (r. 1851 – 1868) reads SPPM (Somdet Phra Poramenthra Maha) Mongkut King of Siam, giving it official status until 23 June 1939 when it was changed to Thailand.Thailand was renamed Siam from 1945 to 11 May 1949, after which it again reverted to Thailand.

The word Thai (ไทย) is not, as commonly believed,derived from the word Thai (ไท) meaning "independence" in the Thai language; it is, however, the name of an ethnic group from the central plains (the Thai people).A famous Thai scholar argued that Thai (ไท) simply means "people" or "human being" since his investigation shows that in some rural areas the word "Thai" was used instead of the usual Thai word "khon" (คน) for people.

The Thai use the phrase "land of the free" to express pride in the fact that Thailand is the only country in Southeast Asia never colonized by a European power.


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