Never formally colonized, thailand emerged as a modern nation-state in the mid- to late-19th century during the period of European colonial expansion in Southeast Asia. This country's elongated geography is a result of its own imperial expansion out from its central core in the valleys of the Chao Phraya River to the north, south, and northeast. Linguistically, the country is diverse, although Central Thai is the dominant, formally recognized language taught in schools and used in all public affairs.

This linguistic diversity parallels the ethnic and religious diversity in the country, which not only represents a number of Thai speakers (Northern Thai, Northeastern Thai, and Southern Thai), but also a number of minority ethnic groups, euphemistically called “hill tribes” or chaaw khaaw in Thai. While Buddhism ...

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