The modern Nation of Thailand is a multicultural society. The predominant Thai culture, identity and civilization emerged as a by product of the interaction of the indigenous population with Tai and other immigrant peoples [ including Chinese and Indian ]. When people call themselves ” Thai ” they mean they are in the political sense, subjects of the Thailand nation. If explored further the word has a cultural and, for many, a linguistic sense. However not all Thailand citizens speak Thai and of those who do so it is a second language for them. This Thai identity in its present form is relatively recent.
The first inhabitants are described in the Prehistory link. After prehistoric times there were the Mon, the Khmer and other Austro-Asiatic tribes such as the Lawa, H’ tin, etc. Their defining moments are up until 1300 and the arrival of the Tai tribes. The Khmer who established the Kingdom of Chenla and Angkor are described in East Thailand People although Khmer influence was significant elsewhere as well.
The Austro-Asiatic speakers including the Mon are considered in North Thailand People and Central Thailand People regions. The Mon had separate kingdoms in each region. The other Austro-Asiatic speaking tribes are considered but these were less significant. In North Thailand People we describe the smaller groups of Austro-Asiatic speakers such as the Lawa, H’ tin and other hunters and gathers of that region.
The Tai tribes [of which we identify 30 groups] are considered in the regions of Central Thailand, North Thailand, South or Southern Thailand and North East Thailand. These regions are relevant in that ethnic diversity is also varied through out the regions of Thailand. Modern Thailand is a modern political Nation now comprising what were historically numerous ethnic cultures and Kingdoms. The ethnic characteristics, belief systems, languages and lifestyles of each of all the tribes are compared also within these links. As between the Tai tribes the points of comparison are language and script, culture and art and architecture style. As between all the other ethnic tribes the points of comparison are language groups, monogamous and polygamous cultures, animist and non animist beliefs, ancestor worship or not, indic script or Khmer based text, highland dwellers [dry rice farmers] or lowland farmers [wet rice farmers], heirarchical and non hierarchical societies, spirit beliefs and religion [Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu, Taoist, animist, etc].