24 June 1939

Siam is renamed Thailand by Plaek Phibunsongkhram, the country’s third prime minister.

The country we now know as Thailand was historically known as Siam until 1939. The renaming of Siam to Thailand was primarily driven by a desire to promote national identity and unity.

The word “Siam” was an exonym given by outsiders, and it did not reflect how the people of the region referred to their own country. In the Thai language, the country has always been referred to as “Prathet Thai,” which means “land of the free.”

During the early 20th century, there was a growing movement among Thai intellectuals and political leaders to assert a sense of nationalism and modernize the country. As part of this movement, the government decided to change the name of the country to Thailand.

The name “Thailand” carries significant meaning. “Thai” means “free” or “freedom,” while “land” refers to the nation’s territory. The new name was seen as a symbol of independence and unity, reflecting the aspirations of the Thai people to preserve their sovereignty and establish a strong national identity.

The decision to change the name from Siam to Thailand was not universally accepted or uncontroversial at the time. Some argued that Siam was a historically significant name with cultural and traditional roots. However, the change eventually became widely recognized and accepted, and the country has been officially known as Thailand since 1939.