Thai people, formerly known as Siamese, are the main ethnic group of Thailand. They are part of the larger Tai group of peoples living in Southeast Asia, southern China and north-east India. They speak the Thai language, which has several regional variations. Most Thai people are followers of Theravada Buddhism.
"Thai people" usually refers to central and southern Thai (Tai Siam), northern Thai (Lanna) and Isan people. However, the term has a loose meaning and can sometimes refer to any person from Thailand, not only ethnic Thais.
Thai people most likely originally come from the province of Guangxi in China. Tai peoples began to move south some time between the 8th and 10th centuries. They settled in the valley of the Chao Phraya River. They became heavily influenced by Mon and Khmer and became Buddhist. Early Thai states included the Sukhothai Kingdom and Suphan Buri Province. The Thai were called "Siam" by the Khmer, and were ruled by the Khmer Empire. The Thai people began growing in power after they built Ayutthaya.
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Luo, Wei; Hartmann, John; Li, Jinfang; Sysamouth, Vinya (December 2000). "GIS Mapping and Analysis of Tai Linguistic and Settlement Patterns in Southern China" (PDF). Geographic Information Sciences. DeKalb: Northern Illinois University. 6 (2): 129–136. Retrieved May 28, 2013.
Abstract. By integrating linguistic information and physical geographic features in a GIS environment, this paper maps the spatial variation of terms connected with wet-rice farming of Tai minority groups in southern China and shows that the primary candidate of origin for proto-Tai is in the region of Guangxi-Guizhou, not Yunnan or the middle Yangtze River region as others have proposed....
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The Thai people in the north as well as in the south did not in any sense "migrate en masse to the south" after Kublai Khan's conquest of the Dali Kingdom.
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