Siam

Siam (9,000 of Siamese, Chinese, Shans, and Malays), occupies the central portion of the Indo-Chinese peninsula, wedged in between Annam and Cambodia (E.) and Burma (W.), and extending down into the Malay Peninsula; the wide Gulf of Siam forms the southern boundary; the rich alluvial valleys of the Menam and the Mekhong produce great quantities of rice (chief export), teak-wood, hemp, tobacco, cotton, etc., but of the land surface only about one-twentieth is cultivated, a large portion of the rest lying under forest and jungle; the Siamese are indolent, ignorant, ceremonious, and the trade is mainly in the hands of the Chinese; the mining of gold, tin, and especially rubies and sapphires, is also carried on. Buddhism is the national religion, and elementary education is well advanced; government is vested in a king (at present an enlightened and English-educated monarch) and council of ministers; since Sir J. Bowring's treaty in 1856, opening up the country to European trade and influences, progress has been considerable in roads and railway, electric, telephonic, and postal communication. Bangkok (q.v.) is the capital. In 1893 a large tract of territory NE. of the Mekhong was ceded to France.

Definition taken from The Nuttall Encyclopædia, edited by the Reverend James Wood (1907)

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