Phuket island has a long
recorded history, and remains dating back to A.D. 1025 indicate
that the islands present day name derives in meaning from the Tamil
manikram, or crystal mountain. For most of history, however, it
was know as Junk Ceylon, which, with variations, is the name found
on old maps. The name is thought to have its roots in. Ptolemy's
Geographia, written by the Alexandrian geographer in the Third Century
A.D. He mentioned that in making a trip from Suwannapum to the Malay
Peninsula it was necessary to pass the cape of Jang Si Lang.
Phuket was a way station on the route between India and China where
seafarers stopped to shelter. The island appears to have been part
of the Shivite empire (called in Thai the Tam Porn Ling) that established
itself on the Malay Peninsula during the first Millenium A.D. Later,
as Muang Takua-Talang, it was part of the Srivichai and Siri Tahm
empires. Governed as the eleventh in a constellation of twelve cities,
Phuket's emblem, by which it was known to others in those largely
per-literate times, was the dog.
During the Sukothai period, Phuket was associated with Takua Pah
in what is now Phang-nga province, another area with vast tin reserve.
The Dutch established a trading post during the Ayuthaya Period
in the 16th Cent. The island's northern and central regions then
were governed by the Thais, and the southern and western parts were
given over to the tin trade, a concession in the hands of foreigners.
After Ayuthaya was sacked by the Burmese in 1767, there was a short
interregnum in Thailand, ended by King Taksin, who drove out the
Burmese and re-unified the country. The Burmese, however, were anxious
to return to the offensive. They outfitted a fleet to raid the southern
provinces, and carry off the populations to slavery in Burma. This
led to Phuket's most memorable historic event. A passing sea captain,
Francis Light, sent word that the Burmese were en route to attack.
Forces in Phuket were assembled led by the two heroines, Kunying
Jan, wife of Phuket's recently deceased governor, and her sister
Mook. After a month's siege, the Burmese were forced to depart on
13 March, 1785. Kunying Jan and her sister were credited with the
In recognition King Rama I bestowed upon Kunying Jan the honorific
Thao Thep Kasatri, a title of nobility usually reserved for royalty,
by which she is known today. Her sister became Thao Sri Suntorn.
During the Nineteenth Century, Chinese immigrants arrived in such
numbers to work the tin mines that the ethnic character of the island's
interior became predominantly Chinese, while the coastal settlements
remained populated chiefly by Muslim fishermen.
In Rama V's reign, Phuket became the administrative center of a
group of tin mining provinces called Monton Phuket, and in 1933,
with the change in government from absolute monarchy to a parliamentary
system,the island was established as a province by itself.
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