It lies between Siam and the Bay of Bengal, enclosed by mountains on three sides, viz., the main chain of the Bilauktaung on the east, rising in places to 5000 feet, which, with its densely wooded spurs, forms an almost impassable barrier, between British and Siamese territory; the Nwahlabo in the centre, which takes its name from its loftiest peak (5000 ft.); and a third.
Vigorous attacks were also made during this period on the Lao states to the northwest and north-east, followed by vast deportation of the people, and Siamese supremacy was pretty firmly established in Chiengmai and its dependencies by the end of the 18th century, and over the great eastern capitals, Luang Prabang and Vien-chang, about 1828.
In 1863, in order to counteract Siamese influence there, Doudart de Lagree was sent by Admiral la Grandiere to the court of King Norodom, the successor of Ang-Duong, and as a result of his efforts Cambodia placed itself under the protectorate of France.
Other orders are the Siamese Crown (Mongkut Siam), five classes, founded 1869; the family Order of ChulahChon-Clao, three classes, 1873; and the Maha Charkrkri, 1884, only for princes and princesses of the reigning family.
The wars with Cambodia continued with varying success for some 400 years, but Cambodia gradually lost ground and was finally shorn of several provinces, her sovereign falling entirely under Siamese influence.
Many of the stories have their scene laid in Himaphan, the Siamese fairyland, probably originally the Himalaya.
The current Siamese characters are derived from the more monumental Cambodian alphabet, which again owes its origin to the alphabet of the inscriptions, an offshoot of the character found on the stone monuments of southern India in the 6th and 8th centuries.
Mingling with Siamese and Chinese, who form the major part, may be seen persons of almost every race to be found between Bombay and Japan, while Europeans of different nationalities number over 1000.
In contradistinction to the Lao Pong Dam, who have derived their written language from the Burmese character, the eastern race has retained what appears to be the early form of the present Siamese writing, from which it differs little.
An indication, however, foreshadowing the disappearance of extra-territorial rights, appeared in the treaty of 1907 between France and Siam, the former power therein surrendering all such rights where Asiatics are concerned so soon as the Siamese penal and procedure codes should have become law, and this was followed by a much greater innovation in 1909 when Great Britain closed her courts in Siam and surrendered her subjects under certain temporary conditions to the jurisdiction of the Siamese courts.