Initially known as Siam, Thailand is the only south-east Asian country to have not been colonised. It did not, however, escape political turmoil with a series of coups and periods of military rule. Despite a booming tourism industry, economic modernisation, and political instability, Thailand remains a predominantly Buddhist country.
Thai literature reflects that influence, as well as the strong influence of Indian culture. The Ramakien, Thailand's national epic, is a variation of the Ramayana. Sunthorn Phu is the most important poet of Thai literature. Contemporary writers include Pira Sudham, who writes in English, Kukrit Pramoi, and Khamsing Srinawk.
Thailand cinema is well-represented by directors such as Nonzee Nimibutr, Pen-Ek Ratanaruang and Apichatpong Weerasethakul. Weerasethakul's 2002 feature Blissfully Yours won the Un Certain Regard prize at the 2002 Cannes Film Festival. Two years later, his Tropical Maladywon the Cannes Jury Prize. Most recently, Weerasethakul's Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives won the Palme d'Or at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival.