The first records in Phuket history originate in the early eleventh century. As far as historians have been able to trace, the first inhabitants of what is now known as Phuket were the Sea Gypsies and the Negritos.
The Negritos are considered by historians as the indigenous inhabitants of Southeast Asia. The Negritos include tribes from the Malay Peninsula, Andaman tribes, Pilipino tribes, and Semang tribes. The Negritos were small, pygmy-sized people. In fact, they are considered to be among the smallest breeds when population size is considered. Genetics experts consider the Negritos’ DNA to be among the purest of any human race.
Junk Ceylon was the first name of Phuket in its history. Historians have found the original name of Phuket on the maps of the Portuguese maritime merchant maps. There was an earlier mention of Junk Ceylon in a book written in AD 157.The book was written by a well-known Greek philosopher. Cladius Ptolemy.
The Greek philosopher mentioned that if one were to travel to the Malaysian peninsula, one would have to go through a cape he called Junk Ceylon. Junk Ceylon was assigned a location between latitudes 6 N and 8 N, which would be the position of present-day Phuket. It appears that the Junk Ceylon was visited by maritime merchants from various countries, as Junk Ceylon Bay offered excellent protection against the forces of nature and gave merchants a chance to rest and resupply.
Recent history of Phuket
Phuket will later be known as Thalang for the city that still exists in the northern region of Phuket. An important part of Phuket’s history was during the 15th century when Phuket gained a reputation as one of the leading tin mining producers. Due to the local mining industry, Phuket became a kind of commercial center.
Due to the large volume of European merchants and traders who were docking at Thalang port, the Thai king during that period decided that Phuket should be managed by a European. Between the period 1681 and 1685, Thalang was administered by a French missionary named Renee Charbonneau.
Another important event in Phuket’s history was in 1785 when enemy troops from neighboring Burma attempted to invade and rule Phuket. Two women from Phuket decided to stand up and defend the island on behalf of the King of Thailand. The former governor’s widow, Chan, and his loyal sister Muk organized a defense that lasted almost a month.
Burmese troops ran out of supplies after they couldn’t get past the defense for more than a month. The attackers had no choice but to retreat as their supplies had run out. The King of Thailand learned of the heroic actions of the two sisters and awarded them the noble titles of Thao Thep Krasattri and Thao Si Sunthon. Even in present-day Phuket, the two sisters have not been forgotten and, in fact, remain honored and respected. In 1966, the two sisters were honored with their own statue that stands at the intersection of Tha Ruea.
Read another article about Phuket history in Phuket guide: all-phuket.com/phuket_history.html