Sukhothai is one of Thailand’s earliest and most important historical cities. Originally a provincial town within the Angkor-based Khmer empire, Sukhothai gained its independence in the 13th century and became established as the capital of the first united and independent Tai state. The ancient town is reported to have had some 80,000 inhabitants. After 1351, when Ayutthaya was founded as the capital of a powerful rival Tai dynasty, Sukhothai’s influence began to decline, and in 1438 the town was conquered and incorporated into the Ayutthaya kingdom. Sukhothai was abandoned in the late 15th or early 16th century.