The Portuguese explorer Fernão Mendes Pinto arrived in Siam in the year 1545 (16th century). His accounts of the country go beyond Ayutthaya and included a reasonably detailed account of ports in the south of the Kingdom as well.
Pinto was one of the first European explorers to mention Phuket in any detail, in his travel accounts. He referred to the island as ‘Junk Ceylon’, a name the Portuguese used for Phuket Island in their maps. Junk Ceylon is mentioned seven times in Mendes Pinto’s accounts. Pinto said that Junk Ceylon was a destination port where trading vessels made regular stops for supplies and provisions, however, during the mid-16th century, the island was in decline due to pirates and often rough and unpredictable seas, which deterred merchant vessels from visiting Junk Ceylon. Pinto mentioned several other notable port cities in his accounts, including Patani and Ligor, which is modern day Nakhon Si Thamarat.
In the 17th century, the Dutch, English and, after the 1680s, the French, competed for the opportunity to trade with the island of Phuket (then known as “Jung Ceylon”), which was a rich source of tin. In September 1680, a ship of the French East India Company visited Phuket and left with a full cargo of tin.
A year or two later, the Siamese King Narai, seeking to reduce Dutch and English influence, named as governor of Phuket a French medical missionary, Brother René Charbonneau, a member of the Siam mission of the Société des Missions Étrangères. Charbonneau remained as governor until 1685.
In 1685, King Narai confirmed the French tin monopoly in Phuket to their ambassador, the Chevalier de Chaumont.:179 Chaumont’s former maître d’hôtel, Sieur de Billy, was named governor of the island.:50 However, the French were expelled from Siam after the 1688 Siamese revolution. On 10 April 1689, Desfarges led an expedition to re-capture Phuket to restore French control in Siam. His occupation of the island led to nothing, and Desfarges returned to Puducherry in January 1690.:185
The Burmese attacked Phuket in 1785. Francis Light, a British East India Company captain passing by the island, notified the local administration that he had observed Burmese forces preparing to attack. Than Phu Ying Chan, the wife of the recently deceased governor, and her sister Mook (คุณมุก) assembled what local forces they could. After a month-long siege of the capital city, the Burmese were forced to retreat on 13 March 1785. The women became local heroines, receiving the royal titles Thao Thep Kasattri and Thao Si Sunthon from a grateful King Rama I. During the reign of King Chulalongkorn (Rama V), Phuket became the administrative center of the tin-producing southern provinces. In 1933 Monthon Phuket (มณฑลภูเก็ต) was dissolved and Phuket became a province.
2004 tsunami in Phuket
On 26 December 2004, Phuket and other nearby areas on Thailand’s western coast suffered extensive damage when they were struck by the Boxing Day tsunami, caused by the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake. The waves destroyed several highly populated areas in the region, killing up to 5,300 people nationwide, and tens of thousands more throughout the Asian region. Some 250 were reported dead in Phuket, including foreign tourists, and as many perhaps as a thousand Burmese workers building new beach resorts in the Khao Lak area. Almost all of the major beaches on the west coast, especially Kamala, Patong, Karon, and Kata sustained major damage, with some damage caused to resorts and villages on the island’s southern beaches.
By February 2005 many damaged resorts were back to business, and life slowly returned to normal. Following strenuous recovery programs, no tsunami damage can now be seen, except on the most remote beaches.
In December 2006, Thailand launched the first of 22 U.S.-made tsunami-detection buoys to be positioned around the Indian Ocean as part of a regional warning system. The satellite-linked deep-sea buoys float 1,000 km (620 mi) offshore, roughly midway between Thailand and Sri Lanka
Ref: Wikipedia Link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phuket_Province