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Chiang Mai (เชียงใหม่)

Thai. ‘New City’. The city of Chiang Mai is also the capital of the province of the same name (map) and is situated in North Thailand (fig.) along the banks of the Ping River (fig.), at about 745 km North of Bangkok and on an altitude of roughly 310 meters above sea level. The city now has a population of approximately 168,000, whilst the province has around 1,650,00 inhabitants. It was formerly named Nopburi Sri Nakhon Phing. The city was founded in 1296 AD by king Mengrai as the new capital of the Lan Na kingdom. He consolidated his power in the northern regions by making a pact with the rulers of two neighboring kingdoms (fig.), i.e. King Ramkamhaeng of Sukhothai and king Ngam Meuang of Phayao. In 1558 the city of fell to the Burmese forces of king Bayinnaung when Phra Chao Burengnong captured the city from Phra Chao Mekuthi in a three-day battle. It was made a vassal of Burma, required to pay annual tributes of silver and gold trees. Phra Chao Mekuthi tried to get rid of the Burmese control and was consequently deposed in 1564. For many years Chiang Mai and the North had been struggling under Burmese oppressive rule, especially when the area came to be used as the major forward base for Burmese military operations against Ayutthaya and Thonburi, and its population was frequently called upon to provide manpower. In 1774, Lan Na forces under the command of Prince Chaban, ruler of Chiang Mai and Chao Kawila, then ruler of Lampang and a descendant of the house of Thipchakratiwong, were sent by the Burmese to help defend against an invading Siamese army from Thonburi, but instead went over to the Siamese side and joined forces with the troops of King Taksin in recapturing the main northern cities and driving out the Burmese occupiers. By the time Chiang Mai was recaptured the city was however almost completely abandoned, due to the foreign suppression and the fact that the Burmese used it as a base to wage their military campaigns. Chao Kawila consequently repopulated the city with local people as well as with Shan and other ethnic groups, formally re-establishing the city in 1796. Being allied to the Siamese, king Rama V in 1892 took over the administration of Chiang Mai which in 1932 became a province of Siam. The province today covers an area of 20,107 kmē and has 22 amphur, two king amphur, 204 tambon and 1,915 villages. In size of area is the second-biggest province of Thailand, but with regards to population it ranks only sixth. Its places of interest include Thailand's highest mountain Doi Inthanon (map - fig.) in Doi Inthanon National Park (map - fig.), Wachirathan Waterfall (map - fig.), the famous Buddhist temple Wat Doi Suthep (map - fig.), Wat Phrathat Sri Chom Thong Wora Wihaan (map - fig.), Uthayaan Phuttasathaan Suttichit (map - fig.), Oub Luang National Park (map - fig.), the daily night bazaar, the giant pandas Chuang-Chuang and Lin-Hui (map - fig.), Mae Fahng National Park (map - fig.), Chiang Dao Cave (map - fig.), Doi Suthep-Pui National Park (map - fig.), Huay Nahm Dang National Park (map - fig.), the Northern Telecoms of Thailand Museum (map - fig.), the Inthakhin Chiang Mai (fig.) or City Pillar (map - fig.), Tha Phae Gate (map - fig.), Chiang Mai House of Photography (map - fig.), and Lanna Folklife Museum (map - fig.), etc. Popular activities would include mountain hiking. The city also maintains a tradition of local handicraft manufacturing, such as the making of umbrellas, woodcarvings and furniture, silk weaving, silver and bronze artifacts, etc. The province is home to several hill tribe peoples and is bordered by Burma's Shan State in the North, Chiang Rai in the Northeast, Lamphun and Lampang in the East, Tak in the South and Mae Hong Son in the West. Its main waterways are the Ping, Fang, Taeng and Kuang rivers. The occupation of the Chiang Mai people includes trading and business, rice farming, fruit and vegetable cultivation, fresh water fishing and gardening. The province has many lamyai trees. See also Chiang Mai data file and MAP.