Northern Thailand

Northern Thailand ( Thai: ภาค เหนือ, pronunciation: [ p ʰ â ː k- nʉ̌a ] ) is one of the regions in Thailand that have been defined to geographical and statistical purposes, but have no political significance. Northern Thailand is also an own cultural space.

The northern region in the narrow sense, after the Six - regions model of the National Geographic Committee comprising nine provinces ( Changwat ) of the Thai highlands. After four region system as it is used in certain statistical and administrative contexts, an expanded Northern Thailand includes a total of 17 provinces. The cultural and economic center of the region is Chiang Mai.


The north of Thailand is influenced by several mountain systems: the Daen Lao Mountains in the northern, the Thanon Thong Chai Mountain Range in the west and the Phi Pan Nam mountain range in the eastern part. The highest mountain of Thailand Doi Inthanon is also located in the region. Due to the higher altitude the temperatures are usually much lower than in Central Thailand, in the mountains it can even come in the winter frosts. The main rivers are Yom, Ping, Wang and Nan.


The history of Northern Thailand is essentially that of the Kingdom of Lan Na, which controlled the entire north in its heyday in the 15th century. In the later centuries, the region was a frequent battleground between Thai and Burmese, many of the cities it was completely depopulated. Only after the fall of Ayutthaya and the resurgence of Siam under King Taksin the north calmed down. Lan Na was required as a dependent kingdom the king in Bangkok to toll, and the reforms of Prince Damrong Rajanubhab it was in 1899 and later incorporated as Monthon Phayap and as several provinces in the Thai central government.

Population, language and culture

Which belongs to the group of the Tai peoples majority population (80 %) of Northern Thailand has been considered in the past as a separate ethnic group ( Tai) yuan or even as western Lao, but not in actual Siamese ( old name for Thai). They described themselves as Khon Müang ( " people of our Müang " ) and had their own language, which is named after the northern Thai kingdom of Lanna language, which they call themselves Tai Yuan Kam Müang ( " language of our Müang "). This was with the Lanna alphabet, also called Dhamma script written. From 1939 throughout Thailand should united under the nationalist policies of the Prime Minister Phibunsongkhram and unified in ethnic and cultural terms are ( Thaiisierung ). From ethnic and regional differences could not be spoken. All Thais ( with the exception of a recognized minority hill tribes ) had as Thai (not more or Lao Yuan) are referred to. In North Thailand the use of the central Thai dialect was forced. The Lanna script could no longer be used.

Today 6 million people in northern Thailand Kam Müang native speakers. But almost all can also Standard Thai is taught in the schools, written in newspapers and spoken on the radio. Since the 1990s, there is room in Chiang Mai again ethno- regionalist aspirations. This manifested itself especially during the 700 - year celebration of Chiang Mai in 1996, when some northern Thais looked with pride on the much older story of their "capital" from the relatively young Bangkok. On special occasions to dress some Northern Thai women, especially the middle and upper classes, aware in the traditional peoples of the north style. Occasionally, signs will be installed with labels in Lanna script to emphasize a certain regional character. Local traditions are exploited commercially and touristy.

As a recognized ethnic minorities in Northern Thailand different ethnic groups, which are summarized as " mountain people ". The most important among them are Karen, Lisu, Akha, Lahu, Mien ( Yao ) and Hmong. Most of them have migrated from southern China and Burma from the 19th century. Approximately one million people heard these peoples with their own cultural traditions, languages ​​and faiths.

Administrative structure

The regions of Thailand have no administrative significance, but are simply defined to geographical or statistical purposes. After the Six - regions model are the northern region nine provinces, 17 provinces assigned according to the four region system.

The table on the left includes the provinces of northern Thailand in the strict sense. The right are the provinces which belong to another definition of Northern Thailand, geographically and culturally, but to Central Thailand, or the Tak province to western Thailand.