Nan Province is one of Thailand’s seventy-six provinces (Changwat) lies in upper northern Thailand. Neighboring provinces are (from the south clockwise): Uttaradit, Phrae, and Phayao. To the north and east, it borders Sainyabuli of Laos.
Geography of Nan Province
The province is in the remote Nan River valley, surrounded by forested mountains, the Phlueng Range in the western part and the Luang Prabang Range in the east. The highest mountain is the 2,079 meters high Phu Khe in Bo Kluea District, northeast of the city of Nan towards the border with Laos.
The climate of Nan Province
Nan Province has a tropical savanna climate. Winters are quite dry and very warm. Temperatures rise until April, which is very hot with the average daily maximum at 37.0 °C (98.6 °F). The monsoon season runs from late April through October, with heavy rain and somewhat cooler temperatures during the day, although nights remain warm.
History of Nan Province
For centuries Nan was an independent kingdom but, due to its remoteness, had few connections to the other kingdoms. The first kingdom around the city Mueang Pua (also known as Varanagara) was created in the late-13th century. Its rulers, the Phukha dynasty, were related to the founders of Vientiane, however, it became associated with the Sukhothai Kingdom as it was easier to reach from the south than from the east or west. In the 14th century, the capital was moved to its present location at Nan.
In the 15th century, when Sukhothai declined in power, it became vassal of the kingdom of Lanna Thai. In 1443 King Kaen Thao of Nan plotted to capture neighboring Phayao by asking King Tilokaraj to help him fight against Vietnamese troops attacking Nan, even though there was no such threat. Kaen Thao killed the king of Phayao, however, the troops of Tilokaraj then attacked Nan itself and captured it in 1449.
When Lannathai was under Burmese rule, Nan tried to liberate itself many times without success, which finally led to the Burmese rule of Nan in 1714. In 1788 the Burmese rulers were finally driven out. Nan had to then accept new rulers from Siam. In 1893 after the Paknam crisis Siam had to give a big part of eastern Nan to French Indochina. In 1899 Mueang Nan became part of the circle (Monthon) Tawan Tok Chiang Nuea (northwestern circle). In 1916 the northwestern circle was split and Nan was assigned to the circle Maharat. When the circles were abolished in 1932, the provinces including Nan became top-level subdivisions of Siam.
Before the early-1980s, bandits, as well as the People’s Liberation Army of Thailand (PLAT) guerrillas, were a big problem in the province, usually destroying highway construction overnight. With the help of the army and the more stable political system, the province improved significantly but is still a very rural and remote area.
The economy of Nan Province
Agriculture is the province’s main industry, but tourism in 2016 contributed an estimated 30% to the provincial GDP. The number of hotel rooms in Nan has doubled to 4,000 in 2016. The Tourism Department says arrivals to Nan rose by 19% to 1.76 million in 2015, of which Thais numbered 1.44 million. Tourism revenue rose by 14% to 4.43 billion baht. The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) expects tourist arrivals to Nan will rise by 10% to 1.94 million in 2016 as tourism revenue grows by 10% to 4.88 billion baht. “We want only quality tourists, not a big volume”, said a spokesman. In 2018 some 939,240 tourists visited Nan, up 4.4% year-on-year, contributing 2.6 billion baht in tourism income, a gain of 8.3%. Most visitors—97%—are Thais, of whom 62% were repeated visitors. Just 3% were foreign tourists from the US, France, China, Japan, and Laos. In the first eight months of 2019, Nan welcomed 643,129 tourists, up 0.2% year-on-year, generating 1.94 billion baht in income, up 2.1%. According to the Bangkok Post, the top two attractions in Nan Province are Doi Samer Dao and Wat Phumin, a temple with many “local art masterpieces”.
Environmental issues of Nan Province
Nan and government forestry officials are concerned about deforestation after hill tribes turned 1.5 million rai of forest land into cornfields. Nan Governor, Mr. Suwat, says officials have attempted to persuade hill tribes to grow perennial plants such as cashew nuts and bamboo in the forest legally. “It’s impossible to solve the deforestation problem without involving the hill tribes,” he says. “We must give them a solution to live in the forest and protect nature at the same time.”
Symbols of Nan Province
The provincial seal shows a Usuparatch bull carrying the stupa of Phrathat Chae Haeng. The buffalo dates back to a legend that the rulers of Nan and Phrae were brothers, and met at a mountain to decide about the boundary between their lands. The ruler of Nan went there on a buffalo, while the ruler of Phrae went there on a horse. The provincial tree and provincial flower is the Orchid Tree (Bauhinia variegata).
Demographics of Nan Province
Hill tribes constitute 10.5 percent of the population. Inhabitants known as the T’in or Mal people speak a Northern Mon-Khmer or Khmuic language, T’in, an unknown language when Gérard Diffloth’s classifications were widely cited in a 1974 Encyclopædia Britannica article.
The provincial government of Nan Province
The province is divided into 15 districts (Amphoe). These are further divided into 99 subdistricts (Tambons) and 848 villages (Mubans).
- Mueang Nan
- Mae Charim
- Ban Luang
- Na Noi
- Tha Wang Pha
- Wiang Sa
- Thung Chang
- Chiang Klang
- Na Muen
- Santi Suk
- Bo Kluea
- Song Khwae
- Phu Phiang
- Chaloem Phra Kiat