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Nakhon Ratchasima (นครราชสีมา)

Thai. A large provincial capital in Northeast Thailand (Isaan) with a population of approximately 203,000 and located 259 kms from Bangkok in a province (map) of the same name. It is an ancient city with an important history and regarded the gateway to Isaan. In the past the area consisted of two parts, namely ‘meuang sema’ to the South of the Lam Taklong river, and ‘meuang koram phra’ to the North of it. The area around Phimai was already an important centre duirng the Khmer period in the 11th century, though the walled city with its moat, was built only in the 17th century, during the reign of King Narai, as the easternmost outpost of Ayutthaya, to guard its eastern borders and supervise its Laotian and Cambodian vassals. In 1826, during the Rattanakosin period, the city became the stronghold against a Laotian invasion by the troops of King Anuwong of Vientiane, who rebelled against Thai supremacy. The incursion was quelled by Lady Suranari, the daughter of Kip and Boonma. In 1933, it was the stronghold of the royalist troops, leading the failed attempt, known as the Boworadej Revolt, rebelling against new democratic government in Bangkok. In the seventies, the city's airbase was the location from where the US conducted its operations during the Vietnam War. Today, it is the most important political and economic centre in Isaan. Among its places of interest is the statue of Lady Suranari (fig.) in front of Chumphon Gate (map - fig.), Nahm Tok Chet Sao Noi National Park (map - fig.), Dahn Kwian Pottery Village (map - fig.), a giant banyan tree (ficus bengalensis - fig.) and the ancient Khmer sanctuary Prasat Hin Phimai (fig.), both in the amphur Phimai. Both the province and town are also known as Korat. The province has 26 amphur and 6 king amphur. See also Nakhon Ratchasima data file.