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Nan (น่าน)

Thai. ‘Territory’. A province (map) in North Thailand with a capital of the same name that has a population of approximately 25,000 and which is situated 668 kms from Bangkok, as well as the name of a river in northern Thailand. Excavations in the region have revealed that the area around Nan has been inhabited for many centuries. Stone tools found in the soil and in caves are estimated to be at least several thousand years old. The area was first ruled by and under the control of the phaya Phu Kha (ภูคา). In the late 13th century, the first city was established by chao khun Fong (ฟอง), the successive ruler and a blood relative of Phu Kha. This city was named either Phlua (พลั่ว) or Pua (ปัว), which later was called Wara Nakhon (วรนคร) and was founded as the centre from where the area was administered. In the 14th century the local ruler moved the city from Pua to the area of Phu Phiang Chae Haeng, on the East bank of the Nan River. According to legend, the present city originated in 1357, when phaya Pha Kong (ผากอง), the local ruler of Nakhon Damri (นครดำริ) and a son of the then ruler of Nan, had a visionary dream at the time he wanted to built a new city. In this dream he saw an ox crossing the Nan River and draw a plan in a certain area consisting of a square structure, thus laying the fundament for the new city. However, when he woke up he saw this plan existed for real and he had the new city walls built accordingly, moving the capital again, to its present location on the West bank of the Nan River. It was a very rural and remote independent kingdom with few connections to the other kingdoms of the region and though its rulers were related to the founders of Vientiane, the realm became an ally of the Sukhothai Kingdom, as it was easier accessible from the South. Nan, together with Phrae and Luang Prabang, are mentioned on the Stone of Ramkamhaeng as some of the places, whose submission Sukhothai had received. In some inscriptions it is also referred to as Kawnan (กาวน่าน), Kawthet (กาวเทศ), Kaw (กาว), Nan (with different Thai spelling, i.e. นันท์) and Nanthaburi (นันทบุรี). In the 15th century, when the power of Sukhothai declined, and with the death of phaya Pha Saeng (ผาแสง) in 1462, the last ruler of the Phu Kha Dynasty, Nan became a vassal of the Kingdom of Lan Na. When in 1558 Lan Na was conquered by the Burmese, the Lan Na ruler in charge of Nan fled to Luang Prabang and in 1559 also Nan fell to the Burmese and stayed under Burmese rule until 1785. During this time Nan tried to liberate itself several times, yet without success. When the Burmese rulers were finally driven back, Nan in 1788 had to accept the new Siamese rulers from Rattanakosin. In 1893, after the Paknam crisis, Siam had to give a large part of eastern Nan to French Indochina. Nan had been able to keep some degree of independence from the Siamese rulers and it took until 1932 before it became fully integrated into Thailand, becoming a Thai province. In the early eighties both communist insurgents and local bandits were active in Nan, but with the help of the Army and the more stable political system the province improved significantly. There is also a local legend that relates that Phrae and Nan were once one kingdom, which was divided among two brothers into two territories (nan) to enable easier and better rule. Nan's places of interest include Wat Phrathat Chang Kham Worawihaan (map - fig.) and Wat Phumin (map - fig.). The province has fourteen amphur and one king amphur. Pronunciation Naan. See also Nan data file.