Chiang Mai - History

History

King Mengrai founded the city of Chiang Mai (meaning "new city") in 1296 on the location of an older city of the Lawa people called Wiang Nopburi. Chiang Mai succeeded Chiang Rai as the capital of the Lanna kingdom. The ruler was known as the Chao. The city was surrounded by a moat and a defensive wall, since nearby Burma was a constant threat as well as the armies of the Mongol Empire which only decades earlier had conquered most of Yunnan, China, and in 1292 overran the bordering Thai Lü kingdom of Chiang Hung. With the decline of the Lanna Kingdom, the city lost importance and was occupied by the Burmese in 1556. Chiang Mai formally became part of Siam in 1775 by an agreement with Chao Kavila, after the Thai King Taksin helped drive out the Burmese. Because of the Burmese counter attacks, Chiang Mai was abandoned between 1776 and 1791. Lampang then served as the capital of what remained of Lanna. Chiang Mai then slowly grew in cultural, trading and economic importance to its current status as the unofficial capital of northern Thailand, second in importance only to Bangkok.

The modern municipality dates to a sanitary district (sukhaphiban) that was created in 1915. This was upgraded to a municipality (thesaban) on March 29, 1935, as published in the Royal Gazette, Book No. 52 section 80. First covering just 17.5 km2 (7 sq mi), the city was enlarged to 40.216 km2 (16 sq mi) on April 5, 1983.

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