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Nakhon Phanom

Nakhon Phanom

Nakhon Phanom Province (นครพนม) is one of Thailand's seventy-six provinces (changwat) lies in upper northeastern Thailand also called Isan. Directly adjacent provinces are (from south clockwise): Mukdahan, Sakon Nakhon, and Bueng Kan. To the northeast it borders Khammouan of Laos.


Nakhon Phanom Province (นครพนม) is one of Thailand's seventy-six provinces (changwat) lies in upper northeastern Thailand also called Isan. Directly adjacent provinces are (from south clockwise): Mukdahan, Sakon Nakhon, and Bueng Kan. To the northeast it borders Khammouan of Laos.


Geography

The province, in the Mekong River valley, is mostly plains. The northern part of the province has a more upland, forest-covered character. The main river in the northern part is the Songkhram River with the smaller Oun River. The southern part is flatter with the Kum River as its only notable watercourse. The provincial capital, the city of Nakhon Phanom, is on the banks of the Mekong.

Phu Lang Ka National Park covers 50 km2 of forests and hills, and includes the Tat Kham and Tat Pho waterfalls as its most popular attractions. Flowers such as the Lady Slipper Orchid and diverse wildlife are found in the park.

History

The name Nakhon Phanom, meaning 'city of mountains', was given to the city by King Rama I. There are no mountains within Nakhon Phanom itself, the limestone mountains being concentrated in the city of Thakhek in Laos on the other side of the Mekong River. Nakhon Phanom is more accurately described as a city where mountains can be seen.

The area had been long settled by Lao people and belonged to the Lan Xang Kingdom. After it came under the control of the Kingdom of Ayutthaya, the population remained predominantly Lao speaking. At first it was known as Si Khottrabun, and during the reign of King Rama I was called Marukkhanakhon.

During the American War (or Vietnam War as the Americans call it) Nakhon Phanom saw fighting between North Vietnamese insurgents and US forces. During the 1960s, 73 of the 131 sub-district (tambons) were allegedly infiltrated by the Vietnamese and Lao communists, and the province was known as the "heartland of insurgency".[citation needed] US and Thai forces established a base at Nakhon Phanom, where the Thai military hosted the 56th Air Commando Wing, which conducted special operations against both the Ho Chi Minh Trail in Laos and carried out counter-insurgency operations against Thai communist forces while conducting search and rescue operations primarily inside Laos and North Vietnam.

On 7 August 1965, an ethnic Phu Thai village in the province, made headlines when Thailand's first-ever physical confrontation between communist fighters and Thai security forces occurred. Eight communist villagers were involved, one of whom was shot dead during the incident after the town was surrounded by state forces.

Between 1967 and 1971, most of the communist insurgents were defeated. Towards the end of the Vietnam War, US forces moved their Indochinese military operations to Nakhon Phanom.[citation needed]

Vietnamese communist leader Ho Chi Minh had resided from 1928 and 1931 in Ban Nachok, a small village on the road between what is now the airbase and Nakhon Phanom. His former home and a museum are open to the public.


Symbols

The provincial seal shows the pagoda of Phra That Phanom in That Phanom District. Originally constructed around 535 BCE in Khmer-style, it collapsed in 1675 and was rebuilt in Lao-style. The provincial tree, as well as flower, is Fagraea fragrans.

The provincial slogan is "The city of the revered Phrathat Phanom, cultural diversity, beautiful Phu Thai ladies, brilliant illuminated boat procession and picturesque Mekong River".


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