Monday, April 24, 2017

Triangulation pillars

While the Thai news - at least in my filter bubble - is full of coverage and speculation of the disappearance of a brass plaque in Bangkok, I'd like to feature a kind of plaques which can be found all over the kingdom, though I so far had only stumbled upon two of them.

The one displayed in the posting is found in Wat Amarin (วัดอมรินทรารามวรวิหาร), an old temple right next to the Siriraj Hospital. Sadly most of the temple ground is used as parking lot for the hospital, but the temple buildings are still a nice view. I went there last year to photograph a lot, as the site is listed as a historic landmark by the Fine Arts Department, however not yet officially registered by a publication in the Royal Gazette. And as last year the Wiki Loves Monuments only covered the published sites, the photos are still unprocessed on my hard disc. So while strolling around the temple ground, I noticed that not really spectacular marker stone - in fact very similar to those found at the province halls in all(?) provinces.


As the plaque is bilingual, its easy to recognize that these kinds of pillars are triangulation points used for mapping purposes. These pillars are erected by the Department of Lands, a subdivision of the Ministry of Interior. Named "Survey Mark" or หมุดหลักฐานแผนที่ (Mut Lak Than Phaen Thi - Major Mapping Pin), all I was able to find about them in Google was the guideline on how these pillars are to be built, also in the Royal Gazette there's only the 1936 law on the survey marks and its amendment in 1958. While for example for the UK some enthusiasts collected the location of all the trig points, I haven't noticed anything like that for Thailand during my short web search. If anyone wants to start such a collection, I'd certainly share my two points...

Friday, April 21, 2017

Population growth since the 1960s

As I am almost through processing the annual population numbers based on the registration data - whoever needs the data in a machine-readable format can either look at my XML files or the spreadsheet, I could now extend the graph first created with the 2014 population data to cover almost 30 more years.
The population grew from about 30 million in 1966 to 65 million in 2016, and already visibly in this graph the curve has become less steep recently. Included as red dots are the numbers from the census, which interestingly were lower than the registration numbers till 2000, and only after the registration number drop in 2004 the census numbers have become larger than the registration numbers. Its not surprising that census and registration have different numbers - the reference date is different, yet the largest effect is due to the fact that many Thai don't live where they are registered. Maybe those living abroad were included in the registration data till 2004 to explain the drop by 1.1 million in 2004?

Looking at the annual change of population, the slowdown of the growth is much more visible than  in the first graph.While in the 1960 an annual growth of 4% was normal, it is at about 0.5% since around the year 2000.

While the above analysis is done only using the total population number, the data goes down to the provincial level for 1966 till 1992 and to subdistrict level since then - and the census data I have goes down to district level. The data is available in machine readable form now, so its now easy to do regional population development statistics like the one I did for 2016. I am curious whether someone could use my data collection for any interesting analysis, or even a scientific publication...

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Headman terms to be shortened?

In a kind of a deja-vu, there was an organized protest of village and subdistrict headmen in several provinces this week as the National Reform Steering Assembly has proposed to make an election every five year mandatory [The Nation, Bangkok Post]. The only difference this time is the agency which proposed the change, everything else sounds totally same as in 2012 when a similar proposal was under consideration by the Yingluck government - even the discussed compromise of allowing the currently elected headmen to stay in office till retirement age and only make the reelection mandatory for newly filled positions.

Yet one detail I haven't seen in any of the reports on the protests now - that the lifetime term was re-introduced in 2008, between 1999 and 2008 every headman had to stand reelection every five years. It remains to be seen if the current proposal is supported by the government, as it still needs to be approved by the cabinet and then parliament, before any such amendment to the Local Administration Act becomes effective.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Province governor transfer

With the 20th announcement by the military junta of this year, and using the absolute power of article 44 of the interim constitution, on April 4th ten officials were reassigned to new posts effective immediately.
  • Sak Somboonto (ศักดิ์ สมบุญโต), province governor in Kanchanaburi, transferred to a post in the Ministry of Interior.
  • Natthapat Suwanprateep (ณัฐภัทร สุวรรณประทีป), province governor in Kalasin, transferred to a post in the Ministry of Interior.
  • Boonsong Techamaneesathit (บุญส่ง เตชะมณีสถิตย์), province governor in Chiang Rai, transferred to a post in the Ministry of Interior.
  • Chockchai Dejamornthan (โชคชัย เดชอมรธัญ), province governor in Phuket, transferred to a post in the Ministry of Interior.
  • Surapol Sawaengsak (สุรพล แสวงศักดิ์), province governor in Ratchaburi, transferred to a post in the Ministry of Interior.
  • Pasin Komolwit (พศิน โกมลวิชญ์), province governor in Singburi, transferred to a post in the Ministry of Interior.
  • Suwit Khamdee (สุวิทย์ คําดี) becoming new province governor of Kalasin.
  • Narongsak Osatthanakorn (ณรงศักดิ์ โอสถธนากร) becoming new province governor of Chiang Rai.
  • Nopparat Plongthong (นรภัทร ปลอดทอง) becoming new province governor of Phuket.
  • Chaiwat Chuenkum (ชัยวัฒน์ ชื่นโกสุม) becoming new province governor of Ratchaburi.
Reporting on this transfer, neither Bangkok Post, Phuket Gazette or The Nation give any reason for these unusual transfers - normally province governors are transferred at the end of the fiscal year on October 1st only. To my knowledge, the transfer to unspecific posts in the Ministry is usually a punitive action for under-performing governors, but since the Prime Minister didn't give any reasons for the transfer nor did the press report anything, this only speculation by myself.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Number of administrative units 2016

Last month, the Department of Provincial Administration announced the numbers of administrative units as of December 31 2016. The announcement - titled แจ้งข้อมูลทางการปกครอง ณ วันที่ 31 ธันวาคม 2559 - gives almost the same numbers as one year ago.
  • Changwat: 76
  • Amphoe: 878
  • Tambon: 7255
  • Muban: 75032 (74965)
  • PAO: 76
  • Thesaban: 2441
    • Thesaban Nakhon: 30
    • Thesaban Mueang: 198
    • Thesaban Tambon: 2233
  • TAO: 5334
  • Special administration: 2 (Bangkok and Phattaya)
The only number which changed were the administrative villages, adding 66 Muban. Exactly the same number were announced in the Royal Gazette last year, all from the Ministerial Order มท ๐๓๑๐.๑/ว ๗๔๖๕. Though actually, eleven of those Muban already became effective before December 31 2015, but these were not yet included in the numbers last year. In my XML I have 75153, as some Muban in municipal areas seem to have been abolished, but without a current official list I have no idea which. And as usual, there's the odd missing Tambon, the correct number should be 7256.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

@Amphoe issue 12

The 12th issue of the @Amphoe magazine - dated February 2017 - has become available for download from the DOPA website. Sadly their Facebook page apparently does not get any updates anymore, so I have no idea at what time the paper version has or will become available at the province halls and some other sites.

The PDF is 48 MB big, so to download better use a fast connection. The most notable difference to the previous issues is a slight design change - now the title is in a Sans Serif font and the title photo no longer covers the full title page.

As usual, only a very limited part of the content is bilingual, this time an interview with Wittaya Khiawrod (วิทยาเขียวรอด), the district officer of Phra Phrom district in Nakhon Si Thammarat, an article on the community forestry in Rim Si Muang subdistrict of Phetchabun province, and the touristic highlights in Chumphon province - thus the title photo of a scuba diver, even though the "diving island" Ko Tao actually belongs to Surat Thani province.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Population growth 2016

Population growth 2016
As yesterday the official population numbers were published in the Royal Gazette - the announcement was signed on February 28, but the actual data were available online on January 2nd - I am taking another look into the data. Compared to 2015, the population grew by 202452 or 0.31%. As the growth has decreased so much, there are now also several provinces where the population numbers have decreased, for example Bangkok lost 9763 citizen.The biggest winners and losers in absolute and relative numbers are the following:

ProvinceChangePercentage
Tak+135832.2%
Phayao-3457-0.7%
Chonburi+280101.9%
Bangkok-9763-0.2%

And again same as I did for the foreigners, visualizing the changes on a map shows some more details - other than Tak the other provinces which significantly gained citizen are those around Bangkok, which not that surprising as the actual agglomeration long grew outside the boundaries of the special administrative area. The central plain and the north seem have been the origin of the internal migration to the capital. As the growth in Tak looks a bit out of the order - half of the new citizen (7555 to be exact) are foreigners. Also, the area around Mae Sot is currently developed into a special economic area and might even become a separate province in future, so this also adds some reason for the migration.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Number of foreigners in Thailand

Last year, the annual report of the registered population added new columns which list the number of citizen with Thai nationality and the registered foreigners - those who have to go through the bureaucratic 90 day reporting. As this data is listed not just for the whole country but also for each province, its a relatively easy thing to display the percentage of non-Thai citizen on a map of Thailand. This way to display directly shows that the majority of foreigners in Thailand are not the western expats, or business men working in the capital, but the highest percentage is found in the two border provinces Mae Hong Son and Tak, the highest absolute numbers in Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai, hinting that its mostly refugees and migrant workers from Myanmar.

ProvinceTotalForeignersPercentage
Tak63196510239316.2%
Mae Hong Son2758844391815.9%
Chiang Rai12825441184079.2%
Chiang Mai17357621300437.5%
Bangkok5686646945711.7%
Yasothon5398152620.0%
Thailand659315508346451.3%

The lowest percentage and absolute number is found in Yasothon - as can be seen in the map, most of the northeast and north have less than average foreigners. Even though this population data isn't published in the Royal Gazette yet, I have used the numbers as of December 31 2016, which can be found at the statistics page of DOPA.

To confirm the assumption that its mostly people from Myanmar, one has to look into the census 2010, which includes the list of nationalities found in each province. For the whole country, 1292862 people from Myanmar were counted, 281321 from Cambodia, 141649 from China. The only other groups above 100000 are those of "other country" (120699) and those with unknown nationality (117329).

Monday, March 27, 2017

130th National Park

First page of Royal Gazette announcement
While it is very quiet at the Royal Gazette concerning the administrative subdivisions, a lot of new protected areas get designated in the past months. The most notable was announced today, making Khun Sathan National Park (อุทยานแห่งชาติขุนสถาน) in Nan and Uttaradit off
icially the 130th national park of Thailand. The park covers an area of 342.49 km² in the southern part of Nan province, containing area from seven subdistricts in Nan and of one subdistrict in Uttaradit.

But as mentioned, it wasn't the only new protected area since the 129th park and several non-hunting areas in January - another three non-hunting areas were officially announced as well recently.
  • Omkoi Non-hunting area (เขตห้ามล่าสัตว์ป่าอมก๋อย), Chiang Mai covering 288 km², announced February 2 [Gazette].
  • Nam Pat Non-hunting area (เขตห้ามล่าสัตว์ป่าน้ำปาด), Uttaradit covering 169 km², announced February 2 [Gazette].
  • Mae Pai Non-hunting area (เขตห้ามล่าสัตว์ป่าแม่ปาย), Mae Hong Son covering 101 km², announced March 13 [Gazette].
All three I cannot find anywhere on the website of the National Park, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department, so the names above are just my guess - the Royal Gazette announcements of national parks, non-hunting areas and wildlife sanctuaries oddly never mention the name for the protected areas.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Muban rename in Trat

Yesterday the name change of an administrative village (Muban) in Trat was announced in the Royal Gazette. Mu 4 of Takang subdistrict, Mueang Trat district changed its name from Ban Noen Sung (บ้านเนินสูง) to Ban Thung Bang Phet (บ้านทุ่งบางเพชร). The change was approved by the board to consider name changes in its 4th meeting of 2016 on December 29th, and forwarded to the province governor the next day with ministerial order มท ๐๒๐๕.๒/๒๓๔๒๓. The announcement was then signed by the province governor on February 10.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Emblem of Amphoe Mueang Surat Thani

As far as I know, it is only the local governments and the provinces which officially have a seal with custom design fitting to the locality. The districts however use the emblem of the Ministry of Interior as their seal - except for the district in Bangkok, which also have custom seals. As I really love these sometimes very artfully designed emblems, it is a pity the websites of the local governments seem to be the only source to get any information on them - if I had the time and the connection I would research and compile much more of them...

Anyway, when I just recently checked the website of Mueang Surat Thani district - one of the few district offices which have their own website - I was surprised to see a emblem for the district.It shows the two main symbolic buildings of the district - the City Pillar Shrine (Sala Lak Mueang) in the city center and the Si Surat Stupa on the hill south of the city. Also the palm farms in the Tapi river estuary and the small boats used in the small channels of the estuary are depicted. I have no idea whether this is just an artful emblem designed for show, or also the official seal of the district - the Google search results for the Thai term ตราประจำอำเภอ don't indicate that any district actually uses a non-standard seal, the only images it returns seem to be very old seals from districts in Ubon Ratchathani province.


Monday, March 20, 2017

Population data from 1966

Thanks to the online library of the National Statistical Office (NSO) I was already able to collect the population data from the censuses since 1960, all down to district level. Starting in 1993, the online population statistics from the registration office gives the yearly numbers down to subdistrict level. Thus I thought the only additional data I might be able to collect would be the earlier census data.

First page of 1966 report
But when I checked the eBook site of the Department of Provincial Administration in the vain hope to find a new edition of the Local Directory there, I instead found the annual population reports published in the Royal Gazette there, but to my surprise these started in 1966, and not 1993 as I thought before. Apparently, there was a change in the internal structure of the registration office - starting in 1993 the announcements were done by the Central Registration Office (สำนักทะเบียนกลาง), whereas from 1982 till 1992 the responsible office was named สำนักงานกลางทะเบียนราษฎร, and from 1966 till 1981 the announcements were done by the Ministry of Interior directly, and thus escaped my previous searches in the Royal Gazette.

So I now have to type in the numbers of these 27 announcements, training my Thai numeral recognition that way as they don't use any western numerals in these official announcements. I have already done 1966 and 1967, and in both announcements found one typo in the numbers - and since the older announcements don't include the total number for the whole country I cannot correct that mistake when translating into my XML structure. If anyone likes to use these numbers as well - they will be all in XML in the next weeks just like the 1966 XML - or could also create a Excel file if someone needs it...

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Districts with just one subdistrict

There are two districts (Amphoe) in Thailand which have just one subdistrict (Tambon), and another four districts in Bangkok (Khet) which have one subdistrict (Khwaeng). As the two kinds of subdistricts are quite different in their functions, I'll write something about the Bangkok districts later.

The two districts are Ko Sichang of Chonburi province - an island off the coast - and Mae Poen in Nakhon Sawan province, a remote part of the province including mountain area. Both district have a quite different history - whereas Ko Sichang already was a minor district with just one subdistrict in 1943, when it was reassigned from Samut Prakan to Chonburi province, Mae Poen was created in 1996, and its single subdistrict Mae Poen was just created shortly before in 1992. Maybe the fact that this district was created directly at the time when the creation of new Tambon stopped altogether explains why it remained with one subdistrict. Looking into the history of other districts, there are a few more which originally had just one subdistrict when they were established as a minor district (King Amphoe).
  • Soeng Sang, Nakhon Ratchasima. Created in 1976 with the single subdistrict Sa Takhian, the second subdistrict was created in 1977. The minor district was upgraded in 1979, and today has six subdistricts.
  • Than To, Yala. Created 1975 with the single subdistrict Mae Wat, the second subdistrict was created in 1977. Today the district has four subdistricts and became a full district in 1981.
  • Pa Daet, Chiang Rai. Created in 1969 with the single subdistrict Pa Daet. In 1970, two new subdistricts were created. 1975 it was upgraded to a full district, and today it has five subdistricts.
  • Ban Kruat, Buriram. Created in 1939 with the single subdistrict Ban Kruat. As the Royal Gazette is unreliable for the subdistrict creations before 1950, I can only say the district was upgraded in 1965 and has nine subdistricts today
Interesting to note - both for Soeng Sang as well as for Pa Daet it was a subdistrict which was named after the district, and not the other way round like for most districts.

I don't know whether there were any official rules predating those defined in 2003 by the cabinet on how many subdistricts are necessary for a new minor district, but even the 2003 rules allowed to overrule the minimum of three if there is a special need for the creation of a new district.

Already before the decentralization with the creation of the Subdistrict Administrative Organizations, the Tambon had a limited local representation of the population by the elected headman. I don't know whether there were any minimum requirements for a subdistrict in terms of population of number of administrative villages, Ko Sichang with a population of less than 5000 people never qualified for a second subdistrict. But its remoteness on an island made sense to have a district office as the government office which normal citizens have to visit most.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Amphoe Kota Baru still on track

I haven't heard anything from the two planned districts to be created in Yala province since 2015, when the government news reported a confusing story which read like they were already created. But since there was no announcement in the Royal Gazette, nor the latest geocode list added any codes for these, they must be still in the pipeline. But even regular searches for any websites mention the names of these two districts return almost nothing, so it felt like the planned might have been abandoned.

But just recently, the Kota Baru municipality (เทศบาลตำบลโกตาบารู) on their Facebook page added photos from a meeting on February 17, in which the location for the new district office was discussed. Sadly, while a photo of the officials inspecting a location was added, which plot of land was inspected or whether it was chosen isn't mentioned. Though I still don't know how what is the schedule for these districts, but at least it seems they are still on track.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Lists of the administrative units

Interestingly, I was asked several times lately to provide a full list of the administrative units - sometimes down to subdistrict level, sometimes to village level - for various purposes, for example as the basis of some academic research. In one case the location was requested as well, in another the population. My full set of data is not so easy to use, as it is in XML format and contains a lot of details, and for example the population data is in different XML files than the main list. A subset of the data is found in the spreadsheet, but most notably the Muban are missing in there. But as in all cases a simple CSV file was requested, I quickly coded something to compile such lists, and since I just got yet another request, I now also made these CSV files downloadable for everyone - even I love to know when and where my data is used, for the next time I could simply point to this blog post then...

The ZIP archive contains CSV files for each of the subdivision.
  • Province.csv - all provinces and Bangkok, with their TIS-1099 code, name in English and Thai, the latest population and number of households, and the location of the province hall.
  • District.csv - all districts (Amphoe and Khet), same data with location of the district office
  • Subdistrict.csv - all sub-districts (Tambon and Khwaeng), as before. Locations are the TAO office, but still a lot without location info
  • Village.csv - all administrative villages, however without population data. Note the comments I made earlier about the number of Muban, that list might not be 100% correct. For very few the location of the village headman office (i.e. his home) is added.
If there would be the need, I could also compile the local governments in a similar manner, however as most of those have no TIS-1099 derived code, so it is not so easy to get the hierarchy like in the central administrative units, so would have to think a bit which data would be mandatory in such a CSV then.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Let the chaos begin

Don't worry, I won't talk about world politics - I am referring to a chaos starting on Wikipedia about the geographic items in Thailand. Just recently, one of the almost completely bot-filled Wikipedia in Cebuano language gets flooded with new article on geographic locations in Thailand, translated from the items in the geonames website. Which in turn imported a lot of their items from the GEOnet Names Server (GNS). The big problem is that both databases contain a lot of bogus entries, especially when in comes to the lower level of the administrative subdivision. Though I bet no human will ever read these articles - why should someone from the Philippines speaking only this local language ever look for a Thai village - the big problem with these articles is that they now need to be linked to the real world with Wikidata.

To give just a few examples of the mess
  • The principal town of Phunphin district in Surat Thani province is named Tha Kham, but on geonames it was wrongly named Phunphin. And to make it worse, different spellings including the term "Amphoe" were listed as alternative names, so now the bot-created page mixes up things about the district and the town.
  • Geonames has an entry named "Ban Talat Yai" as a populated page in Phuket. However, there is no "Ban" with that name there, but a subdistrict. So the bot created article is bogus, linking it to the subdistrict in Wikidata would be wrong. Nearby Kathu is even worse - there's a municipality with that name (which would fit to the category populated place I suppose), as well as a subdistrict, but the geonames entry had "Tambon Kathu" as an alternative name mixing both items.
  • Geonames has two entries for the Ta Phraya district, Sa Kaeo province (1949382 and 1605741), and sadly I am not able to delete the second one there due to insufficient user rights. And of course the bot created now two articles about the same item - one and two.
It is just lucky I already added all the geonames IDs of the districts and provinces to Wikidata, so at least those bot-created articles can be matched automatically.

And to make it worse, it was not only the populated places and subdivisions which were imported, but also all the hills, caves, lakes, rivers, etc. Cleaning up the mess regarding the towns alone already would keep me busy for weeks at least... The only small positive side to have articles on each entity in one Wikipedia - that will make it impossible to wrongly merge together Wikidata items which are related but not the same.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

The provincial administration of Siam from 1892 to 1915

2005 Thai edition
Tej Bunnag's book "The provincial administration of Siam from 1892 to 1915" was the first academic source I checked when I started writing about the topic in Wikipedia articles. Being long out of print (published in 1977), used copies are only found at ludicrous high prices, luckily I back then scanned all pages so I at least have my private e-book version of it. In 2005, a second edition was published, but only in Thai - and though I have that one my Thai is still way too bad to read anything.

But now by coincidence I stumbled on the original 1969 doctoral thesis, which was the basis for the book. The University of Oxford, where Tej Bunnag studied and graduated, had made the original version an open access item, so it can now be downloaded and read easily by everyone. Not sure whether I'll find the time to actually check what changes were done between the thesis and the book version, in fact more interesting would be any changes which were done for the Thai edition.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Statistical yearbook 2016

The latest edition of annual statistical yearbook was published in October 2016, though I just noticed it to be available online. Sadly, not the full PDF file can be downloaded, only a version for online reading (which even wants to use the obsolete flash) is available - even worse most of pages are garbled as the conversion tool handled Thai characters very faulty. At least the table which I use to import from the yearbooks can still be read.

But its not just that the online version is of bad quality, even worse the data itself has problems. According to Table 1.23 (Area and Administration Zone by Region and Province), the number of the administrative subdivisions by type as of May 27 2016 are (in brackets the coresponding numbers from the 2015 yearbook)
  • 928 districts (Amphoe and Khet) [2015: 928]
  • 7425 subdistricts (Tambon and Khwaeng) [2015: 7425]
  • 57081 administrative villages (Muban) [2015: 55387]
  • 2452 municipalities (Thesaban, including Pattaya) [2015: 2442]
  • 5433 subdistrict administrative organizations [2015: 5334]
Comparing with the 2015 numbers shows no change in the central administrative units except the Muban, but oddly changes in the number of the local governments even there have been municipal upgrades in the last year. While looking through the provinces, it seems that for several of them (but by far not all) instead of the current number of TAO the original number of TAO in 2002 was listed. The additional ten municipalities are due to a wrong number in Kamphaeng Phet, inbsteal of 25 the table lists 35. These wrong data however make the whole table totally worthless. Additionally, the number of administrative villages seems to have risen in a strange way by almost 2000, but only 55 Muban were created in 2016 and just 11 in 2015. Thus I can only suspect that here again old numbers were mixed with the current values, counting Muban which were previously excluded as being part of municipalities and thus loosing their function. However 900 of the new Muban are in fact a mistake in the 2015 edition, which lists 1097 Muban for Surin instead of 1907 as in 2014 and 2016. I posted a more detailed discussion of the varying Muban numbers earlier.

Even though at least this table in the yearbook has become useless, I nevertheless translated it into my XML structure, but adding a new schema entries to indicate and correct the bogus values. But what really worries me is that if an amateur like me can already spot such big mistakes in this publication, what is the quality of the other tables then?

Monday, January 16, 2017

New issues of @amphoe

The Facebook page of the @Amphoe magazine did not get any update since September, and at about the same time the @amphoe page at the Department of Provincial Administration disappeared. Both made me assume that this magazine quietly was shut down after just nine issues. Thus it was kind of a surprise when I tried to look again the DOPA website and it suddenly not just worked again, but showed two new issues already.

Issue 10 (5/2559) has an interview with the chief district office of Phop Phra in Tak, Prasong La-on (ประสงค์ หล้าอ่อน), talking on the special problems of the rather remote district. The 200,000-baht-per-village project is the topic of another English section, as well as a short list of the travel highlight of Mukdahan province - hence the title photo of this issue showing the special rock formations in Phu Pha Thoep National Park.


Issue 11 (6/2559) is a special issue with the late King as its only topic. As far as I can see the content hardly concerns the Amphoe administration at all, and there is no English content this time. Given the immense popularity of the King as well as the publisher being a government department its no wonder they choose to publish one special issue.

And to do my usual nitpicking - the URL advertised in the magazines www.dopa.go.th/amphoe returns a 404 error, the URL which works is atamphoe.dopa.go.th. Also apparently the process to create the PDF files has been changed, now these are only containing graphics and no text elements anymore, which has increased the file size by a factor of 8 and now makes it completely impossible to copy any content to Google Translate. And sadly, still issue 8 (3/2559) is missing in the download page, the later issues are wrongly numbered.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Census 1970 codebook

When I was first looking for the old census data, one of the online resource I found was the Open Data library of the Worldbank, which includes some documents from the 1970 census. Though not the actual census data - which I later got elsewhere - but also the codebook is an interesting resource as it contains a list of the provinces with the number of districts, subdistrict and administrative villages, and even more useful a list of all the subdistricts with their village numbers - the total numbers for 1970 were 580 districts (including the minor districts), 5126 subdistricts and 45504 villages.

I am slowly working through this document to extract all these village numbers and compile them in my XML structure, which already turned out to be a good cross-check of the data I already compiled as I found a few cases where I had missed or wrongly added the creation of a subdistrict. The document however has two drawbacks, some pages are badly printed and even have hand-written corrections making the numbers sometimes difficult or impossible to read. The Thai names seem to have mistakes sometimes as well, some might have been spelling changes however which were not announced in the Royal Gazette. Also, some pages are missing, so it cannot be turned into a complete 1970 subdistrict list.

Yet, so far the biggest problem showed up with the above excerpt from Mueang Pathum Thani district. All 14 present-day subdistricts can be found in the list except Ban Chang (ตำบลบ้านฉาง) - and instead the list shows a Ban Nao subdistrict (ตำบลบ้านนาว) with seven Muban. As there are zero Google hits for such a subdistrict name, and I the name of Ban Chang seemed to have never changed, it might have been a mistake in the Thai name, changing two characters. But - Ban Chang has just four villages, but Ban Nao had seven, and there was no change in the boundaries of Ban Chang either explaining how the village number could have decreased. I can only suspect this is a real mistake in the codebook.

Issues of the Local Directory (ทำเนียบท้องที่) from about that time would help to clear up this issue as well as help to fill the pages missing in that file, but none of these are available online, and those few libraries I could visit so far in Thailand didn't have any such books.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

New provincial license plates

On December 27th four announcements regarding the colorful provincial license plates were published in the Royal Gazette. Samut Songkhram is about the last province which now has such a graphic defined (only Yala and Mae Hong Son have none yet), the three other announcements only added a new design for the respective province.
  • Phetchabun: a completely new design added, showing the highlights of Khao Kho district - the hill with Wat Phra That Pha Son Kaeo (วัดพระธาตุผาซ่อนแก้ว) with a misty background, and inserted at the right the Khao Kho Memorial (อณุสรณ์สถานผู้เสียสละเขาค้อ) commemorating the victims of the communist insurgency 1965-1982. The 2013 design still looked very different. [Gazette]
  • Surin: Comparing with the plate announced in 2012, only the elephants are present in both designs. In the upper left corner are the flowers of the provincial symbol flower Fagraea fragrans. The upper right shows the Tha Sawang silk. However, I don't know which pier and body of water is depicted. [Gazette]
  • Roi Et: The new plate has the same elements as the plate announced in 2015, the only difference is the purple background instead of a green background in 2015. [Gazette]
  • Samut Songkhram: The license plate shows the same elements as the provincial seal - a drum (Klong) on the Mae Klong river with coconut trees on both sides. [Gazette]
My album of provincial license plates is still incomplete and badly sorted... I have also prepared a spreadsheet listing the years by which plates were announced for each province.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

New non-hunting areas

The last announcements of 2016 I had processed from the Royal Gazette were about protected areas, and the first of 2017 are again of the same category - another six new non-hunting areas (เขตห้ามล่าสัตว์ป่า) were created by the publication on January 5.
  • Khao Phanom Thong (เขาพนมทอง), Phitsanulok, covering 14125 rai of the Lum Nam Wang Thong Fang Sai national forest. [Gazette]]
  • Mae Lao-Mae Kok (แม่ลาว-แม่กก), Chiang Rai, covering 8025 rai of the Mae Lao Fang Sai and Mae Kok Fang Khwa national forest. [Gazette]]
  • Nong Leng Sai (หนองเล็งทราย), Phayao, covering 8025 rai around the same-named lake. [Gazette]]
  • Huai Sak-Mae Kok (ห้วยสัก-แม่กก), Chiang Rai, covering 4003 rai of the Huai Sak and Mae Kok Fang Khwa national forest. [Gazette]]
  • Sob Kok (สบกก), Chiang Rai, covering 5550 rai of the Sob Kok Fang Khwa national forest. [Gazette]]
  • Mae Pun Noi-Mae Pun Luang-Huai Pong Men (แม่ปูนน้อย-แม่ปูนหลวง-ห้วยโป่งเหม็น), Chiang Rai, covering 5550 rai of the Mae Pun Noi, Mae Pun Luang and Huai Pong Men national forest. [Gazette]]
My main problem - I have no idea what are the official names of these non-hunting areas. The Royal Gazette announcements don't state a name for the protected area, it only names the national forests or the area which is affected. I haven't been able to find any updated list of non-hunting areas on the website of the National Park, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department either. The latest I have is a spreadsheet which lists all the protected areas, which however dates from 2013. While it included a few non-hunting areas pending their official creation, none of these six was among them. Therefore, I haven't yet added items in WikiData for them, as I don't want to make those guessed names listed above any more public.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Population statistics 2016 available

Already on January 2nd, the DOPA statistics website did show the registration data as of December 31, 2016 down to subdistrict level. According to these data, the population increased in 2016 by 202,452 citizen, a growth of 0.31%. To make the registration data more accessible, I have created an online sheet with the data from 1993 till 2016 for every the province, the same amount of detail which will be published later in the Royal Gazette.


One observation is that the provinces around Bangkok grew by 1 to 2 percent, the largest increase in Samut Sakhon, whereas Bangkok itself had a small decrease in population. The only other province with a significant growth was Phuket. However, as usual, the caveat is that this is the registration data, which not necessarily means the actual population number as especially migrant workers from the poorer provinces who work around Bangkok often keep their registration in their home province - the reason why the census results differ significantly from the registration data. But if keeping that in mind, one might do some nice analysis with the data in the above spreadsheet.

The population growth for the whole country is slowly decreasing, as can be seen by the below chart. Note I have omitted the number from 2004, when apparently a data cleanup was done which caused a decrease by almost 2%.


The data not yet updated is the population by age, and the table with marriages, divorces, child acknowledges, adoptions and dissolved adoptions, and foreign family status registrations. I'll add those to the XML file once I notice them becoming available.

I have already started to add the new population data to the various items on WikiData, from the country down to district level so far. I still have to look into an issue with the municipal population however before being able to cover all administrative units.

Monday, January 2, 2017

129th national park

Though they are not really connected to the administrative subdivisions, I am also collecting the protected areas in my XML files and thus also monitor the Royal Gazette for any newly declared national park or other protected areas. In the final week of 2016, three new protected areas have been officially declared, most notably the 129th national park Nam Tok Chet Sao Noi (อุทยานแห่งชาติน้ำตกเจ็ดสาวน้อย) in Saraburi province. As the declaration of national parks requires a Royal order, this is also the first such announcement processed by me which was signed by the the new king.

Like the 18 other national parks which are pending their official declaration, the area around the Chet Sao Noi waterfall has been unofficially treated as a national park for several years already, as can be seen by the street view of the entrance from 2014. The park covers an area of 26238 rai (41.9802 km²) at the border between Saraburi and Nakhon Ratchasima province and consists of the three forests Thap Khwang (ป่าทับกวาง)and Muak Lek Pleng 1 (ป่ามวกเหล็ก แปลงที่ ๑) - protected in 1984 as a national forest [Gazette] and Dong Phaya Yen (ป่าดงพญาเย็น) created in 1962 [Gazette]. Interestingly, both were not among those national forest announcements I had collected before, the title of the announcements had changed slightly and thus they slipped my previous searches.

The other two new protected areas are non-hunting areas, less protected than National Parks and thus the announcements are done by the Ministry of National Resources and Environment itself. The two new areas are
  • Pa Ban Hong non-hunting area (เขตห้ามล่าสัตว์ป่าป่าบ้านโฮง) covering 379 km² in the border of Chiang Mai and Lamphun province [Gazette].
  • Doi Phu Kha non-hunting area (เขตห้ามล่าสัตว์ป่าดอยภูคา) covering 119 km² in Nan province [Gazette]. This area wasn't listed as a non-hunting area under creation in any of the lists I found so far, so I am not sure if the official name is correct - the announcement only lists the names of the forests included, not the name of the non-hunting area created.