Friday, December 4, 2020

GADM subdivisions geocodes

A month ago I noticed that a new external identifier was added to some of the Thai provinces, taken from the GADM subdivision maps. From the rudimentary info on the GADM website - which even does not explain what the acronym is supposed to mean - this seems to be a project to provide maps for the country subdivisions up to the 2nd level. For Thailand it even goes down to the 3rd level, the subdistricts (Tambon). Additionally to the maps, it also defines a unique code for each subdivision. At first look an interesting project.

However - the website does not state any author of these maps, nor gives any sources. And they are only free to be used for non-commercial use, so not really free. But it got even worse.

In order to avoid wrong codes assignments in Wikidata, I had a look into the subdivision codes for Thailand - adding them to my XML files so I can easily add them by bot later. Starting to look at the alphabetically first province Amnat Charoen I noticed a big mess.

  • Chanuman district: all four subdistrict which are listed in GADM are in fact subdistricts of Hua Taphan district, none of the real five subdistricts has any code
  • Hua Taphan district: all Tambon correct in GADM
  • Lue Amnat district: all five subdistrict listed in GADM are in fact from Mueang Amnat Charoen district, none of the real seven subdistricts has any code
  • Mueang Amnat Charoen: only 11 of the 19 subdistricts have a code
  • Pathum Ratchawong district: 1 subdistrict correct, 4 non-existing subdistricts in GADM, and 6 real subdistrict missing
  • Phana district: 2 subdistrict correct, other two merged into one code
  • Senangkanikhom: all Tambon correct in GADM
Not mentioned in the above - the romanization in GADM does not follow the recommended RTGS transcriptions. Sometimes it the outdated old RTGS like Muang instead of Mueang, sometimes it totally random. All this would have made me ignore these geocodes as they look totally unusable, but in order to avoid wrong data inserted in Wikidata I picked up the task and worked though all provinces and added them into my XMLs. In fact Amnat Charoen was one of the worst provinces, in many other it was just codes missing. Most often the codes for subdistricts created after around 1990, but other recent one are present, so its not just very outdated data. Another hint which indicates outdated data - the minor districts (King Amphoe), which were all upgraded in 2007, are still present as minor districts in GADM. On the other hand, the newly created province Bueng Kan is present.

In total, out of the 7256 Tambon, 1772 are missing in GADM. Since there are a total of 5927 subdistrict codes in GADM, this means 443 entries are total bogus like the one in Amnat Charoen,  or dummy entries indicating a district has no subdistrict codes, or a incomplete list. Only nine of the 77 provinces had no problem.

One month later I completed them in my XML, and can now start the bot to add all these codes to Wikidata, and probably forget about these codes. My attempt to contact the GADM team wasn't answered yet, and new version announced on the website of April 2020 did not show up yet. And if the maps are the same quality as the codes, I can only assume they are sadly totally unusable.

Thursday, June 18, 2020

PAO elections forthcoming?

Shortly after the coup in 2014, all local elections were suspended and all the chairmen and councillors stayed in office way past their elected terms - most of them till today. Even though there was a national election in 2019, the local elections haven't been resumed yet. Just recently there were some news reports on a possible restart of these elections - though according to The Nation now budget problems form the latest reason for a delay ["PM says local elections 'might' be held this year", The Nation, June 15 2020].

Today another indication popped up that local elections are in the planning - probably starting with the Provincial Administrative Organizations. For 18 provinces the constituencies for a forthcoming election has been announced in the Royal Gazette, e.g. this announcement with the constituencies for Phuket province. These 18 provinces are mostly from the South, and some in the Central region. As I guess that if the local elections for the PAO will be done for the whole country, I expect there will be further announcements in the publishing queue - these 18 were already signed by the Election Commision in April.

Further local elections pending are for all the municipalities - these will also need constituencies defined first, as the current constituencies probably no longer fit with the population numbers. And of course there are many municipalities which were created or upgraded in the last 6 years. And also the TAO (subdistrict administrative organizations) need elections, though for these the constituencies are automatically defined by the boundaries of the administrative villages. And last not least Bangkok and Pattaya as special administrative units, as far as I know these two are the only which have a new governor/chairman assigned by the government.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

ccaatt geocode list updated

About two years since the last update, the geocode lists at have been changed again. Both the central administrative list as well as the registration codes have been modified.

The changes to the ccaatt list are the biggest, however this is only because the new list only contains the subdistricts now - provinces, districts and all of the subdivisions of Bangkok have been removed. Apart from these, there is only one real change - the subdistrict Wat Sai in Nakhon Sawan is now spelled วัดไทรย์ instead of วัดไทร. It seems like that old spelling was in fact a mistake in the ccaatt table never spotted till now, as already in 1998 there was a Royal Gazette announcement which uses the name with the silent letter at end, and even the 1970 census codebook has it that way. In the 1937 census however, it was spelled with it. I haven't found any Royal Gazette announcement officially changing the spelling, so it's just a guess that the spelling has changed long time ago.

The registration codes have a few new municipalities with a code.
  • 1379 for Lat Sawai town (เทศบาลเมืองลาดสวาย), Pathum Thani province
  • 2059 for Prok Fa town (เทศบาลเมืองปรกฟ้า), Chonburi province
  • 3464 for Kham Nam Saep subdistrict municipality (เทศบาลตำบลคำน้ำแซบ), Ubon Ratchathani province
  • 3463 for Kut Chomphu subdistrict municipality (เทศบาลตำบลกุดชมภู), Ubon Ratchathani province
  • 7265 for Pak Nam subdistrict municipality (เทศบาลตำบลปากน้ำ), Suphanburi province

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Municipal upgrades in first quarter of 2020

The number of municipal upgrades is increasing this year, after it was very quiet for several years. There were none at all in 2016 till 2018, and nine in 2019. The following changes have been announced in the first three months of 2020 - and there are still many more forthcoming.

  • Ban Krot (เทศบาลเมืองบ้านกรด), Bang Pa-In district, Ayutthaya province, upgraded from subdistrict municipality to town [Gazette], effective March 3
  • Pak Phraek (เทศบาลเมืองปากแพรก), Mueang Kanchanaburi district, Kanchanaburi province, upgraded from subdistrict municipality to town [Gazette], effective March 18
  • Bang Mae Nang (เทศบาลเมืองบางแม่นาง), Bang Yai district, Nonthaburi province, upgraded from subdistrict administrative organization to town [Gazette], effective March 20
  • Huai Nam Khao (เทศบาลตำบลห้วยน้ำขาว), Khlong Thom district, Krabiprovince, upgraded from subdistrict administrative organization to subdistrict municipality [Gazette], effective March 20

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Bueng Kan town to be created

When the new province of Bueng Kan was created in 2011, there was one thing which was strikingly different to the previous batch of province creation - the capital of the province wasn't made a town (Thesaban Mueang). When the TIS1099 geocodes were assigned to the districts as well as the municipalities, the usual 99 for the provincial capital was left out, Bueng Kan subdistrict municipality was assigned the code 3898 instead.

At that time the actual location of the provincial administrative offices wasn't decided yet, but by now its construction is long completed in the southern part of Bueng Kan subdistrict, in area administrated by the Bueng Kan subdistrict administrative organization. Apparently now the time has come to create the first town in Bueng Kan province.

In the 5th meeting of the 1st board to consider draft laws on February 19 2020, a municipal change in Bueng Kan was discussed [transcript]  . But since I cannot access that website for 5 years already, only thanks to the Google cache I can read the meeting agenda, which includes "รวมองค์การบริหารส่วนตำบลบึงกาฬ เทศบาลตำบลวิศิษฐ์ และเทศบาลตำบลบึงกาฬ อำเภอบึงกาฬ จังหวัดบึงกาฬ และเปลี่ยนแปลงเขตและฐานะเป็นเทศบาลเมืองบึงกาฬ" which means that three local governments are to be merged into the new Bueng Kan town.

Bueng Kan subdistrict municipality covers parts of both Wisit and Bueng Kan subdistrict, and the other two local governments the remaining areas, thus the new Bueng Kan town will fully cover two subdistricts. It was only in 1988 that Bueng Kan subdistrict was split into these two subdistricts [Gazette], until then the main settlement was right in the center of the subdistrict.

Though I just learned about this pending change few weeks before it will become effective by publication in the Royal Gazette, it was in the making for much longer time already. In June 2019, the people in the three affected local governments could vote on whether they approve it.

Monday, March 23, 2020

Numbers of local government units 2019

A reader notified me that the Department of Local Administration (DLA) also updated their statistics page with December 20th as its reference date. What was confusing is that the numbers of local government units as of December 31st from DOPA differed from those in the provincial breakdown - but once looking into the XLS file itself it showed that it was only this one HTML page not updated.

The interesting things about this update however are more subtile.

  • It was the third time DLA updated that page in 2019 - in June, September and now December. Normally it was only updated once a year with the end of the fiscal year in September.
  • The XLS file listing all municipalities and TAO now has a new sheet which lists the TAO with less than 2,000 citizens. I suspect this means that these 30 TAO are about to get merged into neighboring units.
I also used the opportunity to update the municipality sheet in my Thai province XLS, and to my shame even noticed that I had four municipalities created in 2013 missing in that.

BTW: The numbers of the local goverments will change this year for sure, the first status change was already announced in the Royal Gazette (Ban Krot in Ayutthaya [Gazette]), and some more can be found in the board meeting transcripts from which I can hardly access at all.

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Number of administrative units 2019

The Department of Provincial Administration has published the latest statistics of the numbers of administrative units in Thailand, as of December 31st 2019. The numbers are as follows, with the 2018 numbers in brackets if there were changes.
  • Changwat: 76
  • Amphoe: 878
  • Tambon: 7255
  • Muban: 75086 (75032)
  • PAO: 76
  • Thesaban: 2450 (2442)
    • Thesaban Nakhon: 30
    • Thesaban Mueang: 184 (179)
    • Thesaban Tambon: 2236 (2233)
  • TAO: 5324 (5332)
  • Special administrative units: 2
After some years of almost no changes, now there are some new administrative villages, and also the number municipality upgrades have increased - and several more are in the pipeline, as I have noticed them in the meeting transcripts at And as usual, there is still the odd discrepancy of one subdistrict which is not counted in this statistics, but still included in the population data.