Chiang Mai, known as the « North Rose », is the most important city in northern Thailand.
Its name literally means « new city ». Indeed King Mengrai founded the city in 1296 to create the new capital of Lanna, an ancient Asian kingdom made up of city-states. It surrounds it with ditches and ramparts to protect it from Burmese attacks. These fortifications are still visible in places and give the heart of Chiang Mai its spectacular square plan.
The city became not only the economic and cultural capital of the Lanna kingdom, but also the centre of Buddhism in northern Thailand. Nowadays there are more than 300 Buddhist temples in Chiang Mai, called « wat » in Thai.
After the death of his great King, the wars of succession followed one another in Lanna. The Burmese occupied Lanna for two centuries from 1558 onwards and abandoned Chiang Mai. Thereafter King Taskin took over the city in 1775. He named Chao Kavila Viceroy of the North, who considerably expanded it. In 1884, King Rama V of Siam definitively annexed Lanna and sealed the union by marrying Dara Rasmi, a royal princess from Chiang Mai.
Today the city has 160,000 inhabitants, its metropolitan area about 1 million. Chiang Mai province has a population of about 1.6 million. It is a first choice economic centre, particularly in the field of craft and digital creation.