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Phang Nga (พังงา)

Thai. ‘Ivory/tusk (nga) of a female elephant (phang)’ or ‘tiller’. Name of a river, a provincial capital, as well as of a province on the west coast of the South Thai peninsula along the Andaman Sea (map). The city has a population of approximately 9,000 inhabitants and is situated at about 90 kms from Phuket and 788 kms from Bangkok. The area is well-known for the extraction of tin and often dredgers (fig.) can be seen at work. Phang Nga was originally inhabited by small communities and named Ban Kraphu Nga (บ้านกระพูงา). During the reign of King Rama II, nearby areas, including Thalang (now Phuket), were invaded by the Burmese and consequently many people fled to Ban Kraphu Nga. In 1824, Siamese troops expelled the Burmese invaders and the newly crowned King Rama III renamed the area Phang Nga, which in 1933 was declared a province. There are many places of interest in the Bay of Phang Nga area (map - fig.) in the South of the province, which is known for its stunning limestone rock formations, some with caves and a few with pre-historic paintings, such as the Khao Khian (เขาเขียน) tunnel cave (map - fig.), as well as a labyrinth of waterways through dense mangrove forests. On the island of Koh Panyi live Islamic sea gypsies on pile dwellings built in a bay against the face of a sheer cliff (map - fig.). Also renowned is Koh Tah Puh, i.e. ‘Nail [Rock] Island’ or ‘Crab Eye Island’, with its long landing-stage built in sea (fig.). It is part of Ahw Phang Nga National Marine Park and after a scene of a 007-movie was filmed here, it is nicknamed James Bond Island (map - fig.). Off the west coast lie the Similan Islands. This province and especially the beach resort town of Khao Lak, was among the hardest hit when a tsunami hit Thailand's Andaman coast line on 26 December 2004, killing around eight thousand people with the majority of deaths in this province, many of them foreign holidaymakers celebrating Christmas. Worldwide over 220,000 were killed or went missing. The province has eight amphur. See also Phang Nga data file, as well as THEMATIC STREET LIGHTS (1) and (2).