Chiang Mai is the capital of the province of the same name. It is the biggest city in northern Thailand and its political and economic hub. King Mangrai founded the city in 1296. It became the capital of the Lanna kingdom that stretched far into, what nowadays are Laos, Myanmar and China. The dynasty that Mangrai started ruled the Lanna kingdom until 1556. In that year Burmese forces occupied the city. Until 1774 Chiang Mai was part of a Burmese kingdom. With the help of the Thai king Taksin, the Burmese were driven out. Chiang Mai lay in ruins and was abandoned for a number of years.
Chiang Mai’s ruler Chao Kawila signed an agreement in 1775 by which Chiang Mai became part of Siam. Kawila started the repopulation of the city and brought people from Shan State and Chiang Saen to live in and around the city.
Until the early 20th century it still had some autonomy but gradually became part of what is now Thailand. In the past decades, the city has developed very quickly. It now has an international airport which has direct flights to many destinations in Asia. The city has become a major tourist attraction and is the handicraft capital of Thailand.