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The Kingdom of Thailand, the country where the Isan people dwell, was previously called Siam, A charter member of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Thailand is a key player in the Southeast Asia economy. Thailand has a land area of approximately 200,000 square miles.

Roughly three-quarters the size of Texas, it is divided into four main geographical regions: North, Northeast, East and South. The Northeastern Region, or Isan, lies along the border of Laos and Cambodia, separated by the Mekong River. Isan is the largest and most populous region of Thailand, albeit the least developed, and occupies an area of about 64,000 square miles, or one-third of the country’s total land mass. Thailand’s system of geopolitical administration is divided up into provinces or jangwats. With over seventy-two jangwats in total, Isan comprises nineteen of these.

Geographically, the Isan region is spread over the Korat Plateau, a vast tableland that derives its name from an ancient Khmer kingdom-city, which once governed the area during the pre-Thai era. The Korat Plateau is drained by streams and tributaries that flow into the Mekong River watershed which also forms the entire Thai-Lao northeastern border. The word Korat is the shortened form for Nakhon Ratchasima, a major province that forms the southern gateway to the Isan region.

The Isan countryside, averaging 450 to 600 feet above sea-level, is characteristically suited for rice-paddies and is interspersed with forested and mountainous regions. Isan typically has a harsh, sun-baked climate. During the monsoon rice-planting season, various locales frequently receive uneven rainfall often to the point of being either draught- or flood-ridden, resulting in unpredictable crop yields.

The Isan people have for centuries eked out an austere existence on generally inhospitable land in less than favorable conditions as substance-level agrarians and pastoral hunter-gatherers whose ancestors inhabited the area before them. As a result, this indigent farmer-class people have learned to make do with what they have, within the confines of their own sub-economy, and have developed a resilient love of life that belies their predicament.


[knowledgebase-one order=asc include=421,420,422,423,424]


THE ISAN PEOPLE OF NORTHEAST THAILAND:
A SEARCH FOR IDENTITY
By Ron Myers

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Chapter I: Introduction to the Isan People and Region of Thailand

Current Situation of Isaan

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Despite years of lethargy and mediocre response to the Thai government’s various rural development assistance programs, the rural-dwelling Isan people have begun to awaken and are taking their own initiative.
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Chapter I: Introduction to the Isan People and Region of Thailand

Conclusion of Isaan

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This paper will trace the steps and review the catalyst mechanisms and events that have occurred from the mid-1960s through to the new Millennium. This will demonstrate that, despite oppression and the relative failure of Thai government assistance programs, the Isan have taken opportunity to improve their educational, socio-political, and economic standing within the greater Thai society.
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Chapter I: Introduction to the Isan People and Region of Thailand

Their Beliefs

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The chief religion of Thailand is Theravada Buddhism, adhered to by more than ninety percent of the populace.
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