Loei (Thai: เลย, pronounced [lɤ̄ːj]), in Isan, is one of the most sparsely populated provinces (changwat) of Thailand. Neighboring provinces are (from east clockwise) Nong Khai, Udon Thani, Nongbua Lamphu, Khon Kaen, Phetchabun, Phitsanulok. In the north it borders Xaignabouli and Vientiane Province of Laos.
|Motto(s): City of the sea of mountains, coldest place in Siam, with beautiful flowers of three seasons|
Map of Thailand highlighting Loei Province
|• Governor||Khumphon Banthaothuk (since October 2016)|
|• Total||11,424.6 km2 (4,411.1 sq mi)|
|Area rank||Ranked 14th|
|• Rank||Ranked 40th|
|• Density||55.33/km2 (143.3/sq mi)|
|• Density rank||Ranked 72nd|
|• HDI (2009)||0.731 (42nd)|
|Time zone||UTC+7 (ICT)|
|ISO 3166 code||TH-42|
The province is dotted with mountains, such as Phu Kradueng and Phu Ruea, while the seat of provincial government, Loei, is in a fertile basin. The Loei River, which flows through the province, is a tributary of the Mekong, which forms part of the northern boundary of the province with neighboring Laos. Phu Thap Buek, the highest mountain of the Phetchabun Range, is in the province.
The Phu Luang Wildlife Sanctuary is in the province.
According to tradition, Loei was founded by people from Chiang Saen, the capital of Lan Na. Khun Pha Muang founded the village of Dan-kwa, and Bang Klang Hao founded Dan Sai. Drought and disease later led to the villagers move to the site of present-day Loei. In 1907 King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) created Loei Province. The Loei Cultural Centre (ศูนย์วัฒนธรรมจังหวัดเลย) displays Loei's history, religions, and traditions.
The seal of the province shows the stupa at Phra That Si Song Rak, which was built in 1560 by King Maha Chakrapat of the Ayutthaya Kingdom and King Chai Chetha of Lan Xang as a symbol of friendship between the two kingdoms. The provincial tree is the Khasi pine (Pinus kesiya).
The provincial slogan is "city of the sea of mountains, coldest place in Siam, with beautiful flowers of three seasons."
Agriculture drives Loei's economy. Macadamia nuts, passion fruit, and Arabica coffee are grown in the highlands; bananas, sesame, and rubber on the plains. Loei is an ecotourism destination due to its natural environment and amalgam of northern and northeastern cultures.
Wang Saphung District is the site of a large open pit gold mine that employs many locals. The locality has been the site of a long-standing dispute as well as physical conflict between the villagers of Ban Na Nong Bong and its environs and Tungkum Limited, a subsidiary of Tongkah Harbour PCL. Tungkum's gold mining operation has been accused in the courts of environmental destruction.
- "Ban Thap Boek". Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT). Retrieved 6 May 2016.
- "Phu Kradueng National Park". Department of National Parks (DNP). Archived from the original on 21 January 2016. Retrieved 5 June 2016.
- "Phu Ruea National Park". Department of National Parks (DNP). Archived from the original on 26 March 2016. Retrieved 5 June 2016.
- "Phu Suan Sai National Park". Department of National Parks (DNP). Archived from the original on 26 March 2016. Retrieved 5 June 2016.
- ดร.กระมล ทองธรรมชาติ และคณะ, สังคมศึกษา ศาสนาและวัฒนธรรม ม.1, สำนักพิมพ์ อักษรเจริญทัศน์ อจท. จำกัด, 2548, หน้า 24-25
- "Loei Cultural Center". Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT). Retrieved 5 June 2016.
- "Loei". THAILEX Travel Encyclopedia. Retrieved 5 June 2016.
- "About Loei". Tourist Authority of Thailand (TAT). Retrieved 5 June 2016.
- "Loei: General Info". Tourist Authority of Thailand (TAT). Retrieved 5 June 2016.
- Wannasiri, Sutharee; Abbott, Kingsley (2016-06-05). "Struggle against mining violations leaves activists exposed". Bangkok Post. Retrieved 5 June 2016.
- "Loei Airport". OurAirports. Retrieved 3 February 2013.