Tambon (Thai: ตำบล, pronounced [tam.bon]) is a local government unit in Thailand. Below district (amphoe) and province (changwat), they form the third administrative subdivision level. As of the 2009 there are 7255 tambon, not including the 169 khwaeng of Bangkok, which are set at the same administrative level, thus every district contains 8-10 tambon. Tambon is usually translated as "township" or "subdistrict" in English — the latter is the recommended translation, though also often used for king amphoe, the designation for a subdistrict acting as a branch (Thai: king) of the parent district. Tambon are further subdivided into 69,307 villages (muban), about 10 per tambon. Tambon within cities or towns are not subdivided into villages, but may have less formal communities called chumchon (ชุมชน) that may be formed into community associations.
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The tambon as a subdivision has a long history. It was the second-level subdivision of the area administered by a provincial town in the 19th century. The governor of the province was supposed to appoint a commune elder, kamnan or phan. (The latter also means 1000, and refers to the supposition that a tambon would have about 1000 abled-bodied men. It is also both an obsolete feudal title and current Thai military rank that may be used instead of Nai for a tambon administrator.)
In the administrative reforms started in 1892 under Prince Damrong Rajanubhab, the first Thai minister of Interior, the three levels of subdivision of provinces were continued, i.e. starting from district to tambon to the lowest level called muban.
The subdistricts are further subdivided into administrative villages (Muban, หมู่บ้าน) as the lowest administrative subdivision. Usually these are referred much more often by the village number than the actual name, especially as an administrative village may contain more than one settlement, or a large settlement may be split into more than one administrative village. One of the elected village headmen is elected as the subdistrict headman (Kamnan).
Subdistrict Administration Organization (TAO)
With the Tambon Council and Tambon Administrative Authority Act BE 2537 (1994) and later by the constitution of 1997 the tambons were decentralized into local government units with an elected Tambon Council. Depending on the size and tax income a tambon may either be administrated by Subdistrict (Tambon) Administrative Organization (SAO or TAO, Thai: องค์การบริหารส่วนตำบล) or a Tambon Council (TC, Thai: สภาตำบล). However, since 2001 all of the Tambon Councils have been upgraded to Tambon Administrative Organizations. The TAO council consist of two representatives from each administrative village in the subdistrict, and one directly elected president. The subdistrict area which belongs to a municipality (thesaban) is administrated by the municipal council. In case only a part of the subdistrict is within a municipality, the remaining part is administrated by a TAO. Adjoining subdistricts of a single district can also have a joint TAO.
One Tambon One Product
In 1999, Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra started a project in which every tambon should select a typical local product. The project then does the promotion for the product, as well as assists in modernizing the production. Shops selling the OTOP products are located in each provincial capital.
- "Number of administrative entities 2008". Department of Provincial Administration.
- Thai-English Transcription of Changwat, Amphoe, King Amphoe and Tambon. ISBN 978-974-7857-04-7. Retrieved 2009-01-20.
- "พระราชบัญญัติสภาตำบลและองค์การบริหารส่วนตำบล พ.ศ. ๒๕๓๗". Royal Gazette (in Thai) 111 (53 ก): 11–35. 1994-12-02.