Administrative Area Revision

I was working on mapping administrative areas and locations for a while, and I saw something on current guidelines that should be revised.


  1. Tagging Subdistrict Administrative Organization (SAO / อบต.) as place=village contradicts the wiki’s description. It is a group of distinct settlements (village, now tagged as place=hamlet), which should be tagged as anything under “Administratively declared places” in

  2. Tagging village (muban) as place=hamlet violates the wiki’s description as well, though not as severely, because most of them have more than 200 inhabitants.

  3. Currently, place=state is used to tag a province as a node. It is more appropriate to use place=province and should be mentioned in the table. The other type of “Administratively declared places” can also be declared in the table to standardized Thailand’s usage.

  4. Leveling a community (chumchon) at the same level as village (level 10) is problematic because most municipalities that have already established a community continue to use a former village boundary for house addresses. Some of them retain the former village’s administrative structure in parallel to the newly established community organization. It should be able to map both the village and community boundaries at the same time. (See below for more information)

  5. Tagging all municipalities as place=city or place=town is not always appropriate, because not every municipality looks like a single urban settlement. It is correct for most of the old municipalities that were founded a long time ago, but not for the majority of recently established municipalities. Most of them are still rural areas, although they have been upgraded from the SAO if they meet the requirements.

This is a difficult problem to explain. I’d start with a simple categorization of settlement, rural area, and urban area. In an ideal situation, the rural area in Thailand is ruled by a SAO, which consists of a number of distinct villages, while the urban area is governed by a municipality, which can be divided into a number of communities. The large municipality can be divided into khwaeng, which is a large zone containing several communities.

However, the real world is more complicated, because many municipalities are not in the ideal situation, but rather “in between”. Some of these “in between” municipalities remain rural. I think that considering a stage of transition from SAO to an ideal municipality might help in determining the criteria, as follows:

Phase I: Declare in a statute that SAO has been upgraded to the status of municipality.
During this phase, the organization’s official name and structure are changed. The subdistrict headman and village headmen is still in authority.

Phase II: Declare the founding of communities.
During this phase, a community administrative structure is established, such as a community official name, a community committee, a community president, and so on, while the subdistrict and village headmen remain in place.

Phase III: Cancellation of a subdistrict and village headman role.
During this phase, the positions of subdistrict headman and village headman are canceled due to the settlement becoming a single urban area, or one year has elapsed (in the case of city municipality and town municipality). The village boundary is still used for house addresses, despite the fact that the village’s administrative structure has been dismantled.
(According to current law, the subdistrict headman and village headmen of city municipalities and town municipalities are automatically canceled after one year of establishment. However, in reality, some of these municipalities have yet to establish communities; the subdistrict and village headmen, as well as a village boundary, are still working.)

Phase IV: Revising the house number. (ideal situation)
During this phase, all city streets will be named, and house numbers will be revised to use the street rather than village for addressing. The former village boundary is no longer to be used and can be removed from the map.

Based on a short search, I believe the majority of Thai municipalities are in Phase II or III, while the majority of new municipalities (less than ten years old) are in Phase I or II.


  1. change SAO from place=village to place=county
  2. change village (muban) from place=hamlet to place=village (avoid using place=hamlet at all because there are few villages with fewer than 200 inhabitants, to keep the guidelines simple)
  3. adding place=province and place=district to the province and district, as a node
  4. change community from level 10 to 11
  5. adding detail to municipality, to make place=city and place=town only for municipality with communities established (Phase II or higher), while place=municipality for Phase I ones (I use Phase II as a turning point rather than Phase III because it is easier to find that communities have already been established than to find that a subdistrict and village headmen have been canceled)
  6. note that at Phase II, place=village should be removed or changed to community
  7. in addition, adding place=suburb and place=quarter to district and subdistrict in Bangkok (also place=suburb for the city municipality’s khwaeng)
  8. clarify the admin_level for local administration: 7 for municipality/SAO and 9 for city municipality’s khwaeng
  9. note that the village (level 10) boundary should not be removed until the municipality has completed Phase IV

Feel free to comment on a solution here.


This is too technical for me but my main feedback based on my recent experience would be that a solution should not require any change from local mappers. If this can be done through an automated edit then great.

Not sure if ethnic tribe settlements fall under SAO, but from my ground survey experience in the north, many of these settlements have less than 200 inhabitants (typically <20 households). Unlike larger settlements, these have typically no shops, schools. Local mappers tend to use both place=hamlet and place=village to differentiate them, many need still to be added.

I’ve been mapping municipalities for a while, and roughly 60-70 percent of them are already mapped using the existing scheme. That’s where the issue comes. If the guidelines change, I can revise them all.

I did more research and discovered, to my surprise, that the Ministry of Interior’s rule for establishing a new village requires a population of at least 200 people. So, we can say that all of the official villages have more than 200 inhabitants, except for some occasional errors, such as a population decline after it has been established for a while. I believe that making an exception for a little error like this makes guidelines too complicated and difficult to use.

However, some ethnic tribe settlements you mentioned may not be recognized by the authorities. (recognized as a part of neighbouring village). So, place=hamlet could be used to refer to a distinct settlement that is not recognized by the authorities, similar to place=neighbourhood, which can refer to any urban area with a name that people refer to, not just the officially established community (chumchon).

I’ve already made changes to the wiki.
If there is a problem, we can talk about it further.


Hello to Thailand from Germany!
I am writing to you because a few of us are having a discussion about place=municipality. This tag seems to be mainly used in Germany and some of its neighbours as well as Norway and Thailand.
We are thinking if it could make sense to ask for place=municipality nodes to be rendered in Carto.
In Germany, we often use place=municipality when a group villages are politically/administratively joined and either given a new name or take on the name of the biggest village.
So one idea could be that a place=municipality node could be rendered in a similar way to a place=town node. Would that make sense from a Thai point of view?
You find all of the current German discussion here, but it’s all in German.

Edit: I do not intend to carry out parallel discussions in multiple forums, but want to find out if there is some common ground, and if there is we could carry on on the Github Carto.

If I understand correctly, a German place=municipality is a group of settlements united together to form a single administrative body. It is not, in my opinion, the same as a settlement such as city, town, or village, but it is quite near to place=county and other administrative tags. The issue is that no “Administratively declared places” (as defined in the wiki) are rendered on carto. To avoid possible duplication, I believe the current situation of rendering “Populated settlements” but not “Administratively declared places” is reasonable. Sometimes it is difficult to locate the center of “Administratively declared places”, including municipality. Because it is an administrative unit with a clear boundary, the existing condition of tagging it and rendering it as an area makes sense.

If I could make one suggestion, it would be that a municipality also be tagged as a boundary=administrative area with admin level=*. By following this approach, we may easily discuss how to render its name in the same way that boundary=administrative, with admin level=2-6, is rendered.