Manusya, Journal of Humanities

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The article aims to study the growth of Songkhla between 1775-1912, marked by two periods of change within Songkhla paroper. First, the Na Songhkla family played a major role in the growth of Songkhla between 1775-1896, and its development into an important port city on the gulf coast. Second, between 1896-1912, after the gradual decline of the role and influence of the Na Songkhla family, Chainese traders ascended and took its place, enabling Songkhla to sustain its economic development and took its place, enabling Songkhla to sustain its economic development and dynamism as a port city. The study reveals the significant role of families of Chinese traders in mobilizing the economic activities of Songkhla and enhanceing its status as the leading city in the regional economy. Songkhla served not only as a center for the collection of goods from the hinterland, but also as a production site of export goods. The center of Songkhla's commerce was located on both sides of Nakorn Nai and Nakhon Noak roads which were actually the Chinese quarter. Kinship was fostered among the Chinese in the community through inter-marriage. Multi-ethnic interactions between the Thais, the Chinese and the Muslims were carried out through trading activities in which the Chinese acted as intermediaries. During the same period, Songkhla town had become the center of government for the lower South: the commanding seat of Monthon Nakhon Si Thammarat and other official centers. Thus the study shows the development and growth of Songkhla proper between 1896-1912, the crucial time in terms of government administration and the economy when the Chinese traders played the significant role in perpetuating the importance of Songkhla as a vital city in the economic sphere on the foundation laaaid down by the Na Songkhla family.

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