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Krabi People

People of Krabi

Cave paintings and artifacts found around Krabi indicate that the area has been inhabited since prehistoric times.

Today the people of Krabi represent a mix of three different ethnic groups who came to settle from other regions. It is said that each ethnic group has written a page in Krabi's rich history.

The origins of the Chao Ley or Sea Gypsies are unknown. Living mainly on the islands, these nomadic people live in small settlements and earn their living from fishing, collecting shells and diving.

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They still retain their own language and beliefs and animistic worship is still strong in the community although overexposure to tourism, and inevitable assimilation with mainstream culture is unfortunately threatening their small communities.

Some of their traditional ways are celebrated at the yearly sea gypsy sailing ritual held in May on Koh Lanta, Koh Pu and Koh Cha and various ceremonies are still celebrated within the community.

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, immigrants from southern China flocked to Thailand in search of work. Many assimilated into Thai society but their descendants still retain their Chinese heritage and are prominent in the business community. Many still speak Chinese dialects, have Chinese (and Thai) names, and observe Chinese rituals and religious beliefs which form part of the local culture.

Krabi is also home to many Muslim communities, due to its relatively close proximity to Malaysia and strong ethnic ties with the border provinces, providing a rich diversity to the area.

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