Yala (Thai: ยะลา, pronounced [já(ʔ).lāː]) is the southernmost province (changwat) of Thailand. Neighboring provinces are (from northwest clockwise) Songkhla, Pattani, and Narathiwat. Yala is one of two landlocked provinces in southern Thailand, the other being Phatthalung. Its southern part borders Kedah and Perak of Malaysia.
Yala Province is in southern Thailand. The highest point of the Sankalakhiri Range (Northern Titiwangsa Mountains), the 1,533-meter (5,030 ft)-high Ulu Titi Basah (ยูลูติติ บาซาห์), is on the Thai/Malaysian border between Yala Province and Perak. The total forest area is 1,455 km2 (562 sq mi) or 32.5 percent of provincial area.
The name "Yala" is the Thai transliteration of the Malay word "Jala" (Jawi: جالا), meaning "net", which was in turn derived from Sanskrit (Devanagari: जाल). The province is also known as "Jala" in Patani Malay language.
Historically, Pattani Province was the centre of the Sultanate of Patani, a semi-independent Malay kingdom that paid tribute to the Thai kingdoms of Sukhothai and Ayutthaya. After Ayutthaya fell under Burmese control in 1767, the Sultanate of Patani gained full independence, but under King Rama I (reigned from 1782 to 1809), the area was again placed under Siam's control in 1785 and made a mueang. In 1808, Mueang Pattani was split into seven smaller mueang including Yala and Reman.
There is a separatist movement in Yala, which after being dormant for many years, emerged again in 2004 and has become increasingly violent. Eight bombs exploded in the province over two days, on 6–7 April 2014. The bombings resulted in one death and 28 injuries, as well as damage to a warehouse estimated at 100 million baht. Local officials accordingly tightened security in the province during the Songkran festivities scheduled for 13–15 April.
The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in 2014 advised its citizens to only undertake essential travel in the province, while the Australian Government's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade recommends that travellers completely avoid the province.
Together with Narathiwat, Pattani and Satun Yala is one of the four provinces of Thailand with a Muslim majority. About 72 percent of the people are Malay-speaking Muslims and mainly live in rural locations. The remainder are Thai and Thai Chinese Buddhists, who live in towns and cities.
As of 26 November 2019 there are: one Yala Provincial Administration Organisation (ongkan borihan suan changwat) and 16 municipal (thesaban) areas in the province. Yala has city (thesaban nakhon) status and Sateng Nok and Betong have town (thesaban mueang) status. Further 13 subdistrict municipalities (thesaban tambon). The non-municipal areas are administered by 47 Subdistrict Administrative Organisations - SAO (ongkan borihan suan tambon).
The nearest Thai airport to Yala is Hat Yai International Airport in Songkhla Province. As of 2018 Thailand's transport ministry is constructing the 1.9 billion baht Betong Airport. It is scheduled to be opened in June 2020. Designed to handle 300 arrivals per hour, it is projected to serve one million passengers per year, generating three billion baht for the district. Nok Air, Bangkok Airways, and Malaysia's Firefly Airlines have plans to fly to Betong.
Since 2003, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Thailand has tracked progress on human development at sub-national level using the Human achievement index (HAI), a composite index covering all the eight key areas of human development. National Economic and Social Development Board (NESDB) has taken over this task since 2017.