Bangkok is the capital of Thailand and the largest city located on the left bank of the Menam River at its mouth in the Gulf of Siam. Bangkok is known in Thai as Krung Thep Maha Nakhon or simply Krung Thep, which means “City of Angels”. The city was a small trading post near the mouth of the Chao Phraya River during the Ayutthaya kingdom in the 15th century.
Because of its strategic position in Southeast Asia, Bangkok served as a neutral zone between the French and British colonial empires. Today, it has earned a reputation as a vibrant and important city, and the political, social and economic center of Thailand. In the 1980s and 1990s, due to the investment boom in Asia, many multinational companies chose Bangkok as their regional headquarters and the city became a regional powerhouse in finance and business. Its growing influence in politics, culture, fashion and entertainment on a global scale supports its status as a global city.
The official population of Bangkok is 11 million, while the Greater Bangkok region has a population of 16 million. The capital is the center of the megacity, located in the largely urbanized triangle of central and eastern Thailand, which stretches from Nakhon Ratchasima to the heavily industrialized east coast and borders five other provinces: Nodaburi, Patum Thani, Samut Prakan, Samut Sakhon and Nakhon Pathom.
Bangkok’s history dates back to at least the early 15th century, when it was under the rule of Ayutthaya. Its name referred only to a small village on the west bank of the river. Because of its strategic location near the mouth of the Chao Phraya River, the village gradually developed and served as a customs outpost. It was the scene of the 1688 siege during which the French were expelled from Siam. After the fall of Ayutthaya to Burma in 1767, the king moved his headquarters to this village. Since then, Bangkok has undergone enormous changes, developing rapidly in the second half of the 20th century to become Thailand’s main city. It was the center of Siam’s modernization in the late 19th century, including the introduction of rail transportation and public services. During World War II, the city was subjected to Allied bombing, and subsequently represented the central political scene of modern Thailand, with a series of protests and coups occasionally taking place on its streets.