Bangkok is the capital and most populous city of Thailand. It is known in Thai as Krung Thep Maha Nakhon or simply Krung Thep. The city occupies 1,568.7 square kilometres in the Chao Phraya River delta in Central Thailand, over 14 million people live within the surrounding Bangkok Metropolitan Region, making Bangkok an extreme primate city, significantly dwarfing Thailands other urban centres in terms of importance. Bangkok was at the heart of the modernization of Siam—later renamed Thailand—during the late 19th century, the city grew rapidly during the 1960s through the 1980s and now exerts a significant impact on Thailands politics, economy, education, media and modern society. The Asian investment boom in the 1980s and 1990s led many multinational corporations to locate their headquarters in Bangkok. The city is now a regional force in finance and business. It is a hub for transport and health care, and has emerged as a regional centre for the arts, fashion. The city is known for its vibrant street life and cultural landmarks. The historic Grand Palace and Buddhist temples including Wat Arun and Wat Pho stand in contrast with other tourist attractions such as the scenes of Khaosan Road. Bangkok is among the top tourist destinations. It is named the most visited city in MasterCards Global Destination Cities Index, Bangkoks rapid growth amidst little urban planning and regulation has resulted in a haphazard cityscape and inadequate infrastructure systems. The city has turned to public transport in an attempt to solve this major problem. Five rapid transit lines are now in operation, with more systems under construction or planned by the national government and the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration. The history of Bangkok dates at least back to the early 15th century, because of its strategic location near the mouth of the river, the town gradually increased in importance. Bangkok initially served as a customs outpost with forts on both sides of the river, and became the site of a siege in 1688 in which the French were expelled from Siam. After the fall of Ayutthaya to the Burmese Empire in 1767, the newly declared King Taksin established his capital at the town, in 1782, King Phutthayotfa Chulalok succeeded Taksin, moved the capital to the eastern banks Rattanakosin Island, thus founding the Rattanakosin Kingdom. The City Pillar was erected on 21 April, which is regarded as the date of foundation of the present city, Bangkoks economy gradually expanded through busy international trade, first with China, then with Western merchants returning in the early-to-mid 19th century. As the capital, Bangkok was the centre of Siams modernization as it faced pressure from Western powers in the late 19th century, Bangkok became the centre stage for power struggles between the military and political elite as the country abolished absolute monarchy in 1932
The Bangkok city proper is highlighted in this satellite image of the lower Chao Phraya delta. Notice the built-up urban area along the Chao Phraya River, which extends northward and southward into Nonthaburi and Samut Prakan Provinces.
Bangkok's major canals are shown in this map detailing the original course of the river and its shortcut canals.