Bangkok is the capital and largest city of Thailand. In Thailand it is known as Krung Thep Maha Nakhon or simply Krung Thep. The city covers 1,568.7 square kilometers (605.7 square miles) in the Chao Phraya River Delta in central Thailand and has an estimated population of 10.539 million as of 2021, 15.3 percent of the country’s population. At the 2010 census, more than fourteen million people (22.2 percent) lived in the surrounding Bangkok metropolitan region, dwarfing Thailand’s other urban centers in size and importance to the national economy.
Bangkok has its origins in a small trading post during the Ayutthaya Kingdom in the 15th century, which eventually grew and became the site of two capitals: Thonburi in 1768 and Rattanakosin in 1782. Bangkok was the heart of Siam’s modernization, later renamed Thailand, at the end of the 19th century, when the country was under pressure from the West. The city was at the center of Thailand’s political struggles in the 20th century, when the country abolished absolute monarchy, adopted constitutional rules, and suffered numerous coups and various uprisings. Incorporated as a Special Administrative Area under the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration in 1972, the city grew rapidly from the 1960s to the 1980s and now exerts a significant influence on politics, economics, education, media and modern society.
The Asian investment boom in the 1980s and 1990s led many multinational companies to establish their regional headquarters in Bangkok. The city is now a regional force in finance and business. It is an international hub for transport and healthcare and has grown into a center for art, fashion and entertainment. The city is known for its street life and cultural attractions, as well as for its red light districts. The Grand Palace and Buddhist temples, including Wat Arun and Wat Pho contrasts other tourist attractions such as the nightlife of Khaosan Road and Patpong. Bangkok is one of the world’s top tourist destinations and has been consistently named the most visited city in the world in various international rankings.
Bangkok’s rapid growth coupled with little urban planning has resulted in an arbitrary cityscape and inadequate infrastructure. Despite an extensive highway network, an inadequate road network and substantial car use led to chronic and crippling traffic congestion that led to severe air pollution in the 1990s. The city has since switched to public transportation in an attempt to solve the problem by operating five high-speed transit lines and building other public transportation, but congestion remains a common problem.