Capital and port of Thailand, on the east bank of the River Chao Phraya, 40 km/24 mi from the Gulf of Thailand; population (2000 est) 6,320,200; the population of the whole metropolitan area, including the industrial centre of Thon Buri across the river, is 10,068,000 (2000 est). It is the economic centre of the country and the hub of the transport system. The port is accessible to smaller ocean-going ships, but much of its trade now passes through outports, such as Samut Prakan. Industries such as the manufacture of automobile parts, computers, and textiles have largely overtaken agricultural output. Banking and tourism are particularly important economically, while other industries include paper, ceramics, cement, silk, tobacco, and rice. The city has been the headquarters of the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO) since 1955, and hosted the 13th Asian Games in 1998.
History While still a village, Bangkok became the capital of the country then known as Siam in 1782, when Chao Phraya Chakkri, known as Rama I, set up his government there and fortified the city with a 7 km/4.4 mi wall with 15 forts and 63 gates, after the Burmese had burned down the former capital, Avuthia, about 65 km/40 mi to the north.
Life in the city was for long founded on the canals, or klongs, which provided valuable defences as well as means of transport, and Bangkok was known as the ‘Venice of the East’. In the later 19th century, under Rama V, trade was stimulated as the canals and most of the city wall were largely displaced by the building of a network of roads and bridges. The hosting of the 13th Asian Games in 1998 brought about the construction of a large number of new roads, which helped to relieve traffic congestion in the city.
Features Bangkok contains the 18th-century walled Grand Palace (1782) and some 400 Buddhist temples, known as wats, including the Wat Po and the Wat Emerald Buddha. Wat Suthat, built by King Rama III in the 19th century contains a 14th-century Buddha. Bangkok is also the home of a number of universities including Chulalongkorn (1917), Thammasat (1934), Kasetsart (1943), and Mahidol (1969). Traditional buildings, including those on stilts near waterways, are still evident but the urban landscape is now dominated by modern buildings, including skyscrapers. The city it is now served by a major international airport, Don Muang.
Chao Phraya River
Chao Phraya River
floating market, Bangkok
Grand Palace grounds
Wat Benchamabophit, Bangkok
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