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Bangkok is the capital, largest urban area and primary city of Thailand. Known in Thai as Krung Thep Maha Nakhon (Thai: กรุงเทพมหานคร, pronounced [krūŋ tʰêːp máhǎː nákʰɔ̄ːn] ( listen)), or กรุงเทพฯ Krung Thep ( [listen]) (help·info), meaning "city of angels" for short, it was a small trading post at the mouth of the Chao Phraya River during the Ayutthaya Kingdom. It came to the forefront of Siam when it was given the status as the capital city in 1768 after the burning of Ayutthaya. However, the current Rattanakosin Kingdom did not begin until 1782 when the capital was moved across the river by Rama I after the death of King Taksin. The Rattanakosin capital is now more formally called "Phra Nakhon" (Thai: พระนคร), pertaining to the ancient boundaries in the metropolis' core and the name Bangkok now incorporates the urban build-up since the 18th century which has its own public administration and governor

Bangkok
Contents

Overview

Since its inception as the capital of Siam, it was a target of European colonial plans, but due to its strategic location in Indochina, it acted as a buffer-zone and brokered power between the European forces. Through this, it gained notoriety in the world as an independent, dynamic and influential city. And in the span of over two hundred years, Bangkok has grown to become the political, social and economic center of Thailand, Indochina and one of Southeast Asia.

As a direct result of the 1980s and 1990s Asian investment boom, numerous multinational corporations base their regional headquarters in Bangkok and the city has become a regional force in finance and business. Its increasing influence on global politics, culture, fashion and entertainment underlines its status as an Alpha global city.[1] In 2009, it was the second most expensive city in South-East Asia behind Singapore.[2]

The city's wealth of cultural landmarks and attractions in addition to its notorious entertainment venues has made it synonymous with exoticism. Its historic wealth coincides with its rapid modernization, reflected in the cityscape and the urban society. The Grand Palace, Vimanmek Palace Complex, its thousands of temples, and the city's notorious red-light districts combine draw in 11 million international visitors each year, trailing just Paris and London.[3]

Bangkok has a registered population of 9,100,000 residents while the greater Bangkok area has a population of 11,971,000 (January 2008).[4] The capital is part of the heavily urbanized triangle of central and eastern Thailand which stretches from Nakhon Ratchasima along Bangkok to the heavily Industrialized Eastern Seaboard. Bangkok borders five other provinces: Nonthaburi, Pathum Thani, Samut Prakan, Samut Sakhon and Nakhon Pathom, and all five provinces are joined in the conurbation of the Bangkok Metropolitan Area. It is served by two international airports, Suvarnabhumi Airport and Don Mueang International Airport, four rapid transit lines operated by the BTS, MRT, and the SRT, with plans to add additional lines by 2020.

History

Siege of Bangkok in 1688. Fortress held by the French (A), with Siamese troops and batteries (C). The enclosure of the village of Bangkok represented in the lower left corner (M) is today's Thonburi.[5]

The town of Bangkok (Thai: บางกอก) began as a small trading center and port community[6] on the west bank of the Chao Phraya River before the establishment of the Ayutthaya Kingdom, the precursor of modern Thailand, which existed from 1350 to 1767. The etymology of the town's name is unclear. Bang is the Central Thai name for a town situated on the bank of a river. It is believed that "Bangkok" derived from either Bangkok, kok (กอก) being the Thai name for the Java plum (ma-kok, มะกอก), one of several trees bearing olive-like fruits); or Bang Koh, koh meaning "island," a reference to the area's landscape which was carved by rivers and canals.

After the fall of Ayutthaya to the Burmese Kingdom in 1767, the newly declared King Taksin established a new capital in the area of the then Bangkok, which became known as Thonburi. When Taksin's reign ended in 1782, King Buddha Yodfa Chulaloke reconstructed the capital on the east bank of the river and gave the city a ceremonial name (see below) which became shortened to its current official name, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon. The new city, however, also inherited the name Bangkok, which continued to be used by foreigners to refer to the entire city and became its official English name, while in Thai the name still refers only to the old district on the west bank of the river. The city has since vastly modernized and undergone numerous changes, including the introduction of transportation and utility infrastructure in the reigns of King Mongkut and King Chulalongkorn, and quickly developed into the economic center of Thailand.

Full name

Full name of Bangkok, written in front of Bangkok Administrative Building

The full ceremonial name of the city given by King Buddha Yodfa Chulaloke, and later edited by King Mongkut, is:

Krung Thep Mahanakhon Amon Rattanakosin Mahinthara Yuthaya Mahadilok Phop Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom Udomratchaniwet Mahasathan Amon Phiman Awatan Sathit Sakkathattiya Witsanukam Prasit (Thai: กรุงเทพมหานคร อมรรัตนโกสินทร์ มหินทรายุทธยา มหาดิลกภพ นพรัตนราชธานีบุรีรมย์ อุดมราชนิเวศน์มหาสถาน อมรพิมานอวตารสถิต สักกะทัตติยะวิษณุกรรมประสิทธิ์

This ceremonial name uses two ancient Indian languages, Pāli and Sanskrit, initiated with the only original Thai word Krung which means "capital". According to the romanisation of these languages, it can actually be written as Krung-dēvamahānagara amararatanakosindra mahindrāyudhyā mahātilakabhava navaratanarājadhānī purīramya uttamarājanivēsana mahāsthāna amaravimāna avatārasthitya shakrasdattiya vishnukarmaprasiddhi. It translates to "The city of angels, the great city, the eternal jewel city, the impregnable city of God Indra, the grand capital of the world endowed with nine precious gems, the happy city, abounding in an enormous Royal Palace that resembles the heavenly abode where reigns the reincarnated god, a city given by Indra and built by Vishnukarma".

Local school children are taught the full name, although few can explain its meaning because many of the words are archaic, and unknown to all but a few. Most Thais who do recall the full name do so as a result of its use in a popular song, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon (1989) by Asanee-Wasan Chotikul and will often recount it by recalling the song at the same time, much as English speakers might sing the alphabet song while reciting the English alphabet.

The full name of the city is listed by Guinness Book of Records as the world's longest place name.[7]

Administration

Districts of Bangkok

Bangkok is one of two special administrative areas in Thailand, the other being Pattaya, in which citizens vote to choose their governor, unlike in Thailand's 75 provinces (changwat). In the 2009 gubernatorial election, M.R. Sukhumbhand Paribatra was elected governor.

The urban sprawl of the greater Bangkok Metropolitan Area extends beyond the borders of Bangkok province, spilling into the neighbouring provinces of Nonthaburi, Samut Prakan, Pathum Thani, Nakhon Pathom and Samut Sakhon. The province as it is today was created in 1971 when the previous Bangkok province, changwat Phra Nakhon, merged with Thonburi province.

Bangkok is subdivided into 50 districts (khet, also sometimes called amphoe in the other provinces), which are further subdivided into 169 kwaeng (แขวง, equivalent to tambon in other provinces). Each district is managed by a district chief appointed by the governor. District councils, elected to four-year terms, serve as advisory bodies to their respective district chiefs.

There is also an elected Bangkok Metropolitan Council, which has power over municipal ordinances and the city's budget. The last elections for local councils in Bangkok were held on 23 July 2006. The government of Bangkok is called the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration or the BMA.

The seal of the city shows the god Indra riding in the clouds on Erawan, a mythological elephant-shaped creature. In his hand Indra holds a lightning bolt, which is his weapon to drive away drought. The seal is based on a painting done by Prince Naris. The tree symbol of Bangkok is Ficus benjamina.

Geography

The Bangkok special administrative area covers 1,568.7 km2 (606 sq mi), making it the 68th largest province in Thailand. Much of the area is considered the city of Bangkok, therefore making it one of the largest cities in the world.[9] The Chao Phraya River, which stretches 372 km (231 mi), is Bangkok's main geographical feature. The Chao Phraya River basin, the area surrounding Bangkok, and the nearby provinces comprise a series of plains and river deltas that lead into the Bay of Bangkok about 30 km (19 mi) south of the city center. This gave rise to Bangkok's appellation as the "Venice of the East" due to the number of canals and passages that divide the area into separate patches of land. The city once used these canals, which were plentiful within Bangkok itself, as divisions for city districts. However, as the city grew in the second half of the 20th century, the plan was abandoned and a different system of division was adopted.

Bangkok's Chao Phraya River cuts the city between Thon Buri and Krung Thep core, and is at times referred to as the River of Angels.

Bangkok lies about two meters (6.5 ft) above sea level, which causes problems for the protection of the city against floods during the monsoon season. Often after a downpour, water in canals and the river overflows the banks, resulting in massive floods. The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) has recently installed higher banks alongside some canals to keep water levels from reaching street level. There are however some downsides for Bangkok's extensive canal routes, as the city is rumored to be sinking an average of two inches a year as it lies entirely on a swamp.[10]

Bangkok has a tropical wet and dry climate under the Köppen climate classification system. Average temperatures in the city are about 2 °C (3.6 °F) higher than the ones shown for the Don Mueang Airport during the 1960-1990 period. The highest recorded maximum temperature is 40.8 °C (105.4 °F) in May 1983 and the lowest recorded minimum temperature is 9.9 °C (49.8 °F) in January 1955. The coldest temperatures were recorded in January 1924, January 1955, January 1974 and December 1999. The hottest year on record was 1997 (average yearly at Don Muang 30.0 °C) and the coldest was 1975 (average yearly at Don Muang 26.3 °C). The coldest daytime maximum temperature was 19.9 °C (68 °F), recorded in December 1992.

Districts

Bangkok's Democracy Monument at Rattanakosin Island, the historical zone in Bangkok
Yaowarat Road near the banks of the Chao Phraya River is Bangkok's Chinatown. The city is home to nearly 250,000 Chinese immigrants.

Bangkok has 50 districts or khet, which mark the administrative subdivisions under the authority of the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration. These are further subdivided into 169 khwaeng (แขวง), roughly equivalent to sub-districts tambon in the other provinces.

  1. Phra Nakhon
  2. Dusit
  3. Nong Chok
  4. Bang Rak
  5. Bang Khen
  6. Bang Kapi
  7. Pathum Wan
  8. Pom Prap Sattru Phai
  9. Phra Khanong
  10. Min Buri
  11. Lat Krabang
  12. Yan Nawa
  13. Samphanthawong
  14. Phaya Thai
  15. Thon Buri
  16. Bangkok Yai
  17. Huai Khwang
  18. Khlong San
  19. Taling Chan
  20. Bangkok Noi
  21. Bang Khun Thian
  22. Phasi Charoen
  23. Nong Khaem
  24. Rat Burana
  25. Bang Phlat
  1. Din Daeng
  2. Bueng Kum
  3. Sathon
  4. Bang Sue
  5. Chatuchak
  6. Bang Kho Laem
  7. Prawet
  8. Khlong Toei
  9. Suan Luang
  10. Chom Thong
  11. Don Mueang
  12. Ratchathewi
  13. Lat Phrao
  14. Watthana
  15. Bang Khae
  16. Lak Si
  17. Sai Mai
  18. Khan Na Yao
  19. Saphan Sung
  20. Wang Thonglang
  21. Khlong Sam Wa
  22. Bang Na
  23. Thawi Watthana
  24. Thung Khru
  25. Bang Bon

However, these district areas might not accurately represent functional divisions of Bangkok's neighborhoods. Throughout the years, Bangkok has grown from a city scattered along the river to a metro area that spans as many as six provinces. The city's main business districts and residential areas are continuously expanding. The influx of foreigners from Western countries as well as immigrants from neighboring Laos, Myanmar, Cambodia and many other Asian countries along with the growth of the Thai population has stemmed hundreds of housing projects around the metro area, developing communities along the outskirts. Within years, these communities are engulfed by the greater Bangkok and become another part of this urban jungle.

Central district of Bangkok
Central Bang Na area in Bangkok

As the city expanded on the outskirts, the inner city has nowhere to grow but up. The city has a registered 1,000 skyscrapers and ranks 17th as the world's tallest city.[13] This does not include hundreds of new buildings predicted as part of the construction boom in 2007 and the coming years. Areas such as Silom-Sathon and Asok have for decades been Thailand's business center. From 1985 to 1996, Thailand experienced the world's highest growth rates and underwent an economic transformation, Bangkok went through dramatic changes.[citation needed] The Ratchadaphisek area was turned into a business district which continued through the Asok area up north for five kilometers (3 mi). The Sukhumvit area, stretching 15–20 km (9–12 mi), gradually turned into a mixed commercial and residential area. Wireless Road and Chitlom are where some of Bangkok's most expensive land plots exist. Part of the British Embassy on the corner of Wireless and Rama I Roads, nine rai or approximately 14,400 m2 (155,000 sq ft) in area, was sold for USD 92 million or THB 3.24 billion.

Siam Square is Central Bangkok's shopping district, combining several large malls and side shops with both local and international brands.

The most important business districts of Bangkok include Silom, Bangrak, Pinklao, Sathon, Phra Ram 2, Phetchaburi, Phra Nakhon, Pathumwan, Chatuchak (new central business district), and Phra Ram 3 (new financial center).

Bangkok's Phra Nakhon district alongside Dusit is where most governmental agencies and ministries have their offices. Most of the well-known tourist attractions are also in this particular area due its cultural & historical heritage. This part of Bangkok is perhaps the most popular for tourists as most notable attractions such as the Grand Palace, Wat Pho, the Democracy Monument, the Giant Swing, Sanam Luang and other venues are located here. Thon Buri also has its fair share of historic monuments mainly located near the river, such as Wat Arun. The Victory Monument in Bangkok is one of the city's biggest bus destinations. Although not officially a bus depot, its location in the center of city transits as many as 20 bus lines as well as a BTS Skytrain station. Starting from Victory Monument, Phahonyothin road early sois are occupied by ministries, government agencies, commercial buildings as well as upper-middle class residential areas. Further to the north, after the Lat Phrao/Phahonyothin intersection, the Northern Corridor is an expanding business district, where the famous Elephant Building can be found.

Bangkok's north and eastern areas are primarily residential areas for middle class residents of Bangkok. Whereas the inner city often has small apartments and low rises for poor immigrants, Lat Phrao and Si Nakharin offer residential compounds and townhouses. The two areas cover as much as 100 km2 (40 sq mi) to 150 km2 (60 sq mi) each, and have turned into what is now part of Bangkok as more suburban housing developments sprawl further out to the east and north. The west of Bangkok in Thon Buri is another growing area, approaching the degree of development experienced by the north and east. Suvarnabhumi Airport in the east is seen as a jump start for the eastern expansion of Bangkok as Don Mueang was for the north.

Ratchaprasong is at the forefront of Bangkok's shopping scene. The newly renovated Central World Plaza intends to serve as a square to Bangkokians. Just up the street is Siam Square, similar to Shinjuku in Tokyo and Oxford Street and Piccadilly Circus in London. The Sukhumvit area also serves as a shopping district for foreigners. The popular Chatuchak Weekend Market in the north of the city is where many people head for cheap, used and high quality products.

Bangkok's poorest districts are spread throughout the city. However, the most concentrated area is just north of the Port of Bangkok at the turn of the Chao Phraya River. For an area of 10 square kilometres (4 sq mi), the Khlong Toei district houses one of the poorest areas in the country with half-built houses and midrises for immigrants and workers from the northeast Isan provinces.

The Rajprasong, Chidlom and Sukhumvit skylines of Bangkok at night with Lumphini Park in the center viewed from the Sathorn-Silom CBD.

Green zones and major parks

Lumphini Park

Bangkok has large sections of greenery either preserved by the Department of National Forestry or designated as green zones. The city however, continues to lack a green belt development as economic activity continues to pour into the capital, resulting in massive housing projects along the suburbs.

Bangkok is known for its large green sections within the city centre, including the large forest park between Yannawa and Samut Prakan. This part of the city covers an area of over 50 km2 (19 sq mi). and is intended to buffer the CBD from the large industries of the west and south of Metropolitan Bangkok. Other areas include Bung Makkasan, an urban city buffer for residences, sections of many major roads which have unbuilt swamps and green fields. Some of these areas are intentionally undeveloped for protecting against urbanization, while others are land lost during the Asian Financial Crisis.

Lumphini Park is regionally famous. Renowned as Bangkok's Central Park, it was built in the early 1920s by Rama VI with this intent. It has since been used to hold grand pageants, ceremonies of the Thai constitution, and was a camp for Japanese soldiers during World War II. On Sundays, the western gates are open for runners to run on to Silom Road. The park is normally closed at night due to the incidences of vandalism, robberies and murders reported. Chatuchak Park and Rama IX Park are two of Bangkok's largest parks. The two, built in the past 50 years cater to Bangkok's suburban population are enormous and include botanic gardens, sports clubs and complexes, English/French/Japanese gardens and parks as well as large ponds and lakes. Other famous parks include Queen Sirikit Park near Lat Yao, Benchasiri Park on Sukhumvit Rd, Saranrom Park across the Grand Palace, Sanam Luang, Suan Romaneenat, and Dusit Park.

 
From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bangkok
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