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Bangkok (băngˈkŏkˌ), Thai Krung Thep, city (2021 est. pop. 10,539,000), capital of Thailand and of Bangkok prov., SW Thailand, on the east bank of the Chao Phraya River, near the Gulf of Thailand. Thailand's largest city and one of the leading cities of Southeast Asia, Bangkok lies in the heart of the country's major commercial rice-growing region. The metropolitan area includes Bangkok proper, the industrial city of Thon Buri on the west bank of the river, and Klongtoi Wharf, c.5 mi (8 km) downstream, which, along with Bangkok's artificial harbor, handles the bulk of Thailand's foreign trade. The city is the hub of a continental Southeast Asian railroad network and has modern highways; congestion on its roads led to the opening of an elevated light-rail system in 1999 and subway system in 2004. Its nearby international airport (opened 2006) is one of the busiest in Asia. Bangkok's once numerous canals were formerly an integral part of its transport system, but development has resulted in many being filled in.

Processed food, wood, and textiles are leading exports. Industrial plants include rice mills, cement factories, sawmills, oil refineries, and shipyards. Textiles, motor vehicles, electrical goods, and food products are also manufactured. The city is a famous jewelry trading center, dealing in silver and bronze ware and precious stones. Ethnic Chinese dominate both commerce and industry in Bangkok, whose population includes sizable Indian, Pakistani, European, and American communities.

The city began as a small trading center and port community serving Ayutthaya, the capital of Siam until its destruction by Burmese invaders in 1767. Thon Buri became the capital in 1769, but in 1782, King Rama I, founder of the present Chakkri dynasty, built his royal palace on the east bank of the river and made Bangkok his capital. The vast, walled Grand Palace complex encompasses the Wat Phra Kaew, the royal chapel housing the sacred image of the Emerald Buddha. There are more than 400 other Buddhist temples in Bangkok. During World War II the city was occupied by the Japanese and was a target of Allied bombing raids. More recently the city has been endangered by subsidence; the sinking is due both to the effects of development (including the depletion of aquifers beneath Bangkok) and to natural geologic process.

Bangkok is home of the regional headquarters of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), as well as many other international businesses and organizations. Bangkok's educational and cultural facilities include five universities, a fine arts academy, the national theater, and the national museum, which has a large collection of Thai antiquities. Of particular interest is the daily floating market, in which merchandise is sold aboard boats on canals.

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



capital of Thailand. Located at the mouth of the Menam Chao Phraya River 30 km from the coast of the Gulf of Siam. Tropical, monsoonal climate with negligible temperature fluctuations during the year. Temperature of the coolest month (December) as high as 24° C; temperature of the warmest month (April) as high as 28.6° C. Rainy season from May to October; dry season from November to February. Precipitation, 1,000–1,500 mm per year.

Bangkok is Thaifand’s main political, economic, and cultural center and its largest city. Bangkok has existed as a city since the 16th century, and it has been the capital of Thailand since 1782. It is the country’s religious center. The population of the city and its suburbs (Thonburi and others) is 3.6 million (1972). It is a junction for rail, automobile, and air communications of international importance. (The Don Muang airport is located 32 km from Bangkok.) Bangkok is Thailand’s main port for foreign trade; over 90 percent of the country’s imports and over 75 percent of its exports pass through Bangkok.

Most of Thailand’s manufacturing and handicraft production is concentrated in Bangkok. There is a thermal electric power plant (standard capacity, 227 megawatts in 1963). Bangkok’s industries include rice polishing, timber, electrical engineering, tobacco, rubber, paper, textiles, glass and ceramics, cement, chemicals, motor and tractor assembly, automobile shops, and a shipyard. There is extensive manufacture of souvenirs made of wood, metal, ivory, and precious stones. (The skill of the lapidaries is particularly famous.) Rice fields, fruit orchards, and palm groves stretch out around the city on a low, partly swamped plain.

Bangkok is dissected by canals which in some areas are partially filled in. The royal palace, ministries, temples, monasteries, national library, and theater are located in the central part of Bangkok in the old city. In the southwest there are business and trade districts and residential areas with low and multistory buildings made of stone or wood. Industrial enterprises are located primarily in the north. The populous Chinese quarter, Sampeng, is notable. A distinctive area of the city arose on the Menam Chao Phraya River, where the floating houses of the poor are located. The appearance of the city has changed noticeably in certain areas as a result of the extensive penetration of Thailand’s economy by foreign capital and the transformation of Bangkok into a SEATO base. Bangkok’s territory has increased, and many new buildings have appeared including hotels; commercial, industrial, and transportation firms; branches of banks; department stores; industrial enterprises; and residential buildings. Bangkok has two universities. There are institutes of medicine, agriculture, the fine arts, and moral and political sciences. There is also a Pasteur Institute.

The city has numerous 18th- and 19th-century Buddhist temples (wats), including Wat Arun, Wat Pho, Wat Phra Keo, and the sanctuary of Phratommachedi. The royal palace, Mahaphrasad (18th-19th centuries), is richly decorated inside and out with gold and mirror mosaics, bright multicolored ceramic tiles, lacquer painting, and reliefs. Around the temples there are polychromatic statues of deities and demons. The national museum is in Bangkok.


Wells, B. M. Guide to Bangkok. Bangkok, 1958.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


the capital and chief port of Thailand, on the Chao Phraya River: became a royal city and the capital in 1782. Pop.: 6 604 000 (2005 est.)
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005