Bangkok is the capital city of and largest urban area in Thailand. It is known in Thai as Krung Thep Maha Nakhon or simply Krung Thep, meaning "city of angels". Bangkok is by far the most densely populated city in Thailand with about 12 million people. Bangkok was a small trading post near the mouth of the Chao Phraya River during the Ayutthaya Kingdom in the 15th century. It eventually grew in size and became the site of two capital cities: Thonburi in 1768 and Rattanakosin in 1782.
Due to its strategic location in Southeast Asia, Siam (later Thailand) acted as a buffer-state between French and British colonial powers. Bangkok gained a reputation as an independent, dynamic, and influential city. Today, Bangkok is not only the political, social, and economic centre of Thailand, but plays a leading role in trade, commerce, culture, the arts, education, healthcare and transport for the Indochina region.
The Asian investment boom in the 1980s and 1990s led many multinational corporations to locate their regional headquarters in Bangkok. The city is a now a major regional force in finance and business. Its growing influence on global politics, culture, fashion and entertainment underlines its status as an Alpha global city. In 2009, it was the second most expensive city in South-East Asia behind Singapore. The city's many cultural landmarks and attractions in addition to its notorious red light district has made it synonymous with exoticism. The historic Grand Palace, Wat Arun, and Temple of the Reclining Buddha, in addition Khaosan Road and Soi Cowboy, are major tourist destinations in the capital. In combination with being the major gateway to Laos, Burma, and Cambodia, it is second only to London in the number of visits a year.
The rapid growth of the 80's led to prolonged construction boom which has completely changed the face of Bangkok. The result of poor urban planning and zoning restrictions, most historic buildings lay side by side with