Bangkok (Krung Thep Maha Nakhon)


Bangkok, known in Thai as Krung Thep Maha Nakhon or Krung Thep for short, is the capital of and largest city in Thailand, with an official year 2000 census population of 6,355,144, but actually numbering at least twice that. Bangkok is located at 13°45′N 100°31′ECoordinates: 13°45′N 100°31′E, on the east bank of the Chao Phraya River, near the Gulf of Thailand.

Bangkok is the 22nd most populous city in the world. Although Bangkok now has roughly 7 million registered inhabitants, the actual population is much higher, and including commuters from the surrounding areas, may reach an estimated 10-15 million people during the day time.[1]. However, Bangkok is not particularly dense by Asian standards (Manila for example has 41k people/ km2, ten times the density of Bangkok List of selected cities by population density) Recently, the value of Bangkok's economic output has matched that of Singapore, making Bangkok a major economic and financial center in Southeast Asia. Bangkok has one of the fastest rates in the world for construction of high rise buildings. The city's wealth of cultural sites makes it one of the world's most popular tourist destinations.

The Bangkok Province borders 6 other provinces: Samut Prakan, Samut Sakhon, Chachoengsao, Pathum Thani, Nonthaburi and Nakhon Pathom.

History
The town of Bangkok began as a small trading center and port community on the west bank of the Chao Phraya River serving the Ayutthaya Kingdom, the precursor of modern Thailand which existed from 1350 to 1767. It is believed that the town's name derived from either Bang Makok, bang being the Central Thai name for towns or villages situated on the bank of a river, and makok being the Thai name of either Spondias pinnata (L.f.) Kurz or Elaeocarpus hygrophilus Kurz, 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 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 (which means "city of angels"). 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 centre of Thailand.

During the reign of king Taksin after the fall of Ayutthaya the main city of the province was moved to the Chao Phraya river, and named Ang Thong, as the Noi river had become to shallow for transportation.

Full name
The full ceremonial name of the city given by King Buddha Yodfa Chulaloke, and later edited by King Mongkut, is Krungthep Mahanakhon Amonrattanakosin Mahintharayutthaya Mahadilokphop Noppharatratchathani Burirom-udomratchaniwet Mahasathan Amonphiman Awatansathit Sakkathattiya Witsanu Kamprasit (กรุงเทพมหานคร อมรรัตนโกสินทร์ มหินทรายุธยามหาดิลกภพ นพรัตน์ราชธานี บุรีรมย์อุดมราชนิเวศน์มหาสถาน อมรพิมานอวตารสถิต สักกะทัตติยะวิษณุกรรมประสิทธิ์, listen. This ceremonial name is composed in combination of two ancient Indian languages, Pāli and Sanskrit. According to the romanisation of these languages, it can actually be written as Krung-dēvamahānagara amararatanakosindra mahindrayudhyā mahātilakabhava navaratanarājadhānī purīrāmasya utamarājanivēsana 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 Vishnukam".

Local school children are taught the full name, although few can explain its meaning because many of the words are archaic. Most Thais who do recall the full name do so as a result of its use in a popular song (กรุงเทพมหานคร/Krung Thep Mahanakhon by อัสนี-วสันต์ โชติกุล/Asanee-Wasan Chotikul 1989) and will often recount it by recalling the song at the same time, much in the same way that 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.


Demographics
As of the 2000 census, there were 6,355,144 registered residents in the city. However, this figure does not take account of the many unregistered residents and daytime visitors from the surrounding metropolitan area. Recently, Bangkok has experienced a large influx of foreign immigrants, long-term residents, and expatriates. The number of expatriate executives stood at 65,000 as of Nov, 2005 and additional number is increase in an average of more than 1,800 permits per month. Long-term foreign residents include 250,000 Chinese (citizens of China), 30,000 Japanese (the largest community in any Asian city outside of Japan), 100,000 Indians (35,000 Sikh) of whom more than 80% have Thai citizenship, 6,000 Americans, 45,000 Europeans (the second largest number in any Asian city after Singapore), 15,000 Taiwanese (mostly Han Chinese), 7,000 South Koreans, 6,000 Nigerians, 8,000 people of Arabic speaking countries, 20,000 Malaysians, and 4,000 Singaporeans. There are approximately 400,000 - 600,000 illegal immigrants from Cambodia, Myanmar (Burma), Russia, Ukraine, Pakistan, Nigeria, India, Bangladesh, China, and other countries.[citation needed] 92% of the population are Buddhist. The rest are Muslim (6%), Christian (1%), Jewish (300 residents), Hindu/Sikh (0.6%), and others. There are some 400 Buddhist temples, 55 mosques, 10 churches, 2 Hindu Temples, 2 synagogues and 1 Sikh gurudwara in Bangkok.

Economy
Bangkok is the economic center of Thailand, dominating the country's economy and dwarfing other urban centers. In 2005, it produced a GDP (PPP) of about USD 220 billion, which accounts for 43 percent of the country's GDP. Its GDP (PPP) per capita is roughly USD 20,000, one of the highest in Southeast Asia. The Stock Exchange of Thailand is located in Bangkok with over 400 listed companies and combined market capitalization of about 5 trillion Baht (USD 120 billion) as of 5 January 2006. Due to the large amount of foreign representation, Thailand has for several years been a mainstay of the Southeast Asian economy and a key center in Asian business. In the recent mini-crash known as Black Tuesday, the SET lost over Bt 800 billion or USD 25 billion in value, causing markets in the Asia-Pacific to fall and causing a global impact on December 17, 2006. The loss of market valuation evoked fears of a repeat of the Asian Financial Crisis of 1997; however, a partial policy reversal saw market gaining back nearly all of the value lost.

Bangkok is home to the headquarters of all Thailand's large commercial banks and financial institutions; 18 financial institutions hold at least USD 1 billion in total assets. Their bank deposits totaled approximately 7 trillion Baht (USD 177 billion) at the end of the third quarter in 2005. Many transnational companies operate regional headquarters in Bangkok because the cost of operation in the city is less than in most rival cities in Asia. Thirteen Bangkok-based companies are on the Forbes 2000 list, including the largest Thai bank, Bangkok Bank, and the country's largest energy company PTT.

Tourism is a significant contributor to Thailand's economy, providing about 5 percent of GDP. Bangkok is Thailand's principal international gateway, the major domestic hub, and a destination in its own right.

Income inequality of Bangkok's residents is significant, especially between relatively unskilled lower-income immigrants from rural provinces in Thailand and neighboring countries and wealthier government officials, middle class professionals, business elite, and retired foreigners. About 7 percent of Bangkok's population (excluding illegal immigrants who constitute about 5-8 percent of population) lives below the poverty line compared to the national average of 9 percent.


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