It is an international hub for transport and health care, and has emerged as a regional centre for the arts, fashion and entertainment.The city is well known for its vibrant street life and cultural landmarks, as well as its notorious red-light districts.
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The reigns of Kings Mongkut (Rama IV, 1851–68) and Chulalongkorn (Rama V, 1868–1910) saw the introduction of the steam engine, printing press, rail transport and utilities infrastructure in the city, as well as formal education and healthcare.
Bangkok became the centre stage for power struggles between the military and political elite as the country abolished absolute monarchy in 1932.
In 1782, King Phutthayotfa Chulalok (Rama I) succeeded Taksin, moved the capital to the eastern bank's Rattanakosin Island, thus founding the Rattanakosin Kingdom.
The City Pillar was erected on 21 April, which is regarded as the date of foundation of the present city.
The city occupies 1,568.7 square kilometres (605.7 sq mi) in the Chao Phraya River delta in Central Thailand, and has a population of over 8 million, or 12.6 percent of the country's population.
Over 14 million people (22.2 percent) live within the surrounding Bangkok Metropolitan Region, making Bangkok an extreme primate city, significantly dwarfing Thailand's other urban centres in terms of importance.
The city was at the centre of Thailand's political struggles throughout the 20th century, as the country abolished absolute monarchy, adopted constitutional rule and underwent numerous coups and several uprisings.
The city grew rapidly during the 1960s through the 1980s and now exerts a significant impact on Thailand's politics, economy, education, media and modern society.
Bangkok initially served as a customs outpost with forts on both sides of the river, and became the site of a siege in 1688 in which the French were expelled from Siam.
After the fall of Ayutthaya to the Burmese Empire in 1767, the newly declared King Taksin established his capital at the town, which became the base of the Thonburi Kingdom.
Five rapid transit lines are now in operation, with more systems under construction or planned by the national government and the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration.