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Bangkok (บางกอก)

Thai-Western name for Krung Thep (fig.), the contemporary capital of Thailand on the estuary of the Chao Phraya River. Initially, Bangkok was administered as a province, overseen by the Krasuang Nakhonbahn, but in 1975 its status was changed into that of a metropolis, and the BMA or Bangkok Metropolitan Administration was founded, which is headed by an elected governor with a four year term and oversees a number of agencies and services. Bangkok covers an area of 1,568.7 km² and is bordered by the Gulf of Thailand and Samut Prakan in the South, Samut Sakon and Nonthaburi in the West, Pathum Thani in the North and Chachengsao in the East. The name is composed of the words bang (a riverside village) and makok (fig.), and refers to a place north of today's centre where the capital was formerly founded. Bangkok (map) is divided into 5 amphur (districts) and 45 khet (zones), with Phra Nakhon at its centre. The khet or zones are again divided in subdistricts called khwaeng. Although exact numbers are not available, it is sure that the metropolis (fig.) has at least ten million inhabitants; some sources even estimate between 13 and 16 million. The main occupation of its people is civil service, trade, business, industry and agriculture. Its main places of interest include Phra Rachawang (fig.), Wat Phra Kaew (fig.), Jim Thompson's House (fig.), the Marble Temple (fig.), Museum of Sciences and Planetarium (fig.), the National Museum (fig.), Wat Arun (fig.), Wat Traimit (fig.), the Miniature Boat Museum (map - fig.), Discovery Museum (fig.), King Rama IX Royal Park (fig.), King Rama I Statue (map - fig.), King Rama VI Statue (map - fig.), King Wachirawut Monument (map - fig.) and King Rama VIII Statue (map - fig.), Ratchada bronze statues (map - fig.), Ramkamhaeng bronze statues (map - fig.), the Thai Naval Auditorium (map - fig.) which was specially built for the 2003 APEC summit in Bangkok, and the many areas with nightlife, including a lively music scene, etc. The oldest part of the city, i.e. roughly the area between the Chao Phraya River and the semi-circumventing Khlong Rop Krung city canal, and more or less corresponding to today's khet Phra Nakhon (พระนคร), as well as the initial period of the Bangkok era, is also referred to as Rattanakosin or Koh Rattanakosin, i.e. ‘Rattanakosin Island’, due to the surrounding water, whereas the art style from this area and period is known as Bangkok style. The city is also nicknamed the Big Mango, after the Big Apple and derived from the Chinese name for Bangkok, i.e. Mangu. Bangkok's coat of arms (fig.), which also appears in white on the city's dark green flag (fig.), features the Hindu deity Indra (fig.) seated on the elephant Erawan (Airavata) and holding a trihsoon (trident) and a kho chang (elephant hook). It refers to the Thai name for Bangkok (Krung Thep Maha Nakon) in which occurs the sentence ‘Impregnable Stronghold of the god Indra’, whilst the elephant Erawan is the official mount of Indra, whilst the elephant in the logo of Bangkok has four tusks (fig.). There are also two canals that carry the name Bangkok in their label, i.e. Khlong Bangkok Yai and Khlong Bangkok Noi, i.e. the Large Bangkok Canal’ and the Minor Bangkok Canal respectively, both in Thonburi. See also Bangkok data file.