Bangkok, Thailand Overview
According to abbreviationfinder, Bangkok is the capital of Thailand, approx. 30 km north of the mouth of the Chao Phraya in the Gulf of Thailand, 1 569 km 2 , (2018) 5.68 million residents (as metropolitan area 7 762 km 2 and 10, 9 million residents).
In the old city center on Chao Phraya there are large temple complexes (Vats), Buddhist monasteries, government palaces, parks, pagodas and modern skyscrapers, in the north the king’s summer palace and villas, in the southeast the Chinese quarter Sampeng and the main business district. The dense network of canals (khlongs) that made Bangkok the “Venice of the East” has largely been replaced by broad streets. The main problems of the city, which is a few meters above sea level, are currently the extreme volume of traffic, heavy air pollution and the sinking subsoil (excessive water withdrawal and pressure from high-rise buildings) as well as the increasingly slow drainage of surface water.
Administrative and cultural institutions
Bangkok is the seat of several universities and a Catholic archbishop as well as the administrative, cultural and economic center of Thailand. Bangkok is home to the National Museum and Theater and the National Gallery and Library.
After the Second World War, Bangkok developed into an important industrial location, the older companies are mainly located on the Chao Phraya (rice mills, sawmills, paper and soap factories), while modern industries in various branches are in the outskirts. Ten years of economic boom (1987–97) have changed Bangkok enormously: massive expansion into the surrounding area as well as inner-urban structural changes (several thousand high-rise buildings, demolition of traditional buildings and uncontrolled land use) have made the city almost ungovernable. Since the so-called Asian crisis in 1997, a large number of the new high-rise office and apartment buildings have been vacant. The city is slowly recovering economically, which is evident from numerous construction projects.
The port of Khlong Toey can be called by seagoing vessels and is the main port of entry and exit in the country. In 2006, the new international airport (Suvarnabhumi Airport) was opened, replacing the previous Don Muang International Airport, 30 km north of the city, in its importance as an air traffic hub in Southeast Asia. In addition to car traffic, local passenger transport is handled by the Sky Train, the subway and the light rail (Suvarnabhumi Airport Link). Bangkok is a center of international tourism and is one of the most visited cities in the world.
The most notable historical monument in the city is the walled Great Palace District, which covers an area of over 210,000 m 2 , and includes, among others. with the Royal Palace (Chakri Maha) in the European-Siamese style (1876–80); Main building (Dusit Maha Prasat, 1789) with a floor plan in the form of a Greek cross; Vat Phra Keo temple (1785) with a golden pagoda and the famous Jade Buddha (also called the Emerald Buddha).
Nearby is the Vat Jetubon (popularly known as Vat Pho), the largest and at the same time the oldest temple in Bangkok (founded in the 16th century, renovated from 1789–1801) with the monumental figure of a reclining Buddha (45 m long, 15 m high). Other important temples are the Vat Suthat (after 1782) with an almost square viharn (important wall paintings from the 1st half of the 19th century), enclosed by a balustrade with Chinese pavilions; Vat Benchama-bo-bitr (marble temple; 1899), built from Tuscan marble; Vat Arun (Temple of Dawn), built in the 1st half of the 19th century in Thon Buri (brick building, the outside of which is covered with pieces of porcelain) and symbol of the city. The royal family’s art collections (paintings, furniture, jewelry) are located in the Vimarnmek Palace, a four-story teak building. The National Museum has outstanding collections of all genres and eras of Thai art.
When Thon Buri became the new capital on the right bank of the Chao Phraya after the destruction of Ayutthaya by the Burmese (1767), a Chinese merchant settlement was built opposite on the left bank, protected in a bend in the river. At this point, King Rama I (1782–1809) had the new royal seat built immediately after his accession to the throne; the traders’ settlement was relocated (today Sampeng, the Chinese quarter of Bangkok).
The constitution guarantees freedom of religion, but grants Buddhism as the national religion (not the state religion) of Thailand a special position, which is guaranteed by the king. The king is the bearer of the supreme decision-making power in the national Buddhist monk council (Samgha), whose head (the “Supreme Patriarch of Thailand”) he appoints. As a “defender of religion”, he also protects the religious freedom guaranteed to non-Buddhist religious communities. The training of Buddhist monks is subject to state control.
The dominant religion is the Hinayana Buddhism of the Theravada school , to which around 85–95% of the population profess; it is spiritually and institutionally supported by over 20,000 monasteries with around 250,000 ordained monks. Often, however, men only enter a monastery for a limited time, for example to get a good education. Great respect is shown to the monks.
Religious minorities are made up of Muslims (around 5% of the population [according to different figures, up to 10%]), Christians (around 1%), Hindus and Bahais. Among the Chinese there are followers of Daoism and Confucianism. The numerically vanishingly small Jewish community (synagogue and community center in Bangkok) goes back historically to Jews who fled Soviet Russia in the 1920s. The Muslims (especially Malays) are Sunnis. The majority of Christians belong to (post-) Reformation faith groups (Presbyterians, Baptists, Pentecostals, etc.); numerically the largest Protestant community is the reformed “Church of Christ in Thailand”. Traditional ethnic religions have survived among the hill tribes.