Bangkok is the capital city of and largest urban area in Thailand. It is known in Thai as Krung Thep Maha Nakhon (กรุงเทพมหานคร, pronounced [krūŋ tʰêːp máhǎː nákʰɔ̄ːn]) 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.
Because of its strategic location in Southeast Asia, Siam (later Thailand) acted as a buffer-zone between the French and British colonial empires. Bangkok itself has gained a reputation as an independent, dynamic and influential city. Bangkok is the political, social and economic centre of Thailand, and one of the leading cities in Southeast Asia.