When Rama I was crowned in 1782, he gave his new capital a grand 43-syllable name to match his ambitious plans for the building of the city. Since then, 21 more syllables have been added. Krungthepmahanakhornbowornrattanakosinmahintarayutthayamahadilokpopnopparatratcha-thaniburiromudomratchaniwetmahasathanamornpimanavatarnsathitsakkathattiyavis-nukarprasit is certified by the Guinness Book of Records as the longest place-name in the world, roughly translating as “Great city of angels, the supreme repository of divine jewels, the great land unconquerable, the grand and prominent realm, the royal and delightful capital city full of nine noble gems, the highest royal dwelling and grand palace, the divine shelter and living place of the reincarnated spirits”. Fortunately, all Thais refer to the city simply as Krung Thep, “City of Angels”, though plenty can recite the full name at the drop of a hat. Bangkok – “Village of the Plum Olive” – was the name of the original village on the Thonburi side; with remarkable persistence, it has remained in use by foreigners since the time of the French garrison.

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