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Limited roads, despite an extensive expressway network, together with substantial private car usage, have led to chronic and crippling traffic congestion, which caused severe air pollution in the 1990s.
The city has since turned to public transport in an attempt to solve this major problem.
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.
In 1782, King Phutthayotfa Chulalok (Rama I) succeeded Taksin, moved the capital to the eastern bank's Rattanakosin Island, thus founding the Rattanakosin Kingdom.
When King Rama I established his new capital on the river's eastern bank, the city inherited Ayutthaya's ceremonial name, of which there were many variants, including Krung Thep Thawarawadi Si Ayutthaya ( Edmund Roberts, visiting the city as envoy of the United States in 1833, noted that the city, since becoming capital, was known as Sia-Yut'hia, and this is the name used in international treaties of the period.
Bangkok's economy gradually expanded through busy international trade, first with China, then with Western merchants returning in the early-to-mid 19th century.