Bangkok, the capital of the kingdom of Siam, is situated on both banks of the river Menam, about 20 miles from the sea. The houses are of wood, and built chiefly on piles; many are erected on great rafts that line the river, and canals intersect the streets. The royal palace stands on an island, and within its high walls are enclosed the chief offices of state, barracks for many soldiers, and the quarters of the famous White Elephant. Handsome Buddhist temples adorn the city, which is fortified, though the suburbs extend for miles beyond the defences. England and other European powers maintain consuls and a consular court, and there are many trading firms established here, pepper, cardamoms, sugar, rice, tin, and timber being the chief exports. About half of the population consists of Chinese.