Bangkok is the capital, largest urban area and primary city of Thailand. Since its inception as the capital of Siam, it was a target of European colonial plans, but due to its strategic location in Indochina, it acted as a buffer-zone and brokered power between the European forces. Bangkok has a registered population of 9,100,000 residents while the greater Bangkok area has a population of 11,971,000 (January 2008). Bangkok is one of two special administrative areas in Thailand, the other being Pattaya, in which citizens vote to choose their governor, unlike in Thailand's 75 provinceS. In the 2009 gubernatorial election, M.R. Sukhumbhand Paribatra was elected governor.