Vientiane is the capital and largest city of Laos, on the banks of the Mekong River near the border with Thailand. Vientiane became the capital in 1563 due to fears of a Burmese invasion but was later looted then razed to the ground in 1827 by the Siamese (Thai). Vientiane was the administrative capital during French rule and, due to economic growth in recent times, is now the economic center of Laos. Vientiane is noted as the home of the most significant national monument in Laos: That Luang, which is the symbol of Laos and an icon of Buddhism in Laos. Other significant Buddhist temples in Laos can be found there as well, such as Haw Phra Kaew, which formerly housed the Emerald Buddha. The estimated population of the city is 760,000 (2015). The city hosted the 25th Southeast Asian Games in December 2009 celebrating the 50 years of Southeast Asian Games.