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""An aerial photo of a North American city
"Washington, D.C., the capital of the "United States
""A panorama of an European city
"London, the capital of the "United Kingdom
"Seoul, the capital of "South Korea
""A panorama of a North African city
"Cairo, the capital of "Egypt

A capital city (or simply capital) is the "municipality exercising primary status in a "country, "state, "province, or other "administrative region, usually as its "seat of government. A capital is typically a "city that physically encompasses the government's offices and meeting places; the status as capital is often designated by its law or "constitution. In some "jurisdictions, including several countries, the different branches of government are located in different settlements. In some cases, a distinction is made between the official (constitutional) capital and the seat of government, which is in another place.

Capital cities that are also the prime economic, cultural, or intellectual centres of a nation or an empire are sometimes referred to as "primate cities. Examples are "Athens, "Brussels, "Buenos Aires, "Cairo, "London, "Mexico City, "Paris, "Stockholm, "Tokyo, and "Warsaw.

News media will often use the name of a capital city as an alternative name for the country it is the capital of or of the government which is seated there, as a form of "metonymy, e.g. "relations between Washington and London" refers to ""relations between the United States and the United Kingdom.



The word capital derives from the "Latin caput (genitive capitis), meaning ""head".

In several English-speaking states, the terms "county town and "county seat are also used in "lower subdivisions. In some "unitary states, subnational capitals may be known as "administrative centres". The capital is often the "largest city of its constituent, though not always.


The "Roman Forum was surrounded by many government buildings as the capital of "Ancient Rome.

Historically, the major economic centre of a state or region often becomes the focal point of political power, and becomes a capital through conquest or federation.[1] (The modern capital city has, however, not always existed: in medieval Western Europe, an "itinerant (wandering) government was common.)[2] Examples are "Ancient Babylon, "Abbasid Baghdad, "Ancient Athens, "Rome, "Constantinople, "Chang'an, "Ancient Cusco, "Madrid, "Paris, "London, "Moscow, "Beijing, "Tokyo, "Vienna, "Lisbon and "Berlin. The capital city naturally attracts politically motivated people and those whose skills are needed for efficient administration of national or imperial governments, such as "lawyers, "political scientists, "bankers, "journalists, and "public policy makers. Some of these cities are or were also religious centres,[3] e.g. "Constantinople (more than one religion), Rome (the "Roman Catholic Church), "Jerusalem (more than one religion), "Ancient Babylon, Moscow (the "Russian Orthodox Church), Belgrade (the "Serbian Orthodox Church), Paris, and "Peking.

The convergence of political and economic or cultural power is by no means universal. Traditional capitals may be economically eclipsed by provincial rivals, e.g. "Nanking by "Shanghai, "Quebec City by "Montreal, and numerous US state capitals. The "decline of a dynasty or culture could also mean the extinction of its capital city, as occurred at "Babylon[4] and "Cahokia.

Although many capitals are defined by constitution or legislation, many long-time capitals have no legal designation as such: for example "Bern, "Edinburgh, "Lisbon, "London, "Paris, and "Wellington. They are recognised as capitals as a matter of convention, and because all or almost all the country's central political institutions, such as government departments, supreme court, legislature, embassies, etc., are located in or near them.

Modern capitals[edit]

  Countries whose capital is on the coast
  Countries whose capital is not on the coast
  Countries without a coast
"Tehran, capital and largest city of"Iran,and the capital of the "persian empires in the last two century with the "Alborz Mountains in the background

Counties in the "United Kingdom have historic county towns, which are often not the largest settlement within the county and often are no longer administrative centres, as many historical counties are now only ceremonial, and administrative boundaries are different.

In "Canada, there is a "federal capital, while the ten "provinces and three "territories all have capital cities. The states of such countries as "Mexico, "Brazil (including the famous cities of "Rio de Janeiro and "São Paulo, capitals of their respective states), and "Australia all have capital cities. For example, the six state capitals of Australia are "Adelaide; "Brisbane; "Hobart; "Melbourne; "Perth; and "Sydney. In Australia, the term "capital cities" is regularly used to refer to the aforementioned state capitals plus the federal capital "Canberra and "Darwin, the capital of the "Northern Territory. "Abu Dhabi is the capital city of the "Emirate of Abu Dhabi and the "United Arab Emirates overall.

In unitary states which consist of multiple constituent countries, such as the "United Kingdom or the "Kingdom of Denmark, each country will usually have a capital city. Unlike in federations, there is usually not a separate national capital, but rather the capital city of one constituent country will also be the capital of the state overall, such as "London, which is the capital of "England and the United Kingdom. Similarly, each of the "autonomous communities of Spain and "regions of Italy has a capital city, such as "Seville or "Naples, while "Madrid is the capital of the "Community of Madrid and the "Kingdom of Spain as a whole and "Rome is the capital of "Italy and the region of "Lazio.

In the "Federal Republic of Germany, each of its constituent "states (or "Länder - plural of Land) has its own capital city, such as "Dresden, "Wiesbaden, "Mainz, "Düsseldorf, "Stuttgart, and "Munich, as do all of the republics of the "Russian Federation. The national capitals of Germany and Russia: the "Stadtstaat of "Berlin and the "Federal City of "Moscow, are also constituent states of both countries in their own right. Each of the "States of Austria and "Cantons of Switzerland also have their own capital cities. "Vienna, the national capital of "Austria, is also one of the states, while "Bern is the (de facto) capital of both "Switzerland and the "Canton of Bern.

Many national capitals are also the largest city in their respective countries, but in many countries this is not the case.

Planned capitals[edit]

The "L'Enfant Plan for "Washington, D.C., the capital of the "United States

Governing entities sometimes plan, design and build new capital cities to house the seat of government of a "polity or of a subdivision. Deliberately planned and designed capitals include:

These cities satisfy one or both of the following criteria:

  1. A deliberately "planned city that was built expressly to house the seat of government, superseding a capital city that was in an established population center. There have been various reasons for this, including overcrowding in that major metropolitan area, and the desire to place the capital city in a location with a better climate (usually a less tropical one).
  2. A town that was chosen as a compromise among two or more cities (or other political divisions), none of which was willing to concede to the other(s) the privilege of being the capital city. Usually, the new capital is geographically located roughly equidistant between the competing population centres.
The "Australian Parliament opened in the small town of "Canberra in 1927 as a compromise between the largest cities, "Sydney and "Melbourne.

Some examples of the second situation (compromise locations) include:

Changes in a nation's political regime sometimes result in the designation of a new capital. Newly-independent "Kazakhstan moved its capital to the existing city of "Astana. "Naypyidaw was founded in "Burma's interior as the former capital, "Rangoon, was claimed to be too overcrowded.[7]

Unusual capital city arrangements[edit]

The "Supreme Court, the seat of "Switzerland's judiciary, is in "Lausanne, although the executive and legislature are located in "Bern.
"Parliament House, Singapore. As a "city-state, "Singapore requires no specific capital.
The "Blue Palace, the official residence of "Montenegro's president, is in "Cetinje, although the executive and legislature are located in "Podgorica.

A few states have multiple capitals, and there are also several states that have no capital. Some have a city as the capital but with most government agencies elsewhere.

There is also a "ghost town which is currently the "de jure capital of a territory: "Plymouth in "Montserrat.

Capitals that are not the seat of government[edit]

There are several countries where, for various reasons, the official capital and de facto "seat of government are separated:

Some historical examples of similar arrangements, where the recognized capital was not the official seat of government:

Disputed capitals[edit]

Intergovernmental organizations[edit]

Capital as symbol[edit]

With the rise of modern "empires and the "nation-state, the capital city has become a "symbol for the "state and its "government, and imbued with political meaning. Unlike "medieval capitals, which were declared wherever a "monarch held his or her court, the selection, relocation, founding, or capture of a modern capital city is an emotional event. For example:

Capitals in military strategy[edit]

"Constantinople, the capital of the "Byzantine Empire, was the final part of the empire to fall to the "Ottoman Turks due to its strong defences.

The capital city is usually but not always a primary target in a war, as capturing it usually guarantees capture of much of the enemy government, victory for the attacking forces, or at the very least demoralization for the defeated forces.

In ancient "China, where governments were massive centralized bureaucracies with little flexibility on the provincial level, a "dynasty could easily be toppled with the fall of its capital. In the "Three Kingdoms period, both "Shu and "Wu fell when their respective capitals of "Chengdu and "Jianye fell. The "Ming dynasty relocated its capital from "Nanjing to "Beijing, where they could more effectively control the generals and troops guarding the borders from "Mongols and "Manchus. The Ming was destroyed when the "Li Zicheng took their seat of power, and this pattern repeats itself in Chinese history, until the fall of the traditional "Confucian monarchy in the 20th century. After the "Qing dynasty's collapse, decentralization of authority and improved transportation and communication technologies allowed both the "Chinese Nationalists and "Chinese Communists to rapidly relocate capitals and keep their leadership structures intact during the great crisis of "Japanese invasion.

National capitals were arguably less important as military objectives in other parts of the world, including the West, because of socioeconomic trends toward localized authority, a strategic modus operandi especially popular after the development of "feudalism and reaffirmed by the development of democratic and capitalistic philosophies. In 1204, after the Latin "Crusaders captured the "Byzantine capital, "Constantinople, Byzantine forces were able to regroup in several provinces; provincial noblemen managed to reconquer the capital after 60 years and preserve the empire for another 200 years after that. The "British forces sacked various "American capitals repeatedly during the "Revolutionary War and "War of 1812, but American forces could still carry on fighting from the countryside, where they enjoyed support from local governments and the traditionally independent civilian frontiersmen. Exceptions to these generalizations include highly centralized states such as "France, whose centralized bureaucracies could effectively coordinate far-flung resources, giving the state a powerful advantage over less coherent rivals, but risking utter ruin if the capital were taken. In their military strategies, traditional enemies of France such as "Prussia (in the "Franco-Prussian War of 1871) focused on the capture of "Paris.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "What does a Capital City Mean?". 5 December 2012. Archived from the original on 31 May 2017. Retrieved 9 June 2017. 
  2. ^ "Where Next: The Reasons Why (Some) Countries Move Their Capitals". Archived from the original on 10 October 2017. Retrieved 9 June 2017. 
  3. ^ Makas, Emily Gunzburger; Conley, Tanja Damljanovic (4 December 2009). "Capital Cities in the Aftermath of Empires: Planning in Central and Southeastern Europe". Routledge. Archived from the original on 10 October 2017. Retrieved 9 June 2017 – via Google Books. 
  4. ^ Seymour, Michael (29 August 2014). "Babylon: Legend, History and the Ancient City". I.B.Tauris. Archived from the original on 10 October 2017. Retrieved 9 June 2017 – via Google Books. 
  5. ^ "The South Island was the more densely populated from 1860 until 1900, largely because of the discovery of gold in the sixties, the relatively easy availability of land, and the South Island's freedom from Maori troubles. After 1900, when the populations of the two islands were roughly equal, the North Island went ahead rapidly." Archived 31 October 2016 at the "Wayback Machine.
  6. ^ Levine, Stephen (13 July 2012). "Capital city - A new capital". "Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Archived from the original on 5 May 2015. Retrieved 4 May 2015. 
  7. ^ Pedrosa, Veronica (20 November 2006). "Burma's 'seat of the kings'". "Al Jazeera. Archived from the original on 23 November 2006. Retrieved 21 November 2006. 
  8. ^ Real Decreto de 30 de noviembre de 1833 en wikisource
  9. ^ Real Decreto de 30 de noviembre de 1833 en el sitio web oficial del Gobierno de Canarias["dead link]
  10. ^ Ordonnance n° 58-1100 du 17 novembre 1958 relative au fonctionnement des assemblées parlementaires Archived 30 April 2013 at the "Wayback Machine. article 1
  11. ^ "Lisboa não tem documento que a oficialize como capital de Portugal", Revista Port.com (in Portuguese), 13 April 2015, archived from the original on 7 November 2016, retrieved 5 November 2016 
  12. ^ Lansford, Tom (24 March 2015). Political Handbook of the World 2015. Singapore: CQ Press. "ISBN "978-1-4833-7157-3. Archived from the original on 30 August 2017. Retrieved 30 August 2017. 
  13. ^ Boxall, Sheryl (2008). DeRouen, Karl; Bellamy, Paul, eds. International Security and the United States: An Encyclopedia, Volume 2. Westport, Connecticut, USA: Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 728. "ISBN "978-0-275-99255-2. 
  14. ^ "Tanzania". CIA World Factbook. Archived from the original on 27 June 2014. 
  15. ^ Reeder, Scott. "What does it cost taxpayers to pay for lawmakers’ empty Springfield residences?" (Archive). Illinois News Network. September 11, 2014. Retrieved on May 26, 2016.
  16. ^ Gauen, Pat. "Illinois corruption explained: the capital is too far from Chicago " (Archive). "St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Retrieved on May 26, 2016.
  17. ^ "Presidential Decree No. 940 : Philippine Laws, Statutes and Codes". Chan Robles Virtual Law Library. 24 June 1976. Archived from the original on 6 September 2014. Retrieved 20 April 2014. 
  18. ^ See "Jerusalem Law
  19. ^ 2003 Basic Law of Palestine Archived 11 February 2016 at the "Wayback Machine., Title One: Article 3
  20. ^ Landler, Mark (6 December 2017). "Trump Recognizes Jerusalem as Israel's Capital". The New York Times. Retrieved 6 December 2017. 
  21. ^ Demey, Thierry (2007). Brussels, capital of Europe. S. Strange (trans.). Brussels: Badeaux. "ISBN "2-9600414-2-9. 
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