🤩 Discover new information from across the web

Capital city

Primary governing city of a top-level (country) or first-level subdivision (country, state, province, etc) political entity

Top 10 Capital city related articles

Washington, D.C., the capital of the United States
Ottawa, the capital of the Canada
Warsaw, the capital of the Poland
Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine
London, the capital of England and the United Kingdom
Paris, the capital of France
Tokyo, the capital of Japan
Beijing, the capital of China
Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania
Riga, the capital of Latvia
Tallinn, the capital of Estonia
Tehran, capital and largest city of Iran, and the capital of the Persian empires in the last two centuries
Nuuk, the capital of Greenland
Canberra, the capital of Australia
Prague, the capital of Czechia
Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia
Budapest, the capital of Hungary

A capital or capital city is the municipality holding primary status in a department, country, state, province, or other administrative region, usually as its seat of the 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, different branches of government are 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.

News media, in English, often use the name of a capital city as an alternative name for the government of the country of which it is the capital, as a form of metonymy. For example, "relations between Washington and London" refer to "relations between the United States and the United Kingdom".[1]

Capital city Intro articles: 4

Terminology

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.

Capital city Terminology articles: 7

Origins

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 has often become the focal point of political power, and became a capital through conquest or federation.[2] (The modern capital city has, however, not always existed: in medieval Western Europe, an itinerant (wandering) government was common.)[3] Examples are ancient Babylon, Abbasid Baghdad, ancient Athens, Rome, Bratislava, Budapest, Constantinople, Chang'an, ancient Cusco, Kyiv, Madrid, Paris, London, Beijing, Prague, Tallinn, Tokyo, Lisbon, Riga, Vilnius, and Warsaw. 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,[4] e.g. Constantinople (more than one religion), Rome (the Roman Catholic Church), Jerusalem (more than one religion), Babylon, Moscow (the Russian Orthodox Church), Belgrade (the Serbian Orthodox Church), Paris, and Beijing.

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[5] and Cahokia.

Although many capitals are defined by constitution or legislation, many long-time capitals have no legal designation as such, including Bern, Edinburgh, Lisbon, London, Paris, and Wellington. They are recognized 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.

Capital city Origins articles: 43

Modern capitals

  Countries whose capital is on the coast
  Countries whose capital is not on the coast
Tehran, capital and largest city of Iran, and the capital of the Persian empires in the last two centuries
Nuuk, the capital of Greenland

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 centers, as many historical counties are now only ceremonial, and administrative boundaries are different. The number of new capitals in the world increased substantially since the Renaissance period and especially with the founding of independent nation-states since the eighteenth century.[6]

In Canada, there is a federal capital, while the ten provinces and three territories each 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 also each 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 those six 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 also of the United Arab Emirates overall.

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

Capital city Modern capitals articles: 52

Planned capitals

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.

Compromise locations

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) are:

Changes in a nation's political regime sometimes result in the designation of a new capital. Akmola (from 1998 Astana and from March 2019 Nur-Sultan) became the capital of Kazakhstan in 1997, following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Naypyidaw was founded in Burma's interior as the former capital, Rangoon, was claimed to be overcrowded.[10]

Capital city Planned capitals articles: 81

Unusual capital city arrangements

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 nation-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

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

Capital city Unusual capital city arrangements articles: 195