from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Reichstag building in the German capital Berlin is the seat of the Bundestag .
The parliament building in the Austrian capital Vienna is the seat of the National Council and the Federal Council .
The Federal Palace in the federal city of Bern , Switzerland . Although the city is the seat of the Federal Assembly , Switzerland de jure does not have a capital (see Switzerland's capital question ).
The High House in Vaduz in the Principality of Liechtenstein is the seat of the state parliament .

A capital is a symbolic , mostly also a political center of a state and often the seat of the highest state powers: Parliament , monarch , government , supreme court . This status is often declared by constitutional law . The seat of government seldom deviates ; for example in the Netherlands , Bolivia , Tanzania and Malaysia and from 1990 to 1999 in Germany. There are also capitals that are spatially separated from the judicial constitutional body, for example in Germany ( Karlsruhe ) and the Czech Republic ( Brno ). Especially in states , the highest organs of state power can be spread over several cities. Often there are deviating financial , industrial , transport , scientific and cultural centers .

Capital as the most important center

The capital very often developed over a long period of time into the undisputed heart of a nation-state . It is not only the political center ( royal seat ) , but also the center of industry, science, art and culture in a region ( capital ) . In the urban development of a capital, the capital and government functions are often noticeable through monumental buildings, streets, squares and green spaces, as well as the creation of a government district , aimed at state self-expression .

In France , the capital Paris was able to develop into the most important city in the country. Back in medieval times , the foundation stone was laid for this development, as the French kings made the city their capital, by they began centrally local , often courtly , later increasing government focus functions at this location ( centralization ). In 1257, for example, the Collège de Sorbonne high school was the forerunner of the oldest and most famous university in France. In the 16th century, Francis I had artists such as Michelangelo , Titian and Raphael come to Paris, thus laying the foundation for the royal collection of paintings that is now housed in the Louvre . In the following centuries, other important institutions for France emerged, such as B. the Académie française . Despite the relocation of the residence from Paris to Versailles under Louis XIV , the city continued to be the political and economic center. The city was expanded further, it hosted six world exhibitions between 1855 and 1937 . During the Belle Époque , the city again became an internationally recognized cultural and intellectual center. Even in the last few decades, French presidents erected monumental structures such as the Grande Arche , which further underscored the importance of the city. Even today, Paris is not only a center of culture and politics, the city is the largest transport hub and largest economic area in France. There are also many visitors to the capital.

London, too, went through a similar development, initially for England and later for the whole of the United Kingdom .

Other examples are Mexico City ( Mexico ), Buenos Aires ( Argentina ) or Bangkok ( Thailand ).

Capital as a predominantly political center

Many capitals deviate from the widespread norm of being the capital city also being the cultural and economic center for various historical or political reasons. The capital is not always the largest and most important city at the same time. Their importance is often limited to their function as the seat of government. In the course of the years, however, cities that were initially insignificant and designated as capitals often change through their status as important centers beyond their administrative importance.

The capital of the United States , Washington, DC , only ranks 27th in the ranking of population ( New York City comes first ). Due to its geographically more central location and as a sign of demarcation from the Ottoman Empire , the capital of the newly founded Turkish Republic was relocated from the metropolis of Istanbul to the much smaller and comparatively insignificant Ankara in 1923 . The previously rather insignificant Canadian city ​​of Ottawa was chosen as the capital because of its location on the English - French language border and thus better acceptance for both parts of the population. For a small town, it was assumed that the threat situation in the event of war would be less. In 1997, Kazakhstan moved its capital from Almaty to half the size of Astana (now Nur-Sultan ). On the one hand this happened because of the danger of earthquakes in Almaty, on the other hand the city in the approximate center of the country was chosen for the purpose of better control of the Russian- speaking minority in the north.

In 1949, the previously unimportant city of Bonn was elected the (provisional) federal capital of the Federal Republic of Germany . This happened mainly on the initiative of the Rhinelander and first Federal Chancellor Konrad Adenauer . Another reason for Bonn's success over its competitor Frankfurt am Main was probably the fear that the population might have spoken out in favor of keeping Frankfurt as the capital after reunification. Bonn was by no means the largest city in the old Federal Republic; Bonn had about 115,000 inhabitants at that time, Hamburg z. B. 1.6 million. Over the years, Bonn was expanded to serve as the capital; the town, initially gleefully referred to as a federal village , federal capital or Konradopolis in allusion to Adenauer, was able to more than double its population through incorporations. With the reunification on October 3, 1990, Bonn was (again) replaced by Berlin as the all-German capital. In the Berlin / Bonn Act , however, Bonn (now with the additional title “ Federal City”) was allowed to retain numerous federal ministries and to assign several federal authorities previously located in Berlin, so that Berlin is not a centralized capital. For the lost Prussia , however, one can certainly attest to Berlin a development and function comparable to that of London or Paris.

Bern is the de facto capital of Switzerland , but is officially a federal city . See Switzerland's capital issue .

Planned capital

The capital Brasília created on the drawing board
Residence city of Karlsruhe 1721

There are many reasons for a state's decision to build a planned capital . Pakistan decided to build the new capital, Islamabad , as there were reservations about the concentration of investments in the previous capital, Karachi . The reason for the construction of the Brazilian capital Brasília was that there was a need for a neutral and federal capital. In addition, the city, now in the geographical center, was supposed to promote the development of the inland, which would not have been possible with the previous capital, Rio de Janeiro, on the coast .

A number of man-made capitals have sprung up around the world over the past hundred years. The best known are Abuja in Nigeria , Canberra in Australia , New Delhi in India and 2005 Naypyidaw in Myanmar .

Rulers and state leaderships built capitals on the drawing board as far back as centuries past. In 1703, Tsar Peter I laid the foundation stone for the new Russian capital of Saint Petersburg in the swamps of the Neva estuary . From 1712 to 1918 it replaced Moscow as the capital. Even Washington, DC is a planned capital. Towards the end of the same century, construction of the US capital began on the banks of the Potomac River in 1792 . On June 11, 1800, Washington officially became the capital.

In Germany , too , absolutist rulers of the 17th and 18th centuries created completely new residential cities. One example of this is the former Baden state capital, Karlsruhe . Margrave Karl Wilhelm von Baden-Durlach had the foundation stone laid for the city named after him on June 17, 1715. The radial arrangement of the streets and avenues, in the center of which the Residenzschloss is located, can still be seen today, the city owes its nickname "fan city" to it.

Seat of government different from the capital

The seat of government of a few states is not in the capital. So Amsterdam both the largest city in the Netherlands as well as their nominal capital, the official seat of government and royal residence , however, is The Hague . In South Africa , the seat of the constitutional organs is even distributed among three cities, the largest city ( Johannesburg ) not being one of them. The parliament sits in Cape Town , the administrative and government center is in Pretoria (Tshwane) and the supreme judicial institutions (courts of justice) are in Bloemfontein .

States with or without an internationally recognized capital

De jure , Monaco , Nauru , Switzerland , Liechtenstein and the Vatican City have no capital :

  1. Monaco and the Vatican City do not have a capital due to the fact that they are purely city-states, even if Monte-Carlo is often incorrectly named as the capital for Monaco .
  2. In Nauru, the place where the government is located ( Yaren ) is regarded as the unofficial capital.
  3. In Switzerland, Bern de facto fulfills the function of the capital. It is referred to as a federal city (see: The capital issue of Switzerland ).
  4. There is no city in Liechtenstein. Often referred to as the capital, Vaduz never received town charter and is therefore only the capital of the small principality.
  5. Israel has designated the reunified Jerusalem as its capital. Many states oppose the expansion of the city limits to include East Jerusalem . Some states also refuse to recognize West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, since Jerusalem should not belong to either the Arab or the Jewish state as a corpus separatum according to the partition plan . Most of the foreign embassies are in Tel Aviv or its suburbs .
  6. In Japan, on the other hand, there is the peculiarity that the city ​​of Tokyo was dissolved in 1943 and the capital city function is carried out by the 23 urban districts of Tokyo , which are considered separate cities. Furthermore, it is unclear whether Tokyo is also de jure the capital, as there was never an explicit, official relocation of the capital from Kyoto to Tokyo (see capital of Japan ).

Capital of states

Also part of states (for example, countries in Germany and Austria or states in the US ) have to have state capitals for their part of the country except the political capital, the other functions. There were also provincial capitals in the Land of Prussia .

In contrast to most other countries, the Swiss cantons do not have any “capitals”, but only “canton capitals”. This results from the fact that several of these places (e.g. Stans or Appenzell ) are not large enough to be statistically considered a city.

Capitals of states

This is a partly historical, partly current list of the capitals of the individual states, their possible predecessor states (e.g. German Federation, German Reich), the highest administrative units (federal states, states, federal states, provinces) and the dependent areas.

States and subnational entities with multiple capitals

States that today have several capitals

country capital Cities
BeninBenin Benin Porto-Novo Official capital
Cotonou De facto seat of government
BoliviaBolivia Bolivia Sucre Constitutional capital and seat of the Supreme Court
La Paz Seat of government and seat of parliament
ChileChile Chile Santiago Official capital; Seat of government
Valparaíso Seat of the Congress
Ivory CoastIvory Coast Ivory Coast Yamoussoukro Official capital
Abidjan De facto seat of government
SwazilandSwaziland Swaziland Mbabane Capital
Lobamba Traditional capital, seat of government and seat of parliament
GeorgiaGeorgia Georgia Tbilisi Official capital
Kutaisi Seat of parliament
MalaysiaMalaysia Malaysia
Kuala Lumpur Official capital; Seat of parliament
Putrajaya Seat of government
MontenegroMontenegro Montenegro
Podgorica Official capital; Seat of government
Cetinje Seat of the President
NetherlandsNetherlands Netherlands
Amsterdam Constitutional capital
The hague Seat of government
Sri LankaSri Lanka Sri Lanka
Sri Jayawardenepura Seat of government and seat of parliament
Colombo Capital
South AfricaSouth Africa South Africa Pretoria Executive capital
Cape Town Legislative capital
Bloemfontein Judicial capital (seat of the Supreme Court of Appeal)
TanzaniaTanzania Tanzania Dodoma Official capital
Dar es Salaam De facto seat of government

States that have had multiple capitals in the past

country Duration capital Cities
British IndiaBritish India British India 1912-1947 Delhi Winter capital
Shimla Summer capital
France VichyVichy France Vichy France 1940-1944 Paris Occupied territory of France
Vichy Vichy regime
Libya Kingdom 1951Kingdom of Libya Libya 1951-1963 Tripoli One of the two official capitals of the United Kingdom of Libya
Benghazi One of the two official capitals of the United Kingdom of Libya
Philippines 1944Philippines Philippines 1948-1976 Quezon City Official capital
Manila De facto seat of government
Serbia and MontenegroSerbia and Montenegro Serbia and Montenegro 2003-2006 Belgrade Seat of government and seat of parliament
Podgorica Seat of the Constitutional Court

Subnational entities with two capitals

Subnational entities with a common capital

Smallest and largest capitals in the world

All figures are calculated according to World Gazetteer

Buenos Aires and Montevideo
Paris in the 19th century
Berlin around 1900

The five smallest capitals (without agglomeration)

Capital Residents Country was standing
Plymouth 0 Montserrat 2017
Ngerulmud <278 Palau 2015
Castries 3,661 St. Lucia 2010 (calculation)
City of San Marino 4,046 San Marino 2018 (calculation)
Valletta 5,656 Malta 2016

The five largest capitals (excluding agglomeration)

Capital Pop. Country was standing
Manila 11.165.131 Philippines 2009 (calculation)
Moscow 10,494,522 Russia 2009 (calculation)
Dhaka 10,468,510 Bangladesh 2009 (calculation)
Seoul 9,660,532 South Korea 2009 (calculation)
Mexico city 8,841,916 Mexico 2009 (calculation)

The five largest capitals (with agglomeration)

Capital Pop. Country was standing
Tokyo 37.468.203 Japan 2009 (calculation)
Mexico city 23,293,783 Mexico 2009 (calculation)
Seoul 22,456,200 South Korea 2009 (calculation)
Manila 19,888,419 Philippines 2009 (calculation)
Jakarta 18,924,470 Indonesia 2009 (calculation)

The smallest capitals by continent

continent Capital Pop. Country was standing
Africa Victoria 21,937 Seychelles 2009 (calculation)
Asia Muscat 25,690 Oman 2009 (calculation)
Europe City of San Marino 4,046 San Marino 2018
North America St. George's 5,203 Grenada 2009 (calculation)
Oceania Ngerulmud <278 Palau 2015
South America Port of Spain 50,044 Trinidad and Tobago 2009 (calculation)

The largest capitals by continent (excluding agglomeration)

continent Capital Pop. Country was standing
Africa Kinshasa 9,518,988 DR Congo 2009 (calculation)
Asia Manila 11.165.131 Philippines 2009 (calculation)
Europe Moscow 10,494,522 Russia 2009 (calculation)
North America Mexico city 8,587,132 Mexico 2009 (calculation)
Oceania Canberra 331,755 Australia 2009 (calculation)
South America Bogotá 7,776,845 Colombia 2012 (calculation)

The largest capitals by continent (with agglomeration)

continent Capital Pop. Country was standing
Africa Cairo 16.254.102 Egypt 2009 (calculation)
Asia Tokyo 37.468.203 Japan 2009 (calculation)
Europe Moscow 11,551,930 Russia 2011 (calculation)
North America Mexico city 23,293,783 Mexico 2009 (calculation)
Oceania Wellington 367.046 New Zealand 2009 (calculation)
South America Buenos Aires 14,393,015 Argentina 2009 (calculation)

The five largest capitals around 1900

Capital Pop. Country was standing
London 6,506,889 United Kingdom 1901
Paris 2,714,068 France 1901
Berlin 1,888,848 German Empire 1900
Tokyo 1,818,700 Japan 1904 (estimate)
Vienna 1,769,137 Austria-Hungary 1900

Capitals that are not the largest cities in their country

States in which the capital is not the largest city

There are currently 39 countries in the world whose capitals do not rank first in terms of population. They are as follows:

Country Capital Residents was standing Biggest town Residents was standing
Equatorial Guinea Malabo 257,000 2015 Bata 290,000 2015
Australia Canberra 432.141 2016 Sydney 4,321,534 2016
Belgium City of Brussels 179.277 2018 Antwerp 523.248 2018
Belize Belmopan 23,038 2018 Belize City 63,423 2018
Bolivia Sucre 238,798 2012 Santa Cruz de la Sierra 1,442,396 2012
Brazil Brasília 2,872,910 2018 São Paulo 12,067,410 2018
Burundi Gitega 41,944 2008 Bujumbura 497.166 2008
Republic of China (Taiwan) Taipei 2,704,810 2012 New Taipei 3,974,911 2012
People's Republic of China Beijing 18,574,000 2017 Shanghai 20,870,000 2017
Ecuador Quito 2,239,191 2011 Guayaquil 2,526,927 2013
Ivory Coast Yamoussoukro 212,670 2014 Abidjan 4,395,243 2014
Gambia Banjul 31,054 2013 Brikama 81.007 2013
India New Delhi 249.998 2011 Mumbai 12,478,447 2011
Canada Ottawa 883.391 2011 Toronto 2,615,060 2011
Kazakhstan Nur-Sultan 814.401 2014 Almaty 1,703,481 2016
Kuwait Kuwait 63,600 2006 Jalib ash-Shuyuch 179.264 2005
Liechtenstein Vaduz 5,429 2015 Schaan 5,959 2015
Malta Valletta 5,700 2013 Birkirkara 21,889 2013
Morocco Rabat 620.996 2004 Casablanca 3,627,900 2009
Micronesia Palikir 6,647 2010 Weno 13,856 2010
Montserrat Plymouth 0 2016 Look out 670 2011
Myanmar Naypyidaw 1,160,242 2014 Rangoon 5,209,541 2013
New Zealand Wellington 190,959 2013 Auckland 1,415,550 2013
Nigeria Abuja 1,568,853 2012 Lagos 10,404,112 2012
Pakistan Islamabad 689.249 2010 Karachi 13,052,000 2010
Palau Ngerulmud <278 2015 Koror 12,676 2005
Philippines Manila 1,780,148 2015 Quezon City 2,936,116 2015
San Marino San Marino 4,097 2014 Serravalle 10,724 2014
Senegal Dakar 1,146,052 2013 Pikins 1,170,791 2013
Switzerland Bern  (de facto) 141,762 2016 Zurich 396.027 2015
South Africa Pretoria 741.651 2011 Johannesburg 4,434,827 2011
Sudan Khartoum 2,682,431 2012 Omdurman 2,805,396 2012
Swaziland Mbabane 76,218 2005 Manzini 110,537 2005
Syria Damascus 1,834,741 2010 Aleppo 2,100,000 2011
Tanzania Dodoma 410,956 2012 Dar es Salaam 4,346,541 2012
Trinidad and Tobago Port of Spain 37,074 2011 Chaguanas 83,516 2011
Turkey Ankara 5,270,575 2015 Istanbul 14,804,116 2016
United Arab Emirates Abu Dhabi 621,000 2012 Dubai 2.106.177 2013
United States Washington, DC 672.228 2015 New York City 8,491,079 2014
Vietnam Hanoi 6,448,837 2009 Ho Chi Minh City 8,247,829 2015

See also


  • Jens Kirsch: Capital - On the essence and change of a national symbol . Münster: LIT-Verlag 2005, ISBN 3-8258-8593-3

Web links

Wiktionary: capital city  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wikiquote: Capital  - Quotes

Individual evidence

  1. Edda Müller dam: The choice of Bonn , NDR time signal from the August 13, 2018
  2. Art. 2 Paragraph 1 Clause 1 Unification Agreement
  3. From 1910 to 1975 Manila was probably the winter capital and Baguio the summer capital
  4. a b Equatorial Guinea: Provinces, Cities & Places - Population Statistics, Maps, Charts, Weather and Web Information. Retrieved April 17, 2019 .
  5. a b Australia: Urban Settlements - Population Statistics, Maps, Charts, Weather and Web Information. Retrieved April 17, 2019 .
  6. a b Belgium: Larger Cities and Towns - Population Statistics, Maps, Graphics, Weather and Web Information. Retrieved April 17, 2019 .
  7. a b Belize: Districts, Cities & Villages - Population Statistics, Maps, Charts, Weather and Web Information. Retrieved April 17, 2019 .
  8. a b Bolivia: Departments & Cities - Population Statistics, Maps, Graphics, Weather and Web Information. Retrieved April 17, 2019 .
  9. a b Brazil: States and Cities - Population Statistics, Maps, Charts, Weather, and Web Information. Retrieved April 17, 2019 .
  10. a b Burundi: Provinces, Cities & Urban Places - Population Statistics, Maps, Charts, Weather and Web Information. Retrieved April 17, 2019 .
  11. a b China: Provinces and Major Cities - Population Statistics, Maps, Charts, Weather, and Web Information. Retrieved April 17, 2019 .
  12. a b Ivory Coast: Districts & Cities - Population Statistics, Maps, Charts, Weather and Web Information. Retrieved April 17, 2019 .
  13. a b Gambia: administrative areas, cities, settlements & agglomerations - population figures in maps and tables. Retrieved April 17, 2019 .
  14. a b Micronesia: States & Municipalities - Population Statistics in Maps and Tables. Retrieved April 17, 2019 .
  15. Statistics Department Montserrat (ed.): Census 2011 - Montserrat at a Glance . Government of Montserrat - Ministry of Finance and Economic Management, Brades, Montserrat 2012, p. 9 , Table 2: Usual Resident Population by Enumeration District and Sex ( available online on the Montserrat government website [PDF; 1,3 MB ; accessed on May 26, 2020]).