Capital city

Last updated

Washington, D.C. - 2007 aerial view.jpg
Washington, D.C., the capital of the United States
The Kremlin and Bolshoy Kamenny Bridge are at night in Moscow on August 3, 2014. (14642403920).jpg
Moscow, the capital of the Russian Federation
Palace of Westminster from the dome on Methodist Central Hall.jpg
London, the capital of England and the United Kingdom
La Tour Eiffel vue de la Tour Saint-Jacques, Paris aout 2014 (2).jpg
Paris, the capital of France
Shinjuku skyline, Tokyo - Sony A7R (11831328835).jpg
Tokyo, the capital of Japan
Beijing skyline from northeast 4th ring road (cropped).jpg
Beijing, the capital of China

A capital or capital city is the municipality exercising primary status in a department, 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.

Contents

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

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.

Origins

The Roman Forum was surrounded by many government buildings as the capital of ancient Rome Tavares.Forum.Romanum.redux.jpg
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, 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, [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 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

.mw-parser-output .legend{page-break-inside:avoid;break-inside:avoid-column}.mw-parser-output .legend-color{display:inline-block;min-width:1.25em;height:1.25em;line-height:1.25;margin:1px 0;text-align:center;border:1px solid black;background-color:transparent;color:black}.mw-parser-output .legend-text{}
Countries whose capital is on the coast
Countries whose capital is not on the coast
Countries without a coast Capitales con y sin mar.PNG
  Countries whose capital is on the coast
  Countries whose capital is not on the coast
Countries that currently have multiple capital cities
Countries that have previously had multiple capital cities, but now only have one capital city Countries with multiple capitals map.PNG
Tehran, capital and largest city of Iran, and the capital of the Persian empires in the last two centuries North of Tehran Skyline view.jpg
Tehran, capital and largest city of Iran, and the capital of the Persian empires in the last two centuries
Nuuk, the capital of Greenland Nuuk main road.JPG
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 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 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.

Planned capitals

The L'Enfant Plan for Washington, D.C., the capital of the United States L'Enfant plan.jpg
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. Parliamenthouse2.jpg
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. [9]

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. Bundesgericht-VD.jpg
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. Parliament House Singapore.jpg
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. Tsetinje, Tsrna Gora.jpg
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 as symbol

Mariehamn, capital city of the Aland Islands, a demilitarized archipelago with self-governance Mariehamn.jpg
Mariehamn, capital city of the Åland Islands, a demilitarized archipelago with self-governance

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

As the last of the Four Great Ancient Capitals of China, Beijing has served as the political center of China for most of the past eight centuries. The Forbidden City - View from Coal Hill.jpg
As the last of the Four Great Ancient Capitals of China, Beijing has served as the political center of China for most of the past eight centuries.
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. Fall-of-constantinople-22.jpg
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 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.

See also

Related Research Articles

The separation of powers is an approach to governing a state. Under it, a state's government is divided into branches, each with separate, independent powers and responsibilities so that the powers of one branch are not in conflict with those of the other branches. The typical division is into three branches: a legislature, an executive, and a judiciary, which is the trias politica model. It can be contrasted with the fusion of powers in parliamentary and semi-presidential systems, where the executive and legislative branches overlap.

Government of Sri Lanka

The Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) is a semi-presidential system determined by the Sri Lankan Constitution. It administers the island from both its commercial capital of Colombo and the administrative capital of Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte.

The seat of government is "the building, complex of buildings or the city from which a government exercises its authority".

Government of India Legislative, executive and judiciary powers of India

The Government of India, often abbreviated as GoI, is the union government created by the constitution of India as the legislative, executive and judicial authority of the union of twenty eight states and eight union territories of a constitutionally democratic republic. The seat of the Government is located in New Delhi, the capital of India.

A capital district, capital region or capital territory is normally a specially designated administrative division where a country's seat of government is located. As such, in a federal model of government, no state or territory has any political or economic advantage relative to the others because of the national capital lying within its borders. A capital territory can be a specific form of federal district.

A temporary capital or a provisional capital is a city or town chosen by a government as an interim base of operations due to some difficulty in retaining or establishing control of a different metropolitan area. The most common circumstances leading to this are either a civil war, where control of the capital is contested, or during an invasion, where the designated capital is taken or threatened.

Naypyidaw Capital of Myanmar

Naypyidaw, officially spelled Nay Pyi Taw, is the capital and third-largest city of Myanmar. The city is located at the center of the Naypyidaw Union Territory. It is unusual among Myanmar's cities, as it is an entirely planned city outside of any state or region. Similar planned cities include Canberra in Australia, Brasília in Brazil, Washington, D.C. in the United States, Islamabad in Pakistan, and Abuja in Nigeria. The city, then known only as Pyinmana District, officially replaced Yangon as the administrative capital of Myanmar on 6 November 2005; its official name was revealed to the public on Armed Forces Day, 27 March 2006.

States and territories of Australia Overarching divisions of authority in Australia

The states and territories of Australia are the second level of government division in Australia, between the federal government and local governments. States and territories are self-administered regions with a local legislature, police force and certain civil authorities, and are represented in the Parliament of Australia. Territories though, unlike states, rely on federal legislation and additional financial contributions to operate, and have less representation in the Senate.

Supreme court Highest court in a jurisdiction

The supreme court is the highest court within the hierarchy of courts in many legal jurisdictions. Other descriptions for such courts include court of last resort, apex court, and highcourt of appeal. Broadly speaking, the decisions of a supreme court are not subject to further review by any other court. Supreme courts typically function primarily as appellate courts, hearing appeals from decisions of lower trial courts, or from intermediate-level appellate courts.

This is a list of current and former national capital cities in the Philippines, which includes during the time of the Spanish colonization, the First Philippine Republic, the Commonwealth of the Philippines, the Second Republic of the Philippines, the Third Republic of the Philippines, the Fourth Republic of the Philippines and the current Fifth Republic of the Philippines.

This local electoral calendar for 2016 lists the subnational elections held in 2016. Referendums, retention elections, and national by-elections are also included.

Government of Puducherry Union territories Government of India

Government of Puducherry is a democratically elected body that governs the Union Territory of Puducherry, India. It is headed by the Lieutenant Governor of Puducherry as its nominal head, with a democratically elected Chief Minister as real head of the executive. Its capital is located at Pondicherry.

References

  1. Panther, Klaus-Uwe; Thornburg, Linda L.; Barcelona, Antonio (2009). Metonymy and Metaphor in Grammar. John Benjamins Publishing. ISBN   978-90-272-2379-1.
  2. "What does a Capital City Mean?". 5 December 2012. Archived from the original on 31 May 2017. Retrieved 9 June 2017.
  3. "Where Next: The Reasons Why (Some) Countries Move Their Capitals". Archived from the original on 10 October 2017. Retrieved 9 June 2017.
  4. Makas, Emily Gunzburger; Conley, Tanja Damljanovic (4 December 2009). Capital Cities in the Aftermath of Empires: Planning in Central and Southeastern Europe. Routledge. ISBN   9781135167257. Archived from the original on 10 October 2017.
  5. Seymour, Michael (29 August 2014). Babylon: Legend, History and the Ancient City. I.B.Tauris. ISBN   9780857736079. Archived from the original on 10 October 2017.
  6. Crew, Harvey W.; Webb, William Bensing; Wooldridge, John (1892). Centennial History of the City of Washington, D.C. Dayton, OH: United Brethren Publishing House. p.  124.
  7. "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
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. Real Decreto de 30 de noviembre de 1833 en wikisource
  11. Real Decreto de 30 de noviembre de 1833 en el sitio web oficial del Gobierno de Canarias[ dead link ]
  12. Ordonnance n° 58–1100 du 17 novembre 1958 relative au fonctionnement des assemblées parlementaires Archived 30 April 2013 at the Wayback Machine article 1
  13. "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.
  14. "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
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. "Tanzania". The World Factbook. Archived from the original on 27 June 2014.
  18. Reeder, Scott. "What does it cost taxpayers to pay for lawmakers' empty Springfield residences?" (Archive). Illinois News Network. 11 September 2014. Retrieved 26 May 2016.
  19. Gauen, Pat. "Illinois corruption explained: the capital is too far from Chicago" (Archive). St. Louis Post-Dispatch . Retrieved 26 May 2016.
  20. See Jerusalem Law
  21. 2003 Basic Law of Palestine Archived 11 February 2016 at the Wayback Machine , Title One: Article 3
  22. Landler, Mark (6 December 2017). "Trump Recognizes Jerusalem as Israel's Capital". The New York Times. Retrieved 6 December 2017.
  23. Chrysopoulos, Philip. "September 18, 1834: Athens Becomes the Capital of Greece". GreekReporter.com. Retrieved 21 December 2018.
  24. "History of Berlin – Past and present of Berlin". introducingberlin.com. Retrieved 21 December 2018.
  25. "History of St. Petersburg, Russia: Peter the Great (short biography)". cityvision2000.com. Retrieved 7 January 2019.
  26. Mikellides, Byron (1 June 2001). "The Creation of Modern Athens, Planning the Myth". URBAN DESIGN International. 6 (2): 119. doi: 10.1057/palgrave.udi.9000029 . ISSN   1468-4519.
  27. "Washington: Capital of the Union – Essential Civil War Curriculum". essentialcivilwarcurriculum.com. Retrieved 7 January 2019.