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 A city is a large human settlement.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, J., eds (1996) ''The Social Science Encyclopedia''. 2nd edition. London: Routledge. It can be defined as a pe ...
that physically encompasses the government's offices and meeting places; the status as capital is often designated by its law or constitution. In some
jurisdiction Jurisdiction (from Latin ''Wikt:ius#Latin, juris'' 'law' + ''Wikt:dictio, dictio'' 'declaration') is the practical authority granted to a legal body to administer justice, as defined by the kind of case, and the location of the issue (its ). In f ...
s, 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 Metonymy () is a figure of speech in which a thing or concept is referred to by the name of something closely associated with that thing or concept. Etymology The words ''metonymy'' and ''metonym'' come from the Greek , , "a change of name", f ...
. For example, "relations between Washington and
London London is the capital city, capital and List of urban areas in the United Kingdom, largest city of England and the United Kingdom. The city stands on the River Thames in the south-east of England, at the head of its estuary leading to the Nor ...
" refer to " relations between the United States and the United Kingdom".


The word ''capital'' derives from the
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became the ...
''caput'' (genitive ''capitis''), meaning '
head A head is the part of an organism In biology, an organism (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ὀργανισμός, ''organismos'') is any individual contiguous system that embodies the Life#Biology, properties of life. It is a synonym for "Out ...
'. In several English-speaking states, the terms county town and
county seat A county seat is an administrative center, seat of government, or capital city of a county or Parish (administrative division), civil parish. The term is used in Canada, China, Romania, Hungary and the United States. County towns have a similar fu ...
are also used in Subnational administrative division, lower subdivisions. In some unitary states, subnational capitals may be known as 'administrative centres'. The capital is often the List of capitals and largest cities by country, largest city of its constituent, though not always.


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 (military), conquest or federation. (The modern capital city has, however, not always existed: in medieval Western Europe, an itinerant court, itinerant (wandering) government was common.) Examples are Babylon, ancient Babylon, Baghdad#History, Abbasid Baghdad, ancient Athens, Rome, Bratislava, Budapest, Constantinople, Chang'an, Cusco, ancient Cusco, Kyiv, Madrid, Paris, Podgorica,
London London is the capital city, capital and List of urban areas in the United Kingdom, largest city of England and the United Kingdom. The city stands on the River Thames in the south-east of England, at the head of its estuary leading to the Nor ...
, 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 (government), administration of national or imperial governments, such as lawyers, political scientists, banking, bankers, journalists, and public policy (law), public policy makers. Some of these cities are or were also Holy city, religious centres, 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 societal collapse, decline of a dynasty or culture could also mean the extinction of its capital city, as occurred at Babylon 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 London is the capital city, capital and List of urban areas in the United Kingdom, largest city of England and the United Kingdom. The city stands on the River Thames in the south-east of England, at the head of its estuary leading to the Nor ...
, 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.

Modern capitals

Counties of the United Kingdom, 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. In Canada, there is a Ottawa, federal capital, while the ten provinces of Canada, provinces and three Territories of Canada#Territories, 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, Northern Territory, 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 London is the capital city, capital and List of urban areas in the United Kingdom, largest city of England and the United Kingdom. The city stands on the River Thames in the south-east of England, at the head of its estuary leading to the Nor ...
, 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 Germany, Federal Republic of Germany, each of its constituent Federated state, states (or States of Germany, ''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 City-state#Non-sovereign city-states, Stadtstaat of Berlin and the Federal cities of Russia, 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. The majority of national capitals are also the largest city in their respective countries, but in some countries this is not the case.

Planned capitals

Governing entities sometimes plan, design and build new capital cities to house the seat of government of a polity or of a subdivision. Deliberately List of purpose-built national capitals, planned and designed capitals include: * Abuja, Nigeria (1991) * Amaravati, Andhra Pradesh, India (2016) * Aracaju, Sergipe, Brazil (1855) * Ankara, Turkey (1923) * Austin, Texas, US (1839) * Belmopan, Belize (1970) * Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brazil (1897) * Brasília, Brazil (1960) * Bhubaneswar, Odisha, India (1948) * Bireuen, Aceh, Indonesia (1948) * Canberra, Australia (1927) * Chandigarh, Punjab and Haryana, India (1966) * Constantinople, Roman Empire (324–330) * Frankfort, Kentucky, Frankfort, Kentucky, US (1792) * Gaborone, Botswana (1964) * Gandhinagar, Gujarat, India (1960) * Goiânia, Goiás, Brazil (1933) * Indianapolis, Indiana, USA (1825) * Islamabad, Pakistan (1960) * Jefferson City, Missouri, Jefferson City, Missouri, US (1821) * La Plata, Buenos Aires Province, Argentina (1882) * Naya Raipur, Nava Raipur or Atal Nagar, Atalnagar, Chhattisgarh, India (2003) * Naypyidaw, Burma (2005–2006) * New Delhi, British India (1911) * Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan (1997) * Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, US (1889) * Ottawa, Ontario, Canada (1857) * Palmas, Tocantins, Brazil (1989) * Part of Penajam North Paser and Kutai Kartanegara, East Kalimantan, Indonesia (2019) * Quezon City, Philippines (1948–76) * Raleigh, North Carolina, Raleigh, North Carolina, US (1792) * Soltaniyeh, Ilkhanate Persia (1306–1335) * Valletta, Malta (1571) * Washington, D.C., US (1800) These cities satisfy one or both of the following criteria: # A deliberately planned city that was built expressly to house the seat of government, superseding a capital city that was in an established Center of population, 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). # 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 the privilege of being the capital city. Usually, the new capital is geographically located roughly equidistant between the competing population centres.

Compromise locations

Some examples of the second situation (compromise locations) are: * Canberra, Australia, chosen as a compromise located between Melbourne and Sydney. * Washington, D.C., United States, founded as a compromise between more urbanized Northern United States, Northern states and agrarian Southern United States, Southern "Slave states and free states, slave states" to share national power. The Compromise of 1790, resulted in the passage of the Residence Act, which approved the creation of a national capital on the Potomac River on land ceded from Maryland and Virginia. * Frankfort, Kentucky, Frankfort, Kentucky, midway between Louisville, Kentucky, Louisville and Lexington, Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky. * Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, located along the boundary between the provinces of Ontario and Quebec – the two most populous of the ten provinces. * Tallahassee, Florida, chosen as the midpoint between Pensacola and St. Augustine, Florida, St. Augustine, Florida – then the two largest cities in Florida. * Wellington became the Capital of New Zealand, capital city of New Zealand in 1865. It lies at the southern tip of the North Island of New Zealand, the smaller of New Zealand's two main islands (which subsequently became the more populous island) immediately across Cook Strait from the South Island. The previous capital, Auckland, lies much further north in the North Island; the move followed a long argument for a more central location for parliament. * Managua, Nicaragua, chosen to appease rivals in León (Nicaragua), León and Granada (Nicaragua), Granada, which also were associated with the liberal and conservative political factions respectively * Jefferson City, Missouri was selected as the state capital in 1821, the year after Missouri was admitted to the Union, due to its central location within the state. It is almost halfway between Missouri's two largest cities, Kansas City, Missouri, Kansas City in the west and St. Louis, Missouri, St. Louis in the east, although Kansas City was not incorporated until 1850. 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 Dissolution of the Soviet Union, collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Naypyidaw was founded in Myanmar, Burma's interior as the former capital, Rangoon, was claimed to be overcrowded.

Unusual capital city arrangements

. As a city-state, Singapore requires no specific capital. 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, Montserrat, Plymouth in Montserrat. * Azores (Portugal): since the establishment of local autonomy in 1976, the Azores has three designated regional capital cities: Ponta Delgada at São Miguel Island (seat of the Presidents of the Government of the Azores, Autonomous Government); Horta, Azores, Horta at Faial Island (seat of the Legislative Assembly of the Azores, Legislative Assembly); and Angra do Heroísmo at Terceira Island (seat of the judiciary and the historical capital of the Azores, in addition to being the seat of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Angra). * Belize: Belmopan was designated the national capital in 1971, but most government offices and embassies are still located in Belize City. * Canary Islands (Spain): Until 1927 the capital of the Province of Canary Islands, Province of Canarias was Santa Cruz de Tenerife. When the Canary Islands became an autonomous community in 1982, Santa Cruz de Tenerife and Las Palmas de Gran Canaria were both given capital status.:m:s:es:Real Decreto de 30 de noviembre de 1833, ''Real Decreto de 30 de noviembre de 1833'' en wikisource''Real Decreto de 30 de noviembre de 1833''
en el sitio web oficial del Gobierno de Canarias
There is currently a balance of institutions between the two capitals; the Canary Islands is the only autonomous community in Spain which has two capitals. * Chile: Santiago is the capital even though the National Congress of Chile meets in Valparaíso. * Czech Republic: Prague is the sole Constitution of the Czech Republic, constitutional capital. Brno is home to all three of the country's highest Court (judicial), courts, making it the ''de facto'' capital of the Judiciary of the Czech Republic, Czech judicial branch. * Estonia: the Supreme Court of Estonia, Supreme Court and the Ministry of Education and Research (Estonia), Ministry of Education and Research are located in Tartu. * Finland: During the summer, the President of Finland, President resides at the Kultaranta in Naantali; presidential sessions of the government are held there as well. * France: The French constitution does not recognize any capital city in France. By law Paris is the seat of both houses of Parliament (the National Assembly (France), National Assembly and the Senate (France), Senate), but their joint congresses are held at the Palace of Versailles. In case of emergency, the seat of the constitutional powers can be transferred to another town, in order for the Houses of Parliament to sit in the same location as the President of France, President and Cabinet of France, Cabinet. * Germany: The official capital Berlin is home to the parliament and the highest bodies of the executive branch (consisting of the ceremonial President of Germany, presidency and effective Chancellor of Germany, chancellery). Various ministries are located in the former West Germany, West German capital of Bonn, which now has the title "Federal City". The Federal Constitutional Court of Germany, Federal Constitutional Court has its seat in Karlsruhe which, as a consequence, is sometimes called Germany's "judicial capital"; none of Germany's highest judicial organs are located in Berlin. Various German government agencies are located in other parts of Germany. * India: ** Andhra Pradesh: Hyderabad is the ''de jure'' capital of the state until by 2024, while Amaravati is the ''de facto'' seat of government. The Governor of Andhra Pradesh has his official residence in Vijayawada ** Chhattisgarh: Raipur is the administrative and legislative capital, while the high court (judiciary capital) is located in Bilaspur, Chhattisgarh, Bilaspur. The proposed future capital is Naya Raipur, Nava Raipur. ** Jammu and Kashmir (union territory), Jammu and Kashmir: Srinagar serves as the summer capital of the state while Jammu is the winter capital. The entire state machinery Darbar Move, shifts from one city to another every six months. ** Kerala: Thiruvananthapuram is the administrative and legislative capital of the state, while the high court is located in Ernakulam. ** Himachal Pradesh: Shimla is the primary capital city. Dharamshala, which is also the headquarters of the Central Tibetan Administration, is the second winter capital of the state. ** Madhya Pradesh: Bhopal is the administrative and legislative capital of the state, while the high court is located in Jabalpur. ** Punjab, India, Punjab and Haryana: Both states share Chandigarh as their capital city. The city itself is administered as a Union territory. ** Odisha: Bhubaneswar is the administrative and legislative capital of the state, while the high court is located in Cuttack. ** Rajasthan: Jaipur is the administrative and legislative capital of the state, while the high court is located in Jodhpur. ** Uttarakhand: Dehradun is the administrative and legislative capital, while the high court is located in Nainital. The proposed future capital is Gairsain. ** Ladakh: Leh and Kargil district, Kargil serve as joint capitals of the Union Territory. * South Korea: Seoul remains as the capital and seat of the government's branches, but many government agencies have moved to Sejong City. * Malaysia: Kuala Lumpur is the Constitution of Malaysia, constitutional capital, home of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, King, and seat of Parliament of Malaysia, Parliament, but the federal administrative centre and judiciary have been moved south to Putrajaya. * Montenegro: The official capital Podgorica is home to the parliament and the executive, but the seat of the President of Montenegro, presidency is in the former royal capital of Cetinje. * Myanmar (Burma): Naypyidaw was designated the national capital in 2005, the same year it was founded, but most government offices and embassies are still located in Yangon (Rangoon). * Nauru: Nauru, a microstate of only , has no distinct capital city, but has a capital district instead. * Pakistan: Islamabad is a modern purpose-built capital city. Its construction started in 1960 and was completed in 1966. The capital was first shifted temporarily from Karachi to Rawalpindi in 1960, and then to Islamabad when essential development work was completed. It was built as a forward capital for strategic and economic reasons. *Philippines: Presidential Decree No. 940, issued on 24 June 1976, designates the whole of Metro Manila, National Capital Region (NCR) or the metropolitan area of Metro Manila, Manila as the seat of government, with the Manila, City of Manila as the capital. National government institutions are scattered within the metropolis instead of being concentrated within the capital city. The presidential palace (Malacañang Palace, Malacanang Palace) and the Supreme Court are located within the capital city but the two houses of Congress are located in separate suburbs. * Portugal: The Constitution of Portugal, Portuguese constitution has no reference to a capital. Although Lisbon is home to the Assembly of the Republic (Portugal), Parliament, the President of Portugal, President's and the Prime Minister of Portugal, Prime Minister's official residences, all the Portuguese Government, Government's departments, all the List of diplomatic missions in Portugal, embassies and the highest courts, no Portuguese official document states that Lisbon is the national capital. * Sri Lanka: Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte is designated the administrative capital and the location of the parliament, while the former capital, Colombo, is now designated as the "commercial capital". However, many government offices are still located in Colombo. Both cities are in the Colombo District. * South Africa: The administrative capital is Pretoria, the legislative capital is Cape Town, and the judicial capital is Bloemfontein. This is the outcome of the compromise that created the Union of South Africa in 1910. * Switzerland: Bern is the ''Federal City'' of Switzerland and functions as ''de facto'' capital. However, the Federal Supreme Court of Switzerland, Swiss Supreme Court is located in Lausanne which is also the International Olympic Committee, Olympic Capital. * Tanzania: Dodoma was designated the national capital in 1996, but most government offices and embassies are still located in Dar es Salaam. * United States: ** California: The executive and legislative branches and most government agencies are based in Sacramento but the California Supreme Court is headquartered in San Francisco. ** Illinois: Springfield, Illinois, Springfield has the seats of the branches of government and serves as the official capital. However various Illinois government officials primarily reside in or are primarily active in Chicago.Reeder, Scott.
What does it cost taxpayers to pay for lawmakers' empty Springfield residences?

. ''Illinois News Network''. 11 September 2014. Retrieved 26 May 2016.
Gauen, Pat.

([https://web.archive.org/web/20160915191211/http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/columns/pat-gauen/illinois-corruption-explained-the-capital-is-too-far-from-chicago/article_c38d21b7-0134-5124-b56f-3bc99a60c327.html Archive]). ''St. Louis Post-Dispatch''. Retrieved 26 May 2016.
(see: for a further explanation) ** Louisiana: The executive and legislative branches and most government agencies are based in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Baton Rouge, but the Louisiana Supreme Court is located in New Orleans. ** New York (state), New York: Much like Illinois, the state capital and government are headquartered in Albany, New York, Albany, but many officials are mostly active in or live in New York City. * Monaco, Singapore, and the Vatican City are city-states, and thus do not contain any distinct capital city as a whole. However, in Singapore's case, the main judiciary and legislative offices are located in the Downtown Core. Similarly, while Victoria, Hong Kong, Victoria was the capital of colonial Hong Kong, the district of Central, Hong Kong, Central serves as the seat of government offices today.

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: * Benin: Porto-Novo is the official capital, but Cotonou is the seat of government. * Bolivia: Sucre, Bolivia, Sucre is the Constitution of Bolivia, constitutional capital, and the Supreme Tribunal of Justice (Bolivia), supreme tribunal of justice is located in Sucre, making it the judicial capital. The ''Palacio Quemado'', the Plurinational Legislative Assembly, national congress and Plurinational Electoral Organ, national electoral court are located in La Paz, Bolivia, La Paz, making it the seat of government. * Ivory Coast: Yamoussoukro was designated the national capital in 1983, but most government offices and embassies are still located in Abidjan. * Netherlands: Amsterdam is the constitutional national capital even though the Cabinet of the Netherlands, Dutch government, the States General of the Netherlands, parliament, the Hoge Raad der Nederlanden, supreme court, the Council of State of the Netherlands, Council of State, and the Noordeinde Palace, work palace of the Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands, King are all located in The Hague, as are all the List of diplomatic missions in the Netherlands, embassies. (''For more details see: Capital of the Netherlands''.) Some historical examples of similar arrangements, where the recognized capital was not the official seat of government: * Kingdom of England: The traditional capital was the City of London, while Westminster, outside of the boundaries of the City of London, was the seat of government. They are both today part of the urban core of Greater London. * Kingdom of France: The traditional capital was Paris, though from 1682 to 1789 the seat of government was at the Palace of Versailles, located in a rural area southwest of Paris.

Disputed capitals

* Israel and State of Palestine, Palestine: Both the Government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority claim Jerusalem as their capital. Jerusalem serves as Israel's capital, with the presidential residence, government offices, supreme court and parliament (Knesset) located there, while the Palestinian Authority has no ''de facto'' or ''de jure'' control over any of Jerusalem. Many countries, with the notable exception of the United States, which recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, take Status of Jerusalem, the position that the final status of Jerusalem is unsettled pending future Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, negotiations. Most countries maintain their List of diplomatic missions in Israel, diplomatic missions to Israel in Tel Aviv, while List of diplomatic missions in Palestine, diplomatic missions to Palestine are in various places such as Ramallah, Gaza City, Cairo and Damascus.

Capital as symbol

With the rise of the modern Nation state, nation-state, the capital city has become a symbol for the sovereign state, 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 a highly symbolic event. For example: * The ruined and almost uninhabited Athens was made capital of Independence of Greece, newly independent Greece in 1834, four years after the country gained its independence, with the Romanticism, romantic notion of reviving the glory of Ancient Greece. Similarly, following the Cold War and German reunification, Berlin is now once again the capital of Germany. Other restored capital cities include Moscow after the October Revolution. * A symbolic relocation of a capital city to a geographically or demographically peripheral location may be for either economic geography, economic or military geography, strategic reasons (sometimes known as a forward capital or spearhead capital). Peter the Great moved his government from Moscow to Saint Petersburg to give the Russian Empire a European orientation. The economically significant city of Nafplion became the first capital of Greece, when Athens was an unimportant village. The Ming dynasty, Ming emperors moved their capital to Beijing from the more central Nanjing to help supervise the border with the Mongols. During the 1857 rebellion, India, Indian rebels considered Delhi their capital, and Bahadur Shah Zafar was proclaimed emperor, but the ruling British India, British had their capital in Kolkata, Calcutta. In 1877, the British formally held a 'Delhi Durbar, Durbar' in Delhi, proclaiming Queen Victoria as 'Empress of India'. Delhi finally became the colonial capital after the Delhi Durbar, Coronation Durbar of King-Emperor George V in 1911, continuing as independent India's capital from 1947. Other examples include Abuja, Astana, Brasília, Helsinki, Islamabad, Naypyidaw and Yamoussoukro. * The selection or founding of a "neutral" capital city, one unencumbered by regional or political identities, was meant to represent the unity of a new state when Ankara, Bern, Canberra, Madrid, Ottawa and Washington became capital cities. Sometimes, the location of a new capital city was chosen to terminate squabbling or possible squabbling between various entities, such as in the cases of Canberra, Ottawa, Washington, Wellington and Managua. * The British-built town of New Delhi represented a simultaneous break and continuity with the past, the location of Delhi being where many imperial capitals were built (Indraprastha, Dhillika, and Shahjahanabad) but the actual capital being the new British-built town designed by Edwin Lutyens. Wellington, on the southwestern tip of the North Island of New Zealand, replaced the much more northerly city of Auckland to place the national capital close to the South Island and hence to placate its residents, many of whom had sympathies with separatism. * During the American Civil War, tremendous resources were expended to defend Washington, D.C., which bordered on the Confederate States of America (with the Virginia, Commonwealth of Virginia), from Confederate attack even though the relatively small federal government could easily have been moved elsewhere. Likewise, great resources were expended by the Confederacy in defending the Confederate capital from attack by the Union, in its exposed location of Richmond, Virginia, Richmond, Virginia, barely south of Washington, D.C.

Capitals in military strategy

File: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 Chinese Dynasties, dynasty could easily be toppled with the fall of its capital. In the Three Kingdoms period, both Shu Han, Shu and Eastern Wu, Wu fell when their respective capitals of Chengdu and Jianye District, 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 Second Sino-Japanese War, 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 Fourth Crusade, Crusaders captured the Byzantine Empire, 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 Empire, British forces sacked various United States, American capitals repeatedly during the American Revolutionary War, 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

*Capital region *Lists of capitals *List of countries whose capital is not their largest city *Temporary capital

Further reading

* Andreas Daum, "Capitals in Modern History: Inventing Urban Spaces for the Nation", in ''Berlin – Washington, 1800–2000: Capital Cities, Cultural Representation, and National Identities'', ed. Andreas Daum and Christof Mauch. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2006, pp. 3–28. * ''Capital Cities: International Perspectives – Les capitales: Perspectives internationales'', ed. John Taylor, Jean G. Lengellé and Caroline Andrew. Ottawa: Carleton University Press, 1993, .


{{Authority control Types of administrative division Capitals,