Capital City



The capital of a country is its center of command. Both the capital and the region it belongs to require unique planning fitting its leading role:

  • Extra security. A capital is where the "head" of a country's body is, which needs utmost security against home and foreign threats. Old capitals used to be surrounded by castles/gates/barracks, as they were the prime target of foreign invaders and home rebels, from which they gain control over the rest of the country.
  • More connectivity between government authorities, and between government and the rest of the country, regions and citizens. Easy traffic to/from/within the capital benefits the entire country. Virtual communication speeds up procedures and decision-making: web, phone, LAN, digital scan, data-saving & data-transfer technology, etc.
  • Efficiency of leadership, employees, regulations, facilities, etc. which requires proper selection, supervision, training, maintenance, update, etc. for fast efficient service.
  • Equality: by being neutral/reachable/central to most citizens, geographically, culturally and socially, to deserve its leading governing role.

The capital may contain some of the following:

  • the parliament, and MPs' residence;
  • the cabinet meeting place, and ministers' residence;
  • ministries' headquarters and those of government authorities, courts, syndicates, trade union, etc.;
  • the presidential palace;
  • foreign embassies, organizations, banks, universities, etc.
  • foreign delegations' reception/meeting/residence place; the presidential palace serves this purpose sometimes, but a separate, equally hospitable residence is more practical;
  • the headquarters of political parties; institutes, think tanks, etc.;
  • airport and other transportation terminals;
  • information/training facilities: conference halls, workshops, scientific institutes, etc
  • visiting places for guests representing the unique history, nature, people, culture, etc. of the city and country.


In many countries one city plays one or more of the following roles, esp. the diplomatic and administrative roles. 

  • The most secure and central city is best for an administrative capital.
  • A diplomatic capital has foreign countries' missions, organizations, institutes; international bodies, etc. It has more security, diversity, and closeness to other countries geographically/culturally/etc. It's usually cosmopolitan. A country may have more than one mission in one country (e.g. more consulates) to serve more citizens there, esp. in big countries. Conversely, a country may have one embassy only serving several neighboring small countries.
  • The most commercially active can be its economic capital, usually a port or trade hub for other cities and foreign countries. Some capitals are located at the country's entry/main port. They may have lenient laws for mutual economic benefits (less taxes/customs, temporary/conditioned lease, less enquiry of financial source or investment/activity type, better service/procedures/marketing/publicity, etc.).
  • Many cities that had been a country's administrative capital during different historic eras later become a prime tourism site or cultural capital, favored by home and foreign tourists.

Upgrading/Moving a Capital

Some capitals are decades, centuries, or even millennia old. A capital may have been established without planning for future changes. Thus it may have grown too old, crowded, heavily-serviced (receiving most attention and causing country's centralization), or not secure enough for government and inhabitants (socially, politically, geographically), that it needs urgent upgrading, or to totally move elsewhere, whichever is more achievable and worthy. When moving the capital to a new location, or upgrading an old capital, it should become more neutral (socially, culturally, geographically), more secure, and having ideal living standards as a role model for other cities of the country.

The new location of a capital must be far enough from the old one, to achieve the desired effects: less congestion of traffic, communication, service, etc. It only "partly" helps decentralization, which is a greater worldwide problem. For although political activities have moved elsewhere, other old privileges in most aspects of life could be still the same: health, education, tourism, etc. Decentralization is best achieved by polycentrism, improving several centers across the country, old or new ones, not just the capital.

This process requires MUCH planning and funding. It needs consulting home and foreign experts, considering other countries' experiences, holding public debates and conferences on the subject (e.g. inviting all regional and urban planning schools and experts), and involving the public for citizens' opinions and concerns.

Capitals & Urban Centralization

Capitals are notorious for causing urban centralization harms: biased, misrepresentative, socially/politically unstable, crowded, disorderly, outdated, etc. However, the more communication between regions, physically and virtually, the less centralization, where government authorities can be distributed across different cities and regions, minimizing state centralization around one city only as well as dissatisfaction among citizens. Gov. authorities that cannot be moved can have headquarters and branches all over the country.

Centralization is impossible to avoid except through constant incremental power-sharing and power-checking, best achieved by efficient humans, laws and technology to minimize human error and natural bias.

The different establishments of the central government needn't all exist within the capital. They are better separated, whenever possible, to minimize the harms of urban centralization. Only those whose members and tasks are interconnected need to be close, for fast focused administration (presidency, ministries, etc.); otherwise too much closeness and power concentration risk the security and efficiency of such authorities.

A capital is a must for governing, yet it can cause centralization and inequality, since those at the helm can abuse power, caring about their own interests at the center while ignoring others' at the ends.


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