18 World Capitals Most People Don’t Know

No matter how traveled a person may be, there are still some capital cities that we can be mistaken by. It’s easy to think a more popular city is likely to be a country’s capital, after all, we usually associate capital cities with tourism. Here are 18 world capitals that are often mistaken for another city.

Ankara, Turkey

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Istanbul is often presumed to be the capital of Turkey. This is because it’s bigger than Ankara. The political and administrative center is situated in Ankara. 203challenges backs this up by saying “It was chosen for its central position.” The city is also well-known for its Angora goats and cats.

Bern, Switzerland

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When asked what the capital of Switzerland is, most people would say Geneva. Bern is only the fifth largest city in Switzerland, however, it does still house the Swiss government. The old town of Bern is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Rabat, Morocco

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Marrakech or Casablanca are often considered to be mistaken as the capital of Morocco. Rabat has been the capital since the French Protectorate era, during the years 1921 and 1956. The city also hosts the historical Medina and according to Visit Morocco, the city “boasts a rich history.”

Wellington, New Zealand

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The capital city of New Zealand is still considered by many people to be Aukland, however, this changed to Wellington in 1865. Wellington is known for its windy weather but it’s also home to the famous red cable car and the Te Papa Museum.

Brasilia, Brazil

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It’s a normal misconception that Rio de Janeiro is the capital of Brazil. Rio de Janeiro used to be the capital but this changed to Brasilia in 1960. This mistake in capitals is backed up by International Traveller who writes it’s common to think that Rio de Janeiro is the capital as it has the statue of Christ and hosts the Olympics.

Dodoma, Tanzania

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When asked what’s the capital of Tanzania, many people might say Dar es Salaam. However, Dodoma officially became the capital in 1996. The city is less prominent than Dar es Salaam, which has a huge port and is the financial hub of Tanzania, but the city does still host the National Assembly.

Pretoria, South Africa

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South Africa actually has a huge three capitals, which isn’t something well known. These are Pretoria, Cape Town and Bloemfontein. Pretoria is the administrative capital of South Africa and it houses the executive branch of government. Pretoria is known for its diplomatic missions and embassies.

Cape Town, South Africa

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Another capital of South Africa. Cape Town houses the Parliament of South Africa. This is supported by Traveller who writes “Cape Town has the Parliament, and is thus the legislative capital.” Cape Town is also known for its rich history and beautiful landscapes.

Bloemfontein, South Africa

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This is the Judicial capital of South Africa. It can also be shortened to just Bloem. This city hosts The Supreme Court of Appeal. It’s also known for its beauty and Britannica writes that it has many natural and manmade attractions such as King’s Park and the Franklin Game Reserve.

Ottawa, Canada

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It’s often thought that Toronto is the capital of Canada. However, Ottawa is the seat of Canada’s federal government. It’s also a bilingual parliament, speaking both French and English, which are the two main languages of Canada. Ottawa is known for its Victorian Architecture and a number of museums.

Sucre, Bolivia

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La Paz is commonly thought to be the capital of Bolivia, however, it’s the smaller city of Sucre. La Paz is still the administrative capital of Bolivia but Sucre is the constitutional capital. Sucre also houses the Supreme Court and is rich in Colonial architecture and history.

Naypyidaw, Myanmar

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Yangon is often considered the capital of Myanmar. Naypyidaw became the capital in 2006. According to the Independent, Naypyidaw is four times larger than London, however, it only has a population of 924,608, effectively making it a ghost town. The capital is well known for its greenery and large, open spaces.

Juba, South Sudan

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South Sudan is a brand new country, so not many people know it’s a separate country and with that comes its capital, Juba. It became the capital after South Sudan’s independence in 2011. The city is located on the White Nile and has faced significant infrastructural challenges since becoming the capital.

Belmopan, Belize

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It’s still often thought that Belize City is the capital, however, Belmopan became the capital after a hurricane caused too much damage to Belize City. This city is smaller and feels less urban than Belize City. It is, however, known for its nature reserves and Mayan ruins.

Jerusalem, Israel

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Due to its urban culture, Tel Aviv is usually considered to be Israel’s capital city. Jerusalem is one of the oldest cities in the world thanks to its religious ties. UNESCO supports this by writing “As a holy city for Judaism, Christianity and Islam, Jerusalem has always been of great symbolic importance.”

Sacramento, California, USA

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Sacramento is the capital of the state of California and is located in the north. However, it is often overshadowed by Los Angeles. The city is known for its gold rush history during the mid-1800s. Sacramento is located at the confluence of the Sacramento and American Rivers.

Canberra, Australia

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Sydney is often thought to be the capital of Australia due to its high rates of tourism and attractions. Canberra was chosen as a compromise between Sydney and Melbourne. The city is known for its planned design and national institutions. It also hosts the Australian Parliament House.

Astana (now Nur-Saltan), Kazakhstan

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Almaty is usually thought to be the capital of Kazakhstan. Astana was renamed as Nur-Sultan in 2019 in honor of the long-serving president, Nursultan Nazarbayev. Astana became the capital in 1997 and replaced Almaty. Astana is known for its futuristic architecture such as the Bayterek Tower and the Khan Shatyr.

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