travel

These countries have more than one capital

By Jen Rose Smith

Published May 22, 2020

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Most countries chose a single city as their capital. But some simply decided that when it comes to capital cities, more is more. From the shores of Benin to the Kingdom of eSwatini, there are nations across the globe with two or more capital cities.

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Cotonou, Benin

The energetic port city of Cotonou welcomes travelers with colorful hustle and swinging rhythms, and it comes as no surprise that the country's biggest city is also the seat of government.

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Porto-Novo, Benin

The official capital, though, is an hour away in Porto-Novo. Here, the blare of big-city life gives way to tree-lined streets and historic architecture.

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La Paz, Bolivia

Wrapped in the snowy peaks of the Andes Mountains, La Paz is a show-stopper of a capital city where cable cars drift above a tangle of downtown streets.

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Sucre, Bolivia

While La Paz is the administrative capital of Bolivia, the constitutional capital is hundreds of miles away in the city of Sucre.

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Santiago, Chile

In Santiago, the official capital, high-rise buildings glimmer a cool gray-blue against a backdrop of rocky summits.

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Valparaíso, Chile

In the national legislature's seat of Valparaíso, the UNESCO-listed historic center is a tumbledown gem with a rainbow palette and bohemian flair.

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Yamoussoukro, Côte D'Ivoire

President Félix Houphouët-Boigny, who ruled Côte D'Ivoire from 1960 to 1993, took advantage of his time in office by making his boyhood home of Yamoussoukro the country's second capital in 1983.

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Abidjan, Côte D'Ivoire

Abidjan is the de facto seat of government, where sleek artwork at Galerie Cécile Fakhoury meets modernist architecture and colorful markets.

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Prague, Czech Republic

Gothic spires and Baroque rooflines line the Vltava River in Prague, a charismatic city that's a showpiece of Czech culture and history.

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Brno, Czech Republic

The Supreme Court of the Czech Republic is in the country's less-known second capital. Here, students fill stylish cafes, and adventurous visitors can go underground into an maze-like ossuary that holds tens of thousands of human skeletons.

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Mbabane, Kingdom of eSwatini

Formerly known as Swaziland, this landlocked country packs a dramatically varied landscape into less than 7,000 square miles of territory. Perched in the heart of the Dlangeni Hills, Mbabane is the administrative capital.

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Lobamba, Kingdom of eSwatini

This capital is where the royal family resides in the Ludzidzini Royal Residence, one of several royal residences across the country.

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Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Rooftop bars buzz through the night here, and rush hour brings traffic at a standstill. It's the national capital, too, the seat of the legislature and the official home of Malaysia's monarch.

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Putrajaya, Malaysia

In 1995, the government began constructing Putrajaya, a quieter metropolis that wraps around a massive artificial lake. With plenty of room to grow, oversized landmarks have blossomed here.

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Cetinje, Montenegro

Grand mansions and museums testify to Cetinije's years as a seat of power in Montenegro, and the President's official residence is still in the city's Empire-style Blue Palace.

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Podgorica, Montenegro

Podgorica is where the official government is located. Known as Birziminum in Roman times, the city morphed into Slavic Ribnica and Socialist Titograd before becoming Podgorica in 1992 as Yugoslavia crumbled.

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Amsterdam, Netherlands

With historic canals, ultrahip locals and a reputation as one of Europe's hottest party spots, Amsterdam has plenty of name recognition.

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The Hague, Netherlands

The real work of governing takes place in The Hague. The Netherlands' main governing bodies, including the states general, executive branch and supreme court, have been located in this dignified city for centuries.

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Pretoria, South Africa

This is the only country to have three capital cities. Each one has its charms: Pretoria is known for the exuberant jacaranda blooms that appear each September.

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Cape Town, South Africa

With a spectacular location between the shoreline and Table Mountain, Cape Town was the capital of Britain's Cape Colony and remains the legislative capital of South Africa.

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Bloemfontein, South Africa

By dividing the remaining branches of government between Pretoria and Bloemfontein, the emerging Republic of South Africa helped distribute power across the new country.

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Colombo, Sri Lanka

Colombo sprawls maze-like along the Sri Lankan coast, reeling past bright bazaars, colonial-era landmarks and golden-sand beaches. The national and executive bodies of government are in Colombo, too.

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Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte, Sri Lanka

The official capital is in nearby Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte, often called Kotte. There, the modern Sri Lankan Parliament Building is located on an artificial island in the middle of the manmade Diyawanna Lake.

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Dodoma, Tanzania

In 1973, the Tanzanian government announced it was moving from the coastal capital of Dar es Salaam, and identified Dodoma as the perfect central location for a new capital.

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Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

Many key government functions remain in Dar es Salaam. Maybe it's just too hard to walk away from Dar es Salaam's cultural diversity and Indian Ocean breezes.

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