Modern city capitals often seem to us as something permanent, unchanging symbols of their respective states. However, in the 20th century, approximately 15 capital cities changed their geographical location or name. Currently, the government of Egypt is planning to move its capital to a new city – New Cairo. Here are the top 10 relocated capitals:
1 New Cairo, 2021
In Egypt, a new capital city called New Cairo is actively under construction. The capital relocation was originally planned to be completed by the end of 2021 but was delayed due to the pandemic. New Cairo will become the 21st capital of Egypt and will feature the largest Christian cathedral in the Middle East, a center for culture and the arts, as well as the tallest skyscrapers in Africa. The population is expected to reach 6.5 million people.
2 Islamabad, 1960
Historically, the most developed region of Pakistan was concentrated in the south, along the Arabian Sea coast, where the capital, Karachi, one of the world’s largest cities, was located. Islamabad was created to diversify and develop the northern regions of the country. The capital relocation took place in several stages, with Islamabad temporarily serving as the capital from 1960 until the full transition was completed in 1966.
3 Brasília, 1960
The capital of Brazil was moved to Brasília in 1960 from Rio de Janeiro due to overpopulation and to stimulate growth in the country’s interior regions. Another factor for the relocation was Rio de Janeiro’s vulnerability to attacks from the sea.
4 Canberra, 1927
The federal constitution adopted in 1901 in Australia required that the new capital city be located within the state of New South Wales, but at least 161 km away from Sydney. This decision was a compromise between the competing claims of Sydney and Melbourne, the two largest cities in Australia. Canberra was built in 1913, and the capital relocation was completed in 1927.
5 Ankara, 1923
Ankara became the new Turkish capital after the establishment of the republic on October 29, 1923, replacing the former Turkish capital, Istanbul. Ankara had previously been the capital of the ancient Celtic state of Galatia and later the Roman province of the same name.
6 New Delhi, 1912
From 1757 until 1911, Calcutta was the capital of British India. Delhi, located in the northern part of the country, had been a political and financial center of several empires in ancient India. At the suggestion of the British administration, Emperor of India George V moved the capital of the Indian Empire from Calcutta to Delhi.
7 Pretoria, 1860
The capital of South Africa, Pretoria, was founded in 1855 by Marthinus Pretorius, leader of the Boers, who named it after his father Andries Pretorius. It was chosen as the new capital of the South over Cape Town.
8 Washington, 1800
In 1800, the capital of the United States was moved to Washington from Philadelphia after years of construction in the District of Columbia. The U.S. Constitution authorized the federal government to establish the federal district as the nation’s capital. This move was part of the 1790 Compromise between Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton, which allowed the U.S. Department of the Treasury to assume state debts in exchange for placing the capital in the South. Virginia and Maryland ceded land for the capital.
9 Kyiv, 1934
In 1919, the Bolsheviks decided that Kyiv had too much national history and Ukrainian culture and relocated the capital to Kharkiv for the purpose of russification. In 1934, the capital of Ukraine was returned to Kyiv.
10 Christiania, 1624
After a fire devastated medieval Oslo in 1624, the King of Norway, Christian IV, ordered the city to be rebuilt farther to the west, closer to the fortress, and renamed it Christiania. Starting in 1859, the former territory of Oslo was included within the city’s boundaries. In 1925, the city regained its original name, Oslo.