List of purpose-built national capitals

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This is a list of capital cities that were specially designed, planned and built to be a national or regional capital.


City Country Notes
Abuja  Nigeria From 1991, moved from Lagos in order to provide a capital city that was a mix of the three major ethnic groups, the Yoruba, Igbo, and Hausa-Fulani. Other reasons include more central geographic location and to avoid overcrowded Lagos.
Ayutthaya Ayutthaya Kingdom (Thailand) Founded 1350
Baghdad Abbasid Caliphate Victorious Abbasid rulers wanted their own capital to rule from. Choosing a site north of the defeated Sassanid's capital of Ctesiphon (and also just north of where ancient Babylon once stood), on 30 July 762,[25] the caliph Al-Mansur commissioned the construction of the city.
Belmopan  British Honduras now  Belize From 1970, moved from Belize City after 1961's Hurricane Hattie caused extensive damage to the city.
Brasília  Brazil From 1960, moved from Rio de Janeiro because of overcrowding, to encourage inland growth, to make the location of the capital more regionally neutral as laid out in the Brazilian constitution in 1891, and to avoid the vulnerability to attacks by sea.
Bridgetown  Barbados Moved from James Town to Bridgetown in 1628, due to better topography for a finer shipping harbour.
Canberra  Australia Designed by Chicago, Illinois architects Walter Burley Griffin and Marion Mahony Griffin. The site was selected as a compromise between rivals Sydney, New South Wales and Melbourne, Victoria, Australia's two biggest cities. It is situated in the Australian Capital Territory, found in south-east New South Wales. One of the reasons that the government wanted an inland capital city was that Sydney and Melbourne were both susceptible to sea attacks. Canberra means "Meeting Place" in the Ngunnawal language of the local Ngabri indigenous aborigines.
Constantinople Roman Empire Established by Constantine the Great to be a capital for the eastern empire, with the fall of Rome to the Barbarians, it became the only capital of the empire. Established on the site of Byzantium, the new city almost entirely replaced the old one.
Fujiwara-kyō  Japan From 694, moved from Asuka; moved to Nara in 710
Gaborone  Botswana From 1964, moved from Mahikeng, South Africa when Botswana became an independent country[1]
Islamabad  Pakistan From 1967, moved from Karachi, declared Capital in 1974. Development in Pakistan was for long time focused on the colonial centre of Karachi, and President Ayub Khan wanted it to be equally distributed. Moreover, Karachi was located at one end of the country, making it vulnerable to attacks from the Arabian Sea. A capital which was easily accessible from all parts of the country was needed. The newly selected location of Islamabad was closer to army headquarters in Rawalpindi and the disputed territory of Kashmir in the North.
Karlsruhe Baden-Durlach (a German state) From 1715, moved from Durlach; became capital of unified Baden in 1771; remained capital of state of Baden after joining unified Germany in 1871; ceased being capital in 1945
Kyoto  Japan From 794, moved from Nagaokakyō; moved to Tokyo around 1868 (see article capital of Japan)
Lima Spain Viceroyalty of Peru From 1535. Cusco was the capital of the precedent Inca Empire and when Spanish took control of the empire Lima was founded to function as capital. Francisco Pizarro founded Lima at the sea due to advantages of being closer contacts with Panama and the rest of the Spanish Empire and more protected from the war-torn highlands of Peru.
Mandalay  Myanmar From 1859. Built in 1857–1859 by King Mindon, it was the last royal capital of the Burmese Kingdom. The site was chosen in accordance to a supposed prophecy by the Buddha. Mandalay is now the second largest city in Myanmar.
Naypyidaw  Myanmar From 2005, moved from Yangon to have their military government more centrally located geographically and "to keep an eye" on rebel groups forming and training for coups in the jungles and away from the political activities of Yangon
New Delhi  India From 1912, moved from Calcutta; note that the neighboring city of Delhi already existed and had previously served as the capital of the Mughal Empire
Ngerulmud  Palau From 2006, moved from Koror
Nouakchott  Mauritania From 1958, moved from Saint-Louis, Senegal
Palikir  Federated States of Micronesia From 1989, moved from Kolonia
Pella Ancient Macedonia Moved from Aigai due to more fertile land and suitable location for a port, connected to the sea by a navigable inlet.
Putrajaya  Malaysia From 2002, the administrative branch moved from Kuala Lumpur. However, Kuala Lumpur remains the official capital.
Quezon City  Philippines From 1948, moved from Manila; returned to Manila in 1976
Saint Petersburg  Russia From 1712, moved from Moscow; returned to Moscow in 1918
Valletta Sovereign Military Order of Malta Malta From 1571, moved from Birgu; the new city was built on the Sciberras Peninsula between 1566 and 1571 and was named after Grandmaster Jean Parisot de Valette.
Washington, D.C.  United States From 1800, moved from Philadelphia


  • Welthauptstadt Germania was the proposed renewal of Berlin, Germany as a planned "world capital", although only a small portion was built between 1937 and 1943.
  • In 2010, Indonesia was mulling the relocation of its overcrowded capital from Jakarta to a proposed new site
  • In February 2011, the Autonomous Government of Southern Sudan adopted a resolution to study moving the capital of the new Republic of South Sudan that was to be created in July of that year to a new, planned city. In September 2011, the government of South Sudan approved a project to build a new capital at Ramciel in Lakes state; it is projected that the project will take at least five years.
  • Oyala is under construction and is expected to replace Malabo as Equatorial Guinea's capital city.
  • in March 2015, Egypt proposed building a new capital. The Proposed new capital of Egypt falls east to the old one, the city is projected to host 40 million people by 2050 [2]


  1. ^ Njeru, Purity (2009). "History of Gaborone". Nairobi, Kenya: The African Executive. Archived from the original on July 7, 2011. Retrieved June 20, 2009. 
  2. ^