The Highest Capital Cities in the World

La Paz, Bolivia, seen here at dusk, has a higher altitude than any other capital city in the world.
  • La Paz of Bolivia is one of the world's most beautiful locales. At 3,650 m (11,975 ft) above sea level, La Paz is the highest capital city in the world.
  • Not only is Quito Ecuador the second highest capital city it is also the capital city closest to the equator.
  • Thimphu is located 8,688 ft above the sea level. It is also the largest, most populated, and only city in the Kingdom of Bhutan.

A country’s capital city offers the first impression of the country’s political state, economic strength, social welfare and generally what to expect. A majority of capital cities are home to the federal government, and the location has been strategically chosen to allow the government to offer services with minimal interruptions. Tokyo is the world’s largest city with a population of approximately 38 million and an area of about 5,200 square miles. However, the largest city in the country does not necessarily make it a capital city. Washington, DC is the capital city of the United States, but New York is the largest city in the country. Not all capital cities are also home to the government, the Bolivian constitution states the city of Sucre as the capital city, but the city of La Paz is the home of the federal government. Environmental threats particularly the rising sea level is threatening the existence of some capital cities such as the city of Malé which is the capital of the Maldives and stands only four feet above sea level. Other coastal cities might not be capital cities but are under threat from the rising sea. According to the World Bank, the city of Guangzhou, Miami, New York, New Orleans, Mumbai, Nagoya, Tampa, Boston, Shenzen, and Osaka are at risk of experiencing heavy financial losses caused by the rising water level by 2050.

The Highest Capital Cities In The World

1. La Paz, Bolivia

Some capital cities located at very high altitude and their major threat is not the rising sea level but extremely low and high temperature. The two cities in Bolivia are the among the highest in the world. Nuestra Señora de La Paz is the seat of the government and is located at an altitude of 11,942ft while Sucre is the constitutional capital and is located at an altitude of 9,022 ft.

2. Quito, Ecuador

The city of Quito in the Republic of Ecuador is the second-highest capital city in the world at an altitude of 9,350ft above the sea level. Quito is also the capital city closest to the equator. The city is a popular tourist attraction, but several tourists traveling from low altitude areas experience altitude sickness upon landing.

3. Thimphu, Bhutan

A lot of people have never heard or visited Bhutan, but it is a country with the third-highest capital city. Thimphu is located 8,688 ft above the sea level. It is the largest, most populated, and only city in the Kingdom of Bhutan.

4. Bogota, Colombia

Colombia’s capital city Bogota is the fourth highest capital city at an altitude of 8612 ft. above sea level. It is the third-largest city in South America after São Paulo in Brazil and Lima in Peru. One of the unique features of Bogota is that it is located in a valley between the Guadalupe and Montserrat mountains and several rivers cut across the city. Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa is the fifth highest in the world and the highest capital city in Africa at an altitude of 7726ft above the sea level.

Problems Faced By High Altitude Cities

One of the greatest problems faced by visitors to high altitude cities is altitude sickness which occurs when one makes a sudden switch from low to high altitude without adapting to the change. Another problem is an increase in temperature due to global warming.

The Highest Capital Cities in the World

RankCityAltitude (Meters/Feet)
1La Paz, Bolivia3640/11942
2Quito, Ecuador2850/9350
3Thimphu, Bhutan2648/8688
4Bogota, Colombia2625/8612
5Addis Ababa, Ethiopia2355/7726
6Asmara, Eritrea2355/7628
7Sana'a, Yemen2325/7382
8Mexico City, Mexico2240/7350
9Tehran, Iran900/2952
10Nairobi, Kenya1795/5889
11Kabul, Afghanistan1790/5873
12Windhoek, Namibia1721/5646
13Maseru, Lesotho1673/5489
14Kigali, Rwanda1567/5141
15Guatemala City, Guatemala1529/5016

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