Countries With More Than One Capital City

Most nations have one official capital, functioning as the power seat where the government resides and rules. Countries with two or more capital cities often boast interesting back-stories and unique reasonings behind multiple capitals. These are the 12 countries with more than one capital city.

South Africa - Pretoria, Cape Town and Bloemfontein

Pretoria, South Africa
Aerial view of Union Buildings, House of Government and President of South Africa in Pretoria.

South Africa is a unique country with three capitals: Pretoria, Bloemfontein, and Cape Town, respectively. There is the administrative branch in Pretoria, the legislative branch in Cape Town, and Bloemfontein, home to the judiciary branch. The intentional separation demonstrates decentralization and division of powers between entities in various parts of the country. It also accommodates different ethnic groups throughout South Africa and ensures fair input into law-making while the country functions, accounting for diverse views.

The legislative capital is home to the scenic Table Mountain, with epic views-from-the-top, and beautiful beaches. It is the most tourist-ridden capital city in South Africa, as ranked by outdoorsmen and beachgoers. The executive capital Pretoria is a lush paradise with its own fair share of tourists. The city is especially popular among nature fans who flee for the loveliest jacaranda trees-in-bloom every September. Bloemfontein is the judicial capital with a largely residential cityscape and relaxed atmosphere.  

Benin - Porto-Novo and Cotonou

Cotonou, Benin
Aerial view of Cotonou in Benin.

The West African nation of Benin has two capitals: Porto-Novo - its official capital, and Cotonou – its largest city and seat of government. Benin's second-largest city Porto-Novo is situated in the country's southeastern portion along an inlet of the Gulf of Guinea. Being the country's official capital, it houses the National Assembly of Benin. Cotonou, Benin's largest city is popular among tourists for its sights and being the seat of the government, it is home to most of the government ministries. 

Bolivia - La Paz and Sucre

Bolivia is home to two capital cities: La Paz in the Andes Mountains and Sucre, hundreds of miles south in the highlands. Political delineation of views and aspirations on the country's governance during the 1800s resulted in the division of responsibilities between capital cities at the end of the century. La Paz is Bolivia's legislative and executive capital, as well as the seat of government. It is also the world's highest capital city, resting scenically along the Andes' Altiplano plateau at over 3,650 meters above sea level. It borders El Alto city in the highlands, where the snow-capped giant of Mt. Illimani dominates the scape from 6,438 meters. One can achieve the best views via a dramatic ride on the Mi Teleférico aerial cable car transit system that serves Bolivia's La Paz-El Alto metropolitan area.

La Paz
The Bolivian Palace of Government in La Paz, Bolivia.

Sucre, Bolivia's constitutional and judicial capital, is located in the southern highlands. It boasts a prominent, whitewashed Casa de la Libertad historical landmark, where Bolivia's Declaration of Independence was signed on August 6, 1825. The marvelous architecture is the city's pride and joy and a tourist-trap cultural attraction with galleries displaying the history of the capital. Sucre's main square, Plaza 25 de Mayo, is crowned by the ornate Metropolitan Cathedral, while the nearby Museo Universitario Colonial Charcas USFX is another beautiful building housing religious artifacts and contemporary art.

Chile - Santiago and Valparaíso

Santiago
Santiago, the gorgeous capital city of Chile.

Chile's two capitals: Santiago and Valparaiso, are only 72 miles apart. The former is the largest city and official capital of Chile. Santiago is a lively touristic city and a bustling hub full of buildings. Following the Pinochet regime, the nation felt the need to recover and decentralize power within the country by moving the national legislature to a second location in 1990. The political entity was transferred to Santiago's opposite, the city of Valparaiso, home to a very picturesque landscape.

Côte D'Ivoire - Yamoussoukro and Abidjan

Cote D'Ivoire's largest city and economic capital, Abidjan, is the de facto seat of the government. The cultural metropolitan boasts beautiful architecture, arts, and vibrant markets. With its many government offices and foreign embassies, Abidjan performs all the functions to ensure a smooth-running country.

Yamoussoukro, Ivorty coast
Aerial view of the capital city of Yamoussoukro.

Cote D'Ivoire's official capital is Yamoussoukro. It is home to the main governmental functions, intentionally located in the second city. In March 1983, President Felix Houphouet-Boigny made his birthplace Yamoussoukro – the country's political and administrative capital.

Czech Republic - Prague and Brno

Prague, Czech republic
The magnificent Prague Castle that houses the office of the President of the Czech Republic. Editorial credit: dimbar76 / Shutterstock.com

The world-famous city of Prague is the official capital of the Czech Republic. This beautiful city on the Vltava River showcases the history and culture of Central Europe. The magnificent Prague Castle of the 9th century in this city houses the office of the country's President. The Supreme Court, however, is located in the lesser-known city of Brno, a city offering good educational institutions and a strange attraction - the Brno Ossuary filled with thousands of human skeleteons.

Malaysia - Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya

The country's official capital, Kuala Lumpur, is renowned for its nightlife and serves as home to Malaysia's monarch and the national legislature. Due to overcrowding, the government wanted to handle the country's administrative functions away from the place known for "doing the most." Hence, the government constructed the planned-out new city of Putrajaya in 1995 around an artificial lake. This planned city is at present home to the country's government and the judiciary.

Putrajaya, Malayasia
Aerial view of Putrajaya, Malayasia.

Putrajaya's quaint cityscape is a high-technology complex and part of the regional "Multimedia Super Corridor" (MSC) that houses Kuala Lumpur International Airport and the Petronas Twin Towers in the vicinity. Although administrative offices and the Prime Minister's official residence are in Putrajaya, Kuala Lumpur retains the official capital status, besides being the financial and commercial center of the country.

Montenegro - Podgorica and Cetinje

Cetinje, Montenegro
Blue Palace in Cetinje - Residence of the President of Montenegro. Editorial credit: Dizfoto / Shutterstock.com

Montenegro has the official capital of Podgorica and the traditional capital of Cetinje as an honorary gesture to the country's past. The latter was the former capital of Montenegro and is, at present, the country's cultural hub. Cetinje, also known as the Old Royal Capital, houses the President's residence, while Podgorica, the country's official capital and largest city, hosts the official government functions.

Sri Lanka - Colombo and Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte

Sri Lanka has two capitals: Colombo and Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte. The coastal city of Colombo is the country's executive and judicial capital as well as its largest city and financial center. Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte is Sri Lanka's legislative capital and home to the Sri Lankan Parliament Building.

Sri Lanka COLOMBO
The old Parliament building in Colombo. Today, the country's new parliament is located in Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte. Editorial credit: Alexey_Arz / Shutterstock.com

Colombo is a vibrant city full of color and chaos, with beautiful sandy shores and renowned party life. The city is well-known for its beautiful beaches and landmarks. Since the city became too congested over the years, the country's national legislature was shifted to the satellite city of Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte.

Kingdom of Eswatini - Mbabane and Lobamba

Women in traditional costumes dancing at the Umhlanga aka Reed Dance for their king in Lobamba, Swaziland.

The Kingdom of Eswatini is a landlocked nation in Southern Africa. The country is a unique case for boasting two capital cities throughout its existence. There is the administrative capital of Mbabane, and Lobamba, home of the elite rulers, the royal family. Lobamba is the legislative and traditional power seat in the country, where the Parliament of Eswatini convenes. Mbabane is the official administrative capital for all other governmental functions.

Tanzania - Dar es Salaam and Dodoma

The East African nation of Tanzania has two capitals: Dodoma and Dar es Salaam. Tanzania's capital city Dodoma houses all official buildings of the country, while much of the government business is conducted in Dar es Salaam. Dodoma only recently acquired the official capital status in 1996, despite the government's plans to move since 1974.

Dar es Salaam
Aerial view of the Tanzanian capital city of Dar es Salaam.

Dodoma was a strategically planned location for the convenience of ruling the country. Dar es Salaam remains the historic capital, the largest city and commercial hub of Tanzania, housing Ikulu – the state house, many governmental agencies, and foreign embassies.

The Netherlands - Amsterdam and The Hague

hague
The Supreme Court of the Netherlands in Hague. Editorial credit: Z. Jacobs / Shutterstock.com

The cool, friendly Amsterdam, with its renowned party scene, serves as the constitutional/official capital of the Netherlands. However, this picturesque country of canals and windmills is governed from The Hague, which houses the country's Legislature, the cabinet, and the Supreme Court. The Hague is the de facto power seat of the country, home to the monarchy, and where the King of the Netherlands makes the speech from his throne. The Hague has been home to the Parliament and the Dutch government for centuries. It also houses the International Criminal Court, the International Court of Justice, and other well-known international institutions.

Country Capital Cities
South Africa Bloemfontein, Cape Town, and Pretoria
Benin Cotonou and Porto-Novo
Bolivia La Paz and Sucre
Chile Santiago and Valparaiso
Ivory Coast Abidjan and Yamoussoukro
Czech Republic Prague and Brno
Malaysia Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya
Montenegro Cetinje and Podgorica
Sri Lanka Colombo and Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte
Kingdom of Eswatini Lobamba and Mbabane
Tanzania Dar es Salaam and Dodoma
The Netherlands Amsterdam and The Hague
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