There are not many things that every country in the world have in common. One thing they do all share though is having a capital city. Some capitals are hugely famous… for example London, Paris, Tokyo, and Moscow. Other capitals are hardly known. But why does every country have a capital? Why have all countries in the world all decided that having a capital city is the thing to do?
There are many reasons why countries have capital cities. We’ve broken them down…
1. As A Seat Of Government
The first reason why every country in the world has a capital city is because they need to have a place where their government is based. The definition of a capital city is…
‘the city or town that functions as the seat of government and administrative center of a country or region.’Oxford English Dictionary, 2022
Therefore, every country has a capital because they all need to have a city where the government is physically located.
The seat of government is the building or complex of buildings where governments to do their work. The city in which these are located is known as the capital city of a country. Every country has a capital city because they all need a place to locate their government institutions.
Governments are made up of a range of institutions. These can include the president and their office, parliaments, ministries and departments. All of these institutions need to be located in one place in order for them to work effectively together.
Outside of formal government institutions, there are also many organizations that need to located close to where national politics is happening. These include journalists, think-tanks, businesses and NGOs. A country needs a capital city as focal point where government and the related organizations can be close to each other.
2. To Be An Economic Centre
The second reason why every country in the world has a capital city is to be an economic centre for the country.
Many businesses benefit from being close together. Capital cities are places where the largest and most important businesses in a country are usually based. It allows them to work closely together, as well as be close to political institutions. Locating businesses together in the capital city also means that top talent is attracted there and businesses can find the employees they need. Many capital cities have dedicated business districts.
Another reason why countries have capital cities as their economic centres is to have hub for international businesses. To help attract global corporations to a country, a capital city where political, business and economic links can be made is a real advantage.
Capital cities act as a hub for international trade for a country. A major reason all countries have a capital is to have a central city that acts as a focal point for trade with other parts of the world.
The capital cities of most countries are the major economic centres. Every country has a capital because it provides them with a major city in which businesses can be concentrated.
3. As A Cultural Centre
Another reason why every country in the world has a capital city is as a cultural centre for the country. Many capital cities around the world host museums, galleries, and theatres that display the history and culture of the country.
A countries culture is highly important to its national identity. It helps to bind a people together and form a sense of unity. Having a capital city gives a country a place where this culture can be focused.
As well as being a place where a country can put on its cultural on display, a nation’s capital is also a place where international culture can be brought and put on display for many people to see. Exhibitions, concerts, theatre shows and other events that come from abroad are often shown in a country’s capital.
In many countries’ capital cities, there are cultural displays that are important to the country. These can include national museums or museums of natural history. There are also often museums dedicated to the armed forces as well as specific historical or cultural figures. Countries have a capital cities as a central focal point for their cultural exhibitions.
4. As A Transport Hub
A countries capital is often the main transport hub for the nation. This is another reason every county in the world has a capital city.
In many countries, the capital city is centrally located. This means it is well-placed to link road, rail and air transport. In a lot of countries, the main roads and railways all go to the capital. This allows people to transit there to travel on to their final destination.
Capital cities are often major population centres. This is another reason why they are important transport hubs. With many people in the capital traveling out to other cities in the country and many people from smaller towns traveling to the capital for business or tourism, a nation’s capital acts as a key focal-point for a countries transportation system.
Another reason why countries have capitals is to be a hub for international travel. In most countries, the largest international airport is located in the capital. When travelers arrive, they can either visit the capital, or use it as a transit point to other flights or modes of transport to travel on to other parts of the country.
5. To Promote Tourism
For many countries, tourism is a major part of their economy. Almost every country uses their capital city as a magnet for tourism and this is another reason why countries designate a city as their capital.
International tourism is a huge market, estimated to generate over one trillion dollars globally each year. Countries compete to attract tourists from around the world to visit. A countries capital is often a major draw for tourists.
In many countries, their most famous sites are located in the capital. The capital is also often the place tourists visit first before traveling on to other parts of the country. For many visitors, a countries capital is all they see on their visit. Having a capital city allows a country to have a main city and destination for tourists to visit.
Another reason why countries have capital cities is to have a main city to promote to the outside world. When competing for international tourists, countries use their capitals as a draw to attract people to visit their country. Many famous landmarks are located in a countries capital and you will often see these on adverts promoting tourism to that country.
6. As A Historical Centre
A countries capital is often its historic centre. A country’s history is a key part of its identity and having a major city as a historical focal point helps to bring a country together and create a sense of unity. This is a major reason why countries have capitals.
In almost every country the capital city has deep historical roots. The history of the city is often important to the country’s heritage and national narrative.
In a lot of countries, the capital city is full of historical sites. The city also has museums that contain artifacts and documents relating to the nation’s past. A nation’s capital is a city where people from all over the country, as well as internationally, can come to learn about the countries past.
Countries pride themselves on their histories. Many governments also try to ensure that their populations learn about the nation’s heritage. Having a capital city provides a location where a countries history can be prominently displayed and accessible to many people.
7. A Place For Foreign Embassies
A final reason why every country in the world has a capital city is to have one place where foreign embassies and diplomatic missions can be based.
An embassy is an outpost of one country within another. They act to represent a country abroad, provide advice to the citizens in that nation, offer visas to visit the country and promote a countries businesses and culture.
One reason why countries have a capital cities is to have a central hub where other countries can base their embassies. Its important foreign embassies are located close to a nation’s government. It’s also important that foreign embassies are based in the business and cultural hub of a country. Having a capital city gives a country a single place where foreign embassies can link closely with key institutions.
Embassies are important to a host country because they help to build diplomatic and economic ties. Trade ties are important to a countries economic success and embassies can be key in building links between countries. Having a city where other countries can set-up embassies is advantageous because it allows relations to be built with many countries. This is key reason why countries have capital cities.