Friday, 17 January 2014

Capital - 12 Capital Cities You Always Get Wrong

Atlanta, Georgia, which is the capital of nowhere ... except itself
(photo by Tableatny)


Adjective & noun. Middle English.
[Old & modern French from Latin capitalis, from caput, capit- head: see -AL.]

I Relating to the head

A1 obsolete. Of or pertaining to the head or top. ME-L17

A2(a) Involving the loss of the head or life; vitally injurious, fatal. LME

A2(b) obsolete. Of an enemy, enmity: deadly, mortal. LME-M18

A2(c) Of a crime etc.: punishable by death. E16

II Standing at the head
(literally & figuratively)

A3 Chief, principal; important leading. LME

A4 Originally (of a letter or word), standing at the head of a page, passage, etc.
Now (of a letter), having the form and size used to begin a sentence, proper name, etc. LME

A5 Of funds, stock, etc.: original, serving as a basis for commercial or financial operations. E18

A6 Excellent, first rate. Frequently as an exclamation of approval. colloquial. M18

B1 noun. A capital letter. LME

B2(a) noun. The stock with which a company or person enters into business;
the total sum of shareholders' contributions in a join-stock company;
accumulated wealth, especially as used in further production. M16

B2(b) The holder of wealth as a class; capitalists, employer of labour. M19

B3 A capital town or city. M17

Capital, in all its forms, comes from the Latin caput, meaning 'head'; thus, it has come to signify the principal part of something, as well as what is absolutely vital or, conversely, lethal, as in the case of capital punishment which, historically, was often achieved with the literal removal of one's head. With regards to capital city, however, the definition, or at least the application of the definition, isn't always as clear as one might think. Also, considering how popular "What's the capital?" quizzes are, it's incredible how rubbish we are at knowing the capitals of some pretty major countries. Therefore, I present you with a list of countries you should know the capitals of but probably don't:

12 Capitals You Always Get Wrong

Australia's capital is eminently forgettable, and is often confused with the likes of Sydney, Melbourne, Erinsborough and Walkabout Creek.

Fun Canberra Fact:
Umm ...

 Another Canberra Fact:
 Canberra regularly tops the 'Most Boring Capital City in the World' polls.

Canada is the second-biggest country in the world - why does no one ever know its capital? It's ootrageous.

Fun Ottawa Fact:
Queen Victoria picked Ottawa as the capital in 1857, so blame her.

Another Ottawa Fact:
When natives first pointed out otters to Irish settlers, the standard response from the Irish was "An otter, wha?" That's how it got its name.

Most Western countries have taken out mortgages on themselves with China, so we really should know its capital (if only to respond to repossession notices).

Fun Beijing Fact:
At around 21,000,000, it's the world's most populous capital, another reason we should probably know it.

Another Beijing Fact:
There isn't a single Chinese Takeaway in the whole city.

If you're European, you probably had a stab at this one, but you got stuck between Bucharest and Budapest, didn't you? Go on, admit it.

Fun Budapest Fact:
It's often confused with Bucharest, the capital of Romania.

Another Budapest Fact:
Budapest is the capital of Romania.

India's population is 1.2 billion. Isn't that reason enough to know its capital?

Fun New Delhi Fact:
New Delhi has been destroyed and rebuilt seven times.

Another New Delhi Fact:
It's official name is New New New New New New New Delhi.

Iran's always in the news, so we should have no problem remembering Tehran.

Fun Tehran Fact:
It comes 32nd in a long line of Iranian (Persian) capitals. Still, having been the capital for over 200 years, that's no excuse ...

Another Tehran Fact:
There's no word for Tehran in Persian. It can only be expressed with a nonplussed shrug.

You thought it was Tel Aviv, right? It's actually a sticky subject - the Israelis say it's Jerusalem, and everyone else says its Tel Aviv.

Fun Jerusalem Fact:
Jerusalem is considered a holy city by Jews, Christians and Muslims. Which is awkward.

Another Jerusalem Fact:
It was the birthplace of Steve Jobs.

It's often confused with Brussels, the capital of Belgium.

Fun Amsterdam Fact:
Amsterdam has 1,281 bridges, 165 canals and 600,000 bicycles (give or take).

Another Amsterdam Fact:
It's notoriously intolerant.

Everyone thinks the capital is Lagos, but Lagos is just the former capital (and largest city in Nigeria).

Fun Abuja Fact:
It's a planned city, built mostly in the 1980s, and it took over from Lagos as capital in 1991.

Another Abuja Fact:
'Abuja' means 'Lagos' in Ibo, and vice versa.

South Africa
South Africa always trips people up, and it's understandable seeing as they can't make their own minds up.

Fun Pretoria / Bloemfontein / Cape Town Fact:
Peter Hain was schooled there, J.R.R Tolkien was born there and Dr Chritiaan Barnard performed the first human heart transplant there, respectively.

Another Pretoria / Bloemfontein / Cape Town Fact:
They're all within 10 minutes walk of each other.

Yeah, everyone thinks Zurich or Geneva, but it's not. On this matter, is quite emphatic.

Fun Bern Fact:
It's such a rock 'n roll place that you can get a free tour of the parliament building. But you must book in advance. No exceptions. Ever.

Another Bern Fact:
On arriving at Bern Airport, every international visitor is given a free Toblerone as a welcome gift. But you have to hand it back again when you fly out. Uneaten.

Really? New York? Come on. Surely this old chestnut is now well and truly buried.

Fun Washington D.C Fact:
The United States capital contains the United States Capitol. Yup. As fun as that.

Made-up Washington D.C Fact:
No one knows what the D.C stands for. Theories includes Dick Cheney, dull capital and dis be da capital (formerly Washington D.B.D.C).

Did you know every capital on this post?
(no one will believe you if you say you did)

Are there any other capitals that you struggle to remember?

Do you know any other interesting capital facts?

Do please invest your most lethal comments into the box below.


  1. And many people think the Capitol is the White House. That's what happens when you paint everything white.

    1. Hmm ... The Capitol is where the legislature meet isn't it? And there's a hill, I think. I'm a bit hazy on that myself.

  2. I knew them all! What do I get?! :)

    Love your 'facts' Eddie!! I lost it at otter, wha?!! :)

    1. You know them all?? Even South Africa? Now, Jingles ... I did say nobody would believe you, didn't I? : o )

    2. And I don't believe you that nobody would believe me! Believe that! :)

      Actually, I would have stumbled over Nigeria's capital if I'd not done a trivia quiz a wee while back.
      South Africa was a walk in the park, simply because it is so different!

    3. I can never remember S.Africa's capital(s). All I can do if that comes up in a quiz is sagely say "Ah! Now that's an interesting one. Which capital do you want?" and hope that the quizmaster isn't that well prepared. If they flatly say "All of them," I'm in trouble.

  3. Brazil should be there! Everyone thinks the capital is Rio de Janeiro but it is actually Brasilia!

  4. D.C. stands for District of Columbia... why does no one know that?

    1. Oh... It says made up fact... haaaaa, please ignore.