Don't bother: The 10 most pathetic capital cities in the world


At least Australia and Brazil made an effort when they created capital cities from scratch in the middle of nowhere. In Cote d'Ivoire, it was more of a vanity project than a noble desire to balance power away from the country's big cities. Once a small agricultural town, well away from economic centre Abidjan on the coast, Yamoussoukro had the benefit of being the birthplace of former president Felix Houphouet-Boigny. Now about 350,000 people live there, but the only reason to visit is yet another vanity project – the world's biggest cathedral.


Belize City is easily the biggest city in Belize, even though it's a largely scuzzy port town that people skip through on the way to the islands. But the actual capital, Belmopan, is 80 kilometres inland. A planned city, the government moved there in 1970 after Belize City was taken out by a hurricane. Belmopan is pretty much bang in the centre of the country, and the Mayan Temple-esque National Assembly Building is bang in the middle of a four-kilometre ring road. The population? A trifling 20,000 or so.


Much of Tanzania's heritage and economy emanates from the coastal city of Dar Es Salaam, but in the 1970s a referendum decided to move the capital inland to the centre of the country. The existing town of Dodoma was chosen, but a deliberate effort   was made to not fill it with big monuments (think Brasilia or Canberra).  Development followed the lie of the land, walkability was prized and the whole place feels so low key that most government departments have never bothered moving from Dar Es Salaam.


Taking the artificial capital idea to its utmost is Palau's seat of government – an oversized pastiche of the US Capitol building sitting in the middle of some fields.  the population of the entire state in which it's situated barely tops 250.


The world's newest tinpot capital is Gitega in Burundi, which officially became a capital  in January 2019. With a population of just over 40,000, at least Gitega has some pedigree – it was the capital of the Kingdom of Burundi until the kingdom was abolished in 1966. Bujumbura will remain the economic hub, but for now, the new capital doesn't even have the injection of government apparatus to give it a boost.


The capital of Liechtenstein has a rather pretty setting with a mountain backdrop, but it's hard to escape the idea it would  be a relatively pleasant tourist village in any other country. There's a royal castle and winery to visit, plus a couple of moderately interesting museums to nip into, but the "city" really isn't much more than a main road and some houses.

Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte

Shall we agree to just shorten this to Kotte? Lovely. Effectively a satellite town tagged on to the edge of Colombo, Kotte may be Sri Lanka's official administrative capital, but most activity of note happens next door. It does have history though, and was the capital of the Kotte Kingdom until the Portuguese invaded in the 16th century. Just  over 100,000 people live there, with the Parliament Building on the shores of the Diyawanna Lake the main highlight.


Playing host to about 1000 of Bermuda's 65,000-strong population, Hamilton does have a few easy-on-the-eye heritage buildings, although you'll find more in St George's, the bigger, older, former capital. Set around Hamilton Harbour, Bermuda's main port, Hamilton is outrageously expensive – something not helped by many of its businesses being flags of convenience for tax avoidance purposes.

Saint John's

The Caribbean countries are a hotbed of underwhelming capital cities. People come for the spectacular beach resorts, but the capitals are usually humdrum, workaday affairs with a few half-heartedly preserved colonial buildings and a smattering of shops that haven't had new signage for at least 20 years. This is Saint John's, capital of Antigua and Barbuda to a tee.



The Caribbean island capital vibe also applies to Victoria, the extremely forgettable capital of the Seychelles. It's about as far from the country's reputation as a honeymoon paradise as can be imagined. Although, when the main attraction listed in the guide books and online is a clock tower in the middle of a traffic junction, you begin to understand why.

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