1 first-rate; "a capital fellow"; "a capital idea"
2 punishable by death; "a capital offense"
3 of primary important; "our capital concern was to avoid defeat"
4 uppercase; "capital A"; "great A"; "many medieval manuscripts are in majuscule script" [syn: great, majuscule]
1 assets available for use in the production of further assets [syn: working capital]
2 wealth in the form of money or property owned by a person or business and human resources of economic value
3 a seat of government
4 one of the large alphabetic characters used as the first letter in writing or printing proper names and sometimes for emphasis; "printers once kept the type for capitals and for small letters in separate cases; capitals were kept in the upper half of the type case and so became known as upper-case letters" [syn: capital letter, upper case, upper-case letter, majuscule] [ant: small letter]
5 a book written by Karl Marx (1867) describing his economic theories [syn: Das Kapital]
EtymologyFrom the capitalis, "of the head." Use in trade and finance originated in Medieval economies when a common but expensive transaction involved trading heads of cattle.
- A city designated as a legislative
seat by the government or some other
authority, often the
city in which the government is located; otherwise the most
important city within
a country or a subdivision of it.
- Washington D.C. is the capital of the United States of America.
- The Welsh government claims that Cardiff is Europe’s youngest capital.
- Washington D.C. is the capital of the United States of America.
- Money and wealth. The means to acquire goods and services, especially in a non-barter system.
- Already-produced durable goods available for use as a factor of production, such as steam shovels (equipment) and office buildings (structures).
- An uppercase letter.
- The uppermost part of a column.
Usage notesThe homophone capitol refers only to a building, usually one that houses the legislative branch of a government, and often one located in a capital city.
city designated as such
- Afrikaans: hoofstad
- Albanian: kryeqytet
- Amharic: ዋና ከተማ (wana kätäma)
- Armenian: արմատական (armatakan)
- Avar: тахшагьар (takhshahar)
- Azerbaijani: baş şəhəri, paytaxt
- Basque: hiriburu
- Belarusian: сталіца
- Bengali: রাজধানী (rājdhānī)
- Breton: kêrbenn
- Bulgarian: столица
- Catalan: capital
- Chinese: 首都, 首都 (shǒu dū)
- Croatian: glavni grad
- Czech: hlavní město
- Danish: hovedstad
- Dutch: hoofdstad
- Esperanto: ĉefurbo
- Estonian: pealinn
- Finnish: pääkaupunki
- French: capitale
- Georgian: დედაქალაქი (dedak‘alak‘i), სატახტო ქალაქი (sataxto k‘alak‘i)
- German: Hauptstadt
- Greek: πρωτεύουσα
- Guarani: tavusu
- Gujarati: રાજધાની (rājdhānī)
- Hawaiian: kapikala
- Hebrew: בירה (bira)
- Hindi: राजधानी (rājdhānī)
- Hungarian: főváros
- Icelandic: höfuðborg
- Indonesian: ibukota
- Irish Gaelic: príomhchathair
- Italian: capitale (of nation) , capoluogo (of a state or regione)
- Japanese: 首都 (しゅと, shuto)
- Kazakh: астана (astana)
- Khmer: (rōəttətīənī), (rīichtīənī)
- Korean: 수도 [首都] (sudo)
- Kurmanji: paytext
- Sorani: پایتهخت
- Kurmanji: paytext
- Kyrgyz: борбор (borbor)
- Latvian: galvaspilsēta
- Lithuanian: sostinė
- Macedonian: главен град (glaven grad)
- Malayalam: തലസ്ഥാനം (thalasthhaanam)
- Marathi: राजधानी (rājdhāni)
- Mongolian: нийслэл хот (niyslel hot)
- Ossetian: сӕйраг сахар (sæjrag sakhar)
- Persian: (pāyetaxt)
- Polish: stolica
- Portuguese: capital m|f
- Punjabi: ਰਾਜਧਾਨੀ (rājdhānī)
- Romanian: capitală
- Romansh: chapitala
- Russian: столица
- Sanskrit: राजधानी (rājdhānī)
- Scottish Gaelic: prìomh-bhaile
- Serbian: главни град (glavni grad)
- Slovak: hlavné mesto
- Slovene: glavno mesto
- Somali: caasimad, magaalomadax
- Spanish: capital
- Swedish: huvudstad
- Tagalog: kapital
- Tajik: пойтахт (pojtakht)
- Tamil: தலைநகர் (talainakar)
- Telugu: రాజధాని (raajadhaani)
- Thai: (meuang lŭang)
- Turkish: başkent
- Turkmen: paýtagt
- Ukrainian: столиця (stolycja)
- Urdu: (dār-ul-ḥukūmat)
- Uzbek: poytaxt
- Volapük: cifazif
- Welsh: prifddinas
- Western Frisian: haadstêd
- Yiddish: הױפּטשטאָט (hoyptshtot)
money and wealth
- Chinese: 資本, 資本 (zīběn)
- Dutch: kapitaal
- Estonian: kapital
- Finnish: pääoma
- French: capital
- Georgian: კაპიტალი (kapitali)
- German: Kapital
- Greek: κεφάλαιο
- Hebrew: הון (hon)
- Italian: capitale
- Japanese: 資本 (しほん, shihon)
- Korean: 자본 (jabon)
- Malayalam: മൂലധനം (mooladhanam)
- Polish: kapitał
- Portuguese: capital
- Romanian: capital
- Russian: капитал (kapitál) , состояние (sostojánije)
- Spanish: capital
- Swedish: kapital
- Telugu: పెట్టుబడి (peTTubaDi), సంపద (saMpada)
- Turkish: anapara, anamal, sermaye, kapital
- Urdu: (ser-mayia)
- Catalan: lletra majúscula
- Chinese: 大寫字母, 大写字母 (dàxiě zìmǔ)
- Dutch: hoofdletter
- Finnish: iso kirjain, versaalikirjain, majuskeli
- French: majuscule
- Georgian: დიდი ასო (didi aso), ასომთავრული (asomt‘avruli)
- German: Großbuchstabe
- Greek: κεφαλαίο
- Indonesian: huruf besar
- Italian: maiuscola
- Japanese: 大文字 (おおもじ, ōmoji)
- Korean: 대사 (daesa), 대문자 [大文字] (daemunja)
- Polish: duża litera, wielka litera
- Portuguese: (letra) maiúscula
- Russian: заглавная буква (zaglávnaja búkva) , большая буква (bol’šája búkva)
- Spanish: mayúscula
- Swedish: versal, stor bokstav
- Turkish: büyük harf, büyük
uppermost part of a column
of prime importance
- Chinese: 主要的, 主要的 (zhǔ yào de)
- Dutch: hoofd-, kapitaal
- Finnish: ensisijainen, pääasiallinen, pää- (in compounds)
- German: Haupt-
- Italian: capitale, principale
- Korean: 가장 중요한 (gajang jungyohan)
- Russian: главный (glávnyj), основной (osnovnój), капитальный (kapitál'nyj)
- Spanish: capital
- Swedish: huvudsaklig
involving punishment by death
- Capital (money and wealth)
- Capital (important)
- La peine capitale est abolie en France depuis les années 1980.
A capital is the area of a country regarded as enjoying primary status; it is almost always the city which physically encompasses the offices and meeting places of the seat of government and fixed by law, but there are a number of exceptions. Alternate terms include capital city and political capital; the latter phrase has a second meaning based on an alternative sense of "capital". The word capital is derived from the Latin caput meaning "head," and, in the United States, the related term Capitol refers to the building where government business is chiefly conducted. Seats of government in major sub-state jurisdictions are often called "capitals", but this is typically the case only in countries with some degree of federalism, where major substate jurisdictions have an element of sovereignty. In unitary states, "administrative center" or other similar terms are typically used. For example, the seat of government in a state of the United States of America is usually called its "capital", but the main city in a region of England is usually not. At lower administrative subdivisions, terms such as county town, county seat, or borough seat are usually used.
Historically, the major economic center of a state or region often becomes the focal point of political power, and becomes a capital through conquest or amalgamation. This was the case for London and Moscow. The capital naturally attracts the politically motivated and those whose skills are needed for efficient administration of government such as lawyers, journalists, and public policy researchers. A capital that is the prime economic, cultural, or intellectual center is sometimes referred to as a primate city. Such is certainly the case with London and Buenos Aires among national capitals, and Irkutsk or Salt Lake City in their respective state or province. Capitals are sometimes sited to discourage further growth in an existing major city. Brasília was situated in Brazil's interior because the old capital, Rio de Janeiro, and southeastern Brazil in general, were considered over-crowded. The convergence of political and economic or cultural power is by no means universal. Traditional capitals may be economically eclipsed by provincial rivals, as occurred with Nanjing by Shanghai. The decline of a dynasty or culture could also mean the extinction of its capital city, as occurred with Babylon and Cahokia. Many present-day capital cities, such as Abuja, Brasília, Canberra, Islamabad, Ottawa and Washington, D.C. are planned cities, purposefully located away from established population centres for various reasons, and have become gradually established as new business or commercial centres.
Unorthodox capital city arrangementsA number of cases exist where states or other entities have multiple capitals, and there are also several states that have no capital. In other cases, the official capital is not the effective one for pragmatic reasons. That is, the city known as the capital is not the seat of government. Occasionally, the official capital may host the seat of government, but is not the geographic origin of political decision-making.
- Pago Pago is the capital of the U.S. protectorate of American Samoa. However, the legislature and judiciary are located in nearby Fagatogo and the governor's office in the village of Utulei.
- Former British protectorate of Bechuanaland, today Botswana, was administered from Mafeking (now Mafikeng, South Africa), creating a unique situation of the capital of the territory being located outside of it.
- Bolivia: Sucre is still the constitutional capital, but most of the national government long abandoned that region for La Paz.
- Chile: Santiago is the capital even though the National Congress of Chile is in Valparaíso.
- Côte d'Ivoire: Yamoussoukro was designated the national capital in 1983, but most government offices and embassies are still located in Abidjan.
- Constitutionally, the capital of the Czech Republic is solely Prague. However, Brno is home to all three of the country's highest courts, making it the de facto capital of the Czech judicial branch.
- European Union: Brussels, Belgium is generally treated as the 'capital' of the European Union, and the two institutions of the EU's executive, the European Commission and the Council of Ministers, both have their seats there. However, a protocol attached to the Treaty of Amsterdam requires that the European Parliament have monthly sessions in Strasbourg, France. Financial and legal centres are also located outside of Brussels. However, the EU is not a country, and hence calling any city the capital may be disputed.
- France: The French constitution does not recognize any capital city in France. Paris is de facto capital of France (seat of the Presidency, the Government, the National Assembly and the Senate), but the Parliament holds its joint congresses in Versailles
- In Germany, the executive and legislative capital is Berlin, although a portion of various ministerial back offices are located in the former West German capital of Bonn. The judicial branch of the government is divided between Karlsruhe and Leipzig.
- Malaysia: Kuala Lumpur is the constitutional capital but the federal administrative centre was moved 30 kilometres south to Putrajaya in the late 1990s. The parliament remains in Kuala Lumpur.
- Montenegro: Cetinje is the constitutional capital, but much greater Podgorica is the administrative center.
- Nauru: Nauru, a tiny country of only 21 square kilometres (8 sq mi), has no distinct capital city, and thus has a capital district instead.
- The Netherlands: Amsterdam is the constitutional national capital even though the Dutch government, parliament, supreme court and the residential palace of the queen are all located in The Hague. (For more details see: Capital of the Netherlands).
- In South Africa, the administrative capital is Pretoria, the legislative capital is Cape Town, and the judicial capital is Bloemfontein, the outcome of the compromise that created the Union of South Africa in 1910.
- Switzerland: Bern is the Federal City of Switzerland and functios as de facto capital. However, the Swiss Supreme Court is located in Lausanne.
- In the United Kingdom the seat of government is located in the City of Westminster immediately to the west of the City of London. No royal palaces are located in the City of London, the main royal residence being Buckingham Palace which is in the City of Westminster while the Tower of London is just outwith the eastern boundary of the City of London and has not been used as a royal residence for several hundred years. The locations of various courts of the judicial systems of the UK have no direct ties with the coincident towns or cities, the highest level courts and their administrative offices merely having settled within a convenient distance of the legislatures and not all within the same local government area.
- City-states like Singapore have no capital city distinct from the country as a whole.
- Chandigarh is the capital of two Indian states, Punjab and Haryana while belonging to neither. Chandigarh is a separate union territory administered centrally by the national government.
Capital as symbolWith the rise of modern empires and the nation-state, the capital city has become a symbol for the state and its government, and imbued with political meaning. Unlike medieval capitals, which were declared wherever a monarch held his or her court, the selection, relocation, founding or capture of a modern capital city is an emotional affair. For example:
- Ruined and almost uninhabited Athens was made capital of newly independent Greece with the romantic notion of reviving the glory of Ancient Greece. Similarly, following the Cold War and German reunification, Berlin is now once again the capital of Germany. Other restored capital cities include Moscow after the October Revolution.
- A symbolic relocation of a capital city to a geographically or demographically peripheral location may be for either economic or strategic reasons (sometimes known as a "forward capital" or spearhead capital). Peter I of Russia moved his government from Moscow to Saint Petersburg to give the Russian Empire a western orientation, while Kemal Atatürk did the same by moving to Ankara, away from more Ottoman Istanbul. The Ming Emperors moved their capital to Beijing from more central Nanjing as to better supervise the border with the Mongols and Manchus. During the 1857 war of independence, Indian rebels considered Delhi their capital and Bahadur Shah Zafar was proclaimed emperor, though the ruling British had their capital in Calcutta. In 1877 the British formally held a 'Durbar' in Delhi, proclaiming Queen Victoria as 'Empress of India'. Delhi finally became the colonial capital after the Coronation Durbar of King-Emperor George V, continuing as Independent India's capital from 1947. Other examples include Abuja, Astaná, Brasília, Helsinki, Islamabad, Naypyidaw and Yamoussoukro.
- The selection or founding of a "neutral" capital city — i.e. one unencumbered by regional or political identity — was meant to represent the unity of a new state when Bern, Canberra, Madrid, and Washington, D.C. became capitals. The British-built town of New Delhi represented a simultaneous break and continuity with the past — the location of Delhi being where many imperial capitals were built e.g. Indraprastha, Dhillika and Shahjahanabad, but the actual capital being the new British built town designed by Edwin Lutyens.
- During the American Civil War, tremendous resources were expended to defend Washington, D.C., which bordered the Confederate States of America, from Confederate attack, even though the then-small federal government could have been moved relatively easily in the era of railroads and telegraph.
Strategic importance of capitalsThe capital city is almost always a primary target in a war, as capturing it usually guarantees capture of much of the enemy government, victory for the attacking forces, or at the very least demoralization for the defeated forces. In ancient China, where governments were massive centralized bureaucracies with little flexibility on the provincial level, a dynasty could easily be toppled with the fall of its capital. In the Three Kingdoms period, both Shu and Wu fell when their respective capitals of Chengdu and Jianye fell. The Ming dynasty relocated its capital from Nanjing to Beijing, where they could more effectively control the generals and troops guarding the borders from Mongols and Manchus. The Ming was destroyed when the Li Zicheng took their seat of power, and this pattern repeats itself in Chinese history, until the fall of the traditional Confucian monarchy in the 20th century. After the Qing Dynasty's collapse, decentralization of authority and improved transportation technologies allowed both the Chinese Nationalists and Chinese Communists to rapidly relocate capitals and keep their leadership structures intact during the great crisis of Japanese invasion. National capitals were arguably less important as military objectives in other parts of the world, including the West, due to socioeconomic trends toward localized authority, a strategic modus operandi especially popular after the development of feudalism and reaffirmed by the development of democratic and capitalistic philosophies. In 1204, after the Latin Crusaders captured the Byzantine capital, Constantinople, Byzantine forces were able to regroup in several provinces; provincial noblemen managed to reconquer the capital after 60 years and preserve the empire for another 200 years after that. The British forces sacked various American capitals repeatedly during the Revolutionary War and War of 1812, but American forces could still carry on fighting from the countryside, where they enjoyed support from local governments and the traditionally independent frontiersmen-civilians. Exceptions to these generalizations include highly centralized states such as France, whose centralized bureaucracies could effectively coordinate far-flung resources, giving the state a powerful advantage over less coherent rivals, but risking utter ruin if the capital is taken; in their military strategies, traditional enemies of France such as Germany focused on the capture of Paris.
Largest national capital cities
- List of historical national capitals
- List of multiple capitals
- List of countries whose capital is not their largest city
- List of purpose-built capital cities
- List of capitals outside of the territories they serve
- List of capitals of multiple countries or territories simultaneously
capital in Afrikaans: Hoofstad
capital in Tosk Albanian: Hauptstadt
capital in Amharic: ዋና ከተማ
capital in Old English (ca. 450-1100): Heafodburg
capital in Arabic: عاصمة
capital in Official Aramaic (700-300 BCE): ܐܪܫܟܝܬܐ
capital in Min Nan: Siú-to͘
capital in Belarusian: Сталіца
capital in Belarusian (Tarashkevitsa): Сталіца
capital in Central Bicolano: Kapitolyo
capital in Breton: Kêr-benn
capital in Bulgarian: Столица
capital in Catalan: Capital
capital in Czech: Hlavní město
capital in Welsh: Prif Ddinas
capital in Danish: Hovedstad
capital in German: Hauptstadt
capital in Estonian: Pealinn
capital in Modern Greek (1453-): Πρωτεύουσα
capital in Spanish: Capital (política)
capital in Esperanto: Ĉefurbo
capital in Basque: Hiriburu (politika)
capital in Persian: پایتخت
capital in French: Capitale
capital in Western Frisian: Haadstêd
capital in Irish: Príomhchathair
capital in Manx: Ard-valley
capital in Galician: Capital
capital in Gujarati: રાજધાની
capital in Gothic: ÐŒ·ðŒ°ðŒ¿ðŒ±ðŒ¹ðŒ³ðŒ°ðŒ±ðŒ°ðŒ¿ð‚ðŒ²ðƒ
capital in Korean: 수도
capital in Croatian: Glavni grad
capital in Ido: Chefurbi
capital in Indonesian: Ibu kota
capital in Interlingua (International Auxiliary Language Association): Capital
capital in Ossetian: Сæйраг сахар
capital in Icelandic: Höfuðborg
capital in Italian: Capitale (città)
capital in Hebrew: עיר בירה
capital in Javanese: Ibu kutha
capital in Georgian: დედაქალაქი
capital in Swahili (macrolanguage): Mji mkuu
capital in Haitian: Kapital
capital in Kurdish: Serbajar
capital in Latin: Caput
capital in Latvian: Galvaspilsēta
capital in Lithuanian: Sostinė
capital in Limburgan: Houfsjtad
capital in Hungarian: Főváros
capital in Macedonian: Главен град
capital in Malay (macrolanguage): Ibu negara
capital in Mongolian: Нийслэл хот
capital in Dutch: Hoofdstad
capital in Japanese: 首都
capital in Norwegian: Hovedstad
capital in Norwegian Nynorsk: Hovudstad
capital in Narom: Capitale
capital in Low German: Hööftstadt
capital in Polish: Stolica
capital in Portuguese: Capital
capital in Crimean Tatar: Paytaht
capital in Romanian: Capitală
capital in Vlax Romani: Sherutno foro
capital in Romansh: Chapitala
capital in Russian: Столица
capital in Sardinian: Capitali
capital in Simple English: Capital (city)
capital in Slovak: Hlavné mesto
capital in Church Slavic: Стольнъ градъ
capital in Slovenian: Glavno mesto
capital in Serbian: Главни град
capital in Sundanese: Ibu kota
capital in Finnish: Pääkaupunki
capital in Swedish: Huvudstad
capital in Tamil: தலைநகரம்
capital in Thai: เมืองหลวง
capital in Vietnamese: Thủ đô
capital in Turkish: Başkent
capital in Ukrainian: Столиця
capital in Urdu: دارالحکومت
capital in Volapük: Cifazif
capital in Yiddish: הויפטשטאט
capital in Yoruba: Oluilu
capital in Contenese: 首都
capital in Chinese: 首都
Grade A, abecedarian, ability, acmatic, advantageous, all-absorbing, allographic, alphabetic, apical, arch, art center, ascender, assets, auspicious, available means, back, balance, banner, basic, bastard type, beard, belly, beneficial, benevolent, bevel, black letter, body, bon, bonny, bracket capital, braw, bueno, cap, capacity, capital city, capital gains distribution, capital goods, capital structure, capitalization, cardinal, case, cash, central, champion, chief, choice, circulating capital, cock, cogent, commendable, consummate, controlling, cornice, corpus, counter, county seat, county site, county town, crown, crowning, dandy, descender, devices, disposable resources, dominant, elegant, em, en, equity capital, essential, estimable, excellent, expedient, extraordinary, face, fair, famous, fat-faced type, favorable, feet, finances, financial, fine, first, first-class, first-rate, first-string, fiscal, fixed capital, flagrant, floating capital, focal, font, foremost, fund, fundamental, funds, garment center, glaring, good, goodly, grand, graphemic, great, grist, groove, gross, head, headmost, healthy, hegemonic, helpful, highest, holdings, ideographic, important, initial, italic, kind, laudable, leading, letter, lettered, lexigraphic, ligature, liquid assets, literal, logogrammatic, logographic, logotype, lower case, lower-case, magisterial, main, major, majuscule, manufacturing center, master, matchless, maximal, maximum, mean, means, medical center, meridian, meridional, method, metropolis, minuscular, minuscule, monetary, money, moneyed capital, nice, nick, noble, number one, numismatic, nummary, outstanding, overmost, overriding, overruling, paramount, pecuniary, peerless, pi, pica, pictographic, pleasant, point, power, predominant, preeminent, premier, preponderant, prevailing, primal, primary, prime, principal, print, profitable, property, railroad center, rank, ranking, recourses, regal, resorts, resource, resources, ripping, roman, royal, ruling, sans serif, savings, script, seat, seat of government, select, shank, shipping center, shire town, shopping center, shoulder, skillful, small cap, small capital, smashing, sound, sovereign, splendid, stamp, star, stellar, stem, sterling, stock, summital, sumptuary, super, superb, supereminent, superior, supply, supreme, tip-top, top, top-hole, top-notch, topflight, topmost, topping, tourist center, trade center, transliterated, type, type body, type class, type lice, typecase, typeface, typefounders, typefoundry, ultimate, uncial, underlying, upmost, upper case, upper-case, uppermost, urban center, useful, valid, venture capital, vertical, very good, virtuous, vital, ways, ways and means, wealth, wherewith, wherewithal, working capital, zenithal