A capital is a city where a region's government is located. This is where government buildings are and where government leaders work. A region can be defined as a nation, state, province, or other political unit. At the county level, capitals are usually called "county seats."

In some countries, there are two cities that serve as capitals. For instance, Santiago is the capital of Chile but the National Congress of Chile is located in Valparaso. In Tanzania, Dar es Salaam is the official capital, but most of the government is located in Dodoma.

A capital is frequently a country's business, cultural, and population center. Capital cities are often historical centers of trade, communication, and transportation. London, England, and Paris, France, developed hundreds of years ago around large, busy rivers (the Thames in London and the Seine in Paris). Baghdad, Iraq, and Damascus, Syria, have been thriving urban centers for thousands of years.

Rarely, a capital city is constructed just to be a capital city. Brazil's government built its capital, Brasilia, purely to serve as a government city.

Brasilia was constructed as a capital city between 1956 and 1960. Brazil's previous capital, Rio de Janeiro, was crowded. Its design hindered government work because buildings were located far apart from one another and traffic was heavy. Brasilia was constructed in the countrys interior, to spur development there and lay a plan for an ideal capital city. City planners, architects, and political scientists worked with Brazils leaders on the design of Brasilia.

capital
The Capitol in the capital, Washington, D.C.

City of Brotherly Love
Until 1801, when the District of Columbia was established as the nation's capital, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, was the capital of the United States.

architect
Noun

person who designs buildings or other large structures.

business
Noun

sale of goods and services, or a place where such sales take place.

Noun

city where a region's government is located.

city
Noun

large settlement with a high population density.

city planner
Noun

person who plans the physical design and zoning of an urban center.

communication
Noun

sharing of information and ideas.

construct
Verb

to build or erect.

county seat
Noun

city or town where the government of a county is located.

establish
Verb

to form or officially organize.

government
Noun

system or order of a nation, state, or other political unit.

hinder
Verb

to delay or hold back.

ideal
Adjective

perfect.

interior
Noun

internal or inland.

political scientist
Noun

person who studies the structure and ideas of government.

population
Noun

total number of people or organisms in a particular area.

previous
Adjective

earlier, or the one before.

Noun

division of a country larger than a town or county.

spur
Verb

to encourage or move forward.

trade
Noun

buying, selling, or exchanging of goods and services.

traffic
Noun

movement of many things, often vehicles, in a specific area.

transportation
Noun

movement of people or goods from one place to another.

urban center
Noun

densely populated area, usually a city and its surrounding suburbs.