• 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.

    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.

  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    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.

    capital Noun

    city where a region's government is located.

    Encyclopedic Entry: capital
    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


    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.

    province Noun

    division of a country larger than a town or county.

    Encyclopedic Entry: province
    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.