The capital of South Africa is Johannesburg – or is it? Today we’ll clear up the confusion surrounding many of the world’s capital cities.


Anyone planning a trip to Morocco’s capital city won’t end up in the bustling metropolis of Marrakech. Casablanca also won’t be your destination, even though many fans of classic film probably wish that were so. The capital city of Morocco is actually Rabat – an undiscovered city in the northwestern part of the country, located directly on the ocean. Rabat’s historic city center, the Medina, is perhaps not quite as impressive as those in Fez or Marrakech, but it’s still fun to get lost in the narrow city streets.

Rabat, Foto: iStock/posztos
Rabat, Photo: iStock/posztos


As an old saying goes, when two quarrel, a third rejoices. This could be the history of Australia’s capital city in a nutshell. Early in the 20th century, both Sydney and Melbourne competed for the title – but an agreement couldn’t be reached. The compromise: a new planned city halfway between the two cities was created. Thus, the capital city is neither Sydney nor Melbourne, but rather Canberra.

Canberra, Foto: iStock/zetter
Canberra, Photo: iStock/zetter


Toronto? Vancouver? Or maybe it’s Montreal? Wrong, wrong, and wrong again. Although all of these locations are important cities in Canada, the capital is actually Ottawa. And this city is more than worth experiencing: not skyscrapers, but rather pretty, neo-Gothic buildings dominate the skyline. In addition, Ottawa is fortunate to be surrounded by greenery: first and foremost is the huge Gatineau Park, a nature retreat with numerous bike routes and hiking trails.

Ottawa, Foto: iStock/PaulMcKinnon
Ottawa, Photo: iStock/PaulMcKinnon


When you think of the capital of this vast country on the South American Continent, Rio de Janeiro probably comes to mind. Not even close! Contrary to what many people think, this megacity is in fact not the nation’s capital. Although this was the case until the 1960’s, it has since been superseded by the planned city of Brasília.

Foto: iStock/jcamilobernal
Brasília, Photo: iStock/jcamilobernal


Anyone planning a trip to the capital city of Switzerland won’t land in Zurich. And they won’t arrive in Genf. But what is the capital of Switzerland? The strange answer is that there isn’t one, at least strictly speaking. However, Switzerland has a “federal city,” Bern, which functions as somewhat of a de facto capital of Switzerland.

Foto: flickr, martin_vmorris
Bern, Photo: flickr, martin_vmorris

South Africa

Is Johannesburg, the largest city in the country, also South Africa’s capital? This much is certain: no, it’s not. Even though South Africa has three capital cities, Johannesburg is not among them: the seat of government is in Pretoria, Parliament sits in Cape Town and the Supreme Court of Appeals is located in Bloemfontein. Pretty complicated, right?

Kapstadt, Foto: iStock/Anna Omelchenko
Kapstadt, Photo: iStock/Anna Omelchenko

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