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Capital Cities Everybody Gets Wrong

It’s not easy to become familiar with a map and sometimes takes extensive studying to get a decent grasp of. While some cities have great claims to fame, it doesn’t always help people remember their names. The same goes for the capital cities of different countries.

We might think we know the capital cities of the most talked-about countries, but here’s a list of capital cities that you probably didn’t even know:

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1. Istanbul, Turkey

Whether you were taught in school, read it in a book, or heard it in a movie people mention Istanbul when they are referencing the capital of Turkey. That is certainly not the case for this transcontinental country, whose real capital is the beautiful city of Ankara.

The city with a population of 4,587,558 people is most well-known for the long-haired goats and cats (Angora).

Some might mistake Istanbul for being the capital because it is the largest city, similar to how people are misinformed about Anchorage being the capital of Alaska.

2. Geneva, Switzerland

This is another ‘capital city’ that likely received that mistaken identity because it’s the second-most populous in the country. It is the home to the Swiss branch of both the UN and the Red Cross.

The fifth largest city of Bern in the true capital of the Nordic country. It may not be the biggest place, but the city certainly has a rich history worth getting to know. Take a 90-minute guided tour through Old Town or visit with the city’s mascot bears.

3. Marrakesh, Morocco

The country of Morocco can be a wonderful place to visit, but it may also result in one of the worst vacations you’ve had. The weather forecasts don’t mean much and even the best prepared person can get lost.

While Marrakesh may the most well-known place in Morocco, anyone looking for the information would see that the coastal city of Rabat is the North African country’s true capital.

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Rabat is not only the capital, but all countries with foreign embassies have one here, making it one of the most important places in both the country and the world.

4. Auckland, New Zealand

Auckland is certainly a name I’m familiar with, and aside from previously knowing that it was a city in the home of the kiwis, I didn’t even know people thought it was the capital.

As with Istanbul and Turkey, Auckland is New Zealand’s biggest city. The true capital is none other than Windy Wellington, the second most populated place in the country.

5. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

The city has become well-known many times over, for both the Soccer World Cups it’s hosted and for the most recent Olympic Games. With so much of film and television involving Rio de Janeiro, is it really a surprise no one knows what the real capital is?

Appropriately named Brasilia, it’s a little-known fact that it houses Brazilian parliament.

It even received the “City of Design” designation by UNESCO in October 2017.

6. Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

Dar is known as the prominent city for fine arts, fashion, media, music, film and television. It is also one of the country’s leading financial centers. But while Dar was the capital for a time, that stopped in 1974.

From 1974 to 1996, it took about that much time to fully complete the transfer of capital city to Dodoma.

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Dar, of course, retains its “commercial” capital status.

7. Johannesburg, South Africa

Johannesburg has become quite famous in recent years, with movies like District 9 using the city as a backdrop for its storyline. Many assume (again) that because this is the largest city in the country, it must be the capital. Others might believe that Cape Town is the right capital.

The answer is a little odder than most. It isn’t just one city but three that share capital responsibilities. Those cities are Pretoria, Cape Town and Bloemfontein (executive, judicial and legislative).

8. Toronto, Canada

When it comes to the cities mistaken for our Northern neighbor’s capital, the list goes Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, and Quebec City. While it may not be to the same scale as the others previously state, Ottawa (named after the Ottawa River).

Ottawa is considered to have the most educated population out of all of Canada’s cities and is also home to research and cultural institutions such as the National Arts Centre and the National Gallery.

9. La Paz, Bolivia

La Paz, a city 3,000 meters above sea level, is considered the administrative capital while the city of Sucre is the constitutional capital. So, in a way, both La Paz and Sucre are each half of the South American country’s capital.

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