Countries With Multiple Capitals; Or, Why Geography Tests Are Unfair

While playing, yet again, my favorite online geography game, I was stumped by a question asking for Bolivia’s capital that included a footnote hint that I should go for the sweet one. (Turns out the answer is Sucre, as opposed to the more commonly known La Paz). How can a country have more than one capital? Surely that must drive its resident students mad, let alone visiting foreigners. But, sure enough, several countries maintain multiple capital cities — most for practical reasons, others simply because the stars told them so. South Africa finds it necessary to maintain not two but three capital cities: Cape Town (legislative capital), Bloemfontein (judicial), and Pretoria (administrative).

Note to bureaucrats: Follow the wisdom of designers and KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid). If only for the sake of your students.

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