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Changing places: Why countries decide to move their capitals

Plastic waste on the banks of a river with a view of the Jakarta skyline (file photo - August 2019)Symbol copyright
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Jakarta is traffic-clogged – and sinking

Indonesia is urgent forward with plans to transport its capital from the traffic-choked metropolis of Jakarta to the island of Borneo. The suitable location has now not but been printed – nor has a timeline – however President Joko Widodo officially introduced the scheme in parliament on 16 August.

Causes for shifting the capital don’t seem to be arduous to seek out. Jakarta is sinking by way of a median of 1-15cm a yr. Nearly part town is now underneath sea degree. It sits on swampy land, the Java Sea lapping towards it, and 13 rivers operating via it.

Its visitors jams are infamous: in 2016, a survey discovered that the mega-city had the arena’s worst visitors congestion. Executive ministers should be escorted by way of police convoys to get to conferences on time.

The higher city house has a inhabitants of 30 million. Simplest about 2-Four% of its waste water is handled.

  • The fastest-sinking metropolis on the planet

The brand new capital could be in Kalimantan, the identify for the Indonesian a part of Borneo. The transfer would price as much as $33bn (£27bn). It will require a space of 30,000 to 40,000 hectares to deal with between 900,000 and 1.five million other folks.

The frontrunner metropolis is Palangkaraya, in central Kalimantan. It’s geographically just about the centre of the Indonesian archipelago, and the rustic’s founding father, Sukarno, additionally proposed to make it the capital.

However Indonesia is not at all the primary nation to believe shifting its capital. Listed below are any other notable examples:

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1. Kazakhstan

In 1997, President Nursultan Nazarbayev determined to transport the capital from the principle metropolis, Almaty, He selected a dusty provincial the city, some 1,200km (750 miles) north. Some of the first issues he did used to be to modify the identify, from Aqmola – which means that “white grave” – to Astana.

He then introduced in architects from around the globe to construct his capital from the bottom up. One in every of its maximum hanging landmarks is Khan Shatyr – the arena’s greatest tent. Designed by way of Norman Foster, it homes an indoor buying groceries mall and leisure advanced.

The Baytarek Tower, which resembles an egg perched on best of a tree, homes an commentary deck with a view of alternative newly constructed landmarks. Those come with the presidential palace, a riff at the White Area crowned with a pale-blue dome. Subsequent to that’s the Central Live performance Corridor, a turquoise construction mimicking an unfolding spaceship.

All this used to be made imaginable by way of Kazakhstan’s booming oil sector: the financial system grew by way of Four.eight% in 2018. As a mark of gratitude, after President Nazarbayev stepped down in March, parliament voted to call town in his honour.

So now the Kazakh capital – the second-coldest on the planet, after Ulaanbaatar in Mongolia – is referred to as Nur Sultan Town. No longer dangerous for a agreement in all probability perfect recognized in Soviet occasions for its proximity to a gulag.

  • The upward push of the Kazakh capital

2. Myanmar

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Nay Pyi Taw’s low inhabitants density is visual from the air

Town of Nay Pyi Taw covers no less than 4 occasions the realm of London, however with just a fraction of the folks. Its historical past is brief: it has best existed since 2005, raised out of the flatlands by way of the then army rulers of Myanmar (prior to now referred to as Burma).

The identify approach “seat of the king”. The explanations for shifting the capital some 370km inland from the most important metropolis, Yangon (Rangoon), have by no means been totally transparent.

The guidelines minister instructed the BBC on the time that it used to be a extra strategic location, however analysts have been sceptical. They stated it used to be imaginable the army feared a international invasion, or sought after extra keep watch over over ethnic minorities within the border areas.

Others urged Myanmar’s notoriously secretive leaders have been merely repeating the conduct of Burmese kings in pre-colonial occasions, who constructed new cities and palaces at the recommendation of fortune-tellers.

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Media captionThe BBC’s Rachel Harvey in 2015: Myanmar’s “unusually soulless” capital

Town bears all of the hallmarks of a deliberate capital: the street main from parliament to the presidential palace is 20 lanes vast, however carries infrequently any visitors. Glossy buying groceries department stores and empty luxurious motels line the boulevards. There is a safari park, a zoo, and no less than 3 stadiums. In contrast to different portions of Myanmar, it has electrical energy across the clock.

three. Bolivia

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L. a. Paz is the best possible capital metropolis on the planet

Bolivia has two capital towns: Sucre and L. a. Paz. Sucre used to be the only capital till 1899, when it misplaced a short lived civil struggle to L. a. Paz. After that, parliament and the civil carrier moved to Bolivia’s greatest metropolis, L. a. Paz, whilst the judiciary remained in Sucre.

Sucre, within the centre of the rustic, used to be the place Bolivia used to be based, in 1825. It has a inhabitants of simply 250,000, in comparison to 1.7 million in L. a. Paz.

  • The struggle for Bolivia’s center

In 2007, an offer used to be put ahead to transport parliament and executive again to Sucre, just for what used to be described as the most important ever protest in L. a. Paz to wreck out.

The theory arose out of a regional contention between President Evo Morales’ supporters in Bolivia’s deficient western highlands and his fighters within the extra wealthy east.

The scheme used to be ultimately deserted, and Bolivia has two capitals to these days.

Four. Nigeria

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Like many deliberate towns, Abuja used to be designed with vast roads

Till 1991 Lagos, the most important metropolis in Nigeria, used to be additionally its capital. There have been numerous causes for shifting the capital to Abuja: initially, its central location, clear of the coast.

It used to take about two days to shuttle the 1,600km to Lagos by way of highway from town of Maiduguri, within the north-east, Abuja used to be some distance nearer.

Lagos used to be very congested (it is the maximum populous metropolis in sub-Saharan Africa), and that used to be a few of the causes for the transfer.

Abuja used to be additionally extra politically and ethnically impartial. The Yoruba ethnic staff dominates Lagos, whilst the Igbos are in large part within the west and the Hausas within the north. This used to be no small subject: between 1967 and 1970, Nigeria used to be wracked by way of the Biafran struggle, when the Igbos sought to secede from Nigeria.

Whilst Lagos grew up organically, Abuja is a deliberate metropolis – the primary in Nigeria. The visitors congestion in Lagos is infamous; in Abuja, the roads have been designed to be vast from the beginning.

The nationwide cultural institutes are there, together with the Very best Court docket, the Nationwide Meeting and the presidential palace. Then again, many federal businesses are unofficially nonetheless primarily based in Lagos.

five. Portugal

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Provide-day Rio bears little resemblance to town that served as Portugal’s brief capital

For 13 years, the capital of Portugal used to be now not in Lisbon however Rio de Janeiro. The explanation? Napoleon. All through the Peninsular Struggle (1807-14), the French invaded Portugal no fewer than 3 times. Days earlier than the invasion in December 1807, the Braganza royal circle of relatives and the courtroom left for Brazil, then a Portuguese colony. They arrived in Rio in March 1808.

Rio within the early 19th Century used to be a booming metropolis: there used to be gold, there have been diamonds, there used to be sugar. There have been additionally slaves: as much as 1,000,000 of them, a few 3rd of the inhabitants.

Dom João VI, the prince regent, created the UK of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarves. This increased Brazil from an insignificant colony to the similar degree as Portugal. Brazil used to be additionally granted extra administrative independence. When the queen died in 1816, he turned into king.

In 1821, the Portuguese courtroom returned to Lisbon the place it remained till the top of the monarchy, in 1910. Its sojourn in Rio, on the other hand, left an enduring mark on Brazil, boosting its financial system and hastening its push for independence.

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