Capital city  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

A capital city (or just capital) is the area of a country, province, region, or state regarded as enjoying primary status; although there are exceptions, a capital is almost always a city which physically encompasses the offices and meeting places of the seat of government and is usually fixed by law or by the constitution. An alternative term is political capital, but this phrase has a second meaning based on an alternate sense of the word capital. The capital is frequently, but not necessarily, the largest city of its constituent area.

The word capital is derived from the Latin caput meaning "head" and, in the United States, the related term capitol refers to the building where government business is chiefly conducted.

The seats of government in major sub-state jurisdictions are often called "capitals", but this is typically the case only in countries with some degree of federalism, wherein major substate legal jurisdictions have elements of sovereignty. In unitary states, an "administrative centre" or other similar term is typically used for such locations besides the national capital city. For example, the seat of government in a State of the United States is usually called its "capital", but the main city in a region of the United Kingdom is usually not called such, even though in Ireland, a county's main town is usually called its "capital". On the other hand, these four subdivisions of the United Kingdom do have capital cities: ScotlandEdinburgh, WalesCardiff, Northern IrelandBelfast, and EnglandLondon. Counties in England, Wales and Scotland have historic county towns, which are often not the largest settlement within the county and invariably no longer exercise political power, as the county is often only ceremonial, and administrative boundaries differ.

In Canada, the ten provinces of Canada all have capital cities, including Quebec City, Toronto, Victoria, B.C., Winnipeg, etc. The states of such countries as Mexico, Brazil, and Australia all have capital cities. For example, the six state capitals of Australia are Adelaide, South Australia; Brisbane, Queensland; Hobart, Tasmania; Melbourne, Victoria; Perth, Western Australia; and Sydney, New South Wales. In Australia, the term "capital cities" is regularly referred to and includes the aforementioned state capitals plus the federal capital Canberra and Darwin, the capital of the Northern Territory.

In the Federal Republic of Germany, each of its constituent states (or "Lands") has its own capital city, such as Wiesbaden, Mainz, Düsseldorf, Stuttgart, and Munich. Likewise, each of the republics of the Russian Federation has its own capital city.

At the lower administrative subdivisions in various English-speaking countries, terms such as county town, county seat, and borough seat are usually used.


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Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Capital city" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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