Whether you like it or not, visiting cities is a part of travel. Even if you’re heading into the most remote jungles or climbing the highest mountains, you’re going to have to arrive at an airport, which is likely to be in a country’s capital city. And the capital cities of the world are often home to some of a country’s main attractions. From Beijing’s Forbidden City to the Rome Colosseum and Cairo’s Pyramids of Giza, exploring the world means getting lost in the hubbub of some of the world’s busiest and most atmospheric cities. In our blog this week, we thought we’d have a bit of fun. So we’re going to share with you some of the record breaking capital cities around the world. From the highest to the oldest, we’ll get you ready for your next pub quiz.
The highest capital city in the world
La Paz, Bolivia.
The Bolivian capital wins this by a landslide (pun intended, the city suffers from a high number of landslides). Nestled in the Andes and located just 42 miles from Lake Titicaca, it is also one of the most spectacular. At 3,640 meters above sea level, the air is quite thin for those not used to it. So, you won’t want to exert yourself too much. However, you will want to visit the creepy Witches Market and the colonial buildings surrounding the Presidential Palace. There’s also an incredible aerial cable car for those who would like a birds-eye view over the city – as if you’re not high enough already!
Recommended tour: Lima to La Paz – 14 days
And the lowest
On the other side of the coin, Baku takes the title as the lowest capital city in the world. The city lies 28 metres below sea level and is also the largest city in the world to lie below sea level. Azerbaijan is largely desert, and any trip to the country is likely to be centred around the modern capital. Baku has been financed largely by an oil-rich economy. The twin Flame Towers are the city’s most iconic landmark. And visitors will also want to delve into the old part of the city to find out a bit more about life before the riches of fossil fuels in Azerbaijan.
The most populated capital city in the world
No surprises here. It’s well-known that the Japanese capital is the most populated city in the world, with around 38 million people calling Tokyo home. This is around 6 million more people than live in the second most populated capital – Delhi, India. That’s a city the size of Toronto tacked onto the side of Delhi! No wonder our Japan tours include a few days in the capital, it’s the only way to see everything this incredible metropolis has to offer!
Recommended tour: Land of the Samurai – 12 days
And the least
We’ll forgive you if you haven’t even heard of the island nation of Palau. Located to the east of the Philippines, the population of the entire country is only around 18,000. That’s 0.047% of Tokyo’s population! And as for its capital city, it was recently moved from Koror to Ngerulmud and currently has a population of approximately 300. Or to put it another way, 0.0007% of the population of Tokyo…
The oldest capital city in the world
Due to the ongoing and tragic Syrian Civil War, travel to Damascus has not been possible for more than a decade. And much of the city has been destroyed in recent years. But inhabited capital city it remains, which means it keeps its place as the world’s oldest capital – it is believed to have been founded around 11,000 years ago and has seen all manner of empires and civilizations rise and fall.
And the youngest
Naypyidaw gained notoriety way back in 2014 when the BBC’s Top Gear visited the city. Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, and James May were famously able to play football in the middle of the city’s 20-lane highways, because there was no traffic whatsoever. Built to cope with the population rise expected in the future, the city was built virtually from scratch in 2012, when the capital of Myanmar switched from Yangon.
Quick fire world records
The capital city with the most green space: Moscow, Russia
54% of the city’s space is devoted to nature in the form of gardens, parks, and forests.
The capital city with the most billionaires: Beijing, China
The Chinese capital recently overtook New York in terms of the number of billionaires who live there. 100 obscenely rich billionaires now live in Beijing.
The capital city with the most museums: Paris, France
With nearly 300 museums for visitors to choose from, who needs the Eiffel Tower?
The capital city with the least sunshine per year: Torshavn, Faroe Islands
A wonderful place to explore, but maybe leave the beach towel at home.
The most dangerous capital city: Caracas, Venezuela
With a murder rate of more than 100 in 100,000, Caracas is perhaps one capital city to leave off the travel list.
Special mention goes to:
Eccentric Turkmen dictator Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow is known for his obsession with world records. Because of this, he has made it one of his life missions to achieve as many as possible for his capital city. Ashgabat currently holds the world record for having the highest concentration of white marble buildings, the largest indoor Ferris wheel and the most fountain pools in a public place. Access is tightly controlled, but anyone who does manage to enter the city is sure to have their breath taken away.
So we can conclude that the capital cities of the world are wonderful places to explore. A country’s culture is usually on full display, and they are often (but not always) home to the main attractions. Whether you’re planning a fleeting city break or visiting a capital as part of a larger tour of a country, you’re sure to enjoy your time in whichever city you visit next.
Explore some of the exciting capital cities of the world with our range of group tours, from Tokyo to Cairo and Delhi to Athens.