The World’s Smallest Capitals
Two countries don’t have official capital cities, while 13 countries have more than one. The biggest capitals are among the usual suspects, but which ones are the world’s smalles capital cities? I’ll bet you a beer you haven’t been to the smallest one*.
You may have heard about the country that houses the smallest capital. It is famous for diving and perhaps for usually having its presidential election on the same day as the USA (the US has its election on the first Tuesday after the first Monday of November, whereas this particular country has its election on the first Tuesday of November). So, it isn’t the Vatican, a city state with only 1,000 inhabitants. That’s still few enough to make the Vatican runner-up.
So the very smallest capital is really, really small.
But let me first go through the usual suspects, the ten biggest capitals in the world, by population. You won’t be surprised to see that the top two can be found in the two most populous countries on the planet. Perhaps not by the fact that 7 of the 10 are in Asia, either. And Mexico City, the biggest city in the Americas, didn’t quite make the list, it’s number 11.
1. Beijing, China – 22 million people 2. Delhi, India – 17 million 3. Tokyo, Japan – 14 million 4. Manila, Philippines – 13 million 5. Moscow, Russia – 12 million 6. Cairo, Egypt – 10.2 million 7. Jakarta, Indonesia – 10.1 million 8. Kinshasa, Congo – 10.1 million 9. Seoul, South Korea – 10 million 10. Dhaka, Bangladesh – 8.9 million
But never mind. Let’s cut to the chase. The smallest capitals. Palau is one of 14 countries in Oceania, and its capital is so small that most travellers here never even bother to see it. Which makes it all the more worthwhile to drive the 23 kilometers from the airport; immediate bragging rights. Never mind that it is in the opposite direction of the biggest city in the country where most people go to stay or to catch a diving boat, 23 kilometers is 23 kilometers.
Ngerulmud is the home of only 391 people, less than half the population of Vatican, the least densely populated country in the world. 391 people! They’ll all fit in 8 buses.
Note that Yaren, the de facto capital of Nauru (one of two countries without a official capital) would have been third here with its just over a thousand inhabitants.
1. Ngerulmud, Palau – 391 people 2. Vatican, Vatican – 1,000 people 3. San Marino City, San Marino – 4,128 people 4. Palikir, Federated States of Micronesia – 4,600 people 5. Vaduz, Liechtenstein, 5,429 people 6. Funafuti, Tuvalu – 6,025 people 7. Valletta, Malta – 6,444 people 8. Basseterre, St. Kitts and Nevis – 13,000 people 9. Roseau, Dominica – 16,582 people 10. Belmopan, Belize – 19,458
Europe takes the lead here, with four tiny capitals. Oceania and North America have three each.
*Offer applies to first 6 people who got that one right and who has actually been there. Beer will be purchased anywhere but in Norway, so catch me when I am out travelling (which is most of the time). I reserve the right to drink one with you and find out what the hell you did there.