For some reasons, in many countries the country's seat of government is situated away from the most populous city, which is usually the commercial centre.

Canberra, Australia: Australia's capital built in 1912 300kms south east of Sydney was a compromise between arch-rivals Sydney and Melbourne. Australia's constitution demanded that the capital be situated no closer than 100 miles to Sydney, and out of a fear of a seaborne invasion, Canberra was built inland.

Yamoussoukro, Côte d'Ivoire: Also inland, some 240 kilometres north of Abidjan. President Felix Houphouët-Boigny decreed this town to be the nation's capital in 1983. The seat of government for Côte d'Ivoire had been in three other towns earlier.

Ottawa, Canada: Queen Victoria on the advice of Canadian Governor General Sir Edmund Head chose Ottawa as the capital in 1859, ten years after rioters in Montreal torched to the ground the colony's Legislature building. Quebec was considered too unstable, and Toronto was too close to previously adversarial United States.

Abuja, Nigeria: Became the capital in 1991, and underwent a massive redevelopment thanks to oil-money and the Japanese architect Kenzo Tange. Keeping in mind that Nigeria is a highly diverse and tribalised country (250 ethnic groups amongst 133 million), the government wanted to the capital located in an area that could be considered ethnically 'neutral'. If social stability was their concern, I wonder why they chose an architect associated with inspiring Blade Runner.

Pretoria, South Africa: Before nearby Johannesburg was even founded (that came with the gold rushes), Pretoria became the capital in 1856. It was a sleepy village near where a cluster of Voortrekker settlers had encamped.

Astana, Kazakhstan: Also known as Akmolinsk, Aqmola and Tselinograd. Became the capital of the newly independent state of Kazakhstan in 1997, some 1,300 kilometres away from previous capital, Almaty which the government feared was too close to other rival Central Asian states.

Washington DC, United States of America: Selected by George Washington due to its equidistance between the northern and southern states. Also the hot weather was meant to dissuade politicians from wanting to hang around for too long.

Wellington, New Zealand: At the southern end of the north island, it was the best compromise that could be made between the two rival halves of New Zealand. Plus it had a natural port and a beautiful mountainous aspect.

Brasilia, Brazil: Brasilia was chosen as the capital of Brazil rather than Rio de Janeiro or São Paulo, in order to develop the country's huge and under-populated Amazon basin. That idea didn't work.

Ankara, Turkey: The centre of Turkey was picked by Mustafa Kemal in 1923, knowing that any enemy would have to go across 1,000 kilometres of rough terrain to capture the capital. Turkey hasn't been invaded since.

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