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Jono1961
656772.  Tue Jan 12, 2010 12:39 pm Reply with quote

Hello - new around here so will be brief. Is Vatican City a capital city and thereby making up the pair of the worlds nearest capital cities with Rome?

 
suze
656776.  Tue Jan 12, 2010 12:58 pm Reply with quote

I'll be even briefer. The answer to the question is "yes", and the distance between the conventionally regarded centres of the two cities is about one mile.

The next closest capital cities are Brazzaville and Kinshasa, the capitals of the two countries called Congo. The two cities face one another across the Congo River, which is about one mile wide at that point; the conventionally regarded centres are six miles apart. There is no bridge, but there are ferries and speedboat taxis.

Despite these two pairs of cities, you'll still hear people claim that the two closest capital cities are Bratislava and Vienna. It's actually 34 miles from one to the other, and takes about an hour by train (a bit longer by hydrofoil along the Danube, but worth doing at least one way!).

 
Jono1961
661239.  Sun Jan 24, 2010 6:19 am Reply with quote

So if Vatican City is a capital city, what is it the capital city of? Surely not of itself?

 
Zebra57
661267.  Sun Jan 24, 2010 7:15 am Reply with quote

Historically this would have applied to any city state.

 
Gavin
861492.  Wed Nov 02, 2011 4:14 am Reply with quote

Jono1961 wrote:
So if Vatican City is a capital city, what is it the capital city of? Surely not of itself?


Look at Singapore. It has one city (Singapore), so it has one capital city (Singapore). It's the same for Vatican City.

 
Zebra57
862393.  Sun Nov 06, 2011 7:47 am Reply with quote

Singapore has as its largest settlement the City of Singapore and smaller towns like Jurong and Punggol. Therefore the City of Singapore is the capital city of a larger territory. The Vatican City is a state in its own right. To distinguish between city and state (which in effect is the same) the state is usually referred to as the Holy See.

QI are the countries like Bolivia and Ivory Coast who have more than one capital city.

 
suze
862426.  Sun Nov 06, 2011 9:12 am Reply with quote

Or Nauru, which doesn't have a capital at all.

The whole country has a population of about 9,000, who live in fifteen villages. One of those villages is twice the size of any other and happens to be where Nauru's parliament resides, but nowhere is it formally designated as the capital.

 
96aelw
863357.  Wed Nov 09, 2011 9:28 pm Reply with quote

Interesting, but could one not say the same of London or Paris? Indeed, London doesn't even contain the UK's parliament, for a given value of London (inasmuch as it's in the City of Westminster).

 
suze
863485.  Thu Nov 10, 2011 12:15 pm Reply with quote

Good point, and one possibly could. Nowhere in statute does it state that London is the capital city of the UK, and the Constitution de la Cinquième République does not declare Paris to be the capital city of France.

By way of contrast, the Canadian Constitution does declare that the capital is Ottawa "until the Queen otherwise directs". And since the Queen referred to there is Victoria, she probably isn't going to.

The United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs publishes a list of capital cities, and that list includes both London and Paris - but in the case of Nauru and also of Tokelau (a New Zealand colony in the South Pacific), it notes that there is none.

That list gives Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, even though it is not internationally recognized as being so. Indeed, there is a Security Council resolution in force which says that it isn't. (The US Congress voted in 1995 to recognize Jerusalem as the capital and to move the US Embassy there, but successive presidents have chosen to use a waiver provision within the law and not do so.)

That suggests to me that the capitals listed there are those named by each country on its application form - so the British and French governments must in some way identify London and Paris as their capitals, and Nauru and Tokelau must consider themselves not to have one.

 
Zebra57
863578.  Thu Nov 10, 2011 8:50 pm Reply with quote

Some texts cite Nukunonu as the capital of Tokelau. It is the largest settlement of the three atolls that make up the territory (although each atoll has its own administration centre).

Nauru is just an "Alice Through the Looking Glass" country which Bob Wilson commented would not be out of place in an Ealing Comedy.

 
Gooische Vrijgezel
863610.  Fri Nov 11, 2011 4:07 am Reply with quote

suze wrote:
Despite these two pairs of cities, you'll still hear people claim that the two closest capital cities are Bratislava and Vienna. It's actually 34 miles from one to the other, and takes about an hour by train (a bit longer by hydrofoil along the Danube, but worth doing at least one way!).


Since the original question was about a capital, not the capital (of a country):

Harlem is the capital of the Dutch province North-Holland. Another city in North-Holland is Amsterdam, the capital of the country (the government and queen are located in The Hague). The distance between Harlem and Amsterdam will be about 12 miles, centre to centre. Sorry, no hydrofoil. But the Fast Flying Ferry can be found in the area. It'll take about 16 minutes by train, again centre to centre, along the first railway track in the country.

It may not be the winner. It's just an example of a capital closer than 34 miles to yet another capital. The Haarlemmermeer is roughly located between Harlem and Amsterdam. I'm not sure if QI's use of the Haarlemmermeer in Series H is a true qibble, because mr. Fry added "according to some people" to the fact. That should be dead people, the fact is outdated.

A single city representing the most official types of capital perhaps is Brussels. Politics. That could mean the distance between buildings may start to play a role, as opposed to the distance between city centres. By the way, Congo-Kinshasa used to be a colony of Belgium. Maybe they like breaking such records.

 
Moosh
863662.  Fri Nov 11, 2011 6:49 am Reply with quote

Gooische Vrijgezel wrote:
A single city representing the most official types of capital perhaps is Brussels. Politics. That could mean the distance between buildings may start to play a role, as opposed to the distance between city centres.

Good thought. Brussels is the official capital of Belgium, Flanders, the Flemish Community of Belgium, the French Community of Belgium and Brussels Capital Region. (Although the last one doesn't really count since it's equivalent to saying that London is the capital of Greater London). So presumably the distance between any two of those capitals is zero.

What might be GI though is that Brussels is not the capital of the EU, at least not officially. In practice it acts as the capital but it doesn't have legal status as such.

 
Gooische Vrijgezel
863675.  Fri Nov 11, 2011 8:00 am Reply with quote

Moosh wrote:
Brussels is the official capital of Belgium, Flanders, the Flemish Community of Belgium, the French Community of Belgium and Brussels Capital Region.


I think the Brussels Capital Region isn't exactly the same as the Brussels Quarter of the former Duchy of Brabant, so it may also still be referred to as the capital of that distinct area of Brabant. Just like the city of Leuven still can be called the capital of (all Quarters of) Brabant. But I'll agree that depends on the definition of "official" and borders. It's still true, just based on history, but the Brussels Capital Region is the political successor of the Quarter.

 
Gooische Vrijgezel
863678.  Fri Nov 11, 2011 8:09 am Reply with quote

Moosh wrote:
Brussels is not the capital of the EU


Pars pro toto, just like England. "Brussels says ...". The city? The district? A part of Belgium? The EU? The NATO?

 
Gooische Vrijgezel
863693.  Fri Nov 11, 2011 9:52 am Reply with quote

Moosh wrote:
Brussels Capital Region. (Although the last one doesn't really count since it's equivalent to saying that London is the capital of Greater London).


I'm afraid it's a bit more complicated than that. Perhaps they're still negotiating BHV (Brussel-Halle-Vilvoorde), and Baarle-Hertog was already discussed in QI Series E, episode 5.

The Brussels Capital Region has its own parliament, unlike Greater London. That's one of the 6 parliaments. The situation would be a bit more like Greater London if politicians pretended that Greater London wasn't a part of England. Brussels doesn't belong to Flanders nor Wallonia. It's, with a few known errors, like Dublin becoming a neutral member of the Irish Federation, so Northern Ireland can join Dublin without joining Ireland. It's the north vs. the south, it's rich against poor, it's Northwest Europe vs. the fine economy of Portugal, Spain, France, Italy and Greece. In a single, friendy city.

 

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