Get your fingers and toes ready – and the fingers and toes of about nine other people – and start counting. How many capital cities can you name?
Depending on who you ask, there’s somewhere in the vicinity of 200 capital cities in the world. If you can name all of them, please tell us what you do at the bottom of this article (we guess cartographer, or perhaps pilot).
For the rest of us mere mortals, many of the capital names will either remain stubbornly on the tip of our tongues, or simply not be known to us at all.
To get you started, here are five capital cities you’ve probably never heard of:
Capital city of: The Bahamas
One of the only places in the world with a history cooler than Australia’s criminal past, The Bahamas were mainly populated by pirates up until about 300 years ago.
The 11th largest island in The Bahamas is New Providence, an 11-mile-long stretch of shimmering sands surrounded by an ocean so blue it practically glows. This is where you will find Nassau.
Nassau is where infamous pirate Blackbeard (a chap called Edward Teach) once called home. For something a little less swashbuckling, take a stroll in Nassau’s Retreat Gardens, which are home to one of the biggest private collections of exotic and rare plants in the world. Or, simply bring a spade and a treasure map – where there be pirates, there be treasure…
Capital city of: Belize
Due to the misfortune of the old capital, Belize City, Belmopan was crowned as the country’s capital in 1962.
In its new spot, further inland and somewhat safer from tropical cyclones, Belmopan is home to approximately 20,000 people – but is quickly growing. Belmopan is right in the centre of this tiny Central American country, and is therefore an ideal location to base adventures to the Great Barrier Reef just off the coast, the lush jungles and the majestic Maya Mountains to the south.
Capital city of: Marshall Islands
It’s fair to say that if you haven’t heard of the Marshall Islands, you probably haven’t heard of Majuro – its capital – either.
From the air, the Majuro Atoll is nothing but a verdant green squiggle in the opulent blue sea, with 64 islets and just 9.17 square kilometres of land. On the ground, this delicate assortment of sand, palm trees and laid-back living is a place of particular interest for environmentalists.
As the Marshall Islands are threatened by climate change and rising sea levels, the capital is leading the charge for awareness and action with the Majuro Declaration, calling for emission reduction pledges to help preserve the idyllic way of life on the atolls. If you like diving, adventurous water sports, relaxing with a book, or exploring vulnerable climate change areas, perhaps Majuro is for you.
Capital city of: Slovenia
Ljubljana can be summed up in just a few words: Dragons, castles, eco-friendly, and even harder to spell than it is to say (l oo b – l ee – y ah n ah ).
This quaint capital is quintessentially European, just without the mobs of tourists. The Dragon Bridge is perhaps the most iconic of its attractions, a river crossing built in 1900-01 and guarded by four menacing stone dragons. The Ljubljana Castle overlooks the city and offers visitors a look into the country’s history, while the city itself repeatedly wins sustainability titles, such as the European Green Capital 2016 award.
Capital city of: Montenegro
Tucked in neatly next to the Adriatic Sea, Montenegro and its capital Cetinje offer a taste of southeastern European history, spectacular rocky mountains and an unforgettable culture. The Cetinje Monastery is where you will find the original Holy Cross and the right hand of John the Baptist, according to the monastery’s website, making it one of the most revered religious sites in Europe. The Lovcen National Park is a favourite, a mountain range just half an hour from the capital where you can climb for an unparalleled panorama of the surrounding mountains.
Fortunately, Virgin travel insurance won’t quiz you on the places you want to travel to.
How many of these capitals have you toured? How many had you never heard of?