Capital cities you’ve never heard of

Capital cities you've never heard of

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, we're assuming you're a cartographer, or perhaps pilot, or just VERY good at trivia.

For the rest of us mere mortals, many of the names of these capital cities and countries 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 10 capital cities of the world that you’ve probably never heard of:

1. Nassau

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…

2. Belmopan

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: Cyprus

Welcome to Cyprus, a Mediterranean gem where history meets modernity in the capital city of Nicosia.

Imagine wandering through centuries-old pathways, each cobblestone carrying tales of ancient civilizations, Byzantine churches and Ottoman mosques. The Old City, hugged by Venetian walls, is a treasure trove of markets and landmarks like the Cyprus Museum, street art festivals, and rooftop bars.

But amidst its charm lies the poignant Green Line, dividing the city into Greek Cypriot south and Turkish Cypriot north since 1974, making it the last divided capital in Europe. Despite this division, Nicosia thrives with cultural vibrancy, offering visitors a glimpse into its resilient spirit.

6. Tbilisi

Capital city of: Georgia

Tbilisi is a cobblestoned old town that is the largest city in Georgia and sits at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe. If you’re a bit of an architecture buff, you’ll love the variety found in Tbilisi.

Inside the town, you can see medieval churches, ornate art nouveau buildings and Soviet Modernist structures. Last but not least, towering over the town is Narikala, a reconstructed fourth-century fortress.

Also known as ‘The Mother of Georgia’, this structure looks like something out of a fairytale and can be accessed by a cable car. No need to make Rapunzel let down her hair.

7. Riga

Capital city of: Latvia

Riga is considered the hip, happening cultural centre of Latvia. With its many museums and concert halls, there is plenty to see and do. This gorgeous storybook town is also rather proud to be known as the location of the first-ever decorated Christmas tree in 1515.

Fast forward 400 years to 1915 and Germany is in a bit of a bind trying to sell off as many of its infrastructures as it can post World War One. The town of Riga puts up its hand to buy a couple of Germany’s giant Zeppelin hangars. These massive halls are then turned into the Riga Central Market. Today, this is where you will find authentic Latvian cuisine. From zeppelins to gherkins, what a history!

8. Valletta

Capital city of: Malta

The entire city of Valletta is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This Renaissance city is an open-air museum boasting ornate baroque architecture and monuments of historic value.

As far as bougie cathedrals go, the St John’s Co-Cathedral in Valletta is right up there. In fact, there is a painting by Caravaggio displayed above the altar.

Evidently, Caravaggio was fleeing a death sentence and found refuge in Malta where he set out to embellish St John’s Co-Cathedral with the biggest artwork he ever painted. Talk about a comeback story.

9. Jamestown

Capital City of: St Helena

Sandwiched between the steep cliffs that form James Valley, Jamestown is a long, thin, densely populated town on the island of St Helena.

Thanks to its remote location, Jamestown was also Napoleon Bonaparte’s home in exile for the last years of his life. Inside Longwood House in Jamestown, you can even see peepholes that Napoleon carved into the shutters with his penknife so he could sneak a peek at the world without it seeing him.

According to one historian, the height of the peepholes barely reach our shoulders, hinting at the small stature of Napoleon, the O.G. short king.

9. Bern

Capital city of: Switzerland

We were today years old when we learnt that neither Geneva nor Zürich is the capital of Switzerland. It is in fact Bern, Switzerland’s fifth-largest city. And for good reason too.

For starters, there is a neighbourhood in the far west of the city called Chäs und Brot – who doesn’t love Cheese and Bread? Bern is also home to a famous haunted house, the invention of Lindt chocolate (by Mr Lindt himself) and Toblerone!

If that’s not impressive enough, Albert Einstein also spent a fair amount of time in this European capital coming up with some relatively good ideas. We think we might too. Pass the cheese, please.

So, how many of these capitals have you toured?

How many had you never heard of? Fortunately, there is no geography quiz to get a Virgin Money credit card. But for your next trivia night, you could totally get bonus points for knowing that the original name of Bangkok is actually the longest capital city name in the world: Krung Thep Mahanakhon Amon Rattanakosin Mahinthara Ayuthaya Mahadilok Phop Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom Udomratchaniwet Mahasathan Amon Piman Awatan Sathit Sakkathattiya Witsanukam Prasit. Try saying that three times.

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By turbo-charging your Points, you could be eating chocolate in Bern, or finding buried treasure in Nassau before you know it.

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