Thursday, 20 August 2015

Omphalos-Navel Stone

There is a growing trend for countries to remove their capitals to the geographic centres of national territories to encourage unity. Below is a chronological list demonstrating this.

1796: Capital of Iran removed from Shiraz to Tehran.
1869: Capital of Japan moved from Kyoto to Tokyo.
1871: Capital of Italy removed from Florence to Rome.
1923: Capital of Turkey removed from Istanbul to Ankara.
1931: Capital of India removed from Kolkata (Calcutta) to New Delhi.
1946: Capital of Cameroon removed from Douala to Yaounde.
1950: Capital of Israel removed from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
1960: Capital of Brazil removed from Rio de Janeiro to Brasilia.
1966: Capital of Pakistan removed from Karachi to Islamabad.
1975: Capital of Malawi removed from Blantyre to Lilongwe.
1983: Capital of Ivory Coast removed from Abidjan to Yamoussoukro.
1991: Capital of Nigeria removed from Lagos to Abuja.
1996: Capital of Tanzania removed from Dar es Salaam to Dodoma.
1997: Capital of Kazakhstan removed from Almaty to Astana.
2005: Capital of Myanmar (Burma) removed from Yangoon (Rangoon) to Nagpyidaw.
2014: Argentina mooted removing its capital from Buenos Aires to Viedma in 1987, and then to Santiago del Estero in 2014.

Being the focus of the state, the siting of a capital can determine the survival of a country. An example is the Kingdom of the United Netherlands created in 1815, consisting of what are now the Benelux countries ie Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg.

It was established by the Great Powers after the Napoleonic Wars as a buffer on France’s northern border under the Dutch King William I. To make himself acceptable to his new Belgian subjects (in what had been the Austrian Netherlands), he should have adopted their capital of Brussels, thereby becoming their monarch. His existing Dutch subjects would have remained loyal, as they had been ruled by his Orange dynasty for nearly three centuries. Instead, he ruled as Dutch King from Amsterdam thereby alienated the Belgians, who successfully revolted in 1830 and elected their own separate King at Brussels.

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