Which Countries Have 3 Capitals?

There are several countries in the world with two capitals, some sources will give you 5 countries and some more, but only one country has them three in total.

The only country in the world with three capitals is South Africa. The cities are as follows: Cape Town, Bloemfontein, and Pretoria.

Cape Town is a legislative capital, Bloemfontein is the judicial capital, and Pretoria is the administrative and executive capital.

Why are there 3 capitals of South Africa?

From what I have found, it appears that the government is divided into three sections, and the three capitals are meant to ensure that no one part of the government has too much power.

Cape Town is shown in the top picture above, and as mentioned, this is the city of the Parliament of South Africa. It is famous for its harbor, the Cape Point, and the Table Mountain (visible in the top picture above).

The city was founded by the Dutch East India Company to serve as a supply station for Dutch ships. In 1652 this was the first permanent European settlement in South Africa. This is a huge city with a population that is around 5 million people.

Bloemfontein (the photo below) has a name which clearly has Dutch roots, and this is also the capital of the Free State province. It is the seventh-largest city in South Africa with a population that is below one million. It was officially founded in 1846.

The city is at a really high elevation of 1395 m (4577 ft), so it is much higher than the highest capital in Europe. It hosts the Supreme Court of Appeal of South Africa.


Pretoria serves as the legislative capital and it hosts all foreign embassies to South Africa, and this is also an academic city. Here you have the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT), the University of Pretoria (UP), and the University of South Africa (UNISA).


It also hosts the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), the Human Sciences Research Council, and the National Research Foundation and the South African Bureau of Standards.

The size of Pretoria is quite similar to the size of Bloemfontein, and surprisingly even the elevation is almost the same, the city is 1339 m (4393 ft) above the sea level.

Pretoria was founded in 1855 by Marthinus Pretorius, a leader of the Voortrekkers, so it is only a few years younger than Bloemfontein.


The interactive map below is zoomable so you can see the positions of the mentioned three capitals. As you realize, two of them are deep in the continent while Cape Town is a coastal city.

So this is it, South Africa as the unique country in the world with three national capitals. Please see more about its three capitals in this video:

For more texts of this type just look around, the site is all about capitals. See for example my list of countries with two capitals, and you can read how countries decide what city is their capital in this text.

Bookmark this site and keep as a reference, you will have all national capitals described at one place. Let me know if you have questions or comments, there is a comment box below. Thank you for reading.

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