In 1958 a mid-size village of little importance called Nouakchott was chosen as the capital of the nascent nation of Mauritania, a country situated in the North-West part of Africa. Until 1960 when Mauritania got its independence from French rule, the colony was governed from a town called Saint-Louis which happens to be situated in the neighbouring country of Senegal. In a bid to foster national unity post-independence, that mid-sized village has grown to become the biggest city in Mauritania and to this day stands as the nation’s Capital.

A capital the city essentially houses that national government. In most nations, it lends itself as the largest city (not always) and house all arms of government which include Administration, Legislature and Judiciary. In post-colonial Africa, there are many other strategic considerations as to where the government ultimately sits and the reasons why African nations change their capital cities.

South Africa’s strange 3 legged capital

In this regard, dating back to the argument settling agreements of the formation of The Union of South Africa in 1910; post-Apartheid South Africa remains the only country in Africa with not one, not two but three capital cities. Pretoria is the administrative capital, Cape Town is the legislative capital and Bloemfontein is the judicial capital. Is this something that can change in the future, it certainly has entered the political debate on certain occasions?

Here is a list of 7 other countries that have changed capital cities (post-independence) and the year the change was confirmed.

  1. Tanzania in 1996 (Dar es Salaam – Dodoma)
  2. Cote d’Ivoire in 1983 (Abidjan – Yamoussoukro)
  3. Nigeria in 1991 (Lagos – Abuja)
  4. Botswana in 1965 (Mafikeng – Gaborone)
  5. Burundi in 2018 (Bujumbura – Gitega)
  6. Malawi in 1975 (Blantyre – Lilongwe)
  7. Guinea-Bissau in 1975 (Boe – Bissau)

Are there any other African countries that have changed their capital cities? Leave us a comment…