The World Capitals Quiz

Bambi Turner

Just outside of this Egyptian capital, you'll find some pretty Great Pyramids. Can you name this city?

If you like really, really old cities, you can't get much older than the Egyptian capital Cairo. Though the city itself was founded in 960 AD, some of the structures that surround it — including the Great Pyramid and the Sphinx — were built between 5,000 and 6,000 years ago.

Name the English capital that sits along the banks of the Thames and was founded in 47 AD by the Romans.

Split north to south by the winding River Thames, London is not only the capital of England, but also of the entire United Kingdom. If you ever find yourself across the pond, take a stroll through Hyde Park or check out some of the shops along the bustling Oxford Street. If history is more your thing, gaze at the Rosetta Stone at the British Museum, or stop to watch the iconic changing of the guard ceremony at Buckingham Palace — and don't forget to curtsy if you see the Queen!

The name of Argentina's capital translates to "fair winds." Know the name of this city along the Rio de la Plata?

Buenos Aires is both the capital and largest city in South America. It's known for its tango heritage, the gorgeous Teatro Colon opera house, a rich arts district, and one of the busiest ports on the continent. Bibliophiles take note — the Ateneo Grand Splendid is a massive Buenos Aires bookstore located within an old theater. In a 2019 article, National Geographic called it "the world's most beautiful bookstore."

Every spring, tourists flock to this U.S. capital to see cherry blossoms in bloom along the tidal basin and take in sites the Smithsonian Museums and the Lincoln Memorial.

Named for the first U.S. President, Washington, D.C. has served as the capital of the United States since 1791. If you're ever in the area, head to the National Mall and check out one of the Smithsonian Museums. There are 11 located around the Mall holding some of the world's best art and artifacts, and every single one is free to visit.

Vietnam's capital is also its second-largest city, and is located 1,000 miles north of Ho Chi Minh City. Think you can name it?

Hanoi has been the capital of Vietnam for 1,000 years, first serving as the capital of North Vietnam, then being chosen as the capital of the reunified nation in the '70s. It sits along the Red River, and is famous for its French Colonial architecture, the Grand Opera house and the historic Long Bien Bridge.

Think you know which capital of modern-day China was founded as the walled city of Jicheng in 1045 BC?

If you like your history, head straight for Beijing. Visitors to the Chinese capital can tour a whopping seven UNESCO heritage sites, including the Forbidden City, the Summer Palace and sections of the Great Wall. Of course, don't forget to sample the local cuisine to find out how different authentic Chinese food is from that stuff sold at your local strip mall.

Name the capital city of South Korea, which has twice the population density of NYC and is located in the northwestern part of the county.

Officially called the Seoul Special City, Seoul sits on the Han River. There are five UNESCO world heritage sites in Seoul, including the Royal Tombs and Changdeok Palace, as well as attractions like Lotte World and the soaring Seoul Tower. Seoul played host to the 1988 Summer Olympics, the first time a Korean city hosted the games.

Choose the correct name for Japan's capital, which was known as Edo until 1868, and is located on the eastern coast of this island nation.

Japan's capital since 1869, Tokyo is home to countless attractions to entertain visitors. Start at dawn at Tsukiji Fish Market, and watch freshly-caught tuna fly before settling down for a sushi breakfast. Next, head to Shibuya Crossing, an area with a Times Square-vibe that is reportedly one of the busiest pedestrian intersections in the world.

In which Spanish capital city can you shop on the Gran Via, sip coffee on the Plaza Mayor and tour the Opulent Royal Palace?

Spain's capital city Madrid is located along the River Manzanares. If you visit, be prepared to discuss the merits of Real Madrid versus Alletico de Madrid with the locals, who have strong feelings about their favorite football clubs — or what Americans would call soccer teams.

It sits on the banks of the Tiber River, and Vatican City is completely contained within its boundaries. Name this capital city of Italy.

Italy's capital city of Rome, which is located kind of where the shin would be on this boot-shaped country, is a busy modern place filled with ancient structures. Get a taste of history with a tour of the Pantheon, a 2,000 year old temple, or take in the iconic Trevi Fountain, and numerous talking statues where locals go to air their grievances.

Ooh la la. Identify the French capital city where you can climb to the top of the Eiffel Tower.

Founded by a Celtic tribe known as the Parissi in the 3rd century BC, Paris is known for its cool, haute-couture style. Visitors to the City of Lights can stroll the Champs-Elysees, passing beneath the iconic Arc de Triomphe monument. Next, head to the Louvre, home of the Mona Lisa, and the world's most visited museum, according to the Themed Entertainment Association.

What Cuban capital is actually the 7th most populous city in North America?

Located on the northern coast of Cuba where the Gulf of Mexico meets the Atlantic Ocean, Havana's historic core is filled with charming cobblestone streets and impressive Baroque and Neoclassical buildings. Once closed off to Americans because of a long-standing embargo, the city is now much more accessible for those eager to take a closer look.

It was destroyed by Mongols in the 13th century, and suffered serious damage during the Iraq War in 2003, but can you remember the name of this Iraqi capital city?

Situated along the Tigris River and continuously occupied since the 8th century, Baghdad remains standing after many battles over the years. Visitors can take in its Victory Arch, consisting of two massive crossed swords, or stroll down Mutanabbi Street, the heart of the city's book-selling district.

Guess the name of Ukraine's capital, which is located along the Dnieper River in the northern part of the country.

Kiev became Ukraine's capital after the country won independence from Russia in 1917. Despite heavy bombing in WWII, some of Kiev's most magnificent structures, including the golden-domed St. Michael's Monastery, still stand as classic examples of Baroque architecture. Along the banks of the Dnieper River, gaze up to see The Motherland Monument, a 330-foot metal sculpture dedicated to the lives lost in WWII.

Which of these cities is capital of the Philippines, and also ranks among the most densely populated cities in the world?

Founded in 1571, the Philippine capital of Manila is home to the Walled City of Intramuros. Designed by the Spanish to serve as a base for their Asian colonies, Intramuros — its name means "inside the walls" — is a charming area with cobblestone streets, well-preserved Spanish colonial architecture and a fort, complete with spooky dungeons.

Can you guess the name of Kenya's capital, which means "cool water" in the language of the Maasai people?

Located in the southeastern part of Kenya, Nairobi has served as the nation's capital since 1907. Because it often serves as a jumping off point for African safaris, Nairobi is often called the Safari Capital of the World. People flock here from all over the world to take in the city as they prepare to hit the surrounding savanna, hoping to get up close and personal with elephants and other wildlife.

Peru's capital city was founded in 1535, and is the location of one of the oldest universities in South America. Name this city.

Peru's capital city of Lima is home to the National University of San Marcos. Founded in 1551 — that's more than 200 years before the United States — it's one of the oldest educational institutes on the continent. Lima's Plaza de Armas is a showcase of colonial architecture, and visitors can also tour Huaca Pucllana, the ruins of an ancient Inca pyramid.

People have been living in this Greek capital city for around 13,000 years. Name this birthplace of democracy.

It can be hard to grasp the scale of history in Athens, especially if you're coming from a young country like the U.S. Athens has been continuously occupied for around 13,000 years. Historical sites still standing including the Parthenon and Acropolis, which were built around the 5th century BC.

Located on the northern tip of the island, this capital city of Taiwan is home to one of the world's tallest buildings.

The most recognizable feature in Taiwan's capital city of Taipei is Taipei 100, a bamboo-inspired skyscraper measuring 1,671 feet tall. From 2004 to 2010, it was the tallest structure in the world, but it remains the tallest in Taiwan by hundreds of feet as of 2019.

Do you know the name of Romania's capital, which is nicknamed Little Paris and is located along the Dambovita River?

Bucharest has served as the Romanian capital since 1862. Situated in the southeast part of the country, it is home to sites like the massive Palace of Parliament and the Memorial of Rebirth, which was built in remembrance of the 2005 Revolution. Interestingly enough, Bucharest has its very own Victory Arch, which is modeled after the Arc de Triomphe in Paris...in fact, you might be surprised how hard it is to tell the two apart when looking at pictures.

Pick the German capital that was split into east and west by a wall until 1989.

Once split by the Berlin Wall, Berlin is now divided only by natural boundaries of the River Spree. Visitors flock to this German capital to take in the dozens of museums on Museum Island, as well as Zoo Berlin, which ranks among the busiest zoos in Europe.

Which Irish capital, located on the country's east coast, was built on the banks of the River Liffey?

Dublin was the British administrative center of Ireland until the nation gained its independence in 1922. If you ever visit the city, take a break from your pub crawl and stop by Trinity College to view the Book of Kells. This illuminated manuscript was created around the year 800, and is a well-preserved and spectacular display of the Gospels.

This Soviet capital became capital of Russia in 1991. Can you name this city that lies on the Moskva River in northwest Russia?

If you ever visit Russia's capital city of Moscow, head straight for Red Square. So-named because of its rouge-colored cobblestones, Red Square is home to some of Moscow's top attractions. Not only is the administrative complex known as the Kremlin found there, but it's also the site of St. Basil's Cathedral, a colorful structure with onion-shaped domes commissioned in the 1500s by Ivan the Terrible.

Select the Venezuelan capital located along the Guaire River near the Caribbean Sea.

Venezuela's capital city of Caracas sits in a valley surrounded by gorgeous mountain peaks. Visitors to the city can take in the majestic National Pantheon, a 19th century temple known for its massive sparkling chandelier and paintings depicting scenes from the life of national hero Simon Bolivar.

Think you can name Brazil's capital, which is a planned city designed in the shape of an airplane?

Situated in the southern part of this massive South American nation, Brasilia has served as Brazil's capital city since 1960. Because it is a relatively new, planned city, much of its architecture has a modern flair, including the Cathedral made from 16 stone columns and the Claudio Santoro National Theater, which resembles a giant flat-topped pyramid.

A staggering 26 million people live in the metro area of this Indian capital city, but do you know what it's called?

New Delhi is one of the most populous capital cities on Earth, which makes sense given that India is also one of the most populous nations with more than 1.3 billion people as of 2017, according to the World Bank. This city on the banks of the Yamuna River replaced Calcutta as India's capital in 1911, when King George V took over as Emperor of India.

Situated within a plateau of the Andes Mountains, name this Colombian capital, which was founded by the Spanish in 1538.

Colombia's capital Bogota is no lost city of gold, but its popular Gold Museum might just be the next best thing. Full of pre-colonial golden artifacts, as well as pieces from around the world made of this precious metal, this museum is one of the most visited in the city,

Which Iranian capital is located in the northern part of the country near the Caspian Sea?

Iran's capital of Tehran sits in the shadows of the mighty Alborz Mountains. This historic city houses fantastic sites like the Grand Bazaar, Milad Tower, Golestan Palace and the Carpet Museum, which showcases the famous art of Persian rug-making.

Canada might be one of the United States' closest neighbors, but do you know the capital city of this country?

Canada's capital city of Ottawa is located in southern Ontario, and was founded in 1826 as Bytown. In the summer, you can take a boat tour of the city via the Rideau Canal, or wait til the canal freezes in the winter and skate your way from one end of Ottawa to the other.

South Africa has three capitals, but do you know which city serves as the administrative and government center for the nation?

Located in the northern part of the nation, Pretoria is home to South Africa's administrative government and its international embassies. One of the top attractions in Pretoria is Freedom Park, which offers spectacular city views as well as memorials and statues that pay tribute to its difficult past. Two other cities, Cape Town and Bloemfontein, represent the legislative and judicial centers of the African nation.

The Thai people call it Krung Thep, but do you know the name of Thailand's capital city of 8 million people?

Yes, Thailand's capital city of Bangkok is known for its wild red-light district, but there's so much more to this city than debauchery. Tourists can take in history with a tour of the Temple of the Emerald Buddha or the Grand Palace, or take in the 200-foot tall tower at Wat Arun Ratchawararam.

Which city of 5 million, the second-largest in the country after Istanbul, serves as Turkey's capital?

The ancient city of Ankara has been occupied since the Bronze Age, and its architecture and deign show influences of the Celts, Romans, Byzantines and Turks. One of the city's most popular attractions is Ankara Castle, a 7th century fort positioned on a hill overlooking the town that you can still tout today.

No, Australia's capital isn't Sydney or Melbourne. It's actually this much smaller city.

In the early 1900s, Australians just couldn't stop fighting over whether to make Sydney or Melbourne the capital of the nation. Eventually they compromised and settled on Canberra, which is located in between these two major cities. Most of Australia's major cultural sites can be found here, including the Australian War Memorial and the National Galley, Museum and Library.

A huge statue of the Virgin Mary towers over this Chilean capital. Do you think you can name this city?

Santiago serves as the capital of Chile, a long narrow country that stretches down the southwest coast of South America. Situated along the Mapocho River with views of the Andes Mountains, its well known for both its Colonial architecture and the majestic 72-foot tall statue of the Immaculate Conception located on San Cristobal Hill.

Morocco's capital is located on the country's northwest coast near the Atlantic ocean. Remember its name?

Morocco's capital city of Rabat blends Islamic culture with French-colonial history and architecture. Visitors can take in the historic Hassan Tower, a minaret began in 1195, or tour Chellah, a Roman fortress began in 40 AD and abandoned in the 12th century. Rue Souika serves as a traditional shopping bazaar, with the 14th century Grand Mosquee towering above the vendors and their stalls.

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Image: Pixabay by Sweetlouise

About This Quiz

New York City; Sydney; Toronto; Los Angeles; Barcelona ... all major global cities you've probably heard of—and not a single one serves as the capital of its respective country! Interestingly enough, many world capitals aren't exactly the cities you'd expect. Sure, you've probably heard of many of them, but they might not be the first names to enter your mind when you're digging for the capital city of a particular country. Ever wonder why that's the case?

Think of it this way ... history isn't exactly stable or linear. That means the city that served as the administrative head of a nation under one regime might not be where the next regime chooses to build its government buildings. Other countries might have several major cities that would have served as ideal capitals, but a different city may have been selected as a compromise so that no one felt slighted by the choice (think Sydney vs. Melbourne in Australia, both of which could have been capitals, and neither of which is the Aussie capital today).

Of course, some capital cities are exactly what you'd expect. The largest or most recognized city within a nation. This might be because history was kind to that region, or it could simply be due to geography—say, a location near a river or along a major trade route, or a lack of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

Ready to see how many capitals you can match to the correct country? Test your world geography IQ with this quiz!

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