Update: Can You Relocate A Capital?

May 22, 2020


In 2019, Indonesia proposed a plan to move its capital away from Jakarta. Why? While overpopulation was a determining factor, Jakarta has a much more unique problem as well: It’s sinking due to the continuing collapse of a giant seawall.

What happened next? Authorities identified a yet-unnamed city on an island called Borneo as a potential location for Indonesia’s new capital. The target date for the capital’s transition to this new location is 2024, but the Indonesian parliament must first approve the bill later in 2020.

Originally Published: May 3rd, 2019

Each state and country has a capital city, considered the most important city and one where the central government and administrative offices exist. But did you know that these capitals can change locations? In fact, until 1910, California and Alabama changed capital cities four times!

When it comes to countries though, changing the capital location could mean significantly more than merely moving government buildings. Nigeria’s capital moved from Lagos to Abuja in 1991 because the government was looking for a more central location with better security and newer infrastructures. Egypt is currently building a new city to replace Cairo as its capital in order to better manage the growing population and traffic-packed streets.

Gunawan Kartapranata [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)]
Indonesia is also considering moving its capital from Jakarta. While overpopulation is also a determining factor, Jakarta has a much more unique problem as well: It’s sinking. That’s right—parts of the capital city have dropped almost twenty-five centimeters (that’s about ten inches) every year as a giant seawall, once intended to protect the city, began sinking itself. The proposal to move is not new; past leaders have long pushed for a different capital city. Only recently though has the discussion gained momentum as Jakarta reels from many storms and is unable to cope with flooding issues. President Joko Widodo has a tough battle ahead—not everyone agrees that moving the capital city is the right solution. Plus, many ask if the next capital city might struggle with overpopulation and environmental issues as well.

What do you think? Should countries move their capitals when faced with challenges?