Author Topic: Should Poor Countries Build New Capital Cities?  (Read 98 times)

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Offline JBG

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Should Poor Countries Build New Capital Cities?
« on: December 18, 2017, 07:03:12 am »
The following relatively poor countries and often recipients of international and/or U.N. aid have built new capital cities:

1.   Brazil - Brasilia (replaced Rio de Janeiro)
2.   Pakistan - Islamabad (replaced Rawalpindi)
3.   Myanmar - Naypyidaw (replaced Yangon)
4.   Tanzania - Dodoma (replaced Dar es Salaam)
5.   Nigeria - Abuja (replaced Lagos)

It seems that these countries are desperately poor lands that do not have a new capital among the top of their needs lists. If I had to guess, these cities were built first so that the ruling classes would not have to put up with a teeming, crowded city such as Rio. Also, the cities, I believe, are major ego trips for the ruling classes.

To be fair, I am "equal opportunity" when it comes to building new capital cities. I think building Washington, D.C. was improvident.  New York City as capital was just fine. However, the U.S. was receiving help from no one in those days, and federal resources were not expected to be used for social needs. Now it's a different story.

I think aid donors such as the U.N. and the U.S. should be very skeptical.
« Last Edit: December 18, 2017, 07:26:17 am by JBG »
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Offline cybercoma

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Re: Should Poor Countries Build New Capital Cities
« Reply #1 on: December 18, 2017, 07:15:13 am »
Can you contextualize the reasons for those changes?

Offline JBG

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Re: Should Poor Countries Build New Capital Cities
« Reply #2 on: December 18, 2017, 07:27:45 am »
Can you contextualize the reasons for those changes?
Here's my guess.
It seems that these countries are desperately poor lands that do not have a new capital among the top of their needs lists. If I had to guess, these cities were built first so that the ruling classes would not have to put up with a teeming, crowded city such as Rio. Also, the cities, I believe, are major ego trips for the ruling classes.

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Offline Gorgeous Graham

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Re: Should Poor Countries Build New Capital Cities?
« Reply #3 on: December 18, 2017, 07:58:43 am »
Governments in developing countries should receive minimal amounts of aid.  Since these are often not very democratic places filled with corruption. the aid money should go directly to the people and non-profit organizations on the ground in communities.

Sometimes the aid money is essentially a tool of foreign policy by developed countries to get things they want by the poorer nations, so whatever i guess.
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Offline SirJohn

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Re: Should Poor Countries Build New Capital Cities?
« Reply #4 on: December 18, 2017, 11:16:38 am »
I often wonder if development aid merely perpetuates these states by making it bearable, if only just, for the citizenry and preventing violent turmoil which might actually give rise to a new ruling structure.  Has Africa really been helped by the last seventy odd years of development aid or would they, had they been left to their own devices, have developed more honest, more capable, more responsible government since independence?
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Offline wilber

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Re: Should Poor Countries Build New Capital Cities?
« Reply #5 on: December 18, 2017, 12:09:09 pm »

There can be many reasons for locating capitals away from established centres.

Canberra Australia was also created expressly to become a national capital because of competition between Melbourne and Sydney. Ottawa was selected as a compromise between Toronto and Montreal and because it was easier to defend from you lot than either of the other two.
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Offline JBG

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Re: Should Poor Countries Build New Capital Cities?
« Reply #6 on: December 18, 2017, 04:24:49 pm »
There can be many reasons for locating capitals away from established centres.

Canberra Australia was also created expressly to become a national capital because of competition between Melbourne and Sydney. Ottawa was selected as a compromise between Toronto and Montreal and because it was easier to defend from you lot than either of the other two.
Drats. I was hoping our suicide bombers and tunnelers would have any easier target.
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Offline wilber

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Re: Should Poor Countries Build New Capital Cities?
« Reply #7 on: December 18, 2017, 05:38:30 pm »
Drats. I was hoping our suicide bombers and tunnelers would have any easier target.

It was an important issue for Canada when the decision was made. It was also made by the British who at the time were responsible for Canada's defence.
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Offline cybercoma

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Re: Should Poor Countries Build New Capital Cities
« Reply #8 on: December 18, 2017, 05:51:28 pm »
Here's my guess.
Iím not asking for your guesses, but their stated reasons.

Offline kimmy

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Re: Should Poor Countries Build New Capital Cities?
« Reply #9 on: December 19, 2017, 12:18:32 am »
It seems that these countries are desperately poor lands that do not have a new capital among the top of their needs lists. If I had to guess, these cities were built first so that the ruling classes would not have to put up with a teeming, crowded city such as Rio. Also, the cities, I believe, are major ego trips for the ruling classes.

Running a country of any significant size is a big business, and anyone setting up shop seeks an appropriate location.

Of the capital relocations you list, only Myanmar is remotely recent.  You want to go to Pakistan and say "hey, you guys moved your capital 50 years ago! No more aid for you spend-thrifts!" or something?

To be fair, I am "equal opportunity" when it comes to building new capital cities. I think building Washington, D.C. was improvident.  New York City as capital was just fine. However, the U.S. was receiving help from no one in those days, and federal resources were not expected to be used for social needs. Now it's a different story.

If New York were still the capital of the United States, it would be outrageously inefficient for the US government to have its headquarters there. 

Build public buildings on land that costs $20 per teaspoon? Take space away from free enterprise in the most important commerce center in the world?  Is it reasonable to pay so many public-sector workers a salary appropriate to living in one of the country's most expensive places to live?

If New York were the capital today, they'd be smart to move it.

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Offline JBG

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Re: Should Poor Countries Build New Capital Cities?
« Reply #10 on: December 20, 2017, 05:56:14 am »
Of the capital relocations you list, only Myanmar is remotely recent.  You want to go to Pakistan and say "hey, you guys moved your capital 50 years ago! No more aid for you spend-thrifts!" or something?
Tanzania's transition is still very much a work in progress.

If New York were still the capital of the United States, it would be outrageously inefficient for the US government to have its headquarters there. 

Build public buildings on land that costs $20 per teaspoon? Take space away from free enterprise in the most important commerce center in the world?  Is it reasonable to pay so many public-sector workers a salary appropriate to living in one of the country's most expensive places to live?

If New York were the capital today, they'd be smart to move it.
Unofficially,, New York City now houses a large percentage of New York State functions so the capital of the state is effectively split. As for federal functions, at any given time an average of 19 U.S. senators are in New York City. The U.S. President has always spent a disproportionate amount of time in New York City, to meet foreign and business leaders, and attend ceremonies. During the Civil War government papers were moved to New York to get them away from the Confederate border in case DC was torched again. Note to self, you guys did that once. :)

All kidding aside, New York serves many capital-like functions. And DC is not much cheaper a place to live than New York.
« Last Edit: December 22, 2017, 08:26:00 pm by JBG »
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