August 8, 2019 / 8:29 AM / 2 months ago

Factbox: Seven capital cities that were built from scratch

BANGKOK (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Indonesian President Joko Widodo tweeted on Thursday that he will move the country’s capital away from the crowded main island of Java to Borneo.

The current capital, Jakarta, is home to more than 10 million people, but about three times that many people live in the surrounding towns adding to the area’s severe congestion. The low-lying city is also prone to air pollution and flooding, and is sinking.

Moving the Indonesian capital could take up to 10 years and cost about $20 billion to $30 billion, according to government officials.

Here are seven other capital cities that were moved for a range of reasons including overcrowding, security or to a more central location.

ABUJA - A planned city built mostly in the 1980s, replaced Lagos as Nigeria’s capital in 1991, largely because of its more central location, and as a way to ease congestion. It is now among the fastest growing cities in Africa.

ASTANA - Often dubbed the world’s weirdest capital, the Kazakh capital was moved from Almaty in 1997. The urban plan was drawn up by Japanese architect Kisho Kurokawa, and the city is known for its many futuristic buildings.

BRASILIA - Arguably the most famous planned city in the world, it was founded in 1960, and is famous for its modern architecture, chiefly designed by Oscar Niemeyer. Named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987, the city is nevertheless dogged by an inadequate public transport, segregation, and neglected public spaces.

CANBERRA - The site for the capital was chosen as a compromise between rivals Sydney and Melbourne, Australia’s two largest cities. Construction began in 1913, and after many delays, the Commonwealth parliament moved to Canberra in 1927. Despite its high standard of living, the city is little known overseas and little loved even within Australia.

ISLAMABAD - Built as a planned city in the 1960s to replace Karachi as Pakistan’s capital, Islamabad was created from parts of the North-West Frontier Province and Punjab. It was Pakistan’s first city with a master plan, developed by a Greek architecture firm.

NAYPYIDAW - Myanmar’s capital was moved from Yangon to the center of the country in 2005. Covering 2,700 square miles - about four times the size of London - it features a 20-lane avenue, multiple golf courses and a replica of Yangon’s golden Shwedagon Pagoda. Yet, its wide streets are mostly empty, as relatively few people live there.

EGYPT - A new capital city - known for now as the New Administrative Capital - is scheduled to be operational from mid-2020, although the $58 billion project is struggling to raise funds. Expected to cover about 700 square kilometres (270 square miles), and is located about 45 km east of Greater Cairo in the desert. Besides a new presidential palace and a new parliament, it will also feature a massive theme park, housing for 6.5 million people and Africa’s tallest skyscraper.

(Sources: www.astana-kazakhstan.net; www.getty.edu; www.aph.gov.au; Encyclopaedia Britannica; reut.rs/2BwJ9iQ; www.weforum.org; reut.rs/2JKi8N5)

Reporting by Rina Chandran @rinachandran; Editing by Michael Taylor. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's and LGBT+ rights, human trafficking, property rights, and climate change. Visit http://news.trust.org

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