Sunday, February 21, 2010

Travel Picks: Top 10 big cities that are not capitals

SYDNEY - What's the capital of Australia? If you answered Sydney, you're wrong but in good company, with travel website coming up with a list of the 10 most surprising non-capital cities in the world.

"We've been conditioned to think that because a certain city is the biggest or most popular in its state or country it must be the capital, but that's often not the case. I think some of the cities named on this list might really shock people," general manager Giampiero Ambrosi said.

This list is not endorsed by Reuters.

1. New York City, New York
It may be king of the hill and the top of the heap, but only figuratively. NYC is not the state capital, an honor given to the upstate town of Albany, which is also the birthplace of perforated toilet paper.

2. Sydney, Australia
Iconic though its harbor and opera house may be, it doesn't get star billing. Canberra, which is just a few years away from its centennial celebration, is actually capital of the land "Down Under."

3. Chicago, Illinois
They may have the market cornered on deep dish pizza and football, but the Windy City is the only state title this big city has. Springfield, home to Abraham Lincoln and the annual state fair, is actually the Midwestern state's capital.

4. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
It's fun, exciting and has something for everyone, but that still doesn't make it Brazil's capital. While the city famous for the carnival used to be the capital, Brasilia now takes that position.

5. Istanbul, Turkey
It may have served as capital to ancient Romans and Ottomans, but that designation is long gone for Istanbul. Ankara, a city that is perhaps most famous for its angora-producing goats, is the capital.

6. Geneva, Switzerland
Neither this nor Zurich serve as this precise country's capital. The picturesque, tranquil, UNESCO-recognized town of Bern holds this honor.

7. Johannesburg, South Africa
Interestingly, South Africa has three capital cities, none of which are "Jo'Burg". Divided by branch of government, the capitals are: capital of the judiciary is Bloemfontein, capital of the administrative branch is Pretoria with Cape Town acting as the country's legislative capital.

8. Timbuktu, Mali
Mysterious, exotic, and perhaps the country's most recognizable name, it takes second place to the city of Bamako. Not only is Bamako supposedly the fastest growing city in Africa, but it has emerged as a world-respected center for music, attracting huge industry names to its local pubs where hometown artists play through the night.

9. Las Vegas, Nevada
Betting types gambling on the City of Sin also being the state capital would find themselves with empty pockets. The more family-oriented Carson City wins this hand.

10. Casablanca, Morocco
Not only is Casablanca not the capital of Morocco, neither are the other two top contenders, Fez or Marrakesh. Peaceful and culture-rich Rabat serves as this North African country's capital.

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