On May 13, the United States of America moved its embassy in Israel from the city of Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. By doing this, the USA is showing the world that it sees Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, a mostly Jewish nation. This is a problem for Israel’s neighbor, the State of Palestine. Palestinians, mostly Muslims, believe Jerusalem is their capital city. The two states have argued for years.
With the United States’ decision to move their embassy to Jerusalem, several other countries are considering doing the same. For example, Paraguay has already announced they will move their embassy. Other countries like the Czech Republic, Romania and Honduras are also considering it. A country is usually responsible for choosing its own capital city, but in this case it seems like other countries might have some say over Israel’s capital city.
What is a capital city? The word “capital” comes from the Latin word “capitalis”, or “of the head.” That means a capital city is like the head of the country. The capital is where the country’s government works, or where the king or queen of the country lives. Because capital cities are so important, they are usually very well protected and located in the center of a country.
就英文capital city 的字面意義而言，拉丁字源capitalis 意謂「居首」，亦即首都乃一國之首的意思，舉凡中央政府或王室所在地，一般皆設在首都。首都的地位如此重要，因而擁有較多的防禦布署，就地理位置而言，通常設於國家版圖的中心。。
Choosing a capital sometimes requires compromise. In 1790, some Americans wanted the capital to be in the North, while others wanted it in the South. George Washington compromised by putting it in the middle, creating Washington, DC. Also, a capital city usually gets more money from the government. In Taiwan, some politicians think the capital should be moved from Taipei to a more southern city, like Taichung or Tainan.
首都設哪，有時是妥協折衷的結果。以美國為例， 回到1790 年，有些人認為首都應設在北方，也有些人主張設於南方。一南一北，當時的華盛頓總統採取折衷，在中間地帶打造首都，此即後來的華盛頓特區。首都基於其重要性，國家對其挹注較多預算。這也是為何在臺灣，有些政治人物主張應將首都遷離臺北， 搬到臺中、臺南等中南部城市。
Compromise isn’t always easy. Germany used to be divided, like North and South Korea are today. In 1989, Germany reunified and had to choose between the cities of Berlin and Bonn as the new capital. Berlin won the vote by a narrow margin. South Africa has three capitals because they couldn’t agree on one. Cape Town has the legislative branch of government, Pretoria has the administrative and Bloemfontein has the judiciary.
The leaders of some countries choose a capital without giving anyone else a say. In Myanmar, the city of Yangon used to be the capital until 2005. At that time, the military strongmen of Myanmar were afraid of losing power. So they decided to build a new capital in Naypyidaw. Even though the city is huge, more than 25 times larger than Taipei, it has a very small population compared to Yangon.
在某些強人國家，對於選擇首都，領導人不容其他人置喙。在2005 年之前，緬甸首都設於仰光，軍事強人擔心失去政權，因而遷都奈比多。新首都面積是臺北的25 倍大，但人口相較仰光卻顯得微不足道。