Both in Australia and the US, the capital is located in a special district, the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) and the Dictrict of Columbia, respectively. What were the reasons for creating a separate district for the capital, independent of the other states and territories?

I guess, that the founders, of both the US and Australia, wanted to ensure that the state hosting the capital does not dominate the other states. However, this would conflict somehow with all citizens being equally represented.

Are there any other special capital districts other than D.C. and the ACT?

Such special districts are not without issue. The long ongoing discussion about statehood for Washington D.C. comes to mind.

I have asked a seperate question about the situation of the ACT, since this might not be widely known outside Australia.

Added from comment by Caleth: Brasilia, or to be precise the Distrito Federal, is also a special capital district. The residents of the Distrito Federal have representatives in both chambers of the National Congress of Brazil.

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    Wasn't it simply so that no state would have unfair influence on the federation? Jun 29, 2020 at 15:38
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    We have a History site where you might get good answers to this. Jun 29, 2020 at 16:14
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    Re the supposed conflict with equal representation (if that was even a goal), the founders of the US probably didn't forsee Washington becoming a major city with a large population in permanent residence. Rather, people would be there temporarily, to pursue whatever government functions they were doing, but would remain residents of, and vote in, their home states.
    – jamesqf
    Jun 29, 2020 at 16:28
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    Voting to close because there are just too many different questions here, and no evidence of preliminary research on any of them. Please focus on one specific question and elaborate on that.
    – Brian Z
    Jun 29, 2020 at 17:28
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    I agree with @BrianZ about there being too many questions in this question. If you wanted to extract the question about representation from the ACT as a separate question I would be happy to answer that on its own.
    – Joe C
    Jun 29, 2020 at 18:17

1 Answer 1


Regarding how many are there, Wikipedia has a list of 24.

Every case may be different, but I think the most fundamental and obvious reason for this practice is that a local or state government should not have power to interfere in the functioning of federal government.

Giving fair representation to the residents of such districts at the national level is not complicated as a matter of principle but a case like Washington, DC has to be understood in its own national context, where Republicans seek to maintain a balance of power with Democrats.

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