The African continent is an incredible place. It’s home to beautiful cities, enormous lakes, and some of the biggest countries in the world. The countries in Africa are diverse, representing a wide range of cultures, landscapes, and histories.
The capital cities of Africa are as unique as the countries they govern. In this post, we look at each of the 54 capital cities of Africa, from tiny Dodoma in Tanzania to Egypt’s Cairo, one of the biggest cities on the continent.
Capital Cities of Africa:
Algiers, the capital of Algeria, is famously known as ‘the White City’ for its gleaming white buildings, a stark contrast against the blue Mediterranean. It’s a city where modernity and history collide, showcasing French colonial architecture alongside its ancient Kasbah, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
As well as the political heart and cultural hub of Algeria, Algiers is a popular place to visit for its warm climate and many things to see and do.
Luanda, the capital of Angola, is situated on the Atlantic coast. Its landscape is a mix of Portuguese colonial history and a rapidly modernizing skyline. Despite challenges, Luanda boasts the country’s primary port and beautiful beaches like Ilha do Cabo and Palmeirinhas.
It’s a city of contrasts, with opulent developments alongside informal settlements. Luanda’s rich cultural scene is evident in its music, notably Kizomba, and in landmarks like the Fortress of São Miguel, housing the Museum of the Armed Forces.
The capital of Benin is Porto-Novo, which embodies the country’s rich history and culture. Though it serves as the official capital, the city retains a quaint charm, with its vibrant markets and colonial architecture.
The city’s historical significance is on display at the Ethnographic Museum and King Toffa’s Palace, offering insights into the region’s past and the Yoruba culture. The city is also a center for traditional African art and craftsmanship.
Gaborone is the capital of Botswana and a testament to the country’s post-independence success. It’s a modern and fast-growing city, reflecting Botswana’s stable economy and governance. One of the city’s key attractions is the National Museum and Art Gallery, which showcases Botswana’s history and culture.
Gaborone is also a gateway to the country’s famed wildlife, with the Gaborone Game Reserve and Mokolodi Nature Reserve nearby. The city is a blend of traditional culture and modern lifestyle, offering a unique shopping and dining experience at places like the Main Mall and the new CBD.
Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso
The capital and largest city of Burkina Faso is Ouagadougou, often shortened to Ouaga. One of the city’s claims to fame and contributions to African art is that it hosts the biennial FESPACO, the largest African film festival.
The city is an eclectic mix of traditional and modern, with bustling markets like the Grand Marché standing alongside contemporary structures. Ouagadougou is also a center for music and dance, reflecting the diverse ethnicities of Burkina Faso.
Gitega, now the political capital of Burundi, is the second-largest city in the country. It’s a city steeped in history, recently replacing Bujumbura as the capital in 2019. Gitega houses important cultural institutions like the National Museum, which offers a glimpse into the country’s royal past and ethnic diversity.
As part of a plan to decentralize and develop the interior regions of Burundi, Gitega is set in the heart of the nation, surrounded by rolling hills and tea plantations.
Praia, Cabo Verde
Cabo Verde is an island nation located off the west coast of Africa, and its capital and largest city is Praia, located on Santiago Island. The city is known for its lively markets and colonial history. The city’s old quarter, Plateau, attracts visitors with its colorful buildings and cobblestone streets. Praia is also the economic and political center of Cabo Verde.
Yaoundé, the capital of Cameroon, is a city spread over seven hills, offering scenic views of lush landscapes. It’s a city that balances urbanization with a strong sense of cultural identity, reflected in its vibrant street life and markets, such as the Mfoundi and Central markets.
Important landmarks include the Reunification Monument and the Basilica of Mary Queen of the Apostles.
Bangui, Central African Republic
Bangui is the capital of the Central African Republic and sits on the banks of the Ubangi River, bordering the Democratic Republic of Congo. It’s a city with a rich cultural mix, despite its political and social challenges.
Bangui’s lively markets and vibrant music scene reflect the resilience of its people, and one of its key landmarks is the Boganda Museum, which closed in 2014 due to civil war.
N’Djamena, the capital of Chad, is a city where the Sahara Desert meets Central Africa, creating a unique cultural and environmental blend. Despite facing numerous challenges, the city is a key commercial and political center in the region.
N’Djamena was founded in 1900 and is home to Chad’s National Museum, housing important historical and ethnographic collections.
Comoros is a volcanic archipelago in the waters off Africa’s east coast, between the mainland and Madagascar. The capital of the island nation is Moroni, which is its largest city as well as the seat of government and occupies the island of Grande Comore.
This African capital is known for its historical and cultural significance, with landmarks like the Old Friday Mosque, an emblem of the city’s rich Islamic heritage.
Brazzaville, the capital of Congo, is a city with a French colonial legacy, evident in its architecture and boulevards. Located along the Congo River, it faces Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Brazzaville is known for its relatively relaxed atmosphere, cultural sites like the Basilique Sainte-Anne, and the vibrant Poto-Poto market, famous for its art. The city plays a significant role in Congo’s oil-driven economy.
Yamoussoukro, Côte d’Ivoire
Yamoussoukro, distinctively the political capital of Côte d’Ivoire, contrasts with the country’s economic capital, Abidjan. Although Yamoussoukro has officially been the nation’s capital since 1983, although Abidjan still functions as the de facto capital to this day.
This city is renowned for the Basilica of Our Lady of Peace, which stands as the largest church in the world and mirrors St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.
Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo
Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, is one of the largest capital cities in Africa, buzzing with life and culture. Facing Brazzaville across the Congo River, Kinshasa is a hub for Congolese music and art. The city’s vibrancy is palpable in districts like Matonge, known for its nightlife and music.
Djibouti City, Djibouti
Djibouti is a small African country on the Red Sea, and its capital is Djibouti City. The capital is a port city and a melting pot of African and Arab cultures, evident in its diverse cuisine and architecture. Thanks to its status as a major port in the region and its role as a gateway for trade in East Africa, Djibouti City’s economy can thrive.
The city is also known for its bustling markets, French and Arab-influenced old town, and the modern Hamoudi Mosque.
Egypt’s capital Cairo is one of the most famous cities in Africa, steeped in millennia of history and famously housing the Giza Pyramids and the Sphinx nearby. The city’s historic core, Historic Cairo, is a UNESCO World Heritage site, filled with mosques, madrasas, and monuments dating back to the Fatimid through to the Mamluk eras.
Cairo is also a modern metropolis, with vibrant neighborhoods like Zamalek and Maadi. The city’s rich history coexists with its contemporary art scene and bustling markets.
Malabo, Equatorial Guinea
The only Spanish-speaking country in Africa, Equatorial Guinea gets the first part of its name for its proximity to the equator, though it isn’t actually one of the countries on the equator. The country’s capital city is Malabo, which is located on the island of Bioko, northwest of the nation’s mainland territory.
The city showcases Spanish colonial architecture, as seen in buildings like the Presidential Palace and the Cathedral of Santa Isabel. The city also serves as a key oil hub, significantly contributing to the nation’s economy.
Asmara, the capital of Eritrea, is known for its well-preserved Italian colonial buildings, like the Fiat Tagliero Building and Cinema Impero, offering a unique blend of African and Italian cultures. The city is nicknamed “Little Rome” because of its architecture and cobbled streets.
Asmara is a UNESCO World Heritage site, recognized for its harmonious modernist architecture, making it a unique urban center in Africa.
Mbabane and Lobamba, Eswatini
Eswatini (formerly Swaziland) is a landlocked country in Southern Africa with two capital cities. The larger of the two is Mbabane, which serves as the country’s executive capital. It sits in the Dlangeni Hills and is known for its serene environment, which includes the Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary.
The legislative capital and seat of government in Eswatini is Lobamba. This is where Parliament is located, as well as the country’s National Museum and King Sobhuza II Memorial Park.
Addis, Ababa Ethiopia
Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, is often referred to as the “political capital of Africa” due to its historical, diplomatic, and political significance. Home to the African Union and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, the city is a hub for international diplomacy.
It’s rich in history, with landmarks like the National Museum of Ethiopia, where the famous fossil “Lucy” is housed. Addis Ababa is also known for its diverse culture, vibrant markets, and as the birthplace of coffee.
The capital of Gabon is Libreville, the largest city in the country and where urban landscapes meet the Atlantic coast. The city is known for its seafront boulevards, vibrant markets, and a mix of traditional and modern architecture.
Key attractions in the capital include the National Museum of Arts and Traditions, showcasing Gabonese cultural artifacts. Libreville reflects Gabon’s economic growth, driven largely by its oil and timber industries.
Banjul, situated on an island where the Gambia River meets the Atlantic Ocean, is the capital of Gambia and the nation’s fourth-largest city. It’s known for its colonial architecture, bustling Albert Market, and the Gambia National Museum.
Banjul is a gateway to exploring Gambia’s rich wildlife and scenic landscapes, making it a popular first stop for international tourists visiting the country. It’s also home to the country’s only international airport. Despite its small size, the city plays a crucial role in the country’s economy and cultural identity.
Accra, the capital of Ghana, is a dynamic city that embodies the country’s rich history and contemporary growth. Known for its colorful markets like Makola, colonial-era architecture in Jamestown, and vibrant arts scene, Accra is a cultural hotspot.
The city hosts the National Theatre, the W.E.B. Du Bois Center, and Independence Square, which reflect its historical and cultural significance. Beyond its central role in Ghana, Accra is a key economic and tourist center in the broader West Africa region.
Conakry is the capital of Guinea, located on the Kaloum Peninsula extending into the Atlantic. The city is the largest in Guinea and functions as the country’s economic and cultural center.
Key attractions in Conakry include the Conakry Grand Mosque and the National Museum, offering insights into Guinea’s cultural heritage. Just off the coast are the Loos Islands, known for their beautiful beaches and palm forests.
Where the Geba River meets the Atlantic Ocean in West Africa lies the city of Bissau, the capital of Guinea-Bissau. Known for its colonial buildings, particularly in the old city center, as well as its vibrant cultural life, the city reflects a blend of African and Portuguese influences.
Bissau’s Mercado Central is a hub of activity and an important part of local life. The city is also home to the country’s only international airport and Bissau Port, which contributes to its role as a vital economic center for Guinea-Bissau.
The capital of Kenya is Nairobi, a city whose proximity to wildlife and the Nairobi National Park has earned it the name of, “The World’s Only Wildlife Capital.” The combination of urban life and closeness to wildlife gives the city a unique identity and makes it a popular destination for tourists.
Nairobi is the economic and political center of Kenya, which gives it a significant role in the larger East Africa region. The city features a variety of cultures, evident in its diverse culinary scene and vibrant arts and crafts markets.
The capital of the largest district in Lesotho and the country, Maseru is a city nestled against the backdrop of the Maloti Mountains. Its identity is a unique blend of traditional Basotho culture with modernity.
Some of the key landmarks in the city include the Basotho Hat, a shop and information center shaped like a traditional hat, as well as the Thaba Bosiu cultural village, which is located just outside of the capital.
Monrovia, the capital of Liberia, is named after U.S. President James Monroe, a supporter of the American Colonization Society (ACS). The society’s goal was to resettle the free Black population in Africa.
Monrovia’s rich history is reflected in sites like Providence Island and the Liberian National Museum. Further adding to the capital’s unique identity are vibrant markets and the sandy Silver and CeCe beaches.
The city is a symbol of resilience, having rebounded from civil war and health crises, though it continues to deal with corruption.
Tripoli, the capital of Libya, is a city with a rich history dating back to the Phoenician era. It’s known for its historic medina, Ottoman landmarks like the Gurgi and Karamanli mosques, and the Arch of Marcus Aurelius.
Tripoli’s coastal location and mix of Mediterranean and Arab influences make it a unique North African city. However, the city has faced challenges due to political instability in recent years.
Madagascar is an island nation situated off Africa’s southeastern coast, and its capital city is Antananarivo. Known locally as “Tana,” this African capital is perched on the island’s central highlands, offering stunning views and a cooler climate.
The city’s vibrant mix of traditional Malagasy culture and French colonial influence is evident in its architecture and cuisine. Key attractions include the Rova, a royal palace complex, and the bustling Analakely market.
Lilongwe, the capital and most populous city of Malawi, is a city divided into an Old Town and the New City. The Old Town is a lively area with markets and traditional vendors, while the New City hosts government institutions and embassies.
Lilongwe Wildlife Centre, a rescue and rehabilitation site, reflects the city’s close connection to Malawi’s rich natural heritage. The city’s blend of traditional and modern elements makes it a unique African capital.
The capital and largest city of Mali is Bamako, which stretches along the Niger River and is bustling with life and culture. The city is known for its vibrant music scene, colorful markets, and landmarks like the Grand Mosque of Bamako.
The National Museum of Mali offers insights into the country’s rich history and diverse cultures. Bamako serves as Mali’s political and economic center, despite facing challenges such as rapid urbanization.
Nouakchott, on the edge of the Sahara Desert and the Atlantic Ocean, is the capital of Mauritania. This rapidly growing city is a blend of modernity and tradition, with lively markets like the Marché Capitale and fishing communities along its coasts.
Nouakchott is home to the National Museum and the Saudi Mosque, reflecting its Islamic heritage. The city’s growth is a testament to Mauritania’s economic development.
Port Louis, Mauritius
Port Louis, the capital of Mauritius, is a bustling port city that reflects a rich combination of cultures, including Indian, African, European, and Chinese. The city is known for its historical sites like the Aapravasi Ghat, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and the vibrant Central Market.
Port Louis combines the charm of its colonial past with modern development, serving as the economic, cultural, and political center of Mauritius.
The capital of Morocco is Rabat, a city where Islamic tradition meets French colonial legacy. Popular among tourists, the city is known for beautiful landmarks like the Hassan Tower and the Kasbah of the Udayas.
The diverse character of the city is evident in the contrasts between its medina and modern districts like Agdal and Hay Riad. More than a political center for the country, Rabat is a hub for Moroccan culture, arts, and education.
Mozambique is located in southeastern Africa and its capital is Maputo, which sits along the Indian Ocean and is known for its Portuguese colonial architecture, like the Iron House and the Tunduru Gardens.
The city’s vibrant culture is reflected in its bustling markets, seafood cuisine, and pulsating Marrabenta music.
Windhoek, the capital of Namibia nestled among the country’s central highlands, is a blend of African and German colonial influences, evident in many of the city’s street names. The city’s landmarks include the Christuskirche, a German Lutheran church, and the Tintenpalast, which houses government offices.
Windhoek is also a gateway to exploring Namibia’s diverse wildlife and landscapes, from the Namib Desert to Etosha National Park. The city is a vibrant economic and cultural center, showcasing Namibia’s growth and stability.
Niamey, stretching along the Niger River, is the capital of Niger. The city is known for its vibrant markets, particularly the Grand Marché, and cultural sites like the National Museum of Niger, which offers a glimpse into the nation’s history and ethnic diversity.
Niamey serves as an economic and administrative hub, reflecting the country’s Sahelian culture. Despite challenges, it remains a key center in West Africa.
Abuja, Nigeria’s planned capital, was designed to be a unifying symbol for this diverse nation. It’s a city marked by its impressive Aso Rock and modern architecture, like the National Mosque and the Christian National Cathedral.
Abuja’s Millennium Park and Jabi Lake offer residents and visitors green, recreational spaces. Nigeria’s capital city reflects the country’s complex ethnic tapestry and serves as a political and administrative center, driving national development.
The capital city of Rwanda is Kigali, a city renowned for its cleanliness, safety, and green initiatives. Nestled among hills, Kigali is a symbol of Rwanda’s post-genocide renewal, boasting a thriving economy and a vibrant cultural scene.
Important attractions in the capital include the Kigali Genocide Memorial and the Inema Arts Center. The city’s rapid development and modern infrastructure make it a model for urban planning in Africa.
São Tomé, São Tomé and Principe
São Tomé, located on the island of the same name, is the capital of São Tomé and Principe. The city is known for its colonial Portuguese architecture, like the São Sebastião Museum, housed in a fortress. It’s also enveloped by lush tropical forests and offers access to beautiful beaches.
The city reflects the country’s history as a Portuguese colony and its current status as a developing island nation.
Dakar, located on the Cape Verde Peninsula, is the capital of Senegal and a major West African cultural and economic hub. Known for its historical significance, Dakar houses the African Renaissance Monument and the historic island of Gorée.
The city is also a center for African art and fashion, evident in its vibrant markets and events like the Dakar Biennale. Dakar’s cosmopolitan atmosphere is complemented by its lively music scene and diverse culinary offerings.
Victoria, the capital of Seychelles on Mahé Island, is known for being one of the smallest capitals in the world. The city’s landmarks include the Clock Tower, a replica of London’s Vauxhall Clock Tower, and the colorful Sir Selwyn Selwyn-Clarke Market.
Victoria offers a glimpse into Creole culture and history and is a gateway to the natural beauty of Seychelles’ beaches and coral reefs. It’s also home to Port Victoria.
Freetown, Sierra Leone
Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone, is a city with a poignant history, originally founded as a home for repatriated slaves. The city’s heritage is reflected in sites like the Cotton Tree, which was recently felled by a storm, and the Sierra Leone National Museum.
In addition to its historical significance, Freetown is known for its lively atmosphere, bustling markets, and beautiful natural settings, including beaches like Lumley Beach.
The capital of Somalia is Mogadishu, located on the coast of the Indian Ocean. Known historically as a major port city, it features landmarks like the ancient Arba’a Rukun Mosque and the Italian colonial-era Cathedral of Mogadishu.
Pretoria, Cape Town, and Bloemfontein, South Africa
Pretoria, one of South Africa’s three capital cities, serves as the country’s executive capital. Known for its jacaranda-lined streets, which bloom beautifully in spring, Pretoria is a city of history and culture. The Union Buildings, a symbol of South Africa’s political history, and the Voortrekker Monument, reflecting the Afrikaner heritage, are key landmarks.
Cape Town is the legislative capital of South Africa and the seat of Parliament, while Bloemfontein is the judicial capital of the country.
Juba, South Sudan
Juba, the capital of South Sudan, is a growing city along the White Nile. Since becoming the capital of the world’s newest nation in 2011, Juba has been developing rapidly, reflecting the country’s aspirations and challenges.
The city is a mix of traditional and modern lifestyles, with bustling markets and new infrastructure. Juba’s development is pivotal to South Sudan’s future, serving as the nation’s administrative and commercial center.
Khartoum, situated at the confluence of the Blue and White Nile rivers, is the capital of Sudan. This city is a fusion of Arab and African cultures, evident in its cuisine, music, and markets like Souq Arabi. It was named a Capital of Arab Culture in 2005.
Khartoum’s landmarks include the National Museum of Sudan and the Al-Mogran Family Park. The city is an important center for trade and industry, playing a significant role in the region’s economy and politics.
Dodoma, the capital of Tanzania, is located near the center of the country and has been the official capital since 1996. The city is a key political and administrative hub, housing the Tanzanian government and the Parliament.
Situated on the Gulf of Guinea is Lomé, the capital of Togo. This city is known for its palm-lined boulevards and the Grand Marché, a large market specializing in Togolese textiles and handicrafts. Lomé’s vibrant culture is evident in its music scene and festivals. The city serves as Togo’s administrative and industrial center and its port is one of the busiest in West Africa.
Tunis, the capital of Tunisia, is a city where Islamic, European, and African influences converge. Its medina, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a maze of narrow streets, markets, and mosques, including the Ez-Zitouna Mosque.
Tunis is also a modern city, with districts like Ville Nouvelle showcasing French colonial architecture. The city’s Bardo Museum houses one of the world’s most important collections of Roman mosaics, reflecting Tunisia’s rich history.
Kampala, the capital of Uganda, is a city spread over seven hills, each with its own historical and cultural significance. Known for its vibrant nightlife and cultural diversity, Kampala is a dynamic city that ranks among the fastest-growing cities in the world.
Landmarks include the Uganda Museum and the Namirembe Cathedral. Kampala’s role as a commercial and administrative center is pivotal to Uganda’s economy, with the city being a hub for trade in East Africa.
Lusaka, the capital of Zambia, is a rapidly growing city and one of the fastest developing in Southern Africa. Known for its bustling markets like Soweto Market, Lusaka is a melting pot of Zambian cultures. The city’s modern shopping malls contrast with traditional vendors, reflecting its economic diversity. Lusaka serves as Zambia’s political, cultural, and economic center, playing a key role in the region.
Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe, is a city characterized by its lovely parks and contemporary buildings. The city’s Balancing Rocks are a natural wonder and symbol of the nation, once found on the Zimbabwean dollar.
Harare is known for its cultural institutions like the National Gallery of Zimbabwe, showcasing traditional and contemporary art. Despite economic challenges, Harare remains a major cultural and economic hub in Southern Africa, with a strong potential for growth and development.