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Capital Cities and their National Governments: Washington, DC in Comparative Retrospective, Working Paper 030 Open Access

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Along numerous dimensions Washington, D.C. differs substantially from the rest of the United States. It is a city that lacks the support and resources of a state. It performs many of the same functions as a state while lacking most of the rights, powers, and privileges guaranteed to states under the U.S. Constitution. The District of Columbia lacks full representation in the U.S. Congress, has limited autonomy over its own governance and fiscal policy, while carrying numerous burdens associated with hosting the national capital. While unique in the American context, how unique is the District in the international context? All nations have capitals. In what ways do the circumstances of capitals in other nations resemble or differ from the District’s? In what ways are capital cities treated differently from other cities in the respective nation?

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