A distinction should be made from administrative divisions which include national capitals, but have no special designated status legally (for example, Île de France has no distinct quality from other regions of France). Some federal countries (like Belgium), give their national capitals the status as full, equal federal units.
Some federal countries have made no distinction administratively for the territory around the capital. A few federal countries have their national capitals located in the capital city of a federal state: Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina, is also the capital of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, one of two federal units; and Berne, the capital of Switzerland, is the capital of the Canton of Berne.
Two national capitals are neither federal units, special capital districts, nor capitals of federal units: Ottawa, the capital of Canada, and Palikir, the capital of the Federated States of Micronesia. The Canadian government does designate the Ottawa area as the National Capital Region, although this term merely represents the jurisdictional area of the government agency that administers federally-owned lands and buildings, and is not an actual administrative region.
The following have a special administrative district or territory for their national capital cities:
Although the ACT has its own Chief Minister and its own legislature (the Australian Capital Territory Legislative Assembly), the Federal Parliament retains the right to overrule ACT legislation. While governing the entire ACT, the Legislative Assembly also acts as a municipal government for the city of Canberra. The Governor-General of Australia exercises certain rights that in the states would be exercised by a state governor, such as the power to issue writs for elections.
At a federal level, the ACT and the NT both elect two members of the House of Representatives and two Senators. The terms of the territory senators are tied to the term of the House of Representatives, not to the term of the Senate. This means that if there is an election for the Senate only (as last happened in 1970), this would involve only half the state senators, and the territory senators' terms would continue. Conversely, if there is an election for the House of Representatives only (as last happened in 1972), this would also involve the territory senators but not the state senators.
The Federal District is an anomalous unit of the federation, as it is not organized the same manner as a municipality, does not possess the same autonomy as a state (but is ranked among them) and is closely related to the central power.
The District Governor is elected directly for a 4-year term. Local laws are issued by a legislative assembly also elected by the local population. Judiciary affairs are carried out by the Union, instead of being appointed by the governor as in the other states of Brazil. The district has the status of a federal state in many aspects. It has representatives both in the Lower House of Congress (Câmara dos Deputados) and in the national Senate.
The Brazilian federal government was transferred to the Distrito Federal in April 21 1960, which was then split off from the state of Goiás. Before the transfer, the Brazilian capital was the municipality of Rio de Janeiro. After the transfer, the municipality of Rio de Janeiro became the Estado da Guanabara (State of Guanabara), which existed from 1960 until 1975 when the State of Guanabara was merged into the State of Rio de Janeiro.
The NCT was set up as a federally administered Union Territory on November 11, 1956. In December 1991, the NCT was given a legislative assembly headed by a Chief Minister, a privilege that it shares only with one other union territory. The territory is not classified as a true Union territory, though the Central government does have limited control over the functioning of the territory much like other Union territories. Delhi is to eventually become a full fledged state.
The NCT is unique in India in that the municipal control is handled by a locally elected government, while major areas like police, and administration are handled by the central government.
According to the Constitution of Mexico, Mexico City is the Federal District, (Distrito Federal). This is actually a fairly recent reform (dating from 1993) of Article 44 of the Constitution, and it was aimed at ending two centuries of quite sterile discussions (and occasional problems on jurisdiction) about whether one concept engulfed the other or even if one of the two entities really had any legal existence in lieu of the other. The complete text of the aforementioned reform also states that Mexico City is the seat of the Powers of the Union (Executive, Legislative and Judicial) and capital of the United Mexican States.
The City of Washington was built in the center of the District, but other towns were also located in the territory such as Georgetown and Alexandria. The United States Congress returned the Virginia portion of the District back to that state in 1846. The District of Columbia Organic Act of 1871 revoked the charters of the individuals cities of Washington and Georgetown, and instead created a single government for the whole District of Columbia. The City of Washington no longer exists; however, the name continues in use and the city is often referred to as just Washington, D.C.
Since the Home Rule Act of 1973, the District of Columbia has been run by an elected mayor and city council. Congress retains ultimate authority over the District and has the right to review the local budget and taxes, overturn laws passed by the city council, and terminate home rule. District residents pay federal taxes and are represented by a single, non-voting member in the United States House of Representatives.