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What are the two closest capital cities in different time zones in order to celebrate New Year's Day in both capital cities?

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Well this is an easy one to answer if you ask the right question!

"What is the only capital city with 2 different time zones"?

You can celebrate New Year twice in Nicosia (capital of Cyprus), once in each half of the city!

Nicosia now holds two distinctions. It is the last divided capital in Europe after the fall of the Berlin Wall — a United Nations buffer zone separates the Greek southern part of Cyprus from the Turkish-Cypriots in the north — and it is also the only world capital that follows two time zones.

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And no one is quite sure what to do on New Year's Eve.

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Michalis and Tanur say if they can make their mixed marriage work, the politicians should be able to mend fences between the two communities.

The couple is organizing two street parties on New Year’s Eve to celebrate but also to protest the time difference. After midnight in the north, they plan to pass through the buffer-zone and celebrate the New Year again in the south.

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Of course, everyone can just wait for spring and the return of Daylight Savings Time, when all Cypriots will be back on one time zone.

Source This is the only world capital with two time zones

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Speaking of capitals, Minsk (Belarus) and Vilnius (Lithuania) seem to be the closest. Minks is in UTC+3, Vilnius is in UTC+2. There are approximately 170 km between them. It would be hard to travel this distance in less than one hour.

The next closest pair would be Seoul and Pyongyang (South and North Korea). There are about 200 km distance and 30 (!) minutes time difference (UTC+9 and UTC+8:30).

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    Porto Novo (Benin) and Lome (Togo) appear to be closer than the Korean capitals.
    – phoog
    Dec 31, 2017 at 18:06
  • @phoog Correct. They even seem to be a little closer than Minsk and Vilnius.
    – Neusser
    Dec 31, 2017 at 20:05
  • Another possibility is Skopje (North Macedonia, UTC+1) to Sofia (Bulgaria, UTC+2) but this appears to be ~175 km, marginally further than Minsk-Vilnius. Feb 7 at 14:49
  • The two Koreas were an answer at the time this post was written, but since May 2018 North Korea has moved back to UTC+9. Feb 7 at 15:11
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While these aren't quite the closest, they potentially give a decent amount of time to get from one to the other and still celebrate New Years in both:

Apia, Samoa (UTC +14) and Rarotonga, Cook Islands (UTC -10). Distance between the two is 1500km, however you'd probably need to charter a flight as there don't appear to be direct flights between the two. There are flights via Auckland, New Zealand

Or much much closer, although one isn't technically a capital city:

Apia, Samoa (UTC +13) to Pago Pago, American Samoa (UTC -11). Distance between the two is 125km.

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A bit of Googling brought me to this data set of the distances between capitals, by the political scientist Kristian Skrede Gleditsch. Gleditsch studies the "spatial dimensions of social and political processes", among other things.

Manually looking through his list and comparing it to a list of time zones, I find the following pairs under 200 km (I believe air distance):

  • Beirut (Lebanon, +2) - Damascus (Syria, +3), 78 km
  • Jerusalem (Israel, +2) - Amman (Jordan, +3), 149 km
  • Skopje (North Macedonia, +1) - Sofia (Bulgaria, +2), 151 km
  • Lome (Togo, 0) - Porto-Novo (Benin, +1), 166 km
  • Vilnius (Lithuania, +2) - Minsk (Belarus, +3) 180 km
  • Damascus (Syria, +3) - Jerusalem (Israel, +2), 183 km

None of these look like they can be traveled in under one hour. Beirut-Damascus is the only plausible one but the roads aren't high-quality enough, and who knows if the border will even be open?

Honorable mentions:

  • The two Koreas are no longer an answer; they're 238 km apart but North Korea is on UTC+9, same as South Korea, since May 2018.

  • Lome (Togo, 0) - Lagos (Nigeria, +1), at 239 km would be an answer (and is in this data set) but Lagos is no longer the capital of Nigeria. Togo and Nigeria do not share a border.

  • The furthest-apart capitals sharing a time zone appear to be Helsinki (Finland) and Cape Town (South Africa), both +2.

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    You got me curious how bad is the road from Beirut to Damascus?
    – Relaxed
    Feb 7 at 18:34
  • I don't have local knowledge. Google Maps maps the road; it says it's 2 hr 8 min to travel 115 km by road. Feb 7 at 19:00

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