Due to land divisions, wars, changes in government, independence, or simply to facilitate pronunciation abroad, some countries have decided to change their names. In some cases, they did it many years ago, and we know these countries by their current names.
But others did it very recently, and we still find it difficult to call them by their new names. The process of changing the name of a country is not simple, much less economic. But despite everything, various parts of the world have dared to do it.
10 countries that changed their names and we’ll tell the story behind their resolutions. Remember to read even the history of the last country.
List of Countries That Changed Its Original Name
Holland changed to The Netherlands
As a way to unify all the provinces that are part of the Netherlands, and also as a marketing ploy, the two regions that are named “Holland” will no longer be called South Holland and North Holland. From January 2020, they became the Netherlands, like the others. This involves many other modifications, for example, editing the name of the football team.
Ceylon changed to Sri Lanka
Ancient Ceylon, now Sri Lanka, changed the name the Portuguese gave it when they discovered it in 1505. Later, it became part of the British Empire and gained independence in 1948. However, years later the island’s government decided to make the change. In 2011, all references to Ceylon were removed, from official bodies to companies that still had the old name.
The Republic of Macedonia changed to the Republic of North Macedonia
The former Republic of Macedonia changed its name to the Republic of North Macedonia in February 2019. The main reason for the name change was to become part of NATO and also to differentiate itself from neighboring Greece, which has a region called Macedonia. The inhabitants will continue to call themselves “Macedonian” and the official language will remain “Macedonian”.
The Czech Republic changed to Czechia
To facilitate the country’s nomination at sporting events, as part of the companies’ marketing efforts, and in the rest of the world, the Czech Republic shortened its name to Czechia in April 2016. The measure was discussed for 20 years. until finally it was decided to shorten the name to facilitate pronunciation in each of the 6 official languages of the country: English, French, Russian, Chinese, Spanish and Arabic. Although the official name is still the Czech Republic, Czechia has become the country’s official short name.
Swaziland changed to Eswatini
In April 2018, the King of Swaziland in Africa issued a statement declaring that the country’s name would change to Eswatini. The change did not surprise its people, as that was the name they were already using. Eswatini is just the local language translation for Swaziland, meaning “land of the Swazis”. Also, the old name was confusing as many mistaken it for Switzerland.
Alto Volta changed to Burkina Faso
To celebrate the twentieth anniversary of its independence, the Republic of Alto Volta was renamed Burkina Faso, which, in the local language, means “land of whole men.” The change was made in 1984, along with the change of the flag and the national anthem. The previous name referred to one of the main rivers in the region.
Burma changed to Myanmar
In 1989, the country’s main military government was determined to rename Burma to Myanmar, in an attempt to preserve the way it is written in the local language: Myanma. However, not everyone agreed with this decision. For this reason, some parts of the world still insist on referring to this Asian country as Burma.
Siam changed to Thailand
Siam’s name change to Thailand did not occur very recently. It was created in 1939 by the king who ruled the country at the time. In the local language, the name is pronounced Prathet Thai, which means “the country of free people”, and pays tribute to the first settlers who came to China seeking freedom.
German Southwest Africa changed to Namibia
When the country became independent from Germany, it was renamed Namibia. This happened in 1990. Sometime later, the names of cities and regions that were in German were also changed. Citizens did not like the proposal, as they were already familiar with the old names.
Cape Verde changed to the Republic of Cabo Verde
Another recent change was that of Cape Verde, which occurred in 2013. The country’s name is now the Republic of Cape Verde, or simply Cape Verde, which is what the Portuguese sailors who discovered the islands called it, in 1444.
How much does it cost to change the name of a country?
Most of the countries on the list have changed their names as a way to erase part of their past and get closer to their true identity, while others have done so to promote tourism, such as the Netherlands. However, not everything is as easy as it seems. It is not cheap either. Each nation paid millions of dollars, or its equivalent in their local currencies, to change their name.
It is not a matter of having a clean slate. The constitution, the official stationery, and even the money must also change. Everything bearing the country’s old name, such as maps, flags, and hymns, should be erased and replaced with a new one. This, of course, takes time.
And then you have citizens who are used to calling their country with a certain name and need to familiarize themselves with the writing and say it in another. These changes don’t happen overnight, and while many still wonder if they were necessary, they generally end up hugging them.
Would you change your name? Do you agree with what these countries have done? Tell us in the comments section! And share the article with your friends, if you thought it was great!
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