Due to land divisions, wars, changes in government, independence, or simply to facilitate pronunciation abroad, some countries have decided to change their name. In some cases, they did it many years ago, and we know these countries by their current name. But others did it very recently, and we still find it challenging to call them by their new name. The process of modifying a country’s name isn’t simple, much less economical. But despite it all, various parts of the world have dared to do it.
1. Holland changed to The Netherlands.
As a way to unify all the provinces that are part of the Netherlands, and also as a marketing move, the 2 regions that bear the name “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 their soccer team.
2. Ceylon changed to Sri Lanka.
Ancient Ceylon, modern-day Sri Lanka, changed its name that was given by the Portuguese when they discovered it in 1505. It later became part of the British Empire and gained its independence in 1948. However, it was years later that the island’s government decided to make the change. In 2011, all references to Ceylon, from official bodies to companies that still carried the old name, were removed.
3. 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 change in name was to become a part of NATO, and also to distinguish itself from its neighbor, Greece, which has a region named Macedonia. The inhabitants will continue to call themselves “Macedonians,” and the official language will remain “Macedonian.”
4. Czech Republic changed to Czechia.
In order to facilitate the naming of the country at sporting events, as a part of companies’ marketing efforts, and in the rest of the world, the Czech Republic shortened its name to Czechia in April 2016. The measure had been discussed for 20 years until, finally, it was decided to shorten the name so that pronunciation would be easier in each of the country’s 6 official languages: English, French, Russian, Chinese, Spanish, and Arabic. Although the official name will still be the Czech Republic, Czechia has become the shortened official name of the country.
5. 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 modification didn’t surprise its people since that was the name they were already using. Eswatini is just the translation of Swaziland into the local language, which means “land of the Swazis.” Besides, the old name was confusing, since many mistook it for Switzerland.
6. 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 alteration of the flag and the national anthem. The previous name referred to one of the main rivers in the region.
7. Burma changed to Myanmar.
In 1989, the country’s leading military government was determined to change the name from Burma to Myanmar in an attempt to preserve the way it’s 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.