Last Updated on August 25, 2020
Throughout history, we have seen the name change of many world countries. But why do they do it? What are the reasons that motivate a country to change practically everything (Constitution, currency, flag, anthem, maps, and everything else) to be known by another name? That’s what you’ll discover next when you get to know the list of 10 wonderful countries that changed their name.
1. Ceylon to Sri Lanka – The Resplendent Island
How many countries changed their names? Several and Ceylon was one of them. Initially discovered in 1505 by the Portuguese, at the time of the Discoveries, Ceylon quickly came under the control of the British Empire.
However, it was only in 1948 that he achieved his independence – although he remained under English rule until 1972 when he changed his name to Sri Lanka.
Currently, Sri Lanka is one of the best countries to travel, as it is an exotic tourist destination with many unusual attractions. It is known as the glorious island because it is a truly magical and charming place.
2. Holland to Netherlands – The Country of Flowers
The Netherlands is known for being the country of flowers, but also for being composed of two distinct regions: South Holland and North Holland. And it is one of the best locations for your travel destinations.
However, in order to unify the entire Dutch territory in one and with the objective of making the Netherlands brand stronger and more impactful in international markets, mainly in terms of tourism, Holland started to be called the Netherlands.
This passage from Holland to Netherlands took place in January 2020 and brought with it a greater territorial union for all its inhabitants.
3. Siam to Thailand – Heaven on Earth
Of the most striking old country names, Siam is one of the most respected historical names of countries. And it is not exactly known for what it was, but for what it has become: in Thailand, a country of enchantments that is known as a paradise on earth.
The name change from Siam to Thailand took place in the distant year of 1939, and, in practice, it means that this is a country of the free people. This has enormous symbology for the entire population and is a way of paying tribute to the first settlers who arrived from China and implemented the ideal of freedom for all.
4. The Republic of Macedonia to the Republic of North Macedonia – The Power of NATO
In January 2019, the Republic of Macedonia became known as the Republic of North Macedonia. And why did that happen? Why countries change their names? In this particular case, it was due to political reasons and to resolve some disputes with the neighboring country.
After becoming a member of the United Nations (UN) in 1993 and to resolve a dispute with Greece over the use of the name Macedonia (the second most populous region in Greece has that name), the Republic of North Macedonia managed to change its name and join NATO in March 2020.
This European country is one of the poorest countries in Europe that, in recent times, has made extraordinary progress.
5. The Republic of Alto Volta to Burkina Faso – The Land Where Corruption Does Not Enter!
The Republic of Alto Volta was located in West Africa and became known as a French colony until 1960 when it became independent from France.
However, more than two decades later, namely in 1983, the country changed its name to Burkina Faso, which in the local language means that it is a land of whole and incorruptible people.
6. The Czech Republic to Czechia – To Unite All Languages
There are countries that changed their names and that, even so, still continue to be better known by their old name. That’s the case of the Czech Republic. In order to facilitate the country’s name in world sporting events and as part of a global marketing strategy, the Czech Republic changed its name to Czechia in 2016.
This change was discussed for several years, and the decision to shorten the name of the country pleased everyone, as it maintained the country flag and facilitated the pronunciation of all the languages that are spoken in the region (English, Spanish, French, Russian, Arabic, and Chinese).
7. Swaziland to Eswatini – The Land of the Swazi
The King of Swaziland, Mswati III, announced in April 2018 that the name of the African country had been changed from Swaziland to Eswatini. And of all the countries with changed names, the move to Eswatini did not surprise anyone, since that was the name already being used by the population.
Eswatini is the direct translation of the name Swaziland and has a very appropriate meaning for the people of the region: the land of the Swazi. In addition, the old name caused a lot of confusion with Switzerland, and now this is no longer the case.
8. Burma to Myanmar – The Land with Two Country Names
The truth is that the name change from Burma to Myanmar in 1989 did not have much effect worldwide because this Southeast Asian country is well known for being a land with two country names: Burma and Myanmar.
And this happened because, at the time of the name change, there was no consensus between the national military government (which intended to change the name of the country to the way it was written locally – Myanma) and the local people (who wanted to keep everything as it was).
However, we believe that these are natural barriers caused by a culture that is remote and closed to the outside and that it is still going through a long process of democratization – a common situation in Asian countries. Sooner or later, they will stop to exist.
9. German Southwest Africa to Namibia – The Land Of Deserts and Diamonds!
Which countries changed their names? There are several, but the name change from German Southwest Africa to Namibia was one of the most radical. This happened when the country became independent from South Africa in 1990, completely removing German influence and dominion over its lands.
This country is known for being the land of deserts (Namibia and the Kalahari Desert) and for the production of diamonds, among other precious metals that form the basis of its economy and, at this moment, are one of the African countries with the greatest margin of progression.
10. Cape Verde to the Republic of Cabo Verde – The Land Of Lush Vegetation
One of the most recent changes regarding country names was the change from Cape Verde to the Republic of Cabo Verde. This change occurred in 2013 and was a way to honor the Portuguese sailors who, in the year 1444, named this volcanic land with that name.
Cabo Verde is located in the westernmost point of mainland Africa and was named this way because when the point was bypassed by Portuguese boats, you could only glimpse intense and luxuriant vegetation.
Many countries have changed their names to break the barriers of the past and to get closer to their true essence, while others have done so to adapt to the demands of our times.
And the truth is that the cost of changing a country’s name is not cheap. But the pride of having a name that meets what defines us is unique and something that is priceless. Don’t you agree?