West indian countries

7 countries that changed their names — and why

“Turkey is the best representation and expression of the culture, civilization and values ​​of the Turkish people,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said last December when his government issued a note on the name change.

The rebranding may be linked to Erdogan’s apparent annoyance at the country’s unflattering association with the bird. As the country’s geopolitical role grows, Turkey is said to have become more image-conscious, and Erdogan’s sensitivity to how the country is perceived is also likely linked to his nationalist leanings.

Incidentally, turkeys (meaning the bird) actually got their name from Turkey (the country) because guinea fowls – originally imported to Europe via Turkey – were called turkeys. The settlers then also applied this name to the much larger bird of the Americas.

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The Netherlands

The Dutch government has also revamped its image by dropping the name Hollande. As of 2020, business leaders, the tourist board and the central government all call the country the Netherlands.

Today, North Holland and South Holland are just two of the 12 provinces of the European country.

The name change is said to be part of a drive to move away from the country’s association with recreational drug use and legal prostitution, a powerful pull factor for foreigners to the Dutch capital Amsterdam, located in the province from North Holland.

It is unclear what will happen to the domain name Holland.com, which is still the landing page of the Dutch tourism agency.

North Macedonia

In 2019, the Republic of Macedonia (although recognized as the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) officially became the Republic of North Macedonia. Unlike some other country name changes, the motivation in this case was political.

North Macedonia has sought to improve its relations with Greece, with the aim of joining NATO and the EU. Greece has long disputed the use of the name Macedonia for the neighboring country, as it is also the name of a geographical region in Greece. Macedonia was also an ancient Greek kingdom. The naming dispute has even contributed to instability in the region.

Greece had preferred that the Balkan country renounce all use of the term, proposing instead the names of “Republic of Vardar” or “Republic of Skopje”. But after long negotiations, it was North Macedonia, with the name of its official language and the citizens remaining Macedonian.


In April 2018, King Mswati III renamed Swaziland to Eswatini, underscoring the ruler’s desire to break free from the country’s colonial past. It is said that the king was also unhappy with how Swaziland was mistaken by some for Switzerland. Announced on the 50th anniversary of the formation of the African country, Eswatini – the nation’s pre-colonial name – means “land of the Swazis” in their language.

Czech Republic

Again, marketing is behind the renaming of the Central European country, the Czech Republic. In 2016, the Czech government officially changed its name to Czechia, with a recommendation to promote this short version in international settings.

Just as France’s official name is the French Republic, the Czech Republic could be Czechia, the reasoning goes. And Czechia is an easier name to associate with products.

Although the EU, UN and some big companies call it Czechia, the name hasn’t quite caught on internationally. One of the reasons is perhaps that Czechia could too easily be confused with Chechnya, a Russian republic in the Caucasus.

In 2020, Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis told the Wall Street Journal that he didn’t like the name Czechia at all.

Green cap

The island nation, located in the Atlantic Ocean about 700 kilometers off the coast of Senegal, filed its official request for a name change in 2013.

Formerly called Cape Verde, it is a partial anglicization of the original Portuguese “cabo verde”, which means “cape verde”. Although not a cape, the archipelago lies just beyond the westernmost point of the African continent.

Practical reasons are also likely behind this name change. The then Minister of Culture said the country was looking for a standardized name that did not need to be translated. He added that he hoped Cabo Verde would evoke positive associations with sun and sea and happy people.

Sri Lanka

Like Eswatini, Sri Lanka changed its name to break with colonial associations.

Although the official name change was made in 1972 when it became independent from British rule, it was not until 2011 that Sri Lanka officially erased the old colonial name of Ceylon from the use of the government.

However, the popular Ceylon tea label remained.

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