Countries That Have Changed Their Names: India is currently in a controversial debate over a name change to ‘Bharat’, sparked by the official G20 dinner invitation from the ‘President of Bharat’ instead of the ‘President of India.’ This is the first time an official invitation has mentioned a change in India’s name.
All eyes are on the upcoming special 5-day session of Parliament from September 18. This will ultimately decide the fate of the proposed name change, requiring a majority vote in both Houses of Parliament to pass the resolution.
However, if the name change occurs, it wouldn’t be the first time a country has undergone such a transformation. There’s a long list of countries that have changed their names before due to political, social, cultural, or other reasons.
Here’s a list of a few countries that have changed their names in the past:
9 Countries That Have Changed Their Names
1. Persia to Iran
It happened back in 1935, when Persia transitioned to Iran, changing the way the country and its citizens were identified. The renaming of Persia and Iran continues to be a topic of debate among Iranians to this day.
This change in the name was announced by King Reza Shah to mark a new beginning for the country.
2. Irish Free State to Ireland
Modern-day Ireland was historically known as the Irish Free State until 1937.
This name change came when the country adopted a new constitution, renaming itself Ireland in 1937 and officially becoming a republic.
3. Siam to Thailand
For centuries, Thailand was known as Siam, which was renamed in 1939 under the Phibun government.
After World War II, the country returned to the name Siam in 1946 for a short time until 1948 and was renamed again in 1949 to Thailand, a name it retains today.
The new name was chosen to emphasise the independence and national pride of the Thai people.
It’s interesting if we look at the origin of the word Siam. The name Siam comes from a Sanskrit word, syam.
4. Ceylon to Sri Lanka
It was 1972 when Ceylon was renamed Sri Lanka and declared itself a republic. It was the Portuguese who named this country Cielo, or Ancient Ceylon, in 1505, which later became a part of the British Empire. The British Empire renamed it again to Ceylon in the early 19th century.
Finally, in 2011, Sri Lanka officially wiped the old colonial name Ceylon from companies and official bodies that still used the old name.
5. Burma to Myanmar
The old name Burma was replaced by today’s official name Myanmar in 1989 by the country’s military junta.
But the renaming changed nothing. In the Burmese language, “Myanmar” is just the more formal version of “Burma,” and the country’s name was changed only in English.
6. Republic of Zaire to Democratic Republic of Congo
The Democratic Republic of Congo has seen multiple name changes before getting its current name in 1997 from the Republic of Zaire, after a series of political troubles and conflicts.
This new name emphasises the return to a democratic system of governance.
It was previously known as the Congo Free State, Belgian Congo, Congo-Leopoldville, Republic of Congo, and Republic of Zaire.
7. Czech Republic to Czechia
Exactly three decades ago, in 1993, Czechoslovakia split into two nations: the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
And finally, in 2016, the Czech Republic changed its name to Czechia.
This change was aimed at simplicity in the name, making it easier for the country to be recognised in sporting events and international marketing efforts.
8. Holland to Netherlands
The government decided to change the name of Holland to Netherlands in January 2020, and the reason will shock you.
The focus away from Holland was for promotional purposes, reflecting the nation’s aspiration to project itself as an open, inventive, and inclusive country on the global stage.
9. Turkey to Türkiye
Recently, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared the official name change from Turkey to Türkiye last year, in 2022. He has also stated that the country would be recognised as ‘Türkiye’ in all languages.
The word ‘Türkiye’ represents the country’s rich culture, values, and civilisation on the global stage in the best way possible.
Do you know of any other countries that we might have missed adding here? Add it in the comment section below!
Written By Shivani Singh
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