Finding a business name is not an easy task, that's not in question. However, it is even more difficult to find a new name for places or countries. This is because not only personal preference and legal issues come into play, but also political subtleties must be considered, particularly in crisis areas.

So let's take a look at the most interesting geographical names controversies in recent history!

Name of the British Isles

Source: are disagreements about whether the term "British Isles" is appropriate, due to the charged relationship between Ireland and the United Kingdom. "British" is often understood as "belonging to Great Britain", such that (according to many Irishmen) Ireland's independence is not expressed explicitly enough.

Alternative suggestions to the name of the British Isles include "Britain and Ireland", "Atlantic Archipelago", "Anglo-Celtic Islands" and "British-Irish Isles".

There are other, less common name suggestions for the British Isles. Amongst them are "Islands of the North Atlantic", "North-West European Archipelago" or "Western European Islands". The Greek term "Pretanic Isles" goes back to even pre-Roman times and is thus founded historically.

Name Dispute Over the Sea of ​​Japan

Source: 1992 a dispute over the name Sea of ​​Japan is smoldering between Japan, North Korea and South Korea. Russia, another riparian state, has largely kept out of the discussion.

South Korea wants to change the name to "East Sea". As an alternative, "Sea of Korea" is proposed, which is also supported by North Korea. Japan, however, opposes renaming and argues that, "East Sea" for example isn't specific enough and could cause confusion. Nevertheless, the two parts of Korea use their favorite names amongst themselves.

South Korea offers even more name suggestions which sound typically Asian. These include "Sea of Peace", "Sea of Friendship" and "Sea of ​​Reconciliation". To date the conflict has not yet been settled and the debate will continue.

Naming of the Persian Gulf

Source: name "Persian Gulf" for the strait between the Arabian Peninsula and the Iranian highlands is well established in most languages. In many Arab countries, however, due to the rivalry between Arabs and Persians, the term "Arabian Gulf" is being used instead.

Other names which are often used represent a compromise, for example, "Arab-Persian Gulf" or simply "The Gulf". The name "Islamic Gulf" was proposed after the Iranian revolution in 1979, but was abandoned with the outbreak of the first Gulf War. Other names that were in use prior to 1917 are "Iranian Gulf", "Gulf of Adscham", "Gulf of Basra", "Gulf of Fars" and "Farsi-Gulf".

The unresolved naming dispute bears strange fruit: Iran doesn't allow planes with labels other than "Persian Gulf" to enter the Iranian airspace.

Macedonian Naming Dispute

Source: the end of Yugoslavia in 1991 began the dispute over the name "Macedonia": both the new Republic of Macedonia and Greece with its historical region of Hellenistic Macedonia claim the name for themselves. Today, the naming conflict is still a political issue, but at least Macedonia doesn't suffer from the conflict economically (any more).

Currently, Macedonia is internationally referred to as the "Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia". Because this name is far from simple, the acronym F.Y.R.O.M is used. However, there are Macedonians who plead not to use the abbreviation.

Amongst the names proposed in the past and future are "Republic of Skopje" after the capital, Skopje, "Vardar Republic" after Macedonia's most important river, "South Slavia" in reference to the name of former Yugoslavia, "Central Balkan Republic", and many more.

Update 2020/02/17: The dispute about the name Macedonia is history since 2019. A referendum concerning the name change was held in Macedonia on 30 September 2018. After the agreement was ratified by both sides, it entered into force from 12 February 2019.

Renaming of Cities in India

With the end of British colonialism in 1947, India started renaming various cities. The English-based names were retained, but adapted to the spelling of Indian English. Renaming places with native Indian names has been rare, though.

The best known example for renaming is certainly "Mumbai", which was formerly called Bombay. Although "Kolkata" (formerly Calcutta), "Bengaluru" (formerly Bangalore) and "Chennai" (formerly Madras) are also well-known examples. The renaming of Indian cities is a positive example of largely conflict-free renaming of geographic places.


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