Holland -> The Netherlands
2 regions of Holland, which had up until recently been known as “North Holland” and “South Holland” have, since January 2020, now become part of what is known collectively as “The Netherlands”, which consists of 12 provinces.
Ceylon -> Sri Lanka
What we know today as “Sri Lanka” was once known as “Ceylon”. This was the name given to the country when it was discovered by the Portuguese in 1505. Ceylon gained independence from the British Empire in 1948 and eventually changed its name to “Sri Lanka” in 1972. In 2011, all references to the name Ceylon were removed from the country.
The Republic of Macedonia -> The Republic of North Macedonia
Big change, right? This change occurred in 2019 solely so that they could become a part of NATO. Their neighbouring country, Greece, also has a region known as Macedonia, so the “North” was added to avoid any potential mix-ups. Despite the name change, inhabitants will still be known as Macedonians and the official language will remain as Macedonian.
Czech Republic -> Czechia
In April of 2016, the country of Czech Republic shortened its name to Czechia. This was mostly because they wanted to be able to market the country to the rest of the world through sports and sponsorships. The conversation about shortening the name began 20 years prior, and in 2016 they eventually agreed on Czechia as it’s easy to pronounce in each of the country’s 6 official languages. While OFFICIALLY the country will still be known as Czech Republic, Czechia is now the official shortened name of the country.
Swaziland -> Eswatini
In 2018, the name of Swaziland was changed to Eswatini by the King of the country. Why? Well, Eswatini is simply the translation of Swaziland into the local dialect, meaning “land of the Swazis.” Furthermore, many people often confused Swaziland and Switzerland, so it just makes it easier for everyone.
Alto Volta -> Burkina Faso
The Republic of Alto Volta celebrated 20 years of independence with a name change to “Burkina Faso” which means “land of whole men” in the local language. This name change was accompanied by a flag change and a rewrite of the national anthem.
Burma -> Myanmar
A year after thousands were killed in the suppression of a popular uprising, the country of Burma changed its name to Myanmar. This happened in 1989. The military government had wanted to change the name to “Myanma” as that is how it was written in the local language. This was a controversial decision and many people disagreed with it. Because of this, many parts of the world still refer to the country as Burma.
Siam -> Thailand
Up until 1939, Thailand was known as Siam. The change was facilitated by the country’s king at the time. In the local dialect, Thailand is known as ‘Prathet Thai’ which means “the country of free people” as a nod to the first settlers of the country who fled from China.
German South West Africa -> Namibia
When Namibia was under German control, the country was known as “German South West Africa.” In 1990, the country became independent and had its name changed to “Namibia.” Over time, the names of cities and regions were changed as well. However, some citizens weren’t happy with these changes because they were so used to the original names.
Cape Verde -> Republic of Cabo Verde
The country of Cape Verde changed its name to the Republic of Cabo Verde, or simply “Cabo Verde” back in 2013 as a nod to the original inhabitants of the islands back in 1444.
Irish Free State -> Ireland
After a fierce 2-year war with the U.K., the Irish Free State changed its name to Ireland or Éire in the local language. This change occurred in1937.