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The Great Rebranding: 7 nations that drastically changed their names and why

These changes often aim to reshape national narratives, assert autonomy, or update global perceptions


The Great Rebranding: 7 nations that drastically changed their names and why

Throughout history, countries have altered their names for a variety of reasons, reflecting shifts in political dynamics, cultural identity, territorial scope, and governance. These changes often aim to reshape national narratives, assert autonomy, or update global perceptions. Here is a rundown of seven countries that have recently changed their names and the circumstances behind these decisions.

Turkey to Türkiye

On June 2, 2022, the United Nations officially recognised Türkiye as the new name for the country previously known as Turkey. This decision was part of Ankara’s strategic effort to rebrand the country and distance it from its avian namesake and any negative connotations. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan emphasized that “Türkiye is the best representation and expression of the Turkish people’s culture, civilization, and values.”

Holland to the Netherlands

In 2020, the Dutch government opted to officially use “the Netherlands” instead of “Holland” to modernise its global image. This change aimed to move away from associations with recreational drug use and legal prostitution that have been linked to Amsterdam, located in the province of North Holland.

The Republic of Macedonia to North Macedonia

In 2019, the Republic of Macedonia changed its name to the Republic of North Macedonia. This transformation was primarily motivated by political considerations to resolve a long-standing dispute with Greece, which has a region also named Macedonia. The name change was crucial for North Macedonia’s aspirations to join NATO and the European Union.

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Swaziland to Eswatini

In April 2018, King Mswati III announced the renaming of Swaziland to the Kingdom of Eswatini during the celebrations of the 50th anniversary of Swazi independence. The name “Eswatini,” meaning “land of the Swazis,” was chosen to avoid confusion with Switzerland and to reflect the country’s indigenous heritage.

Czech Republic to Czechia

The Czech government adopted the name Czechia in 2016 for marketing purposes. The shorter name was seen as more user-friendly and modern, addressing concerns that “Czech Republic” was often perceived as too long and cumbersome, causing confusion.

Cape Verde to Cabo Verde

In 2013, Cape Verde transitioned to Cabo Verde, a move championed by the then-Minister of Culture, Mario Lucio de Sousa. The change aimed to create a cohesive global identity and streamline diplomatic communications and tourism materials. Cabo Verde sought to establish its identity through unique offerings like organic wines cultivated from volcanic soils.

Ceylon to Sri Lanka

The island nation of Ceylon rebranded itself as Sri Lanka in 1972, drawing from the Sinhalese language, and declared itself a republic. This change aimed to better represent the country’s multicultural identity and distance itself from its colonial history under British rule. It wasn’t until 2011 that Sri Lanka formally removed the name Ceylon from government use.

These name changes reflect each country’s desire to redefine their identity on the global stage, driven by historical, political, and cultural motivations.

Written by, Sakinat Musa Abubakar, Editor at Neptune Prime

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