Countries that have changed their names as Turkey becomes ‘Türkiye’

Updated: Jun 03, 2022, 02:58 PM(IST)

The United Nations has approved Turkey's request to change its name to ‘Türkiye’. According to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, "Türkiye is the best representation and expression of the Turkish people's culture, civilisation, and values." 

The current government has been trying hard for the name Turkey to be changed to “Türkiye” (tur-key-YAY) as it is spelled and pronounced in Turkish. The name actually dates back to 1923 as the country was called “Türkiye” right after its independence before changing it to Turkey.

Here are the countries that changed their names:

Persia to Iran

Persia changed its name to Iran before March 1935. The suggestion for the change is said to have come from the Iranian ambassador to Germany, who came under the influence of the Nazis.

(Photograph:AFP)

Siam to Thailand

Siam's name was changed to Thailand in 1939 after it became a constitutional monarchy. It is pronounced as Prathet Thai in its local language, which means “the country of free people.”

(Photograph:Reuters)

Democratic Kampuchea to Cambodia

Cambodia has changed its name several times. Between 1953 and 1970, the country has renamed the Kingdom of Cambodia and then Khmer Republic till 1975. Under the communist rule from 1975 to 1979, it was referred to as Democratic Kampuchea.

Under the UN transition authority from 1989 to 1993, it became the State of Cambodia. After the restoration of the monarchy in 1993, it was renamed the Kingdom of Cambodia.

(Photograph:AFP)

Burma to Myanmar

Originally called Burma, the ruling military junta changed its name to Myanmar in 1989, a year after thousands were killed in the suppression of a popular uprising.

The change was recognised by the United Nations, and by countries such as France and Japan, but not by the United States and the UK.

(Photograph:AFP)

Holland to Netherlands

The Dutch government also overhauled its image by ditching the name Holland. As of 2020, business leaders, the tourism board, and the central government all refer to the country as the Netherlands.

Now North Holland and South Holland are just two of 12 provinces in the European country. 

The name change is reportedly part of a push to get away from the country's association with recreational drug use and legal prostitution, a potent pull factor for foreigners to the Dutch capital Amsterdam, which lies in the province of North Holland.

(Photograph:Reuters)

Ceylon to Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka changed its name to break from 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 wiped the old colonial name Ceylon from government use. However, the popular Ceylon Tea label has remained.

(Photograph:AFP)

The Republic of Macedonia to the Republic of North Macedonia

The Republic of Macedonia (though recognised as the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) officially became the Republic of North Macedonia in 2019. In contrast with some other country name changes, the motivation in this case was political.

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

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

(Photograph:AFP)

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