Apparently, Countries Can Change Their Names To Seem Cooler, Because It Just Happened


The Czech Republic is so last year. What’s in now: Czechia. As long as the country’s cabinet and the United Nations approve the name change.

Yes — name change. Because apparently countries can do that if they want to? There’s a catch, though: the name change, if it passes, will only be informal. Officially, the country that gave us ice-cream filled donut horns will still be known as the Czech Republic.

But it’s not the first time it’s been done. Ever heard of the Kingdom of Denmark? The Hellenic Republic? The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg? Because those are the official names for Denmark, Greece, and Luxembourg. But guess what? Those official names are too long to put on t-shirts. Hence the need for the adaptation of informal English names.

The name change has actually been in the works for quite some time: after the breakup of Czechoslovakia, in 1993, Czechia was proposed as a possible one-word alternative name. And the Czech already refer to their country as “Cesko” (or sometimes also “Czechy”). So it’s us backwards English-speakers who are behind on the times.

There are, of course, those who object to the name change—including the Czech Republic’s regional development minister, Karla Slechtova:

Google translates the tweet as “I disagree with the name ‘Czechia.’ I do not want our country confused with Chechnya. We bought a billion logo Czech Republic. To want to impose.” Slechtova’s meaning with the tweet is clear: she thinks the name is too similar to “Chechnya” and will confuse people, plus the country paid a pretty penny for its tourism campaign and should stick with the name people know it by.

What happens with the Czech name change does raise a bigger question: Does this mean other countries can start indiscriminately re-branding themselves? Because if so, we’d like to suggest Burgertopia as the U.S.’s official shortening. If you have an even better idea, leave it in the comments.

(H/T: Guardian)