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So take me back to Constantinople

No, you can't go back to Constantinople

Been a long time gone, Constantinople

Why did Constantinople get the works?

That's nobody's business but the Turks

Due to a large number of political events, certain city names have become politically incorrect and have been changed. Not all the locals like it though. A Soviet-era joke has an older Russian filling out a form:

Where were you born? St. Petersburg. Where did you go to school? Petrograd. Where do you live now? Leningrad. And where would you like to live? St. Petersburg.

It's not always for political reasons though. For example, some Chinese place names have simply been changed due to a new method of transliterating their "real" names -- neither "Peking" nor "Beijing" is an entirely accurate way of representing the Chinese word, due to language differences, but the latter is considerably closer than the former.

Either way, expect to see some of the old names pop up in Alternate History or Fantasy Counterpart Culture, as evidenced by Istanbul Not Constantinople.

Often a form of Meaningful Rename.

Examples of Please Select New City Name include:

Uses in Fiction

Anime and Manga

  • The main setting of Higurashi no Naku Koro ni was renamed from Onigafuchi to Hinamizawa, removing the "oni" (demon) part of the name--a reference to the villagers' beliefs that they were part demon--in the process.


  • In the backstory of The Lord of the Rings, the city of Minas Ithil ("Tower of the Moon") was renamed Minas Morgul ("Tower of Black Sorcery") when it was overrun by the forces of Sauron. In response, its sister city, Minas Anor ("Tower of the Sun") was renamed Minas Tirith ("Tower of Guard").
    • Similarly, the original Minas Tirith from the Silmarillion was on Tol Sirion (The Island of the Sirion, i.e. the Sirion river). After being taken over by Morgoth, and used by Sauron to breed werewolves, was renamed Tol-in-Gaurhoth or Isle of Werewolves.
    • Also from The Lord of the Rings, the Dwarven citadel of Khazad-dum ("Dwarf City", roughly) was known as Moria ("Black Pit") after the demonic Balrog awoke and drove the Dwarves out.
      • Tell that to Narvi and Celebrimbor, who wrote "Ennyn Durin aran Moria" on the west-door long before the Balrog appeared. Apparently the elves never much liked Khazad-dum.
        • In fact Khazad-dum was sometimes rendered in Elvish as Hadhodhrond. Just why Celebrimbor didn't use that name is unclear.
  • One of Private Eye`s stock parodies is of an African tin-pot dictatorship called "Rumbabwe, formerly British Rumbabaland" (referencing Zimbabwe and Bechuanaland/Botswana). There are also less frequent parodies of other name changes, such as the Soviet ones.
  • Strugatsky Brothers novel Hard to Be A God, mentions a lot of villages being given more upbeat names in hopes of reforming them. It sounded like the attempt wasn't successful.
  • In the Star Wars Expanded Universe, this trope occurred on a massive scale when the extragalactic Yuuzhan Vong invaded the capital planet/global city of Coruscant, terraformed it into a humid jungle world, and renamed it Yuuzhan'tar, in an attempt to recreate their lost/destroyed original homeworld.
    • Earlier, Coruscant was renamed Imperial Center during The Empire's rule and reverted to its traditional name under the New Republic. Only die-hard Imperials used the new name in the first place.
  • In the Star Trek Novel Verse, the capital city of Romulus changes its name at some point in the early-mid 24th century. In Star Trek: Vulcans Heart, the capital city was given the name Ki Baratan. It had previously been called Dartha, but that was in a story set a century prior. Later novels used the time gap for a reasonable Retcon: the capital's name changes as new regimes come to power. Now, books set in the 22nd or 23rd centuries use "Dartha", those set in the 24th use "Ki Baratan". The name change is explicitly mentioned in the first Star Trek: Titan novel.
  • As part of the rich and complex history presented in The Wheel of Time series, many cities and countries have changed over the last Age. For instance, the city of Al'cair'rahienallen, "The Hill of the Golden Dawn," is now known as Cairhien, because it's so much less of a mouthful. Closer to the plot is an ancient city of Aridhol, which became consumed by its own evil and became known as Shadar Logoth, "The Shadow's Waiting."
  • In Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay, the titular city-state is much damaged and renamed Lower Corte years before the opening of the book. Even the memory of that name is magically expunged from virtually everyone who didn't live there. The main plot of the book is about a quest to restore the city and its name.

Live Action TV

Tabletop Games

  • Traveller: The New Era gives us an example involving planets - the Reformation Coalition gave several of its planets new names relating to its philosophy of hope and rebirth, to make the point that the Imperium (the source of the former names) was gone and not coming back.
  • The capital of Karameikos, a nation from the Mystara D&D setting, was changed from Specularum to Mirros by royal decree. In-character, this was done because "Specularum" was a name imposed by the Thyatians and raised bad feelings among the Traladaran populace, whom King Stephan wanted to appease; out-of-character, it's because one of TSR's female employees pointed out that "Specularum" sounds unpleasantly like a gynecological implement.

Video Games

  • The Trope Namer is a standard fixture of 4X games like Civilization. When founding any new city, or in some games when conquering an enemy one, the player is asked to issue a new name.
    • Alpha Centauri has a few times in the campaign where this is done automatically. For instance if a certain offscreen NPC is killed in combat, then the next enemy city you take will be renamed in her honor.
  • Half-Life: When the Combine took over Earth they renamed cities to things like City 17.

Web Animation

  • Strong Bad says that one of the requirements for becoming an officially licensed unlicensed seller of cheap Strong Bad and The Cheat knock-off merchandise is that it has to be made in a country that's changed its name at least five times since Strong Bad was in seventh grade. This is spoken over a visual of a country getting its name crossed off and replaced five times (Gunkistan → East Paunch → Republic of Wad → Double G → West Paunch → Guttenberg).

Web Comics

  • Order of the Stick: After almost a year of occupying Azure City, Redcloak renamed it "Gobbotopia" as part of a plan to create a stable monster state.
    • The Western Continent's nation-states and cities are constantly changing names around once a year, as that's how long it takes the average tyrant to be overthrown and replaced by another tyrant.

Western Animation

  • Used in Avatar: The Last Airbender. The city of Omashu was originally named after its founders; the secret lovers Oma and Shu, who united their warring villages to create the city. However, when it gets taken over by the Fire Nation it is renamed as "The City of New Ozai".

Appearances in Real Life


  • After the independence, many major cities of Madagascar changed their names to Malagasy-sounding ones. There were several distinct reasons though:
    • The city already had a Malagasy name but the French colonists translated it. Examples: Antananarivo (Tananarive), Mahajanga (Majunga) and Toliary (Tuléar)
    • The city already had a Malagasy name but the French colonists created another one from scratch. Example: Toamasina (Tamatave)
    • The city was founded by Europeans but gained a Malagasy name with time. Examples: Antseranana (Diego-Suarez), Tolanaro (Fort-Dauphin) and the small city of Mahavelona (Hopeful Point, then frenchified as Foulpointe)
    • Aversions: the French administration never bothered to translate or change the names of the major cities of Fianarantsoa and Antsirabe, and on the other side the main city on the island of Nosy Be is still Hell-Ville as of now despite a Malagasy name (Andoany) existing.
  • In South Africa:
    • There is an ongoing controversial movement to change Pretoria's name to Tshwane. Pretoria is presently the name of the primary city of the municipality of Tshwane. Some politicians insist on renaming the city, but in a country with 11 official languages (seriously,) each with their own name for the city, what would they call it?
    • This is not the only city to experience a theoretical name change. Ask someone where 'Bela-bela' is and you'll get a blank look at best, but Warmbad is fairly well known. Many other examples exist in South Africa.
    • In Durban, the city management embarked on a politically driven campaign to rename all of the streets in the city. Which all of the citizens promptly ignored. At present the renamed streets have signposts displaying both the new and the old names, and on some the new names have been spray painted over or removed.
  • Several African and Asian cities/countries adopted more "local" sounding names after colonial powers left.
    • Salisbury in Southern Rhodesia became Harare in Zimbabwe.
    • Northern Rhodesia became Zambia, though the major city was already Lusaka.
    • Belgian Congo became the Republic of the Congo after gaining independence, but the name was changed to Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1964, probably because its neighbouring country, the former French Congo also chose the name "Republic of the Congo". The country was then renamed to Zaire between 1965 and 1997 but reverted to "Democratic Republic of the Congo" in 1998.
    • The Republic of the Congo itself was the People's Republic of the Congo 1970-1992.
    • Bechuanaland became Botswana. In The No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency TV adaptation Grace references this when complaining the office does not have a computer.
  • Likewise:
    • Dahomey => Benin. Confusingly, not the successor to the historical Benin Empire. It was named after the Bight of Benin, which it borders, and which was in turn named after the empire. The name was chosen as a compromise between the Dahomey, Atakora, and Burgu ethnic groups which make up the nation.
    • Gold Coast => Ghana. Also named after a historical kingdom which was actually somewhere else (its furthest southern reach was a few kilometers north of current Ghana's northern border; any attempt to connect to the historical entity via ethnicity is also spurious, since very few of historical Ghana's dominant Soninke people live in modern Ghana, which is dominated by the unrelated Ashanti, Fanti, Akan, Guan, and Ewe peoples.
    • Ivory Coast => Côte d'Ivoire (It means the same thing but has become the preferred form in English)
    • Upper Volta => Burkina Faso
    • Ubangi-Shari => Central African Republic => Central African Empire => Central African Republic
    • Abyssinia => Ethiopia
    • Tanganyika and Zanzibar => Tanzania (although that one was a portmanteau of two former colonies that united into one independent country)
    • South-West Africa => Namibia
  • Colonies tend to get rid of their master's name on independence, although frankly that's about as much because the old names have become inaccurate as that the locals don't like them.
    • British East Africa => Kenya
    • Spanish Sahara => Western Sahara
    • Spanish Guinea => Equatorial Guinea
    • Portuguese Guinea => Guinea-Bissau
      • It's not always so cut-and-dry, though. British East Africa was renamed Kenya in 1920, decades before independence, and Equatorial Guinea bore its current name during the last few years of Spanish rule in the 1960s.

Australia / Oceania

  • Bendigo in Victoria, Australia was officially named Sandhurst in the 19th century. However, all attempts to use "Sandhurst" failed and the government eventually gave up and let it be known as Bendigo.
  • New Hebrides => Vanuatu
  • Not a city, but the island/state Tasmania in Australia, was named after the first European to see it, Dutchman Abel Tasman. However, Tasman originally named it Anthony van Diemen's Land after his patron and when it was controlled by the British it was shortened to Van Diemen's Land. 200 years after Tasman named it, it was renamed Tasmania after him.
  • German-named places in Australia had their names changed during the war (in 1917) as well. Some changed back (like Hahndorf, SA, which temporarily became Ambleside), others didn't (Blumburg became Birdwood, SA)
    • Bismarck cbecame Collinsvale, TAS.
    • The ultimate example: Germantown in New South Wales was renamed Holbrook after the captain of Australia's first submarine. It is well known now for having a submarine (the former HMAS Otway), several hundred kilometres from the nearest coast.
  • Melbourne was originally called Bearbrass, for some reason. Before that, it was Batmania, after its founder John Batman.
  • There were a number of places and landmarks given back their Aboriginal names in the 1970s and 1980s, most notably Uluru, aka Ayers Rock.
  • There's apparently a debate going around in New Zealand about whether to rename Wanganui to Whanganui. Usually this would change the pronunciation in Maori, excepting that the local iwi have their 'wha' the same as 'wa' unlike the rest of Maoridom.
  • Similar to the Uluru example above, part of many Treaty of Waitangi settlements with Maori iwi in New Zealand involve giving various landmarks an official Maori name in addition to the official English one. One of the most famous examples is Mount Cook, which is now officially Mount Cook/Aoraki.
  • In Hawaii, Waimea is the name of two towns, one on Kauaʻi, and one on Big Island. Kamuela is an alternative name (used by the U.S. Postal Service) for the Big Island town to distinguish between the two.


  • Hull/Gatineau, Quebec. As with Pretoria/Tshwane, the old central city is still officially Hull, the metropolitan region (or at least that part of it on the Quebec side of the river) once commonly called "Hull", is officially Gatineau.
  • A goodly raft of the towns in Nunavut and in Nunavik (northern Quebec), formerly with English or French names, have had their names changed (or changed back) to Inuktitut names. For example, what used to be Frobisher Bay is now Iqaluit, the capital of Nunavut. (The change was made a number of years before the creation of Nunavut.)
  • Nieuw Amsterdam was founded in 1609 in the banks of the Hudson river, in the island of Mannahatta. Later, when the Second Anglo-Dutch War was settled in 1674 by the Treaty of Westminster, the Duke of York from England gained control of New Amsterdam and renamed it New York City; Mannahatta was anglicized as Manhattan. Other name changed include Harlem (Haarlem), Flushing (Vlissingen), Brooklyn (Breukelen) and Stuyvesant Town (after the last governor of Nieuw Nederland, Peter Stuyvesant).
  • In rare change of who the name of a place is named after and not the actual name of the place, the name of the county in which Seattle, Washington State sits in was changed in 2005 from King County (named after William Rufus King, vice president of the United States at the time of the county's inception), to...um...King County (named after Martin Luther King Jr., who visited Seattle in 1961).
    • This was probably because William Rufus King's most notable political legacy before his 45-day vice presidency was defending slavery in the Senate.
    • Seattle itself was originally named New York-Alki ("New York Someday," in Chinook Jargon)
  • Kitchener, Ontario received a new name in 1916 (the middle of World War One), when enough people complained about a Canadian city named "Berlin".
    • Three years later, what is now Marne, Michigan (outside of Grand Rapids) went through exactly the same thing--everything around there is still called "Berlin (raceway, fairgrounds, etc.)", though.
    • Kitchener was known as (New) Berlin since German American loyalists settled there after the revolution, it wasn't later German immigrants who gave it the name, which was the reasoning for changing it. Kitchener was the head of the British Empire's military at the time of the First World War. Swastika was named way before WWII and the name had a different meaning than the symbol, which was also originally a good luck symbol.
    • Parodied with a CBC Sitcom titled The Good Germany, about the town council of the fictional town of Germany, ON. The title is referenced in a World War Two-era banner in the council's meeting room.
  • There used to be an area in Texas called "Dead Nigger Creek," which was eventually changed to the ever-so-slightly less offensive "Dead Negro Draw."
  • During the 1890s, the U.S. Postal Service began standardizing spellings by dropping the "h" from town names ending in -burgh; this policy relented in The Fifties and many communities have claimed their "h" back. It can take decades for all the signs to change, however.
    • Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania refused to let go of its "H". Most other Pittsburghs, however, were OK with letting it go, including Pittsburg, Kansas (Which is probably why most people realize Pittsburg State University is not in Pennsylvania).
      • See Also: Alburgh, Vermont
  • Colonies tend to get rid of their master's name on independence (for reasons that have about as much to do with accuracy as with pride).
    • British Honduras => Belize
    • British Guiana => Guyana
    • Dutch Guiana => Suriname
    • Averted by French Guiana - the official name is "Guyane" but the territory remains part of France.
  • When Fort William and Port Arthur, Ontario merged, they changed their name. Everyone just called the area "The Lakehead" anyway, so of course they named it "Thunder Bay". You see, there was a vote, and both "Lakehead" and "The Lakehead" were on the ballot next to Thunder Bay. Oops.
    • More of the same when the city of Galt merged with Preston and Hespeler - resulting in the city of Cambridge, Ontario.
  • In Ontario, the colonial settlements of York, Bytown, Johnstown and Scott's Mills are the thriving cities of Toronto, Ottawa, Cornwall and Peterborough, respectively.
    • Out West, the settlements of Brisebois, Pile O'Bones, and Fort Camosun are the thriving cities of Calgary, Regina, and Victoria.
    • And Granville is now Vancouver.
    • And Ville-Marie is now Montreal, and Fort Garry is now Winnipeg (although in both cases there are districts of the city in question with those names).
  • There is a city named Buffalo, Texas. When the Dallas Cowboys played the (New York-based) Buffalo Bills in the Super Bowl, the town changed its name to Blue Star for a week to match the Cowboys' logo. When the same cities met for the NHL championship a few years later, they changed the name to Green Star.
    • There is also a Pittsburg, Texas, which temporarily changed its name to "Cowboys" the last time Dallas and Pittsburgh met in the Super Bowl.
  • Orange County, Florida (after which Orange County, California was named, believe it or not), was originally named Mosquito County. It was renamed Orange County when it became the center of the state's citrus industry.
  • In the late 70's, a street in Orange County, Florida, North Nowell Street, was once renamed Lamar Street, for then County Commissioner (and now Florida State's Attorney) Lawson Lamar, for no better reason than Lamar wanted a street named after him. So unpopular was this switch with the locals that they kept knocking over the street signs (in one case, a horde of teenagers descended upon every street sign in the neighborhood with sledgehammers). After replacing the sign for the thirtieth time, the county got the message and restored the street's original name. Lawson Lamar was not amused.
    • Lamar tried the same trick with a County Park in Orange county a couple of years later, with similar results. Lawson Lamar is generally seen to be a Jerkass by the people of Orange County, Florida.
  • North Beach in Burlington, Vermont was renamed "Bernie Sanders Beach" by the city council for about a day and a half before Sanders himself asked that it not be renamed for him.
  • Many places in Texas use the last name of prominent historical figures, Houston, Austin and Dallas being the big three examples. After the Civil War, because many of these people were officials or soldiers under the Confederate government, there was pressure from the North to change the namesakes and the fact that some of the place names were after people who sided with the Union and fought aginst Texas regiments. So while some counties and have the same names to reduce confusion as much as possible, their historical meaning can be confused at best and a bitter subject for arguments involving both slavery and a corrupt occupation government at worst. For example, Walker County can claim at least three different namesakes, besides the one we're all familiar with.
  • Many Chicago neighborhoods started out as suburbs, and got absorbed. Most of the street names were retained in the process. At the time this happened to Bucktown in the 1800s, it was a German enclave, so the streets had German names: Berlin, Hamburg, Frankfurt, Rhine, and so on. Then, World War I happened. Most would (eventually) get changed to the names of English authors.
  • The settlement of Frenchtown, Michigan Territory, was incorporated as the Village of Monroe, and the newly-formed surrounding county named Monroe County, following President James Monroe's visit to the territory in 1817. The Frenchtown name remains an important part of the region, however, due to the Battle of Frenchtown in the War of 1812, and the township north of the present City of Monroe is named Frenchtown.
  • Also in Michigan: in 1829, Bucklin Township split in half to become Nankin (west) and Pekin (east) Townships. Nankin further split into Livonia (north) and Nankin (south) Townships, while Pekin was split into Redford (north) and Dearborn (south) Townships. Livonia incorporated as a city in 1950, while Redford saw most of its area annexed by Detroit in the 1920s.
    • Changing borders and mergers resulted in the present-day City of Dearborn being made up of parts of Bucklin/Redford/Dearborn/Bucklin/Dearborn Township, the Village of Dearbornville, Springwells/Greenfield Township, and the Village of Springwells/Fordson, while parts of Dearborn Township were annexed by Detroit, another part by Inkster, and the remainder of the township that didn't join the City of Dearborn becoming Dearborn Heights.
    • Nankin split off the cities of Wayne, Garden City, and the west half of Inkster, and still had a burgeoning population of 70,000 (the most populous township in the world at the time) before incorporating as the City of Westland in 1966... all so they could keep Livonia from annexing the northern half of Nankin, which contained the newly-opened Westland Mall. Yes, that's right, the city named itself after its mall. The Nankin name lives on, though, with place names within the city.
  • Atlanta, Georgia started off as Terminus and then became Marthasville before becoming Atlanta. That's right. Atlanta used to be called Terminus.
  • Sort of happened to Guadalajara, Mexico, which was founded four times: the first became a small town called Nochistlán, the second became a neighborhood called Tonalá, the third became another small town called Tlacopán, and the fourth became Guadalajara itself. (And for the record, it's named after the small 80,000-people city of Guadalajara, Spain, and Guadalajara, Mexico is home to almost 5,000,000 people).
  • Clark, TX, became DISH, TX, because the DISH Network offered the inhabitants free satellite TV for 10 years.
  • In the same vein, the town of Halfway, Oregon renamed itself "Half.Com" at the height of the dot-com boom. All parties involved seem to have quietly let the whole affair be forgotten.
  • The town of Hot Springs, New Mexico, was renamed "Truth or Consequences" after the quiz show, because the show's host promised to air the show out of the first city to do this. It is commonly referred to as "T or C" to save some effort.
  • The city of Topeka, Kansas changed its name to Google, Kansas for the month of March 2010, to try and motivate Google to bring its fiber-optic network experiment to the city. This was not a legal name change, but rather simply a marketing one, as the city's lawyers advised against making the name change legal.
  • Averted in the case of the capital of North Dakota, which remained Bismarck throughout two wars with Germany.
  • St. Paul, Minnesota was originally called Pig's Eye by locals after the tavern of the same name.
  • In 1874, Rancho San Pascual, California changed its name to Indiana Colony...or possibly Orange Grove. There was a post office for each name, and mail sent to either would arrive in the same place, not to mention the neighboring town of Lake Vineyard. Soon, the city became sufficiently large as to need a single name, so they started using a new one: Pasadena.
  • The towns of Westminster and Artesia, California are never referred to by their actual names; rather they are "Little Saigon" and "Little India" respectively. There are actual government documents that recognize these names, but the municipalities retain their old titles.
  • The area that would become San Diego, CA was first named "San Miguel" by Spanish explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo when he landed there in 1542. When Sebastián Vizcaíno landed there sixty years later in 1602, unaware that the land had already been named and claimed for the Spanish Empire, he named it "San Diego" after his flagship, and the name stuck.
  • In Oregon, Dead Indian Road was renamed Dead Indian Memorial Road.
  • The Oregon state government has also mandated that all geographical names (roads, streams, mountains, etc.) within the state that include the word "squaw" be renamed.
  • Speaking of Oregon, the area was once jointly controlled by the Americans and British, and known as both "Oregon" and "Columbia". When it was split in half along the pre-existing US/British border, the British kept the "Columbia" name for their half (which later joined Canada as, obviously, "British Columbia"), and the US kept the "Oregon" name. When the Americans split their part in half again, the southern part kept the name "Oregon", and the northern part was planned to go back to "Columbia", until a rather last-minute change named it "Washington" instead.
  • The city of Longmont, Colorado once had a street named Chivington Drive, named for the hero of the battle of La Glorieta Pass (1862) in the Civil War. Unfortunately, Col. John Chivington also happened to be the man responsible for the Sand Creek Massacre of 1864; the name was changed to Sunrise Drive in 2004.
  • The city of Auburn, WA was originally incorporated in 1891 under the name Slaughter. The community had been known by that name since 1884, named after Lieutenant William Slaughter, who was killed in a skirmish in 1855 while leading a military unit in the area. The town name was changed by petition to the legislature in 1893, due to its negative connotations. Apparently train passengers did not like hearing that the next stop would be at Slaughter House (the largest local hotel at the time). The origins of the new name are disputed.

Eastern Europe

  • Many settlements in Russia and the Soviet Union have been renamed, from villages to major cities. A list of ones in Russia
  • St. Petersburg became Petrograd when World War I began (the government thought the name sounded too German, even though it was actually from Dutch owing to Peter the Great's peculiar fondness for the Netherlands), then Leningrad with the rise of the Soviet Union, and reverted to St. Petersburg shortly before its collapse. The surrounding oblast (province) is still called "Leningradskaja", however.
  • Königsberg became Kaliningrad after the Soviets took it from the Germans. It never had a Russian name, so they leave it as it is for now.
  • In the Kaliningrad oblast, i. e. the part of East Prussia that became part of the Russian Federation (then the RSFSR) in 1945, all towns and villages were given entirely new Russian names, even if the original name of the place was of Baltic (Old Prussian or Lithuanian) or Slavic, not German origin (e. g. Tilsit became Sovietsk), not just to match Soviet sensibilities, but also to please Russian patriotism, e. g. by naming them after Tsarist Generals like Kutuzov and Bagration. Shortly before that, the Nazis had renamed several hundreds of villages in East Prussia and Upper Silesia because their names sounded too Slavic (Mazuric or Polish) or Lithuanian.
  • Nizhnyj Novgorod became Gorkij in 1929 (after the novelist), then reverted to the older name and the oblast actually changed name with it. Curiously enough, the auto-maker GAZ (from Gorkij Avtomobilnyj Zavod, "Gorkij automobile factory") was founded in 1922 as NNAZ, and was obviously renamed with the city, but has not reverted to the original name.
  • Similarly, Tsaritsyn became Stalingrad and after de-Stalinization in 1961 became Volgograd, though there is a civic movement to restore the Stalingrad name. This has nothing to do with a liking of Stalin and everything to do with the WWII battle fought there, which the citizens are quite proud of.
  • Yekaterinburg was known as Sverdlovsk between 1924 and 1991, the oblast retaining that name. When it featured in Airwolf under the then-current name, Silent Hunter had to reach for his atlas- and go to the index.
  • Tsarskoye Selo ("Village of the Tsar") became and remains "Pushkin", after the great Russian poet.
  • The main city of western Ukraine: Lemberg -> Lwów -> Львов (L'vov, the Russian form) or Львів (L'viv, the Ukrainian form) within less than ninety years.
  • The spelling of the capital of Ukraine (Kiev or Kyiv) is also a Flame War issue.
    • Ukraine is often referred to in older sources as "the Ukraine". This mirrors a similar dispute in Russian and Ukrainian over which preposition should be used - Slavic languages have two words that both roughly translate to "in" but have subtly different meanings, and for historical reasons Ukraine tends to be referred to by the one that usually connotes a region within a country rather than a country in its own right. This quite closely mirrors the semantic issues around the use of "the" in English.
  • Just about everywhere in western Poland (formerly eastern Germany), Kaliningrad Oblast (formerly northern Prussia), and western Ukraine and Belarus (formerly eastern Poland) have had at least one nameswap in English. This is less a case of actual renaming a more a convention of which names are used in English. Preferred names in English tend to follow the language of the ruling power in the region (since they're all foreign to English speakers anyway), but in the languages themselves, the name may persist. For example, even though the Polish name for Warsaw is "Warszawa", English speakers call it Warsaw, German speakers call it Warschau et cetera. London is called "Londres" in French and Spanish.
    • Actually in many cases it is what is easier to pronounce, for instance for a long time the West German city of Aachen was called Aix-la-Chapelle and Köln still is called Cologne in English, even though the only time these cities belonged to France was from 1796 to 1814, i. e. when Britain was at war with France (to complicate the issue further, said cities are known in Spanish as, respectively, Aquisgrán and Colonia; in both cases, these modern names derive from independent evolution of the original Latin names: "Aquis-granum" and "Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippinensium"; this happens in other languages as well: "Aquisgrana" in Italian, "Akwizgran" in Polish, etc.). München and Venezia, which never were part of France, are also called by their French names Munich and Venice (Venise) in English. And there is the Tuscan port of Livorno which for some reason is called "Leghorn" in English.
    • Breslau -> Wroclaw
    • Danzig -> Gdańsk (this name change has notoriously caused flame wars on The Other Wiki - the talk page contains eleven archives and still has the argument going on.)
    • Stettin -> Szczecin
    • In the fifties Katowice was renamed Stalinogrod after Stalin... Which spawned numerous jokes since "Kat" is Polish for an executioner/torturer/murderer. This may have been why the name change didn't stick - whether the Communist official who proposed the name change did so in order to facilitate these jokes is unknown. To add to the confusion, in Imperial Germany times, it was also known as Kattowitz.
      • And on the subject of Imperial Germany, several cities in western Poland reverted to their Polish names (or got new ones) in 1918 when Poland regained its independence.
    • Oświęcim held that name for most of the history, being in the middle bit of Poland which Stalin and his predecessors only ethnically cleansed a little. Its name in German is far more infamous - Auschwitz.
  • "Königsberg" (meaning "King's mountain") became "Kaliningrad", ie "Kalinin City", named after the Soviet Head of State Mikhail Kalinin. Many of the locals prefer "Kyonig". Like with most former Commie Land renamings, there is a movement in favor of renaming it back.
    • In the future history of Transhuman Space, the Kaliningrad oblast gains independence - the country so formed is named Königsberg, but the city remains Kaliningrad.
  • The capital of Montenegro, Podgorica, was known as Titograd in the days of Communism.
    • Many, many other examples. Due to his cult-like status, everything had "Tito's" (Titovo) as an adjective in Montenegro and Serbia. Titovo Uzice? Uzice. Titograd is just a shorter version of "Tito's city". Now, almost all of the names are Tito-free.
  • After becoming part of Czechoslovakia following Austria-Hungary's dissolution, the city of Pozsony/Pressburg became the more Slavic-sounding Bratislava. Slavic names were given to many other cities in formerly Hungarian territories that became parts of Slovakia and Romania.
    • It should be noted though that there had been Slavic (specifically Slovak) names for the city before the German name Pressburg is in fact derived from the name of a Slavic ruler. With the other places it generally was a case of the Slovak or Romanian name coming to the fore among the alternatives (Romanian by the way is not a Slavic, but a Romance language). In Transylvania these days they tend to be very proud that the towns there have three names - one Romanian, one German, and one Hungarian.
  • In Czechoslovakia a politically motivated name change also took place: following the communist takeover of Czechoslovakia, the town of Zlín (best known as the place where Tomáš Baťa founded his shoe factory) was renamed to Gottwaldov (after the first communist - or, using terminology of the day, "worker" - president of Czechoslovakia). It was changed back immediately after the Velvet Revolution.
  • The Nazis renamed a few places in occupied parts of Eastern and Eastern Central Europe, sometimes so they would sound German, sometimes as an Egopolis, e. g. Lodz became Lietzmannstadt, named after a World War One general and early supporter of Hitler. Some insensitive (West) German officials long insisted that people from such places filled in these names in forms because that was their official name at the time of the birth etc. of the person concerned.
  • An older example from Finland: The city of Vaasa burned down in 1852. Emperor Nicholas I donated a large sum of money for its rebuilding, and after his death, Vaasa was renamed to Nikolainkaupunki ("Nicholas's City") in his honour (a first attempt was made before his death, but he disapproved). Later during the reign of Nicholas II the new name lost popularity, and it was changed back after he abdicated in 1917.
  • After The Great Politics Mess-Up, many street names were changed. There used to be a Lenin street and a Stalin street in every village before, which usually got renamed to a national historical figure.
  • In Latvia, city of Daugavpils. Although most of its names were simply translations of the original - Dinaburg (Town on Duna, which is German name for Daugava River), who built a castle in 13th century, around which the town formed, then in 17th it became a part of Russian Empire as Borisoglebsk, only to be taken by Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and renamed back to Dinaburg... To be given to Russian Empire after partition of said Commonwealth, who renamed the city to Dvinsk ((Town) on Dvina, Dvina is Russian name for Daugava river) in 19th century. After WWI and Russain Revolution Latvia finally became independent, and renamed the city Daugavpils (Town on Daugava). Then WW 2 and soviets annexation came, so soviets... Surprisingly, left the city with its Latvian name.
  • In Lithuania, city of Marijampolė was called "Pašešupys" in early days, before being changed to "Starapolė" when the village was granted city rights, before being changed to "Marijampolė". However, at a later point the Soviets renamed Marijampolė to "Kapsukas" after Vincas Kapsukas, a local governor, and after the Soviet reign the name was changed back to "Marijampolė".

Western Europe

  • Norway have got a few examples. Bergen used to be Bjørgvin, Trondheim was Nidaros (Name history: Nidaros, Trondhjem, Nidaros, Trondheim, Drontheim, Trondheim) and Oslo was Christiania from 1624 to 1877 and Kristiania from 1877 to 1924. Funnily enough, the church provinces around the two first still carries the same name and there is a discussion in Oslo about renaming the center back to Kristiania.
  • Most place names in Ireland are anglicisations of the original Irish names (ie. Dublin = Dubh Linn or 'Black Pool'). Although still referred to by their English names, towns and villages today have signs at the entrances that give both the Irish and English placenames.
    • Around the time of the formation of the Irish Free State, Kingstown and Queenstown were renamed Dún Laoghaire and Cobh. King's County and Queen's County were renamed County Offaly and County Laoghis (pronounced "leash" and later shortened to "County Laois").
    • What is now Dún Laoghaire had actually already been anglicised to 'Dunleary' when its name was changed to 'Kingstown' in 1821.
    • Similarly, Philipstown became Daingean, Maryborough to Portlaoise.
      • Other placenames only partially caught on , meaning that either name is used -- Bagenalstown/Muine Bheag, Charleville/Ráth Luirc. And no-one beyond cartographers and government offices call Newbridge "Droichead Nua."
    • Ireland is one of the few countries in Europe to have captions on the license plates. This was done because when the current numbering system was introduced, it included a one or two-letter county code, and people complained because these were abbreviations of the English county names. The solution? Keep them in the number itself, with the Gaelic county name spelled out in full across the top of the plate.
  • This town had been contemplating a name change, at least in part because Anglophone tourists keep stealing the town sign. The residents refused a name change though, and so they decided to just have theft-resistant town signs.
  • Chemnitz, Germany was called Karl-Marx-Stadt from 1952 to 1990. No prizes for guessing what part of Germany it's in.
    • Similar, Stalinstadt, founded in 1950, renamed in 1961 to Eisenhüttenstadt (City of the Ironworks).
  • This also applies to streets. One particular example from Havering, a borough of London- a street had its name changed after the councillor it was named after was convicted for paedophilia.
    • Penny Lane in Liverpool was named after a 18th-century slave trader of that name, not the coin. The fact that the area was sung about by The Beatles is likely the only thing causing the name to be kept.
    • Ahem. This is a pretty decisive one.
    • There is only one Anita Street in Britain. It's in Manchester. When it was first built in the 19th century, it was the first street in the city where every house was equipped with an indoor flush toilet. The residents didn't like the advertising inherent in the original name, and petitioned for it to be changed from Sanitary Street.
  • Wolfsburg, Germany was originally officially named Stadt des KdF-Wagens ("City of the Strength-through-Joy Car"); most non-officials of the era just called it die Autostadt, which became the name of a large auto museum downtown. Also, in 2003 it was temporarily renamed "Golfsburg" (after the car not the game, just in case you hadn't guessed...)
    • However, that "Golfsburg" thing wasn't an official name-change, just a marketing stunt.
  • One city in Ireland has been recorded in the annals of history as Daire Calgaigh, Daire Coluimb Coille, Doire (its current name in the Irish language), Derrie and eventually Londonderry. The city council brought a case to the High Court in 2006 that the city's legal name should be changed to Derry - the council legally changed its name from Londonderry City Council to Derry City Council in 1984 - but were ruled against by the presiding judge because the city's Royal Charter was drawn up in 1662 under then name Londonderry. Most locals use "The Maiden City" or "Stroke City" (popularised by another native of the city, radio broadcaster Gerry Anderson, whose show is broadcast from the place and is referred to on-air as "Derry stroke Londonderry") to avoid alienating the other side of the political divide - but, to be honest, nearly everyone, Catholic, Protestant, atheist or Jedi, still calls it Derry.
    • If that's not enough, Londonderry and Derry, New Hampshire are separate but adjacent towns, and woe betide visitors who take the wrong exit off I-93.
    • The local BBC service is "Radio Foyle" after the river.
  • Benevento, Italy was long ago called (roughly) "Maloenton" by the Oscans who inhabited it. To the Romans who conquered them, however, it sounded an awful lot like "Maleventum", a place of "bad events". So they changed it to something with a more positive meaning by switching out "male" (bad) with "bene" (well).
    • According to the legend, the name was changed after a battle between the Romans and Pyrrhus (of Pyrrhic Victory fame), which they had won, hence the transition from "place of ill omens" to "good omens".
  • Similarly to Ireland, many place names in Scotland are Anglifications of Gaelic names such as Inbhir Nis (Inverness, "Mouth of the Ness") Obar Dheathain (Aberdeen, "Mouth of Two Rivers") and Dùn Dèagh (Dundee, "Fort of the Tay"). Some places represents a reversal, having originally been Norse or Anglic, such as Edinburgh (meaning "Edwin's Fort") which later gaining the Gaelic translation "Dùn Èideann".
  • In England most cities that weren't created during the Industrial Revolution have a string of names from successive waves of invaders. York was originally the Roman city of Eboracum, but when the Anglo-Saxons created the Kingdom of Northumbria they called it Eoforwic. Then the Vikings invaded and Eoforwic got Scandinavianised into Jórvik, and finally mutated into York around the 13th century.


  • India:
    • Mumbai: Formerly Bombay. Somewhat controversial, as Bombay is not an Indian city colonised by Europeans, but rather a city built by the Portuguese from scratch - and anyway, everyone still calls the associated film studios "Bollywood", not "Mollywood".
      • Even the change itself has not been uniformly applied to government institutions. There is still a university in Mumbai called IIT Bombay.
        • This caused some confusion in Indian restaurants in the UK with many dishes such as Bombay potatoes and Bombay duck being renamed, though often some would be Mumbai and others Bombay. Thankfully this has largely been undone and they are back to the original Bombay name.
    • Kolkata: Formerly Calcutta.
    • Kozhikode: Formerly Calicut.
    • Chennai: Formerly Madras.
      • In fact Madras and Chennai were the names of two neighbouring villages that were the core of the large city that has grown up around them; it's just that post-independence India preferred to use the name of the other one that the Raj had used.
  • China has lots of cases that look like name changes, although in fact, most of the names have stayed the same in Chinese. The apparent change is due to either the new transliteration system, or due to the government mandating the use of standard Mandarin for placenames rather than local languages/dialects. For further details, see Why Mao Changed His Name.
    • Beijing (formerly Peking) is the most obvious example of the new transliteration system coming into effect.
      • And before that, Peking was Peiping ("Northern Peace", "Beiping" in modern Pinyin), which was a change in the actual name and not just the romanization.
    • Guangzhou: Formerly Canton, which is derived from the Portuguese rendition of the local name for the province (Guangdong) in which the city sits.
    • Xiamen: Formerly Amoy, a local name which got displaced by its quite different-sounding (although still related) Mandarin equivalent.
    • Other examples of the "different attempt at writing the same basic name" type are Xi'an, Tianjin, and Qingdao (formerly Sian, Tientsin, and Tsingtao, respectively). Xinjiang Province (formerly Sinkiang), and Sichuan Province (formerly Szechuan) are just a few more examples. There are countless others.
      • Xi'an actually does have a name change: It was known as Chang'an ("long tranquility") while it was the capital, only becoming "Xi'an" ("western tranquility") from the Ming Dynasty onwards, after the capital had become well established in Beijing.
    • Kaifeng was founded as Daliang in 364 BC, rebuilt as Bian in AD 781 and also went by Bianjing, Bianzhou and Dongjing.
  • Ho Chi Minh City: Formerly Saigon, a name still used by a lot of the locals, the name was changed after The Vietnam War, although its three-letter airport code is still SGN.
  • Constantinople changed to Istanbul.
    • Originally it was a small Greek colony called Byzantion. The Roman emperor Constantinus decided to move the capital of the empire from Rome to there, in the process renaming it Nova Roma (New Rome). Everybody just called it Konstantinoupolis (Constantinus's city), though, and the name stayed mostly the same (only changing to Turkish Kostantiniyye) until 1933, when it was changed to the popular title of İstanbul. The name İstanbul probably derives from a corruption of Greek 'eis tēn Polin' ('to the city' or 'in the city').
  • Revolution City, a suburb of Baghdad constructed in 1959, was later renamed Saddam City after the Baathist revolution, and since the 2003 overthrow of Saddam has become known as Sadr City.
  • Myanmar and Thailand, entire countries whose names changed from Burma and Siam, respectively. The former change is highly controversial, with several governments and the opposition not accepting it. This is because the name was changed by a military junta which overthrew the democratically elected Burmese government.
    • Burma/Myanmar also changed the name of the city of Rangoon to Yangon.
    • Burma/Myanmar is a bit of a confusing case, since both names are effectively the same word in Burmese. Myanmar (pronounced Myama) is simply a more formal version of Burma (pronounced Bama).
  • Likewise:
    • Trucial Coast/States => United Arab Emirates
    • Levant States => Syria + Lebanon
    • Persia => Iran (in this case reflecting local usage)
      • Persia is a Greek exonym, the Persians/Iranians have been calling themselves some version of 'Irani' as long as they've been a distinct group.
  • Colonies tend to get rid of their master's name on independence (for reasons that have as much to do with accuracy as with pride).
    • British North Borneo => Sabah
    • Dutch East Indies => Indonesia
    • Portuguese Timor => Timor Leste
  • The city of Bangkok had its name changed back in the late 1700s. Nobody outside of Thailand uses the new name, which happens to be "Krung Thep Mahanakhon Amon Rattanakosin Mahinthara Yuthaya Mahadilok Phop Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom Udomratchaniwet Mahasathan Amon Piman Awatan Sathit Sakkathattiya Witsanukam Prasit", which translates to "The city of angels, the great city, the eternal jewel city, the impregnable city of God Indra, the grand capital of the world endowed with nine precious gems, the happy city, abounding in an enormous Royal Palace that resembles the heavenly abode where reigns the reincarnated god, a city given by Indra and built by Vishnukam". No wonder most people stick to "Bangkok" (if they're foreigners) or abbreviate it to its first two or three words (if they're Thai).
  • Singapore -- formerly Temasek.
  • Toukyou - Used to be called Edo (roughly "estuary", being built on one), renamed when the capital moved there from Kyouto, which was done for several political reasons. Toukyou means "eastern capital" in Japanese. The period of time after it became the center of power but before it was the official capital is often known as the Edo-jidai.
  • The former capital of Japan, Kyouto, was originally called Heian-kyou ("The Capital of Tranquility and Peace"), giving the golden era of the Imperial Court, the Heian-jidai, its name. It was renamed to Kyouto ("Capital City") when that era came to a close. According to The Other Wiki, it was also briefly renamed Saikyou ("western capital") when Edo was renamed.
    • Before it was the capital, it was named Uda.
  • An ongoing example is what to call the land that was (indisputably) called Palestine up until 1948. Most Palestinians (and indeed most Arabs and even most Muslims, if they're politically inclined) will refer to the whole thing (including what's now Israel) as Palestine; certain Israelis (including the areas under dispute--and sometimes even Jordan) will refer to the whole thing as "the Land of Israel" (Eretz Yisrael in Hebrew), and no matter what you call it, it has political overtones. The region currently governed by Israel[1] which borders the Dead Sea is known as the "West Bank"[2] by the Palestinian authorities and the international press, while in Israel it is known as "Judea and Samaria"--unless you want to strike a moderate, conciliatory tone towards the Palestinians, in which case it's "the Territories" or the "West Bank" again.
  • Ceylon => Sri Lanka
    • Another example of the international spelling changing to reflect the actual name of the place instead of what Europeans heard.
  • Taiwan is referred in all official documents of the political body ruling it as "The Republic of China", but there have been pushes of varying seriousness to remove all references to that term. It's referred to variously as "Chinese Taipei" or "China Taipei" in international sporting events.
    • The lack of a name change is justified by Chinese With Chopper Support: if Taiwan asserts its independence, Attack! Attack! Attack!.
    • Technically Taiwan is the name of the island (which was formerly called - by Westerners, anyway - Formosa). Officially both it and mainland China more or less regard each other as rebellious provinces. The people of the Ro C might like to be pragmatic, acknowledge that they have essentially zero chance of ever regaining control of the mainland, and accept that they are de facto if not de jure a separate country by now, but the P Ro C has expressed severe opposition to this idea (vide supra).
  • The capital city of South Korea was originally Hanseong (City [by] the Han [River]). When Korea was annexed by the Japanese in 1910, it was renamed Keijou or "Castle of the Capital" in Japanese. Korean independence caused it to be renamed Seoul, meaning simply "capital city".
    • However, in the Chinese Language the name was still a cognate of Hanseong (Hànchéng) up to mid-2000s, when Seoul requested the city should be called Shǒu'ěr, a closely phoneticized form, in Chinese. The shock waves at the time caused several local songs to be written to incorporate this event.
  • Saudi Arabia is named after the ruling Saud dynasty; should they lose power, the country would probably be renamed (most likely to "Hejaz and Najd," the traditional names of the lands that make up most of its territory). The Other Wiki, for example, describes the country as "Rashidi Arabia" during the 1890's when the Al Rashid dynasty was in power.
  • Tehran used to have streets with names like "Eisenhower Boulevard" and "Kennedy Avenue," as did many other cities in Iran. Nowadays...Not so much...
    • In 1981, Iran also renamed a street after Northern Irish hunger striker Bobby Sands. The street itself? Just happened to be the one where the British Embassy was located. This would have forced the Embassy to put the name of its country's most famous dead dissident in its mailing address had the embassy not responded by moving the building's entrance to another street, thus using that street in its address instead.
  • Sunda Kelapa renamed to Jaya Karta, then renamed to Batavia, lastly renamed to Jakarta
    • Papua Barat to Irian Barat to Irian Jaya then changed back to the local preferred name Papua.
  1. Although the international community universally regards the area as occupied, the situation is more complicated in Israel; many ultranationalist and religious groups regard it as an integral part of Israel, and prefer the term "disputed territories" when they are forced to recognize that there are a few million Arabs living there who would rather not be ruled by Israel. As a result, even what to call the status of this area--uncontroversial everywhere else--is a politically sensitive topic in Israel. Of course as they say, of course, "two Israelis, three opinions."
  2. It's the western side of the River Jordan, for the confused; the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is the "East Bank", as it were.
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