An interesting fact is that most of the names on the political map of the world (whether in Russian, English or any other language) do not correspond to the names used by the inhabitants of the designated territories. In the material below, we have collected the most interesting differences in the generally accepted and real names of states.
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TOP 10 countries whose real names are radically different from the generally accepted ones
Indeed, most of us do not pay much attention to the correctness of the toponyms used. We still buy real Ceylon tea, although the island, like the country, has been called Sri Lanka for half a century, we do not recognize the name of the state of Myanmar that has been used for 30 years and continue to stubbornly call it Burma, we linguistically reduce the Kingdom of the Netherlands to two Dutch regions, etc. . However, knowing the correct names of some states is not only useful for general development, but also quite curious.
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As you know, the unification of the German lands took place quite recently in a historical perspective, and therefore the neighbors still call this state in accordance with the nicknames of those tribes with which their ancestors had more contact. So, the French call the country Allemania, the Russians – Germany, the Finns – Saks, the Danes – Tiskland, the Ukrainians – Nimechchina, the Poles – just Germans, and the Icelanders even call it Piskaland. In international circulation, the English name Germany is used, but the citizens themselves refer to their state as Deutschland.
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Calling the state Greece in the presence of an orthodox Hellene is almost as insulting as calling the city Odessa in the presence of a native Odessan. Although, in fact, in the very antiquity that all the inhabitants of the country dream of, there were no Hellenes. The inhabitants of Corinth considered themselves Corthians, and the Athenians lived in Athens. However, subsequently, with the light hand of Herodotus, all the territories mastered by the Greeks really began to be called Hellas, and the inhabitants – Hellenes. But then there were the Romans, who did not care deeply about all the merits of the creators of the ancient civilization. It was they who introduced the name Greece, which is used in various versions today by the whole world, except for the Greeks themselves, who still call their country – Hellas (Ελλάδα).
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El Maghreb (Morocco)
The history of the appearance of the generally accepted name of this state is remarkable in that it is a typical example of the European colonialists’ disregard for local names. The abbreviated self-name of the country is El Maghreb or the Kingdom of the Maghreb, which roughly translates as “west” and is easily explained by the geographical location of the state on the northwestern coast of the African continent. The French, having colonized this territory, called it simply by the name of one of the largest cities – Marrakech.
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The origin of the common name “Armenia” is in many ways similar to Dutch history and is associated with the name of the region Armi, while the Armenians themselves call the country Ayastan (Հայաստան) in honor of Hayk, the commander, according to legend, in 2492 BC. who defeated the Babylonians.
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Nihon or Nippon (Japan)
The East is a delicate matter, and it can be quite difficult to understand the etymology of the names of Asian countries. However, in the case of “the place where the sun rises” everything is more or less clear. In fact, this phrase, familiar to a Russian-speaking person, is the real name of the State of Japan, which is written in kanji characters and pronounced as “Nihon koku” or “Nippon koku”. That is how the representatives of the Chinese Sun dynasty called the island state, for whom the sunrise geographically began precisely from Japan, and then the Pacific desert extended. The name Nihon is used mostly by the Japanese in everyday life, while Nippon can be seen in official documents.
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Kalaallit Nunaat (Greenland)
Although the world’s largest island is not an independent state, its presence on this list is justified by a rather original, generally accepted name. According to one version, the Norwegian Viking Eric the Red, who organized the first settlements here and wanted to lure as many compatriots as possible into his possessions, came up with the idea to call the harsh cold area “green land” (Greenland or in Danish Grønland). The self-name of the island is Kalaallit Nunaat, which can be translated as “Land of the Kalaalites” (Kalaalites are a tribe of local Eskimos).
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United Kingdom (UK)
The most difficult situation with names has developed in the British Isles, where a person who is not particularly interested in geography can completely get confused. Here is England, and Great Britain, and the United Kingdom, and two Irelands, one of which is Northern, and the second for some reason not Southern, but if you add here Australia, Canada and many small state formations, the inhabitants of which in one way or another are subjects of the British crown, it becomes quite difficult to put the whole administrative division in your head.
Let’s start with the UK. This is how most people around the world, including Russian speakers, call the state, which includes four main territories: England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. However, to be absolutely precise, Great Britain is more of a geographical name, denoting the largest island of the country, but only England, Scotland and Wales are located on it, while Northern Ireland is located on another island along with its neighbor – ordinary Ireland.
The political name that should be used (but is used quite rarely) in international circulation is United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland or, for short, the United Kingdom. Among other things, the British themselves exacerbate the problem. For example, at the Olympic Games they compete under the name Great Britain, while including athletes from Northern Ireland in the team. At the same time, England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have their own national football teams, playing under their own flags to the accompaniment of different anthems at FIFA and UEFA international competitions.
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Another rather complex state formation, the basis of which is the Kingdom of the Netherlands with its three islands: Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten, as well as the Netherlands itself. At the same time, the Netherlands itself also includes three Caribbean islands: Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba, as well as the main European part, in which, among others, there are the provinces of South and North Holland. However, throughout the world, this multinational, complex state is still regularly called Holland, calling all its citizens Dutch, including those who have never left their island in the Caribbean and have never seen Holland itself.
As in the case of the British, the Dutch government was not particularly active in this matter – the country was designated as Holland at international summits, sports, economic forums, etc. However, at the beginning of 2020, it was decided to end the linguistic confusion at the legislative level, and the Netherlands finally abandoned the Holland brand.
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Here the situation is strictly opposite to that in the Netherlands. The Georgians themselves call the country Sakartvelo only after one of the regions of Kartli, which played a decisive role in the economic and cultural development of the state. The English-speaking international community calls the country Georgia, which is most likely associated with St. George, in whose honor the Georgians erected several hundred churches and consider him their patron.
The Russian-language name Georgia, presumably, has roots in Persian sources, where these territories are called the “land of wolves” – Gurjistan. And in Armenian, the country sounds like Vrastan, which can be translated into Russian as “Upper Country” (Georgia is located strictly north of Armenia).
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Joseon and Hanguk (North and South Korea)
As is the case with most other states, the rest of the world has no interest in the internal Korean political cuisine and the peninsula is easily divided along the 38th parallel into North Korea (DPRK) and South. The only problem is that the Koreans themselves do not recognize any division and both halves consider the other half to be temporarily annexed by damned capitalists or no less damned communists. Actually, the name Korea itself, derived from the name of the Koryo empire (which united the peninsula until 1392), is also not used by the Koreans themselves.
The self-name of North Korea is Joseon, which can be translated as “Land of the Morning Calm”. In turn, in the south, Korea is called Hanguk or Taehanminguk, and the division into the southern and northern parts follows the same principle as in the DPRK: in the north, Bukhan (Northern Khan), in the south, respectively, Namhan (Southern Khan).
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Aotearoa (New Zealand)
Despite the fact that the active development of the New Zealand islands by Europeans began only a couple of centuries ago, a single original name for this state does not exist in nature, although they are trying in every possible way to find it. The fact is that the Maori who lived here before the advent of the colonialists did not, of course, have any political borders and political maps, and their territories were limited to the shores of the islands, each of which had its own name (and it could be radically different from the name that was used for neighbors of the area).
However, the current international name of the country New Zealand is not very suitable for the New Zealanders themselves – it turns out that the largest state of Oceania is named after the not most prosperous, to put it mildly, southwestern province of the Netherlands, the reason for which was the nationality of the Dutch navigator Abel Tasman, named after which, by the way, is also named neighboring Tasmania.
The most acceptable option for restoring historical justice is considered to be the name Aotearoa, which roughly translates as “Land of the Long White Cloud”, however, opponents of the renaming note that until the middle of the 20th century, the Maori themselves called it exclusively the Northern (one of the two main) islands of New Zealand.