Official country name changes in modern times (not including changes due to independence or mergers).
The Czech Republic -2016- Czechia
Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes -1929- Yugoslavia
Macedonia -2019- Northern Macedonia
Upper Volta —1984- Bourkina Faso
Burkina Faso – 1984- Burkina Faso
Dahomey -1975- Benin
Congo -1971- Zaire -1997- Congo
Transjordan -1949- Jordan
Persia -1935- Iran
Abyssinia -1941- Ethiopia
Rhodesia -1980- Zimbabwe
Burma -1989- Myanmar
Ceylon -1972- Sri Lanka
Siam -1939- Thailand -1946- Siam -1948- Thailand
Cambodia -1970- Khmer -1975- Kampuchea -1990- Cambodia
Swaziland -2018- Eswatini
Cape Verde has requested that the English-speaking world refers to the country by its Portuguese name, Cabo de Verde.
The Ivory Coast has requested that the English-speaking world refers to the county by its Portuguese name, Cote d’Ivoire.
Shifting place names in Africa
In classical Greek, Libya referred to the lands between the Nile and the Atlantic Ocean, and also more broadly the entire continent. The name, possibly derived from the ancient Libu tribe, was reintroduced in 1934 as a name for the Italian colony previously known as Tripolitania.
Aethiopia was a classical Greek term for the upper Nile region, as well as sub-Saharan Africa in its entirety. Originally meaning ‘burnt-face1, the Kingdom of Axum appropriated the name in the 4th century BC. Modern-day Ethiopia was also known as Abyssinia, derived from the Arabic Habash of unknown origin.
A Latin name for the Roman province in modern-day Tunisia, Algeria, and Libya. The origin of the name is uncertain, meanings like ‘dusty’, ‘sunny’ and ‘never cold’ have been proposed. Medieval European mapmakers used this name for the entire continent.
Originating from the Arab term Bilaad as-Sudaan, ‘land of the Black people’, the term currently refers to the savannah belt south of the Sahel and the Sahara and previously also all of sub-saharan Africa. The modern country was named for this region when it became a British colony in the 1890s. From the 1880s to 1960, Mali was called ‘French Soudan’.
The Bay of Guinea was first named by Portuguese explorers after Gu/ne, their name for Black Africans. The word was possibly borrowed from Berber languages. Today, three countries take their name from the region.
Arabic for ‘sunset1 or ‘west’, this region encompasses the western parts of North Africa (and formerly also Muslim Spain). In Arabic, however, Magrib is also the name for the Kingdom of Morocco.
The Romans referred to the lands of the Mori, or Moors, as Mauretania. Today’s republic of Mauritania was established as a French colony in 1903 and has little to do with the original Moors.
The Ghana empire existed from the 8th to the 13th centuries. In 1957, the name was chosen for the newly independent republic previously known as the British Gold Coast.
The Kingdom of Benin, in present-day Nigeria, dated from the 11th century and was annexed by the British in 1897. In 1975, the name was chosen for the previously French colony of Dahomey. The kingdom’s old capital, Benin City, is now in Edo State, Nigeria.