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If you have been in a deep slumber and just arisen, you may experience extreme difficulty geographically identifying several nations.  The location and physical boundaries haven’t changed much, but identity-wise, change of a nation’s name is currently in vogue.  Nations change their names for a variety of reasons, most often as a result, either by achieving independence from an occupying and/or supervising dominant power, an internal coup, being conquered by a warring neighbor, or simply a voluntary name change to establish a clean slate and hopefully a new beginning.  Since 1960, more than half of the world’s 195 countries have been born.


Name changes have proliferated throughout the world, particularly in Africa, the former Soviet Union, and the “New Europe”.  Poverty, corruption, civil unrest along with constant strife, has created a leadership vacuum and a lack of government stability.  Here today, gone tomorrow and the need for new government business cards and stationery!  The following list highlights some of the more prominent nation name changes on this evolving world of ours: 


YESTERDAY:                       NOW

Abyssinia                            Ethiopia

Bechuanaland                     Republic of Botswana

Benedair                            Somalia

Bengal                               Bangladesh

Biafra                                 Liberia

Bophuthatswana                 South Africa

British Guiana                     Guyana

British North Borneo            Malaysia

British Honduras                  Belize

Burma                                Myanmar

Byelorussia                         Belarus

Canton                               Guangzhou

Ceylon                                Sri Lanka

Czechoslovakia                    Czech Republic

Czech Republic                    Czechia

Dilmun                                Bahrain

Dutch East Indies                 Indonesia

Dutch Guiana                       Suriname

East Germany                      Germany

East Pakistan                       Bangladesh

Formosa                              Taiwan

Gold Coast                           Ghana

Java                                    Indonesia

Khmer Republic                    Cambodia

Serbia                                 Kosovo

Malay States                        Malaysia

Muscat and Oman                Oman

Nanking                              Nanjing

New Caldonia                      British Columbia

New Hebrides                      Vanuatu 

Netherlands Antilles: empire is kaput, like gone, nada,-non-existent.  Formerly consisted of Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao, Saba, St. Eustatus, and St. Maarten

Netherlands East Indies        Indonesia

Northern Soloman Islands     Papua New Guinea

Persia                                  Iran

Portuguese East Africa          Mozambique

Rhodesia-Northern               Zambia

Rhodesia-Southern               Zimbabwe

Serendib                              Sri Lanka

Siam                                   Thailand

Sikkim                                 India

Soviet Union                        Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Estonia, Georgia,

                                          Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova

                                          Russian Federation (Russia), Tajikistan, Turkmenistan

                                          Ukraine, Uzbekistan

Spanish East Indies              Phillipines

Tonkin                                 Vietnam

Transylvania                        Romania

Upper Volta                         Burkina

Urundi                                Burundi

USSR                                  Russian Federation

Yugoslavia                           Bosnia, Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro

                                          Serbia, Slovenia

Zaire                                   Democratic Republic of the Congo

Zanzibar                              Tanzania




YESTERDAY                      TODAY

Bombay                            Mumbai

Calcutta                            Kolkata

Constantinople                  Istanbul

Danzig, Poland                  Gdansk

Kinshasa                           Leopoldville

Leningrad                          St. Petersburg

Saigon                              Ho Chi Minh City