When I researched new nations, I learned that the African country of Swaziland became eSwatini 2 years ago to celebrate its king’s 50th birthday. Its new name means land of the Swazis, and this action was taken partially to avoid name confusion with Switzerland. Really. It also is an attempt to shed a colonial past in a country where not all is well. It’s estimated that 26% of eSwatini’s population is HIV-Positive.
To settle a long-standing dispute with Greece, Macedonia officially became the Republic of North Macedonia in 2019. Ruth and I have been to Macedonia, and all of the photos accompanying this blog were taken there. That’s Lake Ohrid in the watery ones. I remember talking with Macedonians, who passionately love political conversations, about this problem with neighbor Greece, which has a large region called Macedonia. I’m glad they peacefully settled one issue bothering them.
For some reason, the countries in southeast Asia change their names more often than other regions of the world. Burma changed its name to Myanmar almost 30 years ago. Cambodia has changed its name several times. I learned while doing research of United Nations countries that Laos is now officially the Lao People’s Democratic Republic.
The Czech Republic has been trying to change its name to Czechia since 2016 to avoid confusing it with Chechnya among its reasons, but the name hasn’t caught on and the United Nations continues to call it The Czech Republic.
Regions of countries change names too. Ruth and I had a long talk with a doctor practicing in Williams Lake, British Columbia, recently about her trip to Haida Gwaii. Known as the Canadian Galapagos, Haida Gwaii is now named for the people who have lived there for more than 14,000 years instead of the wife of King George III of England. Together they had 15 children. The doctor, who raved about her experience, loved Haida Gwaii and encouraged us to go there. Off the coast of BC, it used to be called the Queen Charlotte Islands.
Country capitals change names too. Astana, the futuristic capital of Kazakhstan became Nursultan last year to honor its departing President Nursultan Nazarbayev. So far Egypt has not changed the name of its new capital. It’s still being called Wedian City. The Manchester Guardian, an English newspaper with an international reputation, is in the reportorial forefront about it and still predicts that more than 2 million people will be living there by 2023. Under construction since 2015 28 miles east of Egypt’s traditional capital Cairo, Wedian City has taken the plural form of the Arabic term for a valley “Wadi” for its name. The Guardian reports that built concrete and brick apartment buildings look solid but some collapse. I would not be surprised to learn that the Egyptian authorities have abandoned this project as not affordable.