Before India becomes Bharat, here are other countries that changed their names

Debodinna Chakraborty
Debodinna ChakrabortySep 11, 2023 | 17:33

Before India becomes Bharat, here are other countries that changed their names

India might join the long list of countries who have changed their names.

Ever since the President of India, Draupadi Murmu, sent invites to attendees of the G20 summit for a dinner under the tag of “President of Bharat,” speculations have stirred up that the Indian Government might change the name of the country.

If that truly comes to fruition, India will not be the only country to have done so, as the list of countries that have changed their names is quite extensive.



The G20 summit that took place in Delhi, India, on August 8 and 9, was a historic moment for the country as it hosted numerous high-ranking officials from around the world for the first time. Some of the attendees at the G20 India summit included Joe Biden (President of the USA), Rishi Sunak (Prime Minister of England), Justin Trudeau (Prime Minister of Canada), and many more.

Amidst all these headline-making attendees, the news that overshadowed all else was the possibility of India undergoing a name change.

Indian President Draupadi Murmu sent out invites for a dinner to the delegates attending the G20 summit under the tag of “President of Bharat,” and since then, reports of a possible name change have been circulating throughout the country.

The renaming of a country would not be unprecedented in world history, with India potentially becoming the latest addition to the list of nations that have taken this step.


Here are five countries that changed their names:

Turkey to Turkiye

The most recent addition to this list occurred in 2021 when Turkey officially changed its name to Turkiye through the UN. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced the nation's name change and emphasized that this change better represents the nation's values, culture, and rich history compared to “Turkey.”

Turkey changed its name to Turkiye. (Photo: Getty)

Persia to Iran

Iran was formerly known as ‘Persia’ to foreign governments and was once heavily influenced by Great Britain and Russia. In 1935, the Iranian government requested that all countries with which it had diplomatic relations refer to the country by its Persian name, Iran.

Siam to Thailand

In 1939, Siam officially changed its name to ‘Thailand’ in an effort to unify the nation and erase the negative effects of Western colonial influence. The literal translation of ‘Thailand’ is "Land of the Free."

Siam was changed to Thailand in an attempt to eradicate memories of Western Colonial rule. (Photo: Getty)

Republic of Macedonia to Republic of North Macedonia

In February 2019, a name change took place, reportedly motivated by the desire to join NATO and to distinguish the entity from Greece, which has a region called Macedonia.

Republic of North Macedonia was formerly known as Republic of Macedonia. (Photo: Getty)

Ceylon to Sri Lanka

India's southern neighbor, Sri Lanka, was formerly known as Ceylon. It wasn’t until 1972 that the country changed its name to “Sri Lanka” to distance itself from its colonial history and emphasize the culture of its people.

Sri Lanka till 1972, was known as Ceylon. (Photo: Getty)

Burma to Myanmar

In 1989, the nation, previously recognized as Burma due to its ties to the Burman ethnic group, underwent a significant name change. This shift occurred shortly after a severe suppression of a pro-democracy uprising by the ruling junta in the previous year, prompting the military authorities to rebrand it as Myanmar.

Holland to Netherlands

The country of the Netherlands was often known as both “Holland” and “Netherlands.” However, people mostly referred to the country as “Holland.” In January 2020, Holland officially changed its name to the Netherlands, partly as a marketing move. Another reason for this name change was to highlight “Netherlands” as an open and inclusive country.

Netherlands officially replaced the name "Holland" as a part of a marketing move. (Photo: Getty)

Rhodesia to Zimbabwe

After gaining independence, Zimbabwe discarded its colonial label "Rhodesia" and adopted the name "Republic of Zimbabwe," subsequently shortened to just "Zimbabwe."

While we are yet to see if India actually becomes "Bharat," it is certain that it will not be alone in the world in making such a change.

Last updated: September 11, 2023 | 17:33
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