Istanbul Not Constantinople
"Even old New York was once New Amsterdam
Why they changed it I can't say—
People just liked it better that way"
Whenever there's a fantastic Earth, or a world like our own yet very different, it's a safe bet that the author has messed with the names. Renaming things and places after what they could
have been called is a very effective way to bring a touch of the exotic into the mundane, be it in The Time of Myths
(Hyperborea for Greenland, Avalon for England), After the End
, Empire of Denver, Whatever States of America
), Alternate History
or in another dimension.
Popular choices are alternate etymologies (eg. Allemannia
), older names (Yamato
), alternate names (Albion
for Britain or Columbia
for the USA
, but then you have to make up something else for Colombia and British Columbia), names in the local tongue (Sakartvelo
for the country Georgia
), things from local mythology (Jotunheim
), possible corruptions and derivatives (Drontheim
instead of Trondheim
, though this one actually happened
), and just taking the easy route and swapping some letters around.
Best not to think about it too hard when characters from these different worlds meet, though. What are the chances, after all, that those two universes happen to have alternatively named or defined locations while maintaining a mutually intelligible language? (Pretty damn likely, actually
The trope name
comes from the song of the same name written by Jimmy Kennedy and Nat Simon — a huge
hit for The Four Lads in the fall of 1953, then re-popularized in 1990 by
the cover version performed by They Might Be Giants
See also Fantasy Counterpart Culture
. Please Select New City Name
often provides names to choose from.
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Anime and Manga
- The Britannian Empire in Code Geass, which encompasses a chunk of what used to be The British Empire. (Notably without Britain itself, but with the entirety of the Americas to make up for it.)
- Zero no Tsukaima takes place in Tristein (Belgium), with other countries being called Gallia, Germania, Albion, and Romaly. Saito, the Trapped in Another World protagonist, is from our Japan, but doesn't seem to make the European connection.
- He does recognize the language being spoken at the school as French, however.
- Albion for England in Trinity Blood. The capital is called Londinium, the Latin name for London.
- Strike Witches seems to exist in a universe where most European countries kept the names they had as Roman provinces. Britain, for example, is "Britannia". France is "Gallia", Spain is "Hispania", etc. However, some countries have somewhat nonsensical names (Germany is "Karlsland"note , the Scandinavian countries are "Baltland"note , and they just got lazy with Orussia). Somewhat justified with Suomus, Ostmark, Venazia and Romagna (Finland, Austria-Hungary, North and South Italy), which are based on either historical names for the countries, or the names of the countries in their native languages. Italy, oddly enough, was never unified and Venice still seems to hold some of its territories in Eastern Europe. Liberion is a pun on "Liberty", and is an alternate-USA, and Fuso is the Japanese pronunciation of "Fusang", an ancient Chinese name for Japan. Introduced in other works is "Faraway Land" for Canada, and "Neue Karlsland" for South America. Here's a map◊ for reference.
- In Log Horizon, the five regions in the Japanese server of Elder Tale have their names derived from their corresponding regions in real life Japan. Ezzo Empire corresponds to Hokkaido (Ezo being the old name for Hokkaido), League of Freedom Cities Eastal corresponds to the Kanto region (lit. "east of the gate"), Holy Empire Westeland corresponds to the Kansai region (lit. "west of the gate"), Fourland Dukedom corresponds to Shikoku (lit. "four provinces") and Ninetail Dominions corresponds to Kyushu (lit. "nine provinces").
- Cyber City Oedo 808 has Tokyo revert to its former name of Oedo by 2808.
- Risk 2210 A.D. makes a number of renamings, from the good (Republique du Quebec) to the gratuitous (New Avalon). Scandinavia is called Jotenheim. The classic name is, of course, the east Africa-encompassing 'Ministry of Djibouti.'
- The wargame Flintloque, set in a Fantasy Counterpart Culture of the Napoleonic Wars, gives the countries names of varying silliness, many of them based on mythical or ancient names (Avalon for England), and others based on mildly pejorative terms (Joccia for Scotland).
- Arrowsmith by Kurt Busiek and Carlos Pacheco had the alternate earth version, with Divided States of America, and a war between Prussia and Galia. The dragons were cute, though.
- Batman: Gotham City, since Gotham is an old name for New York. There was a 19th-century book which, playing on American jealousy of European cities which liked to boast about their hundreds of years of history, was a fictional history of NYC, giving it the name "Gotham". Whether or not Gotham City is New York in the comics has varied through the years; currently, they're different cities in-universe, but writers still play with parallels.
- As far as Christopher Nolan is concerned, Gotham is actually Chicago — until The Dark Knight Rises, anyway.
- In the novelization of No Man's Land, New York is explicitly stated to be separate, incidentally, and implied to be slightly smaller and nearby.
- There's also Metropolis.
- Both are representations of New York, though different views of it. Gotham is the seedy, dirty New York stereotype and Metropolis is the important melting pot of cultures major city of the world type.
- It was noted in the Marvel Comics/DC Comics Cross Over Avengers/JLA (or JLA/Avengers, depending on which company published which issue) that DC-Earth, with its fictional American cities (in addition to the above, there's also Star City, Central City, Coast City, Blüdhaven, and probably a few others), is actually somewhat larger than Marvel-Earth (Marvel often goes in for fictional countries on other continents - like Latveria in Europe and Wakanda in Africa - but adds no major cities to its USA), thus leaving room for DC's fictional and real-world cities to co-exist.
- The Captain Britain series from Marvel, particularly under Alan Moore, had a large number of Alternate Universe counterparts to the hero, each with a different name (ie, Captain Albion, Captain England, Captain Airstrip-One, ad nauseam).
- Some of the Mega-Cities in Judge Dredd follow this naming convention, like Hondo City (Hondo is an ancient name for the main Japanese island, Honshu) and the Ruhr Conurb (named after the Ruhr Valley, the largest metropolitan area in Germany), while others are named after actual current cities, like Luxor (Egypt) and the now-defunct Brasilia (Brazil).
- In the Astonishing X-Men: Ghost Boxes mini-series, It featured a Steam Punk version of the team known as The X-Society that's based in New Portsmouth, New Albion; a version of San Francisco where California was colonised by the British, rather than the Spanish.
- The first arc of Kingdom takes place in the 'cold place', Anarchticy - that's Antarctica to you and me. Subsequent stories visit Tazzy Island and Auxtralia.
- Kamandi: These After the End stories have a world map that looks like This◊. The "United States of Lions" are perhaps especially notable.
- Nikolai Dante mentioned Britannia and Amerika.
- The Squadron Supreme limited series played this trope to the hilt, with every geographic location renamed from its real-life counterpart. Mt. Rushmore becomes Presidents' Mountain, New York City is Cosmopolis in the state of New Troy, Washington D.C. becomes Capitol City, Magelland, and on and on and on.
- American Flagg often uses this trope for throwaway gags that highlight the intriguing ways in which the world has changed without going into great detail about it - e.g. "the People's Republic of Great Britain."
- The Thing from Marvel Comics discovered in Marvel 2-in-1 #100 that in a previous issue when he traveled into the past to attempt to cure himself that he hadn't actually created an alternate timeline but had been sent to a parallel Earth instead after Reed reviewed video footage of Ben's time there and realized the Newspaper read 'New Amsterdam' rather than 'New York'.
- In With Strings Attached, in their quest for the first piece of the Vasyn, the four are sent to the city of New Zork on an alternate Earth. Locations there include Crooklyn and Harvem, the latter being the ghetto for the harveys, human-sized intelligent rabbits. The US is called Ameriga; England is Angland. And much to their dismay, though it's 1954, the Beagles have just arrived....
- The Signal is set in Terminus, which used to be the name of Atlanta, Georgia, the city the movie is filmed in.
- The Great Dictator has Osterlich, the pacifist country next to Tomainia. It's an obvious parallel to Austria down to the name with a different spelling: Österreich is the German/Austrian name for Austria.
- The Lost Boys is set in Santa Carla, rather than Santa Clara, California. (Ironically, Santa Carla looks a lot like Santa Cruz.)
- William Shakespeares Romeoand Juliet reimagines Verona as "Verona Beach," based on Venice Beach, California.
- House of the Scorpion and The Lord of Opium: Mexico has been renamed Aztlán at some point between the present day and the time of the novels.
- The Hunger Games: Panem is set in what was once called North America after a unexplained apocalypse. The characters are well aware of their history (for the most part) as Katniss knows that Panem was once called North America, and District 12 was in a place called Appalachia.
- Orson Scott Card's Alvin Maker series is set in an alternate North America. Many names remain familiar, but are in variant spellings, such as "Hio," "Irrakwa" and "Wobbish." All these are originally Native American words, and the familiar forms are transliterations by Francophone explorers. In this world, the Anglophones seemingly got there first, so the transliterations are a bit different. As for New Amsterdam, it never became New York.
- In the Kushiels Legacy series by Jacqueline Carey, the maps at the beginnings of the book show that it is Europe. The UK is named Alba, Ireland is Eire, Spain is Aragonia, Germany and the northern lands are Skaldia, Italy is Caerdicca Unitas - Venice, or a suspiciously Venetian city, is La Serenissima - the Balkans are Illyria, Greece is Hellas, Egypt and the Maghreb is Menekhet, India is Bhodistan, China is Ch'in, Japan is the Empire of the Sun, Jebe-Barkal is Ethiopia and a bit more, The Flatlands are The Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg, Vralia is Russia and Drujan and Khebel-im-Akkad are different parts of Ancient Persia. France is called Terre d'Ange (literally Land of Angels) but that's because it's the land of Mary Sues for backstory reasons.
- Some more accurate than others. For instance, Alba is actually the Scottish Gaelic name for Scotland, not the UK in total, which would be Albion.
- Perhaps it sounds OK in D'Angeline - analogous to the way many people in our world (often speakers of English as a second language) use "England" to refer to all of mainland UK, even though that only refers to the bit south of Scotland and east of Wales.
- John Crowley's Aegypt Cycle approaches this obliquely: protagonist Pierce Moffett is obsessed as a child with the country of Aegypt—not the historical Egypt, but its fantastic analogue in Western myth. "Aegypt" is the Egypt of imagination that was credited as the homeland of the Gypsies, of Hermetic mythology, and of the countless mystical doctrines that people supposed to have originated there.
- In So You Want To Be A Wizard, the main character reads in her wizard's manual about "alternate earths where the capital of the United States was named Huictilopochtli or Lafayette City or Hrafnkell or New Washington".
- For that matter, it isn't specified whether all of these are actually Washington, DC under different names. The capital could be located elsewhere.
- Thomas Hardy set all his novels in his native region of southwest England but with most placenames changed; he called it Wessex◊.
- Job: A Comedy of Justice: Robert A. Heinlein has a lot of fun with this as the two protagonists get shunted from alternative earth to alternative earth.
- The Conan the Barbarian books and related materials, set in what was constructed to be a feasible vanished age. Scandinavia is not called Jotunheim, but it's called Vanaheim and Asgard, which isn't better. Robert E. Howard claimed things to be the other way around: the different mythological names of people and places he mentions were 'corrupted' over time, becoming the myths we know of today.
- Fiona Patton's Tales of the Branion Realm is set in an alternate Britain named Branion, with a similar map. Since the series focuses on nobility, many of the original names can be determined from the titles. For example, the heir to the throne is the Prince of Gwyneth (Wales) and Duke of Kraburn. If it wasn't obvious from the map that Kraburn is Cornwall, Kraburn has a major port named Halmouth (Falmouth). The second in line to the throne is the Duke of Yorbourne, which from the map clearly represents York. Other countries include Gallia, Danelind, and Tiberia (home to the Pontiff of a Catholic-analogue religion).
- Nation by Terry Pratchett is set in a version of the South Pacific called the Great Southern Pelagic Ocean. "Pelagic" means "open sea". The map at the front of the book also features the "Reunited States".
- In The Big One by Stuart Slade, Halifax Nova Scotia is renamed Churchill, in reaction to the Lord Halifax-led political coup that sues for peace with Germany and touches off the events of the series.
- The His Dark Materials series executed this very impressively, using many alternate etymologies and extending to objects in addition to lands. Includes Anglia (England, although England, English and "Brytain" instead of Britain are also mentioned. Scotland also exists but it's not addressed whether it's the same country as England in that universe), Muscovy (Russia), Nippon (Japan), skraelings instead of Inuit, the Peaceable Ocean, and The Country of Texas in New Denmark. This also applies to objects such bas atomcraft, naphtha lamps, gyrocopters, anbaric lights ("electric" comes from a word for "amber"), and chocolatl (which is closer to the original Aztec word). Scandinavia is not Jotunheim, (it's called the Scandinavian Empire instead!) and the Svalbard archipelago is still the Svalbard archipelago (but it's an independent kingdom controlled by armoured bears). Lapland is also mentioned as possibly independent with a population of witches.
- The Spanish translation also uses Latvia instead of the Hispanic name "Letonia".
- The "Country of Texas" did actually exist: Texas used to be a Mexican territory, which later became an independent country; the USA annexed the Country of Texas shortly after that.
- Muscovy existed as an independent country before Russia as we know it today existed. The series also features Tartars, who are strongly implied to have their own country as well. Evidently Russian unification was rather less successful in the alternate Earth.
- Also, since in this world America was apparently not only found, but also made widely known by Vikings, it is called New Denmark.
- Airborn is an Alternate History where the biggest change is the rise of airships as the major form of long-distance transportation. The history only diverges from ours in the early 20th century or so, but one of the changes is the renaming of Vancouver (supposedly the airship capital of the world) as Lionsgate City.
- Several other places have very minor name changes, such as the Pacificus and Atlanticus oceans, Europa, and the Republic of Colorado.
- Kim Stanley Robinson's The Years of Rice and Salt, where the plague killed off most of the Christian population of Europe, leading to Arabic/Chinese/Japanese/etc place names such as Yingzhou for North America, al-Alemand for Germany, Skandistan for Scandinavia, Nippon for Japan and so on.
- Charles Stross' Merchant Princes features alternate versions of our earth, which people with a certain genetic trait can travel between.
- In the first world encountered, North America was colonized by a Germanic people who worship the gods of Norse Mythology; England and Christianity never became dominant in America and might not exist in that world at all. Most of the action that world takes place in a feudal culture corresponding geographically to what is New England in Real Life and most place names are in some Con Lang that seems like a mix of German and Scandinavian.
- In another world protagonists visit later in the series, North America was colonized by the English like in Real Life, but history happened differently in at least two ways: the American Revolution failed or didn't happen at all, but another revolution in Great Britain did succeed. So North America is ruled by a Vestigial Empire ruled by an English king who doesn't rule anything on the east side of the Atlantic. Boston is called New London in this world.
- Harry Turtledove
- The Case of the Toxic Spell Dump: This Magitek novel is set in Angels City, on the coast of the Peaceful Ocean, and just north of the Barony of Orange. On the East Coast of the Confederated Provinces are the District of St. Columba and the city of New Jorvik. Other countries mentioned include Alemania and Persia, as well as a Hanese restaurant.
- His more traditional alternate history novels feature this too, mainly for objects — nukes become "exploding-metal bombs" (in the World War/Colonization series) or "superbombs" and "sunbombs" (Timeline-191), suicide bombers become "people bombs," the Molotov cocktail is the "Featherston Fizz," and the Army's heavily armored frontline combat vehicles are "barrels," not tanks.
And when the superbombs go off, they produce a "toadstool cloud".
Speaking of nukes, element 92 is still named uranium, but while the USA names the next two elements neptunium and plutonium as in Real Life, the Confederate States Of America goes the other direction and calls them saturnium and jovium. (Britain calls element 94 churchillium.)
London, Ontario, is renamed Berlin by the occupying US authorities, Roanoke, Virginia, is called Big Lick (Justified in that that was the original name before the N&W Railroad renamed the town), and Hawaii is British-ruled and still called the Sandwich Islands.
- His War Between the Provinces series is basically a retelling of the American Civil War in the West from Chickamauga on, only with the map reversed (the rebels are in the north), the colors reversed (because indigo is a major rebel product) and with names either given alternates or horrid puns. General Rosecrans is renamed "Guildenstern." Chickamauga is renamed "The River of Death," and Lookout Mountain, "Sentry Peak." Georgia becomes "Peachtree," and Selma, Alabama is renamed "Hayek."
- Harry Turtledove and Richard Dreyfus do this in The Two Georges with Boston, Oregon (rejected in real life by a coin flip; you probably know the city as Portland).
- Piratica tweaks the name of every country out there, as well as the nationalities (we get things like "Canadee").
- Done cleverly in Gene Wolfe's Soldier of the Mist series where places in the ancient world are identified by the literal meaning/folk etymology of their names. For example, Boetia is Cowland, Athens is Thought, and Sparta is Rope in the "Silent Country".
- The Lord Darcy mysteries are set in the Angevin Empire, an Anglo-French superpower in a world where Richard The Lion Heart's heirs kept their royal status into the 20th century. The basic geography is the same, but many regions' names have evolved differently. For instance, New England is all of North America (with Nova Borkum in place of NYC), and Mechiceo is an Angevin duchy.
- In the series Stravaganza, there is an an alternate universe version of Italy known as Talia. Likewise, the UK equivalent is Anglia. There are also various city-states throughout Talia with Italian-esque names with similar meanings to their counterparts (ie, Venice = Bellezza, Florence = Giglia, Siena = Remora).
- Remora is mentioned to have been founded by Remus, thence the name. See the below example.
- Christopher Stasheff's A Wizard in Rhyme series stars a grad student from "our" world transplanted to an alternate medieval Europe. He lands in France, called "Merovence" after the Merovingian dynasty that once ruled there. Other nations are likewise renamed using historical influences: Spain is Ibile, Austria is Allustria, etc.
- And Rome is Reme because in this universe, Remus won.
- This is its own subclass of this trope. Practically everyone who makes "Earth, but with magic" makes "Remus won." the turning point. So Reme, the Reman Empire, etc.
- Terry Pratchett's Strata as well.
- The Chrestomanci books have a fair few. World 12A in Charmed Life has Atlantis (North America); in Conrads Fate the Series 7 worlds have Ludwich instead of London, the Thames is the Little Rhine, the Low Countries are Frisia, and Moscow is Mosskva. Though in Series 7, Britain is part of continental Europe...
- Tanith Lee does this quite frequently in her work. The Secret Books of Paradys are set in an alternate Paris, while The Secret Books of Venus are set in an alternate Venice. She also refers to the "Remusan Empire" in Cyrion.
- Dan Simmons has a few of these in his duology Illium and Olympos. Thousands of years have changed Ulan Bator in Ulanbat, and a mishandle black hole has made Paris into Paris Crater.
- In the Poul Anderson novella Eutopia, the various names of North America are used as shorthand for their respective alternate universes. The home universe of the dimension hoppers is called Eutopia, since in their history the Ancient Greeks colonized North America.
- Arthur C. Clarke renamed Sri Lanka "Taprobane," (one of the island's many other names) and moved it 500 miles south to put it on the Equator for his novel "The Fountains of Paradise."
- Michael Pryor's The Laws of Magic series takes this approach to a faux-Victorian era Europe - England is Albion, Germany is Holmland, France is Gallia (and its capital city is Lutetia) and so on.
- In Patricia C. Wrede's Thirteenth Child, America is Columbia, and the three systems of magic are Avrupan (European), Aphrikan (African) and Hijero-Cathayan (Indian-Chinese, actually two systems but apparently combined due to similarity. Mind you, I might be wrong about the Hijero=Indian bit, but both China and India are economic superpowers right now.).
- Michael Moorcock uses this trope a lot in his alternate-universe and time-travel stories. One in particular, the empire of Granbretan (Great Britain) in the Hawkmoon books, is used as a Take That against certain aspects of his birthplace.
- Poul Anderson, in his essay "Uncleftish Beholding", played with this trope and produced a lengthy essay on atomic theory written in what English might be if it had never borrowed words or structures from non-Germanic linguistic sources.
At first it was thought that the uncleft was a hard thing that could be split no further; hence the name. Now we know it is made up of lesser motes. There is a heavy kernel with a forward bernstonish lading, and around it one or more light motes with backward ladings. The least uncleft is that of ordinary waterstuff. Its kernel is a lone forwardladen mote called a firstbit. Outside it is a backwardladen mote called a bernstonebit. The firstbit has a heaviness about 1840-fold that of the bernstonebit. Early worldken folk thought bernstonebits swing around the kernel like the earth around the sun, but now we understand they are more like waves or clouds.
- Cryptonomicon, which takes place in a world just a little bit different from ours, calls Japan "Nippon", which is, more-or-less, the Japanese name.
- A non-alternate example in Mikhail Akhmanov's Dick Simon books. After the discovery of the Ramp, entire cities are moved off-world onto other habitable planets. US and Canada end up on a world they call Columbia. Colombia is not mentioned by name (probably because it's spelled and sounds the same in Russian), but, presumably, it went with the other South American nations to planet Latmerica. The other settled planets aren't as creative. Russia ends up on planet Russia, while European countries simply call their new world Europe (or, possibly, Europa).
- In John Flanagan's Ranger's Apprentice, this is used rather stylishly, for example: Araluen = England, Gallica = France, Celtica = Wales, Hibernia = Ireland, Picta = Scotland, Teutlandt = Germany, Arrida = North Africa (Tripoli or Egypt), Skandia = Scandinavia, Nihon-Ja = Japan, Iberion = Spain, Toscana = Rome/Italy, the unnamed Temujai country = Mongolia (Genghis Khan's name was Temijin), Indus (briefly mentioned in Book 10) probably = India, etc.
- Tom Kratman's Caliphate has Europe morph into the European Caliphate in the 2100s. As a result, many places' names were corrupted if not outright changed. Like Baya for Bavaria, Grolanhei for Grosslangheim, Affrankon for Franconia, Slo for Oslo, among others.
- Sergey Lukyanenko's Seekers of the Sky has, among other things, a still-thriving Roman Empire (now called simply the State). Thus, many city names hail from the days of Rome (e.g. Budapest is Aquincum, London is Londinium). God's Stepson (this world's version of the Pope) has his seat in a city called Urbis, which simply means "city" in Latin and is implied to be Vatican. The capital of the State has been moved to Lutetia (i.e. Paris). Russia was never able to throw off the Mongol yoke and its current capital is still Kazan' (Moscow is not mentioned). What is now Israel in our world is called Judea in the duology. Interestingly, the trope's name does not apply. Since the Ottoman Empire is still going strong, its capital is still called Istanbul. Languages are also called slightly differently: Latin is called Romanian, Hungarian is called Magyar, Turkish is called Ottoman, Spanish is called Iberian, French is called Gallic, Hebrew is called Judeic.
- Surprisingly, this is averted with Vienna (which should probably still be called Vindobona) and Lyon (which Romans called Lugdunum). Both of these are mentioned by their Real Life names.
- Despite the fact that Budapest is called Aquincum, it still has three main districts called Buda, Óbuda, and Pest.
- Vladimir Vasilyev's The Treasure of the Kapitana takes place in Days of Future Past. For some reason, many places have had their names reverted to their Greco-Roman variants. For example, Great Britain is known as Albion with the capital at Londinium and a rebelion brewing in Eboracum (York), while the Crimean Peninsula is known as Taurida (with Galeta [Yalta] as a major port city), Portugal is called Lusitania, and Germany is known as Almain (the English name for Germany until the 16th century). The Black Sea is referred to by the people of Albion as Euxine Sea (in Real Life, the British referred to it in this way until the 19th century). However, some places retain their modern names, such as Southampton (there was a Roman fortress settlement of Clausentum in the area).
- Surprisingly, Istanbul itself does not fit this trope, as it still retains its current name instead of an earlier one (e.g. Byzantium, Nova Roma, or Constantinople).
- Max Gladstone's Craft Sequence is implicitly set on a version of our Earth with a very different history. Many very similar places exist on it In Spite of a Nail (although many places are also NOT recognizable as counterparts to anything real.) A few do stand out as clear examples of this trope— the city of Shikaw, situated on a very large lake, is one obvious example.
Live Action TV
- For no explained reason, London is "Londinium" in the Adam West-era Batman. And its police headquarters is New Ireland Yard.
- DC Comics at the time (and mostly to this day, at least for US cities) didn't generally use real city names; apparently, this carried over to TV as well.
- According to another episode of the Batman series, Gotham's (ie, New York's) neighbouring state is New Guernsey. Which is New Jersey named after a different Channel Island.
- Albion pops up in Merlin, though since it's Arthurian legend-based, it's justified.
- The alternate Earth of Fringe uses almost identical place names, except that some are spelled differently.
- 7th Sea has thinly veiled Renaissance-Enlightenment pastiches: Avalon (the British Isles), Montaigne (France), Vodacce (Italy), Eisen (Germany/the remnants of the Holy Roman Empire), Castille (Spain), Ussura (Russia) and Vendel (a combination of several Nordic and northern European states). There's also The Crescent Empire (the Middle East), Cathay (East Asia) and an island chain to represent the Caribbean.
- Damnation Decade, a Green Ronin d20 System RPG based on tropes from 1970's sci-fi TV and movies, renames everything: America gets the slight change to Americo, Gordon Lightfoot and Edmund Fitzgerald get their names swapped, and then it gets weird (Richard Nixon becomes "Stanton Spobeck," for one).
- Tribe 8 may be the weirdest example. The game takes place After the End when a bunch of monsters have descended from the sky and humans are organized in tribes around "Fatimas", avatars of the Goddess. The game takes place in the land of Vimary... which was once Montreal (founded in real life under the name Ville-Marie).
- Castle Falkenstein: Most of Europe - sorry, "Europa" - has the same names and borders as in our reality, but South America is Antillea, and the Atlantic Ocean is the Atlantean Ocean, among other things.
- Early Gamma World products were full of real-world place names that'd been altered, elided, rendered phonetically, or just plain screwed up After the End.
- Warhammer 40K: Though they don't see use since the unification of Terra a millenia or two before the game's setting, there are occasional mentions of places like Albyon, Jermani, the Yndonesic Bloc and Nova Yoruk.
- Fading Suns: The Empire's capital of Byzantium Secundus was originally named New Istanbul.
- The 2027 mod for Deus Ex features the Russian Confederation.
- The Quest for Glory series. Features Spielburg (Germanic town), Mordavia (Transylvania), Silmaria (Greece), Shapeir (Middle East), and Fricana (Africa). Scandinavia is called Jotunheim, but has the justification of having actual Jotuns.
- Dragon Quest III's world map is based on the real world map, with locations having similar names to their real world counterparts. For example, Portoga is Portugal/Spain, Baharata is India, Isis is Egypt and Zipangu is Japan, among others.
- In the same vein is Golden Sun, whose world map is extremely similar to Earth except it needs some continental shifts. A lot of the names harken back to old names, like prehistoric super-continent names, for the areas.
- Dark Dawn continues the tradition and just gets gratuitous and/or lazy with it. The Japan-analogue people got relocated to a new chain of islands, which they named Nihan. You know, a slightly-mispronounced Nihon? To say nothing of Champa and Ayuthay.
- The Korean MMOG Sword of the New World: Granado Espada (Gratuitous Spanish) plays in a fantasy, monster-overrun version of America, which was named after the two explorers Granado and (drum roll, please) Espada. This isn't too bad since real-world's America is named after the explorer Amerigo Vespucci.
- Bilingual Bonus: "Distinguished Sword".
- So would that make it "Sword of the New World: Distinguished Sword"?
- It would be more like Bilingual Genius Bonus. "Distinguished" is an archaic yet still valid meaning for "Granado;" nowadays we native Spanish speakers use it almost exclusively to talk about loose grain. The grammar is all wrong, though; if you want to use "Granado," you would say "Espada Granada."
- It also doesn't help that two of the main cities are named after real-life cities: Port of Coimbra is from Coimbra, Portugal, and the City of Auch is from Auch, France.
- Possibly an example in Freelancer, which takes place in the future. The ships, and then the factions that sprung up from those ships, are the Liberty [USA], Bretonia [United Kingdom], Rheinland [Germany] and Kusari [Japan]. The fifth ship, the Hispania [Spain], broke down along the way and was lost. You can find it, if you're so inclined.
- Pokémon seems to take place on an alternate Earth, as the game maps for the first four generations are based on actual Japanese regions (though Hoenn was rotated). The exception is the Kanto region, named after the region that encompasses, among others, the prefectures of Tokyo and Gunma.
- In the fifth generation, the Unova region is based not on a portion of Japan but on New York City and the surrounding area.
- The Orre region, from the Gamecube games, is also probably based in an alternate America, specifically in Arizona.
- The sixth generation region, Kalos, is based on France, complete with analogues for the Eiffel Tower and Versailles; regardless of which language you play in, characters will still use quite a bit of French.
- Generation One took a far more Earth All Along approach to things; one of Mew's Pokedex entries mentions it being from South America, while Arcanine's Pokedex entry states that it's a legend in China. Lt. Surge was even stated to be an American military veteran (his title even being "The Lightning American").
- Games from Generation Four onwards somewhat resumed this approach; whatever language you play in, certain NPCs (implied to be foreigners) will speak entirely in a different language with no translation provided (indeed, the different names each Pokemon has depending on the language used are all simultaneously canon, like how real languages have different words for the same animal). Generations Five and Six even have a Show Within a Show dedicated to talking about either the Japanese Pokemon names, or the Japanese language in general and what you would say in Japan.
- The Grand Theft Auto series has examples of these in most of its versions: The State of San Andreas (California and Nevada), containing the cities of Los Santos (Los Angeles), Las Venturas (Las Vegas), and San Fierro (San Francisco), there is also Liberty City (New York City) and Vice City (Miami).
- Warrior Kings is heavily revisionist (but not in a "this is how it should have gone" way), with the Catholic church becoming a military and political state rivaling Rome and the real Holy Roman Empire. To be more clear, most of mainland Europe is ruled by the Empire (The Catholic Church). Germany is denoted as Gallicus. England is Angland, the pagan warlords in the islands to the north (Svalbard?) are in Skane, despite the real Skane being in southern Sweden.
- Valkyria Chronicles has 'Gallia' (the Netherlands). And, just like Castle Falkenstein,it takes place on the continent 'Europa'.
- Switzerland might be a better fit: it's implied all Gallians have militia training, and they have a history of neutrality in continental conflicts between The Empire and The Federation.
- However, the landscape looks very Dutch. Except for the massive pit mine and the sandy desert.
- Mind you, the sandy desert is only there because of a certain cataclysmic historical event that doesn't have a counterpart in our world.
- And according to a map in the trailer, Gallia is located somewhere around Latvia or Lithuania in this counterpart universe.
- The in-game map does seem to have a lot of Dutch town names scattered around the larger map for no real reason.
- Civilization IV has a mod - Rhye's and Fall of Civilization (also for expansions)- that has a dynamic naming system for cities so what at first is Constantinople will become Istanbul when captured by the Turks. (Side note - It actually has Davao and Washington D.C. in the right places - 2x2 tile squares.)
- In Civ 3, if you founded enough cities to exhaust the list of names associated with that civilization, the game would start over with "New London" etc., but instead of "New Istanbul" you'd get "Not Constantinople".
- Inverted in in Civ 5. Since the Ottoman Empire and the Byzantine Empire are both playable civilizations, it's entirely possible for a world map to feature Istanbul and Constantinople. And since they're both the capital cities of their respective empires, it will happen whenever both civs are on the board.
- Fable is set in Albion which is one of the oldest known names for England.
- Fallout 2 has New Reno. However, for the most part this trope is averted, with names like The Boneyard (Los Angeles in Fallout) or the original city names (Washington D.C. in Fallout 3).
- Valkyrie Profile has its own version of Japan named Yamato.
- Sonic Unleashed has pretty much the Earth itself but with different names, such as Apotos for Greece, Holoska for Alaska, Empire City for New York, and Chun-Nan for China.
- This comes up at least once in Assassin's Creed: Revelations given the setting (i.e. Constantinople itself), naturally. Specifically, the game is set shortly after the Ottomans occupied the city. Most still call it Constantinople, but offhand references are made to some young people starting to call the city Istanbul.
- An earlier version of the Total War engine allowed for cities to be renamed by scripted events. One such case was when an Islamic faction would take Constantinople from the Byzantines. It would be renamed Istanbul. Start with Empire Total War, the engine no longer allows for this, which is why St. Petersburg is already on the map while Sweden is in control of the territory (it originally was a tiny village called Nyen).
- Sakura Wars is set in Japan during the Taishou period. Because it's Alternate History, however, the first character of "Taishou" is written with an extra stroke.
- In both Crusader Kings II and Europa Universalis IV, when a certain nation or culture controls certain provinces (or in Crusader Kings II, even larger titles, like kingdoms and empires), their names will change to a linguistically appropriate counterpart, such as the province of Finland becoming Suomi when held by a Finn or Constantinople becoming Konstantiniyye when Turkish or the empire of Britannia becoming Pyrdain when held by most Celts, and this may also be done manually to provinces and cities. Additionally, with the Customization Pack DLC for Crusader Kings II, it becomes possible to manually rename entire duchies, kingdoms, and empires.
- The Art Of War and El Dorado DLCs for EUIV added a custom client state creator and custom nation creator, respectively, allowing players so inclined to make an Istanbul for any given Constantinople.
- Terranigma has "Scandia" for Scandinavia in the localization due to Character Name Limits, though this is an actual older name.
- Industrial Revolutionary and its big brother Jack of All Blades do this wonderfully in a surreal, humorous and yet close way. See for yourself!
- Sorcery 101 takes place in an alternate universe, wherein the territory that is our United Kingdom is called Terra, China appears to be called Sipan and the USA and Canada are a single country known as the UPH.
- Fan Dan Go is set in an alternate England known as Anglise. Its capital city is Londinium, and the city of Lonchester is rather larger than the Real Life Lancaster.
- Out There does this quite often - the main action takes place in Portstown (Boston), with occasional sojourns to Los Vicios (Las Vegas) or Oceanic City (Atlantic City). It is a bit jarring to see Boston called "P'Town," especially since in Real Life it's a nickname for Provincetown.
- Also, Wally Green plays for the Arch City Starlings (St. Louis Cardinals).
- Creator R.C. Monroe has explained that he does this because, if he used the actual cities, he believed that people who are actually from those cities would notice inconsistencies between the real-world city and the fictional city. If he used fictional city names, that would no longer be a problem.
- Girl Genius is set in an alternate "Europa," but uses this trope inconsistently. Gay Paree is still "Paris," but the political geography has nothing whatever in common with Earth's, and Albia...refers to Queen Elizabeth I, not the kingdom of Britain.
- Decades of Darkness has this: Knoxville, TN is the new * US capital Columbia, Equador is northern Brazil, New England is a much more extensive term, and colonial cities across Africa, Australia, Asia and the Americas have different names.
- Also inverted — The government of His Majesty, the Tsar of All the Russias, would like to make perfectly clear that it's Constantinople, not Istanbul.
- Motorcity: The titular refuge is the remains of old Detroit buried underneath the newer, shinier Detroit Deluxe. The trope comes into play when one remembers that the most popular of Detroit's nicknames was "The Motor City".
- In an episode of Samurai Jack, both Jack and the owners of a house he is a guest at refer to Tokyo by its old name, Edo. (Justified, of course, as both he and them are from the time period before its name was changed.)
- The city now known as Istanbul was founded as "Byzantion" (often referred to in the latinised form "Byzantium"), and was later renamed "Nova Roma" (New Rome) by Constantine, but people kept on calling it Constantine's City (Constantinopolis/Κωνσταντινούπολις/Constantinople) until the name stuck. The alternate name "Istanbul" came into use at least a millennium before Turkey finally made it official in 1930. Its origin might come from the Greek "εις την Πόλιν," literally "to the city," and roughly "downtown." It might also simply be a corruption of "-instantinople." Other names include the Slavic "Tsargrad" (City of the Emperor) and the Norse "Mikligarðr" (Big City). In spite of all this, there lingers a popular perception that Constantinople is a Turkish name applied through conquest by the Turks.
- Australia after discovery by the Dutch was named New Holland for a while, then Terra Nullius (no man's land), before finally becoming known as Australia (Southern land).
- Various parts of Australia have also had this: Tasmania was originally called Van Diemens Land, Melbourne was informally named Batmania until the British made Melbourne official, and Brisbane was originally named Moreton Bay, just to name a few.
- Egypt is originally called "Misr" (from an archaic word meaning "capital" or "civilization"; compare Hebrew Mitzrayim) in the local language (Arabic). In Ancient Egyptian, the word was something like Kemet, meaning "the Black Land" (from the black soil of the Nile Valley, in contrast to the surrounding "Red Land", i.e. desert), but nobody speaks that anymore.
- Morocco is called "Al-Maghreb" ("The Country of the Sunset").
- The Arabic language itself adapts some country names in a very particular fashion: for example, Venice is called "Al-Bunduqia" (approximately "The Hazelnut," for reasons that remain unclear; either way, "hazelnut" came to mean "bullet" and eventually "musket or rifle" ), and "al-Yunaan" (from "Ionia") for Greece for starters. The trope namer town is called "Al-Qusṭanṭiniyyah" (now "Isṭanbūl"). Most countries are rendered in the feminine (adding an -a suffix) like "Firansa", "Esbania", "Bolanda" (Poland; Arabic has no "p" sound), "Amriika", probably under a combination of Latin/Romance influence and an old tradition that prefers to give names of regions feminine names unless the name is also an Arabic masculine word (e.g. Morocco—Al-Maghrib, which is the Arabic word for "sunset" and is masculine in that usage). Correspondingly, those names that don't end in "a" are still usually considered feminine and are assigned the definite article ("al-", equivalent to "the"): al-Siin (China), al-Yaban (Japan, from English), al-Sawiid (Sweden), al-Maksiik (Mexico, also from English), al-Brasiil (Brazil)... Peculiarly, there is one country that ends in "a" and also has the definite: al-Nimsa, the Arabic word for Austria, which arrived in Arabic at the end of a long chain of meaning mutation and borrowing: originally from ''nemets(y)", a Slavic term for "mute", which became a Slavic term for "foreigner", which was narrowed down to mean "German", which the Turks took as "Nemce" meaning "Austrian" because those were the Germans they had the most, um, extensive contact with, and then borrowed to al-Nimsa (for no apparent reason) by the Arabs.
- In a similar way, many countries in Japanese are or were spelled in a different way from the originals, sometimes using how the locals call their country or using another proxy language: Spain is spelled in Japanese as スペイン (Supein, from English), instead of using the Spanish one, the same goes with Mexico, who is spelled in Japanese as メキシコ (Mekishiko, also from English). The biggest offenders are Argentina (アルゼンチン, Aruzenchin, from Argentine, a very archaic English spelling of that country that even the British doesn't use it anymore) and the Netherlands/Holland (オランダ, Oranda, from Spanish since the country is named Holanda in that language).
- Often, Japanese-speakers would borrow the Chinese characters for a country's name when writing it, which would lead to alternate pronunciations. For example, in older documents the Japanese word for America was often written using the Chinese characters 米国 as shorthand, and was meant to be read as "Ame-rika". However, in most other contexts those Chinese characters stood for the words "bei-koku." As a result, "Beikoku" became an alternate Japanese name for America alongside "Amerika." The characters translate into "rice-country": an allusion to Uncle Ben's is apparent.
- The name of Mexico also has different spelling in Japanese, depending of which part of Mexico we're talking about: As already mentioned, the name of the country is spelled in Japanese by using English as proxy, but on the other hand, the State of Mexico is spelled in Japanese as メヒコ州 (Phonetically spelled as Mehiko-shuu and translated literally as State Of Mexico, in Spanish Estado de Mexico), being Japanese one of the few languages who make a differentiation of the spelling between the country and the Mexican state. In Spanish, the people of Mexico are named Mexicanos (male plural) and Mexicanas (female plural), while the people of the State of Mexico are named Mexiquenses. (plural for both genders)
- New Amsterdam was immediately renamed "New York" after the English took the city from the Dutch; this was done to publicize the conquest, boost nationalism, and honor the Duke of York, who was appointed its governor.
- Speaking of the Dutch, that is only the English word for inhabitants and the language of the Netherlands (Netherlanders is what they call themselves). Confusingly, both the Netherlands and Germany refer to 'German' as Duits/Deutsch. This may be a mistake on English-speaking people's part.
- It's not. Well, it may be, but a late one. Medieval and early Modern English calls the Germans "Dutch". Both "Deutsch" and "Duits" come from the same root, the Germanic word *Thiudisk, which meant, roughly, "speaker of the people's language". As opposed to the Latin-speakers, the western Franks, the Theudish, Teuton, Deutch and finally Dutch, were the Germanic peoples, especially the Franks, who kept on speaking Germanic languages. In the 17th Century, a wave of classicism strikes Europe and classical-based names pop up in the english language. German, used before, but not so often, is one of them. British would be another, for example.
- After the American Revolution, some cities underwent mild name changes: most famously, Charles Town became Charleston, but other changes included Nashborough and Jonesborough becoming Nashville and Jonesville, respectively.
- Some other examples of English place-names sounding slightly or not so slightly different from the form used in the place itself. The forms frequently are taken from French or Latin, while in some cases they reflect older forms that have fallen into disuse: Albania (Shqiperia), Antwerp (Antwerpen), Athens (Athinai), Austria (Österreich), Bavaria (Bayern), Berne (Bern), Brittany (Bretagne aka "Little Britain"), Brunswick (Braunschweig, derived from the original name Brunswich), Burgundy (Bourgogne, via German Burgund), Camperdown (Kamperduijn), Cologne (Köln, from Colonia Agrippina via French), Constance (Konstanz), Copenhagen (Köbenhavn), Crimea (Krym), Dunkirk (Dunkerque), Elsinore (Helsingör), Finland (Suomi), Flanders (Vlaanderen), Flushing (Vlissingen), Geneva (Génève), Genoa (Genova), Germany (Deutschland), Ghent (Gent), Heligoland (Helgoland), Jutland (Jylland), Lake Constance (Bodensee), Leghorn (Livorno), Lisbon (Lisboa), Marseilles (Marseille), Milan (Milano), Moscow and Muscovy (Moskva), Munich (München), Naples (Napoli), Norway (Norge), Nuremberg (Nürnberg), Ostend (Oostende), the Palatinate (die Pfalz), Poland (Polska, probably via either German "Polen" or French "Pologne"), Prague (Praha, via German "Prag"), Prussia (Preußen), Rome (Roma), Saint Petersburg (Sankt-Peterburg), Saxony (Sachsen), Seville (Sevilla), Spire (Speyer), Sweden (Sverige), Turine (Torino), Tuscany (Toscana), Ushant (Ouessant), Venice (Venezia, via French "Venise"), Vienna (Wien, Latin Vindobona, French Vienne), Vistula (Wisla, preferring the Latin name), Warsaw (Warszawa), Zealand (Sjaelland, the one in Denmark), Zealand (Zeeland, the one in the Netherlands, after which New Zealand is named).
- Some examples of French names for places better known in English by English names: Amérique (America), Angleterre ("Angles-Land", England), Cornouailles (Cornwall), Douvres (Dover), Ecosse (Scotland), Edimbourg (Edinburgh), les Etats-Unis (the United States), les îles Anglo-Normandes ("the Anglo-Norman Islands", i. e. the Channel Islands), Londres (London), les Malouines (the Falkland Isles, named after the French seaport of Saint-Malo, although "îles Falkland" also is used), Nouvelle-Ecosse ("New Scotland", Nova Scotia, part of the old French colony Acadie), la Nouvelle Orléans (New Orleans, after the French city of Orléans), le pays de Galles ("Country of Wales"), la Tamise (the Thames), Terre-Neuve ("New Land", Newfoundland). New York remains New York, though.
- And some German ones that are still current: Amerika, Australien, Britisch-Kolumbien (British Columbia, but beware: Kolumbien = Colombia), Kalifornien (California), Kanada, Mittelengland ("Central England" = Midlands plus southern Part of North England), Neuengland (New England), Neuseeland (New Zealand), Norddakota (North Dakota), Schottland (Scotland), Südafrika, Süddakota (South Dakota), die Themse (the Thames). As English became the dominant language on Earth in the 20th century, some names have fallen into disuse, e. g. das Felsengebirge (the Rocky Mountains), Neuyork and Pennsylvanien.
- Many cities have some very different names in different languages, even ones that don't border on it. For instance Germany's westernmost major city Aachen is called Aix-la-Chapelle in French, Aken in Dutch, Flemish and Afrikaans, Achenas in Lithuanian, Ahene in Latvian, Aquisgranum in Latin, Aquisgrana in Italian, Aquisgrà in Catalan, Aquisgrán in Spanish, Aquisgrano in Portuguese, Akwizgran in Polish, Akisgran in Basque, Cáchy in Czech, Oochen in Letzeburgisch (the language of Luxembourg), and Oche in the local German dialect. That it used to be one of the most important cities of the Holy Roman Empire probably helps.
- Supposedly, Osama Bin-Laden made a point of referring Spain and Portugal as Al-Andalus. Al-Andalus (for which the modern southern portion of Spain, Andalucia is called) was what the Iberian Peninsula was called by the Islamic world, of which it was a part of, before the Reconquista period. He also referred to Iraq as Mesopotamia.
- Greece, which is called Ellada / Hellas by Greeks themselves and is officially called the Hellenic Republic, which many people have probably never heard. The word Greek comes from Latin, but it stuck so now the whole world uses it, even by Greeks themselves when talking to foreigners.
- This goes back all the way to the Romans, who called the areas of modern-day Italy that were then heavy with Greek settlers as Magna Graecia, literally "Greater Greece".
- When Greece gained independence from the Ottoman Empire in the 19th century, government agents were sent to every village to spread the news that the residents were now Greek citizens. Many villagers were surprised, as they still considered themselves Romans!
- For those who don't get it, some people in charge of Roman Empire moved their capital from Rome to Constantinople. They still call themselves Roman and their kingdom Roman Empire (althought not centered in Rome), other people call them Greek-Rome or Byzantine.
- Greece still calls France "Gallia", the name used by the ancient Romans.
- Iran is a slightly different case, since the government accepts the use of both terms interchangeably to refer to the country but adamantly uses Iran officially. Iran has been the name of the nation since ancient times, but the first Iranian empire was based in the region of Pars, so the Greeks called the country Persia, and the name stuck for 2500 years.
- The Polish-Ukrainian border has plenty of these problems, stemming back to the chaotic birth of Poland in the interbellum and the Soviet invasion and seizure of Eastern Poland in World War II.
- Hell, even Kiev suffers from this. Or is it Kyiv?
- The Norse named it Kænugarðr (Boat City)
- Nowadays Kiev sits at the heart of the mostly Russian-speaking (though generally not Russian-aligned) Central Ukraine, where few people speak Ukrainian in informal situations. Urban Kiev is mostly Russian-speaking, except for official business, while the surrounding countryside mainly speaks an Ukrainian-Russian pidgin called "Surzhik" (a word that originally meant the mix of rye and wheat).
- A case study of this is Lemberg, Austria. Or perhaps Lwów, Poland. Then again we have Львов (L'vov), Soviet Union (and before that Russia). Of course many in Львів (L'viv), Ukraine would object....
- Of course all these names already were used before 1918, since most of the languages were represented in the city's population, and e. g. Austrians and Germans still refer to the place as "Lemberg" today without dreaming of "claiming it back".
- A lot of cities in former Austro-Hungarian empire had mixed populations (Germans were quite a diaspora back then) and thus multiple names, such as Pressburg/Pozsony/Bratislava, Prag/Praha, Pilsen/Plzeň...
- Another case is the region known as Ardeal in Romanian, Erdély in Hungarian, Siebenbürgen in German or an English name derived from the Latin Transsilvania.
- Many of those who are generally sore about the Vietnam War often refuse to call Saigon by its modern name, Ho Chi Minh City.
- "Saigon" pretty much remains an alternate name for the city in Vietnam itself, and many Vietnamese still use the old name as well. In fact, plenty of places in Ho Chi Minh City still refers to it as Saigon (e.g. Saigon Zoo and Botanical Garden), and the name of the Saigon River was never changed in any way.
- St. Petersburg was renamed Petrograd before being renamed Leningrad and then being named St. Petersburg again.
- A certain contentious strip of land in the Middle East has been known by quite a few names, most recently "Palestine" before it changed (back, I suppose) to "Israel", though depending on how world politics go at least some chunk of it may be referred to as "Palestine" again.
- During Roman times it was referred to as Judaea. Farther back after the reign of King Solomon, it was Israel (Northern Kingdom) and Judah (Southern Kingdom). Before that, it was Canaan...
- The Romans purposedly renamed Iudaea to Palaestina after repressing a Jewish revolt, after the Philistines, their former enemies in the area. It became Syria Palaestina, part of the larger Roman Syria province. The Arabic use of the term "Filastiin" ("Palestine") for the region derives from the fact that the Romans controlled it when the Muslim armies conquered it, and the Arabs being rather ignorant of the region's history just continued to use Roman names.
- When modern Israel was being founded, there was a debate of what to name it: "Judea," "Eretz Israel," "Zion," and "Palestine" were a few of the candidates. The debate went on so long that some documents were drawn up with a blank for the name of the country.
- The city of New Berlin in southern Ontario changed its name to Kitchener during the First World War.
- Several Canadian cities have gone through this: York/North York was changed to "Toronto" upon Confederation, as was Bytown —> Ottawa. Ontario and Quebec were themselves referred to as "Upper" and "Lower" Canada, respectively, until 1867.
- "North York" is still used to refer to a suburb of Toronto, and many local buildings - such as the North York General Hospital - bear its name.
- "China" comes from the Qin (Ch'in) Dynasty. They call their nation "Zhongguo" or "The Middle Kingdom".
- "Japan" is also "Nippon" or "Nihon", or "The Source of the Sun". The name "Japan" in English and a lot of other languages comes from an old Chinese pronunciation for "Nihon" which was "Cipan" which was written by Marco Polo as "Cipangu". When the Portuguese came to Malaysia, they encountered the pronunciation having turned into "Jepang". And then when it was brought to English, it was "Giapan".
- "Nippon" is the official designation, used in official Japanese government communication, as well as most corporate and formal situations. "Nihon" is a dialect variant used in casual, informal situations.
- To expand further, 'Nippon' is the traditional form, remembered because of its importance and its frequent use in official situations; however, a few centuries of linguistic drift have corrupted the 'pp' sound to an 'h' soundnote , hence the casual form used in daily conversation.
- There once was a Roman settlement in Britain named Eboracum, probably named after a Celtic town possible itself named after a founder called Eboras or alternatively from Eborakon meaning "place of yew trees". When the Angles invaded, they renamed it Eoforwic (switching Ebor for Anglian Eofor meaning boar). Then the vikings came, and the name of the city became Jórvík. Following the Norman conquest, the name eventually changed to York.
- Mumbai, the second largest city in the world, was known as Bombay until 1995.
- India sanskritized (or tamulized in the South) the name of a lot of cities since decolonization, thus we have Bombay->Mumbai, Madras->Chennai, Benares->Varanasi, Pondichéry->Puducherry...
- And, hilariously, Kamptee->Kamthi, even though the name of the city comes from the English "Camp T", i.e. a British Army camp.
- Also, Calcutta has become Kolkata once again.
- Some of those name changes are really only changes on ortography, to reflect better the pronunciation of the name.
- In 1850 the Mormon leaders submitted proposal to add an enormous state called "Deseret" to the United States. It stretched all the way from the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific Ocean. Congress, realizing that this was a not-so-sneaky attempt to create a vast new Mormon quasi-theocracy on a sizable chunk of land, decided to admit California instead, cut Deseret down to half its proposed size, rename it "Utah," organize it as a territory and not a state, and refuse admission as a state until 1896. Its capital, Great Salt Lake City, would have a much less radical name change a few years later.
- Timeline-191 has Mormon separatists repeatedly attempt to establish an independent Republic of Deseret in Utah based on the state proposed by Real Life Mormon settlers. The name derives from the Book of Mormon http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deseret_(Book_of_Mormon).
- Like many odd Mormon words, this is derived from Joseph Smith's "Reformed Egyptian", and supposedly means "Honeybee" (a Mormon symbol of industry and industriousness). However, the only actual Ancient Egyptian term resembling "Deseret" is "dṛt" (Ancient Egyptian writing used no vowels; "deshret" is the most common reconstructed pronunciation). It means "Red Land", i.e. the desertnote that surrounds the Nile Valleynote . So—desert. Which is most of "Deseret".
- For 190 years, most of the land now known as California was called "New Albion" and claimed by the British, despite a total lack of colonization. "California" was only the peninsula further south. Only in 1769, when the Spanish Empire began colonizing the region, did the name change.
- Under the Viceroyalty of Spain, what is now the U.S. State of California (and much of the SW U.S.) was called Alta California, or "Upper California", which is why the peninsula to the south is called Baja California, or "Lower California".
- The United States itself was originally going to be named Columbia, or United States of Columbia, or some variation thereof. The American moniker that was decided instead would symbolize how one day, all the Americas would be united. Up to World War I, the US' mascot was the goddess Columbia, as opposed to the more common nowadays Uncle Sam. In more iconic artwork, Columbia still represents the USA, as opposed to Uncle Sam.
- So that's where that studio got their logo from...
- In Chinese, cities whose names don't stem from Chinese are usually rough transliterations of how they're pronounced in the native language (e.g., Rome is simply "Ro-ma" (罗马 in simplified)). The one exception is San Francisco, which is 旧金山 ("jiù jīn shān", "Old Gold Mountain").
- Actually, there are quite a few exceptions. Generally speaking, places with large Chinese-speaking populations will end up with abbreviated or more poetic names, presumably to make them easier to talk about among their Chinese-speaking residents.
- Finland itself is called "Suomi" in Finnish, a language which doesn't even have an "f" sound, except only in the Southwestern dialect spoken at very small are at coast from Salo to Pori. Still, they accept the (Swedish) name when talked to easily.
- The name goes back to Roman times at least, who called the Finno-Ugric people living on the north-eastern shore of the Baltic Sea "Fenni".
- Armenia has been referred to as such by foreigners going back to Ancient Egypt, where New Kingdom texts refer to it as 'Ermenen'. The annals of King Darius of Persia from the 500s BC refer to it as "Arminiya". But going back almost as far, its natives have referred to their country as Hayastan, and themselves as "hay". This could be because, as one theory of their ethnogenesis suggests, the Armenian race was formed by an inter-mixing of two ancient Anatolian tribes, the Armens and the Hayasa.
- That's not to mention the cities that had their names changed in the early 90's once the Soviet Union fell, like in most other former Soviet republics (for example Leninakan became Gyumri, which was actually its name before the Russian Empire took over in the 1820's when it became Alexandropol for around a century).
- Hungary is Magyarország to its people, who call themselves Magyar. The Huns were actually the earlier rulers of the area, who conquered it from the Romans. During the Roman times, the country was known as Pannonia.
- Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, a province in Pakistan, used to be named "Northwest Frontier Province". Other names that have been suggested for the province are Afghania, Abasin, Pashtunistan, Nuristan, and Ghandara.
- Belgium has three official languages, so most cities have two or three names. Some examples are Antwerpen-Anvers; Mechelen-Malines-Mecheln; Brussel-Bruxelles-Brüssel; Doornik-Tournai. Road signs to these cities depend on which part of the country you're in.
- Although German names are rarely signposted outside the small German-speaking area in the east of the country (close to Liège-Luik-Lüttich). Also, some non-Belgians tend to prefer to use the French names of some places for historical reasons (usually because of some battle), vide e. g. which name English-speakers use for the Flemish towns of Ieper-Ypres-Ypern and Bergen-Mons. This reflects the pre-World War 2 linguistic Walloon dominance.
- South Africa has eleven official languages, so alternative names abound. This is especially true of cities that have descriptive names rather than being named after a founder; for instance, Cape Town (Kaapstad, iKapa, etc.). Some cities just have a ton of nicknames, e.g., Johannesburg also being called eGoli ("City of Gold"), Joburg, Jozi, etc.
- For added controversy, a whole lot of city names are now up for review because they get associated with yesteryear. Although there are many local examples, the most controversial one is the name change of Pretoria (the proposed new name being "Tshwane"). Although Tshwane has long been the name of a local river, and by association a lot of the surrounding area, the city was founded as Pretoria (kind of like how there is an island called Manhattan in New York City, but NYC has its own name). So, insisting that the name change is a restoration of a pre-colonial name is somewhat dishonest, but which side of the argument you lend more weight to largely depends on your politics. Due to being heavily opposed by locals, the move to rename the city has been ruled unconstitutional and was withdrawn (for now), but that hasn't stopped mapmakers both local and international from enthusiastically renaming the place Tshwane.
- Tshwane is now also the name of the newly-created metropolitan area that Pretoria is a part of, so that's somewhat justifiable. But it's still incorrect to refer to the city of Pretoria by that name.
- As a compromise, the city was referred to as "Pretoria/Tshwane" in locally-issued print media during the World Cup.
- Some Alternate History has South Africa rename itself Azania, an actual name that has been applied to various parts of the region, and one rechristened a future Johannesburg as "Mandelaville."
- Taiwan is called The Republic of China on its official documents, China: Taipei or Chinese Taipei in international games, and occasionally also as "Formosa", as it was referred to as "Ilha Formosa" (the beautiful island) by early explorers. There was a movement to make "Taiwan" the official government name, but it didn't stick, not least because the folks across the border would regard this as a sneaky declaration of independence and object. Violently. Possibly with mushrooms, if you catch our drift...
- There's also the fact that the Taiwanese government originally was the mainland government in exile, and to some extent may still consider itself as the "true" one. Of course, the regime in Beijing disagrees...
- Dingle in Co. Kerry, Ireland was officially changed to its Irish name of Dangean. Some Anglophone locals were upset with this, arguing that as the town relies heavily on tourism the name should be recognisable, and a campaign to change the name back is ongoing. A plebiscite in 2005 showed that an overwhelming majority of residents favoured the bilingual name of "Dingle/Daingean Uí Chúis".
- Around the time of independence, many Irish towns and counties reverted from names imposed by the English back to their native placenames as part of a Regaelicisation process. For example, "Queen's County" became "Laois", "Kingstown" to "Dún Laoghaire" etc.
- Cobh (an Cóbh) is an interesting case, because it is a gaelicisation of the English word for "cove," rather than a Gaelic version of its former British name "Queenstown" or an an older name, of which there are many. "An Cóbh" has no meaning in Irish, according to the other Wiki.
- In the Middle Ages, China was known as "Cathay" and Siberia was called "Tartary". Note though that there was some confusion in the Middle Ages and early Renaissance as to whether Cathay was China or some country between China and Mongolia.
- The confusion was legitimate, since 'Cathay' originally referred to the land of the Khitan, a Mongol Tribe that dominated most of Northern China and Manchuria before they were kicked out by another tribe, the Jurchens. Since Northern China was the eastern terminus of the Silk Road, and had previously been dominated by said Mongol tribe under the name of the 'Liao Dynasty', the name stuck in Europe as referring to all of China until the Europeans reached the country through sea routes. The remnants of the Liao moved into Central Asia and founded a rather large empire there, also referred to Cathay, hence the confusion.
- The Romans knew China as Seres, Silk-Land.
- The military regime in Burma changed the country's name to Myanmar, however many people still refer to the country as Burma and its former capital as Rangoon. Same thing for Kampuchea/Cambodia during the Khmer Rouge years.
- Disregarding the military government's involvement, this was basically the same situation that happened in India. Both names actually mean the same, "Myanmar" is just a more traditional and thus prestigious variant that was selected to break the ties with the colonial past. Same with Rangoon/Yangon.
- "South Korea" is actually the Republic of Korea; "North Korea" is the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. Of course, neither Korea officially recognizes the other one.
- This is more difficult in Sinosphere languages whose names for those two countries are derived from their respective endonyms in hanja. South Korea's official name is causally shortened to 韓國 (hanguk). North Korea's official gets shortened to 朝鮮 (choson). This doesn't stop people from using north/south coupled with either Han or Choson when referring to the two countries. See Names of Korea on The Other Wiki.
- Further muddling things is that both Han and Choson were old names of Korea before the split. The name Korea itself is also derived from one of those old names — namely, the Mediaeval Koryo kingdom.
- Stroke Country. In particular, the Derry/Londonderry issue - use either one and you risk offending someone, whether it's the unionists or republicans. A compromise is the nickname The Maiden City.
- Jakarta, the capitol of Indonesia. During the antiquity it was Sunda Kelapa. Then after Fatahillah, the general of the Sultanate of Demak, drove the Portuguese out, it became Jayakarta (City of Glory). Then during the Dutch Colonial era it was called Batavia. And finally, when the Japanese took over, it was renamed Jakarta, its official name today. (The Imperial Japanese, despite all the horrid things they did, fostered a sense of Asian self-esteem by reviving old or ancient Asian cultures that were made illegal in Asian countries during European rule.)
- The English Channel is known in French as La Manche, i. e. "the Sleeve", a name sometimes used in English until the early modern age. German and Spanish uses a translation of the French name (Ärmelkanal and Canal de la Mancha, respectively), while in Dutch it's simply Het Kanal "the Channel". Russian, on the other hand, simply transliterates the strait's name as "Ла-Манш".
- Hamburg is called Hanbao in Chinese. The name can be translated as "castle of the Han", which is rather apposite as Hamburg contains the biggest Chinese community in Germany and the German head offices of most major Chinese firms are located there.
- In the 1930s, during the reign of the Nazi Party in Germany, hundreds of towns and villages especially in East Prussia and Silesia were renamed because their names were considered too Polish or too Lithuanian. (Part of East Prussia was known as Littauen in German and "Little Lithuania" in Lithuanian.)
- In those parts of Germany that became Polish in 1945 cities, towns and villages for the most part received names that were Polish forms or translations of the German names (which had often existed earlier, partly due to the fact that many of these places had been Polish or Slavic before they became German). In the northern part of East Prussia, which was annexed to the Soviet Union, specifically the Russian Socialist Federated Soviet Republic, the Russians used a different system. Every town or village that was still inhabited was given an all-new Russian name, eschewing even names famous from Russian history. E. g. the town of Preußisch Eylau, site of a bloody battle against Napoleon in 1807, was renamed Bagrationovsk, after a Russian (or rather Georgian) general who had been wounded on the eve of said battle. This was not least because the Russians wanted to show the neighboring Lithuanian S. S. R. that this territory was not for them by replacing all originally Lithuanian names with Russian ones. After the end of the Soviet Union, the Russian Federation even passed a law expressly forbidding to alter these new names in that oblast, which is why e. g. its capital, the former Königsberg, is still called Kaliningrad and the border town of Tilsit Sovietsk.
- When the Venetians controlled much of the eastern Mediterranean during the Middle Ages, many islands, towns etc. were given Italian names, e. g. Peloponnesos became Morea, Corcyra became Corfu, Crete became Candia and Melos Milo (hence the name "Venus de Milo" for a statue found there). One notable example is that the country of Crna Gora ("Black Mountain") is known to this days as Montenegro.
- The river known as Istros to the ancient Greeks and (in its upper part) Danuvius to the Romans is now called in the countries on its shores Donau, Donava, Dunav, Dunaj and Dunarea. In English it is known by its French name, Danube.
- Interestingly, both Rhenus (Rhine, Rhein, Rijn, Rein etc) and Danuvius (Donau, Donava, Dunav, Dunaj, Dunarea...), the border rivers of the Roman Empire, mean "flow-water" and "run-water" in Latin...
- The Gaelic name for Scotland is Alba, which is derived from the same root as Albion which means "The white land" or...Albania.
- The island of Truk became Chuuk, to better reflect the pronunciation. Everyone pronounced it as "truck", while the correct pronunciation would have been "trook"
- One needs not much srilankity...eh, ceylonity...damn it, serendipity to add another random example.