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That Country's Real Name Is…

November 8, 2017

Many countries around the world have an informal or “short form” name by which its commonly referred, and an official “long form” name. Here are some countries whose actual names you may not have known.

Oriental Republic of Uruguay

About the only place where it’s culturally acceptable to use the word “oriental” is when referring to the nation of Uruguay. While “the Orient” generally refers to Asian places, Uruguay is officially named the Oriental Republic of Uruguay.

United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

Here’s the difference between Great Britain, England, and the United Kingdom. Great Britain is the island that holds England, Scotland, and Wales. The United Kingdom is made up of England, Scotland, Wales—all of Great Britain—as well as Northern Ireland. The official name of the United Kingdom then is the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka

Until 1948, the small island off the coast of India was called Ceylon and it was under the rule of the U.K. In 1972, the country changed its name to Sri Lanka. Six years later, the government adopted the name Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka—which mentions three different governmental styles.

French Republic

France isn’t technically France. It’s the French Republic.

Swiss Confederation

Switzerland isn’t technically Switzerland. It’s formally the Swiss Confederation, a republic consisting of 26 cantons, or member states.

Democratic People’s Republic of Korea

North Korea, which has been famously strictly ruled by the Kim family since 1948, is technically called the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

Brunei Darussalam

The small Asian nation of Brunei is ruled over by an absolute monarch. The full name of Brunei is Brunei Darussalam, which translated from the language of Malay means “Abode of Peace.”


In 1993, Czechslovakia split into two nations: the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Up until 2016, the Czech Republic didn’t have two different names: it was just “The Czech Republic.” In search of a something that sounded a bit more country-like, last year the nation declared its name Czechia. (The long form name remains “The Czech Republic.)

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