Non-standardization of geographical names

Other Names:
Non-standardization of topographic names
Political changes to names of geographical features
Place-name reversals

The same geographical feature may have several names in current use, complicating the elaboration of maps, signs and transportation schedules, especially in areas where several languages are in use. The situation may be further complicated when the same name is used several times for different places in the same country.


The existence of several versions of a name creates major difficulties in bilingual countries, in international organizations or between neighbouring territories with common geographical features, where these extend beyond a single sovereignty. These difficulties are frequently reinforced where a name has political or cultural significance, as in the case of Malvinas/Falklands, or Taiwan. Name changes, whether for political reasons or over historical periods, can also complicate the issue. The habit of changing place names reflects a country's nature. About half of all place names in the former Soviet Union have altered since the communist revolution, largely for reasons of ideology, such as the deletion of the host of place names beginning with Stalin. American place names have often changed to give better chance of selling real estate (e.g. Murphy Station to Sunnyvale, Hillsborough Land Settlement to Belle Glade). With the British it has often been administrative convenience (e.g. Cambridge Town, Surrey to Camberley to avoid confusion with Cambridge, the university town).

Related UN Sustainable Development Goals:
GOAL 4: Quality EducationGOAL 16: Peace and Justice Strong Institutions
Problem Type:
F: Fuzzy exceptional problems
Date of last update
13.10.2020 – 20:34 CEST