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Nothing stays the same: even countries change

May 1, 2014

Alice, my elder daughter, has just passed the assessment day and will be spending the summer in Malawi doing voluntary work. Shame to admit it, but after being delighted for her, my second thought was 'where's Malawi'?

My third thought was to find out about it (thank you, CIA factbook), and my fourth thought was 'do they play chess in Malawi' (yes they do, including having played in the Olympiad, but I would have a good chance of being the strongest player there: maybe I will suggest to Jane that we should go there on holiday?). Maybe I have got my priorities wrong, but why should I bother about safety, flights, money, etc etc when Alice and Jane can do a better job on such things.

Anyway, Malawi was called Nyasaland until 1964, and this set me thinking 'how many countries have changed their names in my lifetime?

I suspect (no, I am sure) this list is incomplete (googling found various partial lists), but it gives an idea of the significant number which change over a generation or two.


Nyasaland – Malawi 1964

Northern Rhodesia – Zambia 1964

Tanganyika and Zanzibar- United Republic of Tanzania 1964

Southern Rhodesia – Rhodesia 1965 and again 1979

Bechuanaland- Botswana 1966

Basutoland – Lesotho 1966

British Guiana – Guyana 1966

Spanish Guinea – Equitorial Guinea 1968

French Somaliland – Territory of the Afars and the Issas 1967 and again 1977

Republic of the Congo- Democratic Republic of the Congo 1964 and again 1971


East Pakistan – Bangladesh 1971

Democratic Republic of the Congo – Zaire 1971 and again 1997

Ceylon – Sri Lanka 1972

British Honduras- Belize 1973

Dutch Guiana – Suriname 1975

Khmer Republic – Kampuchea 1975 (and again, 1991)

Territory of the Afars and the Issas – Djibouti 1977

Ellice Islands – Tuvalu 1978

Portuguese Guinea – Guinea-Bissau 1979

Rhodesia – Zimbabwe-Rhodesia 1979, and to Zimbabwe 1980


New Hebrides – Vanuata 1980

Upper Volta – Burkina Faso 1984

Burma – Myanmar 1989


German Democratic Republic accession to Federal Republic of Germany 1990

South West Africa – Namibia 1990

Byelorussia- Belarus 1991

Moldavian SSR- Moldova 1991

Kampuchea- Cambodia 1991

Ukrainian SSR – Ukraine 1991

Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania 1991

USSR- Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Krygyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan 1992

Czechoslovakia – Czech Republic 1993

Western Samoa – Samoa 1997

Zaire – Democratic Republic of the Congo 1997


Federal Republic of Yugoslavia – Serbia and Montenegro, Slovenia, Croatia, Republic of Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, 2003


…none so far, unless Crimea changes its name.


In total, the above is about 50 countries. The largest component is the break up of the USSR; with another significant number being changes in central and Southern Africa.


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