Travel Fun Facts! Volume: 1 – Former Country Names

You may not realize it, but lots of things are named for places that used to exist, but now go by different names. For instance, everyone’s heard of Siamese cats and Ceylon tea. Well, Siam is the old name for Thailand and Ceylon is now called Sri Lanka. Also, many places were given names when they were colonized by Europeans, only to be renamed when they gained their independence. Did you know that Belize was formerly known as British Honduras and Suriname was Dutch Guiana? The borders of several African countries have been redrawn many times throughout history too. Due to frequent wars and former colonial rule, if you look at an old map of Africa you’re sure to see places that no longer exist. The nations of Zambia and Zimbabwe were once collectively known as Rhodesia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo was once called Zaire.

Can you think of any other places that used to be known by other names? Feel free to add them in the comments section below!

CURRENT NAME FORMER NAME
Bangladesh East Pakistan
Belize British Honduras
Burkina Faso Upper Volta
Democratic Republic of the Congo Zaire, British Congo
Ethiopia Abyssinia
Ghana Gold Coast
Iran Persia
Mali French Sudan
Myanmar Burma
Sri Lanka Ceylon
Suriname Dutch Guiana
Tanzania Tanganyika and Zanzibar
Thailand Siam
Vanuatu New Hebrides
Zambia Northern Rhodesia
Zimbabwe Southern Rhodesia

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