The country can't (directly) control how it is called in another languages, but if the language is the official language of an international organization that country is a member of, it has potentially more control.

How it looks like by official English country names in United Nations. Let's say the country A is not happy with its English name and want to be called otherwise (for example, Georgia wants to be called Sakartvelo). Is there any standard procedure of such name change, or such cases are not regulated and will depend on situation?

Of course the country would have no direct influence how it will be called by English speakers of another countries, it could only lobby for it.

The background of the question is the real-case of Georgia not happy with its name in many languages coming from Russian (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/georgia/8603300/Georgia-lobbying-countries-to-adopt-name-change.html) and an off-topic but interesting question about Czech Republic on Trave.SE (https://travel.stackexchange.com/questions/100834/czechia-or-czech-republic-or-both).

  • While I don't have anything to back this up, I think that really its just a matter of the leadership of the government of the nation proclaiming to the world that they are now to be called X. Aug 25, 2017 at 20:19

2 Answers 2


There are a few historical precedents. For instance the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) used to be called Kingdom of Kongo and Zaire.

There's no standard procedure per se.

As a country that wants to change name, or for that matter as a new country, you essentially bellow out your new name. In practical terms this means communicating it out loud to embassies and the press, and hope other nations recognize it and call it as such.

Not all do in practice, mind you. See for instance Taiwan, which is technically what emerged out of the remains of Imperial China (Republic of China) and still considers itself as a government in exile (complete with a slew of territorial claims on what we know as China day to day and neighboring territories); it isn't recognized by People's Republic of China, aka China (with pretty much the same territorial claims plus Taiwan).

  • Regarding Taiwan, "technically" would be better substituted by "officially" (i.e. according to the office paperwork). 'Technically", defined by google as "according to the facts or exact meaning of something; strictly" doesn't quite fit, in large part because the "exact meaning" and the facts are very much disputed. Or you could go a different route and change "Taiwan" to " the government of Taiwan" and your statements would be correct.
    – Readin
    Aug 27, 2017 at 18:10
  • @Readin: Thanks for the feedback. Methinks "technically what emerged out of" (implying it's a weirdly unidentified political object) captures Taiwan's status better than "officially is" (in that it is on paper) however, and to those residing outside of China it's usually called Taiwan - without the (belittling) "government of". Aug 27, 2017 at 19:59
  • I don't think it is belittling to distinguish the government from the country. Taiwan (it's people, it's land, it's culture, it's economy, etc.) did not "emerge out of Imperial China (Republic of China). Nor do most of the people consider themselves to be China (just ask them - opinion polls show most call themselves "Taiwanese" without using "Chinese"). Your statement was true of the government, but not of other aspects of the country.
    – Readin
    Aug 27, 2017 at 23:08

As far as I know, here is no "official" procedure. The closest thing to official database is "UNTERM" https://unterm.un.org To edit entries in this database, you need editing rights. In practice, this is usually handled by the Ministry of foreign affairs.

The change of name itself is not internationally regulated, and it cannot be, since it is unalienable right of every sovereign state to choose its own name. Internally, however, this is fully up to a state to set the procedure. It can be done by law (usually as a part of the constitution), law can also set rules to changing names in other languages entered into the databases.

It is not uncommon for states to have some law to protect its name and other state symbols (though modern democracies usually do not impose harsh sanctions in this regard), however, I doubt that many of them are so detailed as to regulate modifying UN databases. If there isn't one, this competence would go to the head of the state or the government, as they act on behalf of the state.

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