I have noticed that in some countries many city elements such as streets (where they have names, not numbers), squares, parks etc. might bear important foreign figure names, capital city names (e.g. Tokyo, Paris).

One example that comes into my mind is Charles de Gaulle, who has many avenues and squares named after him across the entire world.

I wonder how does one country obtain things outside its territory named after import political or cultural figures.

Question: How can a country get a street / square / park in another country named after an important figure?

  • By “obtain” do you mean physical ownership by the external country? – owjburnham Feb 6 '19 at 8:13
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    I'm under the impression that this is a choice by the people living there. It may be helped by a significant immigrant presence, those people choosing to name it after some cultural significance of their home country. – magnus.orion Feb 6 '19 at 8:19
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    I believe it has more to do with celebrity status of a given person than with any actions of this person's home country. To give a non-political example, Louis Paster has a number of things named after him, and I don't think that France's political influence was at play in this case. – default locale Feb 6 '19 at 9:25
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    And in any case, AFAIK naming streets, squares and the like is almost everywhere done by town authorities, that have no role in international relationships. – SJuan76 Feb 6 '19 at 9:27
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    I believe in most places streets are named by the developer, city council, district, etc., and further approved competent authorities (for example Police). As so I would assume that any effort into naming a street in a foreign nation would require some effort by the embassy or as commemoration of something between any two or more nations. – armatita Feb 6 '19 at 9:31

Simple answer: that person needs to mean something to that country.

A prime example of this would be the Ronald Reagan Monument in Warsaw, Poland

Ronald Reagan Monument

Ronald Reagan was the President of the United States from 1981-1989. So why is there a monument to him in Poland? Well, Reagan is best known for his efforts to combat Communism in the Soviet Union. Poland, which was under the Soviet thumb for many years, wanted to commemorate a man they see as instrumental in getting them out from under it

"Let us bow before Ronald Reagan for the fact that our generation was able to bring an end to the great divisions and conflicts of the world," Mr Walesa said in a ceremony in the heart of the Polish capital Warsaw.

"What happened seemed impossible or unthinkable. The older generations still remember," the Nobel Peace laureate said.

"In Poland, we had more than 200,000 Soviet soldiers. Across Europe, there were more than a million, as well as nuclear weapons. Major changes without a nuclear conflict seemed unlikely," he added.

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  • Indeed. And in the case of De Gaulle, his role in WW2 – user19831 Feb 7 '19 at 12:52

"Obtain" is very much the wrong word - the naming is a free choice of the locals, and is not only not at the instigation of the country the name is coming from, but usually without their knowledge.

Nelson Mandela also had a lot of things named after him, especially while he was in prison. This was a deliberate insult to the apartheit government of South Africa, part of the long campaign against its racism.

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  • 'insult' is probably the wrong word - it was more a method of applying pressure – user19831 Feb 7 '19 at 13:02
  • Quite right. We have a George Washington Square in Riga, Latvia. Not only Americans have no idea it's there (even those Americans who know what Latvia is), many locals don't know either. And I suppose nobody knows by now, without checking the squares history,why is it called that. – Gnudiff Feb 17 '19 at 22:03

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