Magazine article Geographical

Who Makes the Decisions When It Comes to Changing the Names of Cities Such as Bombay and Peking?

Magazine article Geographical

Who Makes the Decisions When It Comes to Changing the Names of Cities Such as Bombay and Peking?

Article excerpt

P Mackintosh, Anglesea

You can still call Bombay by its old colonial name if you want to. But the government of India prefers the name Mumbai and so does Geographical.

In the UK, there isn't a committee that enforces the use of particular names, although there is one that provides advice to government departments on naming. The Permanent Committee on Geographical Names (PCGN) works with international groups to try to standardise place names. And there is a steady flow of name changes. In some countries, practically all of the names have changed in recent years, particularly in the former Soviet states.

"Since independence, Latvia has thoroughly and methodically revised every single name in the country for a new map series and national database," said Dr David Munro, chairman of the PCGN and the director and secretary of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society.

"The issue of geographical names is a large and complex subject that has taxed the UN since it was created in the 1940s," he continued. …

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