Name Czech

Michael Binyon on the challenges of renaming a country

The World Today Updated 27 November 2020 Published 27 May 2016 2 minute READ

Michael Binyon

Former Diplomatic Editor, The Times

What’s in a name? Well, for a country, everything – history, identity, loyalty, recognition and a focus for patriotic hymns and anthems. But what if your country doesn’t have a name – at least, not one that the rest of the world knows? Then it is time to invent one. And this is just what the Czech Republic has done.

When Czechoslovakia split in 1993, so did the name. Slovakia took its place among the nations of Europe, proud of its independent name though somewhat miffed that most people mixed it up with Slovenia. But the other half, left with Czecho, decided this would not work for their truncated country, and opted instead for the Czech Republic. And so for more than 20 years the country was the only one in the world known only by an adjective.

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