I demand that the UNdeclare that any nation calling itself a "Democratic People’s Republic" should act accordingly. Once sanity is restored, the Security Council should require Britain to stop calling itself "Great" and insist that the USA to stop pretending to be "United."
According to the ever-vigilant International Standards Organization, where people actually collect a paycheck to worry about these things, there are currently 248 nations on earth.
A quick look at the ISO list reveals that most countries have reasonable names. You just can’t argue with a name like Iceland for example. Iceland is a commendable, solid, straightforward name. You know just what you’re in for when you go to Iceland. Likewise, the Islamic Republic of Iran could never be accused of false advertising.
But who is North Korea trying to fool by calling itself a “Democratic People’s Republic?” Certainly not their own people. At least the Democratic Republic of the Congo is self-aware enough not to call itself popular.
Why would anyone but die-hard foodies visit “The South Sandwich Islands?” Naming your country “British Virgin Islands” beggars belief. What kind of tourism are they trying to encourage?
But once a nation has settled on a name, shouldn’t the rest of us honor it? If the Germans call their country Deutschland, what’s so bloody hard about the rest of us doing the same? So let’s show some respect and start calling Hungary by the same term the locals use: “Magyarország.”
Calling Magyarország “Hungary” is worse than calling it “Late to Dinner.”
Spain -- sorry, España -- turns the need to translate the obvious into an art form. In España, England’s Queen Elizabeth is known as “Isabella,” and her son is called “Carlos.” If they can get “Harry Potter” right, why does Prince Harry have to become “Enrique?” To their credit, the British take the high road; instead of calling Spain’s King Juan Carlos “King John Chucky,” they simply don’t mention him at all.
Maybe at a deeper level country names represent a people’s aspiration for what their nation should be. Perhaps the Congo aspires to be a democratic republic, the Arab Emirates hope to appear united someday, and the states of Micronesia dream of someday being happily federated.
The bushy-tailed optimist in me wants to believe this; why else would some of the world’s worst countries (none of them mentioned or remotely implied in this article) have such flowery names? It’s probably better not to push too hard on this question. Besides, if every dodgy country on earth were required to name itself accurately – like the “Despotic Kleptocracy of This,” and the “Blood-Soaked Police State of That” – roll call at the UN would take forever.
HRH King Ronald the First of Freedonia