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WikEd fancyquotes.pngQuotesBug-silk.pngHeadscratchersIcons-mini-icon extension.gifPlaying WithUseful NotesMagnifier.pngAnalysisPhoto link.pngImage LinksHaiku-wide-icon.pngHaikuLaconic

Even old New York was once New Amsterdam!

Why they changed it I can't say

People just liked it better that way.
The Four Lads, "Istanbul (Not Constantinople)", popularized by They Might Be Giants

Whenever there's a fantastic Earth, or a world like our own yet very different, it's a safe bet that the author has messed with the names. Renaming things and places after what they could have been called is a very effective way to bring a touch of the exotic into the mundane, be it in The Time of Myths (Hyperborea for Greenland, Avalon for England), After the End (Amazon Desert, Empire of Denver, Whatever States of America), Alternate History or in another dimension.

Popular choices are alternate etymologies (eg. Allemannia for Germany), earlier versions (Yamato for Japan), alternate names (Albion for Britain or Columbia for the USA, but then you have to make up something else for Colombia and British Columbia), names in the local tongue (Kartvelia for the country Georgia), things from local mythology (Jotunheim for Norway), possible corruptions and derivatives (Drontheim instead of Trondheim, though this one actually happened), and just taking the easy route and swapping some letters around.

Best not to think about it too hard when characters from these different worlds meet, though. What are the chances, after all, that those two universes happen to have alternatively named or defined locations while maintaining a mutually intelligible language? (Pretty damn likely, actually)

The trope name comes from the song of the same name originally recorded by The Four Lads in the '50s, but popularized by the cover version performed by They Might Be Giants.

See also Fantasy Counterpart Culture. Please Select New City Name often provides names to choose from.

Examples of Istanbul Not Constantinople include:

Anime and Manga

  • The Britannian Empire in Code Geass, which encompasses a chunk of what used to be The British Empire. (Notably without Britain itself, but with the entirety of the Americas to make up for it.)
  • Zero no Tsukaima takes place in Tristein (Belgium), with other countries being called Gallia, Germania, Albion, and Romaly. Saito, the Trapped in Another World protagonist, is from our Japan, but doesn't seem to make the European connection.
    • He does recognize the language being spoken at the school as French, however.
  • Albion for England in Trinity Blood. The capital is called Londinium, the Latin name for London.
  • Strike Witches seems to exist in a universe where most European countries kept the names they had as Roman provinces. Britain, for example, is "Britannia". France is "Gallia", Spain is "Hispania", etc. However, some countries have somewhat nonsensical names (Germany is "Karlsland", the Scandinavian countries are "Baltland", and they just got lazy with Orussia). Somewhat justified with Suomus, Ostmark, Venazia and Romagna (Finland, Austria-Hungary, North and South Italy), which are based on either historical names for the countries, or the names of the countries in their native languages. Italy, oddly enough, was never unified and Venice still seems to hold some of its territories in Eastern Europe. Liberion is a pun on "Liberty", and is an alternate-USA, and Fuso is the Japanese pronunciation of "Fusang", an ancient Chinese name for Japan. Introduced in other works is "Faraway Land" for Canada, and "Neue Karlsland" for South America. Here's a map for reference.

Board Games

  • Risk 2210 A.D. makes a number of renamings, from the good (Republique du Quebec) to the gratuitous (New Avalon). Scandinavia is called Jotenheim. The classic name is, of course, the east Africa-encompassing 'Ministry of Djibouti.'
    • Don't forget "United Indiastan", an India / Pakistan gestalt. Or the "Enclave of the Bear".
  • The wargame Flintloque, set in a Fantasy Counterpart Culture of the Napoleonic Wars, gives the countries names of varying silliness, many of them based on mythical or ancient names (Avalon for England), and others based on mildly pejorative terms (Joccia for Scotland).

Comic Books

  • Arrowsmith by Kurt Busiek's and Carlos Pacheco had the alternate earth version, with Divided States of America, and a war between Prussia and Galia. The dragons were cute, though.
  • Batman: Gotham City, since Gotham is an old name for New York. There was a 19th-century book which, playing on American jealousy of European cities which liked to boast about their hundreds of years of history, was a fictional history of NYC, giving it the name "Gotham". Whether or not Gotham City is New York in the comics has varied through the years; currently, they're different cities in-universe, but writers still play with parallels.
    • There's also Metropolis.
    • Both are representations of New York, though different views of it. Gotham is the seedy, dirty New York stereotype and Metropolis is the important melting pot of cultures major city of the world type.
    • It was noted in the Marvel Comics/DC Comics Crossover Avengers/JLA (or JLA/Avengers, depending on which company published which issue) that DC-Earth, with its fictional American cities (in addition to the above, there's also Star City, Central City, Coast City, Blüdhaven, and probably a few others), is actually somewhat larger than Marvel-Earth (Marvel often goes in for fictional countries on other continents, but adds no major cities to its USA), thus leaving room for DC's fictional and real-world cities to co-exist.
  • The Captain Britain series from Marvel, particularly under Alan Moore, had a large number of Alternate Universe counterparts to the hero, each with a different name (ie, Captain Albion, Captain England, Captain Airstrip-One, ad nauseam).
  • In, Astonishing X-Men: Ghost Boxes mini-series, It featured a Steampunk version of the team known as The X-Society that's based in New Portsmouth, New Albion; a version of San Fransisco where California was colonised by the British, rather than the Spanish.
  • The first arc of Kingdom takes place in the 'cold place', Anarchticy - that's Antarctica to you and me. Subsequent stories visit Tazzy Island and Auxtralia.
  • Kamandi: These After the End stories have a world map that looks like This. The "United States of Lions" are perhaps especially notable.
  • Nikolai Dante mentioned Britannia and Amerika.
  • The Squadron Supreme limited series played this trope to the hilt, with every geographic location renamed from its real-life counterpart. Mt. Rushmore becomes Presidents' Mountain, New York City is Cosmopolis in the state of New Troy, Washington D.C. becomes Capitol City, Magelland, and on and on and on.

Fan Works

  • In With Strings Attached, in their quest for the first piece of the Vasyn, the four are sent to the city of New Zork on an alternate Earth. Locations there include Crooklyn and Harvem, the latter being the ghetto for the harveys, human-sized intelligent rabbits. The US is called Ameriga; England is Angland. And much to their dismay, though it's 1954, the Beagles have just arrived....


  • The Signal is set in Terminus, which used to be the name of Atlanta, Georgia, the city the movie is filmed in.
  • In Star Wars, this trope is played straight ludicrously many times with Coruscant, the capital planet of the 25,000-year-old Galactic Republic. When the Galactic Emperor Palpatine takes over, it's renamed Imperial Centre. Later, it's seized back by the rising New Republic, which renames it Coruscant again. Then The Empire takes it back again under the reborn, Grand Theft Me-happy Palpatine, followed by yet another New Republic takeover. Next, the invading Yuuzhan Vong rename it Yuuzhan'tar after their lost homeworld. Then the Galactic Alliance, formed from the remnants of the destroyed New Republic, defeats the Yuuzhan Vong and calls it Coruscant again… and THEN Darth Krayt's Galactic Empire takes over. Guess what happens—go on, guess.
  • The Great Dictator has Osterlich, the pacifist country next to Tomainia. It's an obvious parallel to Austria down to the name with a different spelling: Österreich is the German/Austrian name for Austria.


  • Orson Scott Card's Alvin Maker series is set in an alternate North America. Many names remain familiar, but are in variant spellings, such as "Hio," "Irrakwa" and "Wobbish." All these are originally Native American words, and the familiar forms are transliterations by Francophone explorers. In this world, the Anglophones seemingly got there first, so the transliterations are a bit different.
  • In the Kushiel's Legacy series by Jacqueline Carey, the maps at the beginnings of the book show that it is Europe. The UK is named Alba, Ireland is Eire, Spain is Aragonia, Germany and the northern lands are Skaldia, Italy is Caerdicca Unitas - Venice, or a suspiciously Venetian city, is La Serenissima - the Balkans are Illyria, Greece is Hellas, Egypt and the Maghreb is Menekhet, India is Bhodistan, China is Ch'in, Japan is the Empire of the Sun, Jebe-Barkal is Ethiopia and a bit more, The Flatlands are The Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg, Vralia is Russia and Drujan and Khebel-im-Akkad are different parts of Ancient Persia. France is called Terre d'Ange (literally Land of Angels) but that's because it's the land of Mary Sues for Backstory reasons.
    • Some more accurate than others. For instance, Alba is actually the Scottish Gaelic name for Scotland, not the UK in total, which would be Albion.
      • Perhaps it sounds OK in D'Angeline - analogous to the way many people in our world (often speakers of English as a second language) use "England" to refer to all of mainland UK, even though that only refers to the bit south of Scotland and east of Wales.
  • John Crowley in the Aegypt Cycle approaches this obliquely: One of his central characters, Pierce Padgett, is obsessed as a child with the country of "Aegypt" — which is not Egypt, but rather the country where people think Gypsies come from. (But don't.)
  • In So You Want To Be A Wizard, the main character reads in her wizard's manual about "alternate earths where the capital of the United States was named Huictilopochtli or Lafayette City or Hrafnkell or New Washington".
    • For that matter, it isn't specified whether all of these are actually Washington DC under different names. The capital could be located elsewhere.
  • Thomas Hardy set all his novels in his native region of southwest England but with most placenames changed; he called it Wessex.
  • Job: A Comedy of Justice: Robert A. Heinlein has a lot of fun with this as the two protagonists get shunted from alternative earth to alternative earth.
  • The Conan the Barbarian books and related materials, set in what was constructed to be a feasible vanished age. Scandinavia is not called Jotunheim, but it's called Vanaheim and Asgard, which isn't better. Robert E. Howard claimed things to be the other way around: the different mythological names of people and places he mentions were 'corrupted' over time, becoming the myths we know of today.
  • Fiona Patton's Tales of the Branion Realm is set in an alternate Britain named Branion, with a similar map. Since the series focuses on nobility, many of the original names can be determined from the titles. For example, the heir to the throne is the Prince of Gwyneth (Wales) and Duke of Kraburn. If it wasn't obvious from the map that Kraburn is Cornwall, Kraburn has a major port named Halmouth (Falmouth). The second in line to the throne is the Duke of Yorbourne, which from the map clearly represents York. Other countries include Gallia, Danelind, and Tiberia (home to the Pontiff of a Catholic-analogue religion).
  • Nation by Terry Pratchett is set in a version of the South Pacific called the Great Southern Pelagic Ocean. "Pelagic" means "open sea". The map at the front of the book also features the "Reunited States".
  • The His Dark Materials series by Philip Pullman executed this very impressively, using many alternate etymologies and extending to objects in addition to lands. Includes Anglia (England, although England, English and "Brytain" instead of Britain are also mentioned. Scotland also exists but it's not addressed whether it's the same country as England in that universe), Muscovy (Russia), Nippon (Japan), skraelings instead of Inuit, the Peaceable Ocean, and The Country of Texas in New Denmark. This also applies to objects such bas atomcraft, naphtha lamps, gyrocopters, anbaric lights ("electric" comes from a word for "amber"), and chocolatl (which is closer to the original Aztec word). Scandinavia is not Jotunheim, (it's called the Scandinavian Empire instead!) and the Svalbard archipelago is still the Svalbard archipelago (but it's an independent kingdom controlled by armoured bears). Lapland is also mentioned as possibly independent with a population of witches.
    • The Spanish translation also uses Latvia instead of the Hispanic name "Letonia".
    • The "Country of Texas" did actually exist: Texas used to be a Mexican territory, which later became an independent country; the USA annexed the Country of Texas shortly after that.
      • Muscovy existed as an independent country before Russia as we know it today existed. The series also features Tartars, who are strongly implied to have their own country as well. Evidently Russian unification was rather less successful in the alternate Earth.
    • Also, since in this world America was apparently not only found, but also made widely known by Vikings, it is called New Denmark.
    • Not all of these qualify. Nippon is actually the official proper name for modern Japan in Japanese. See Real Life below.
  • Airborn is an Alternate History where the biggest change is the rise of airships as the major form of long-distance transportation. The history only diverges from ours in the early 20th century or so, but one of the changes is the renaming of Vancouver (supposedly the airship capital of the world) as Lionsgate City.
    • Several other places have very minor name changes, such as the Pacificus and Atlanticus oceans, Europa, and the Republic of Colorado.
  • Kim Stanley Robinson's The Years of Rice and Salt, where the plague killed off most of the Christian population of Europe, leading to Arabic/Chinese/Japanese/etc place names such as Yingzhou for North America, al-Alemand for Germany, Skandistan for Scandinavia, Nippon for Japan and so on.
  • Charles Stross's Merchant Princes features alternate versions of our earth, which people with a certain genetic trait can travel between.
    • In the first world encountered, North America was colonized by a Germanic people who worship the gods of Norse Mythology; England and Christianity never became dominant in America and might not exist in that world at all. Most of the action that world takes place in a feudal culture corresponding geographically to what is New England in Real Life and most place names are in some Con Lang that seems like a mix of German and Scandinavian.
    • In another world protagonists visit later in the series, North America was colonized by the English like in Real Life, but history happened differently in at least two ways: the American Revolution failed or didn't happen at all, but another revolution in Great Britain did succeed. So North America is ruled by a Vestigial Empire ruled by an English king who doesn't rule anything on the east side of the Atlantic. Boston is called New London in this world.
  • Harry Turtledove
    • The Case of the Toxic Spell Dump: This Magitek novel is set in Angels City, on the coast of the Peaceful Ocean, and just north of the Barony of Orange. On the East Coast of the Confederated Provinces are the District of St. Columba and the city of New Jorvik.
    • His more traditional alternate history novels feature this too, mainly for objects — nukes become "exploding-metal bombs" (in the Worldwar/Colonization series) or "superbombs" and "sunbombs" (Timeline-191), suicide bombers become "people bombs," the Molotov cocktail is the "Featherston Fizz," and the Army's heavily armored frontline combat vehicles are "barrels," not tanks.

      And when the superbombs go off, they produce a "toadstool cloud".

      Speaking of nukes, element 92 is still named uranium, but while the USA names the next two elements neptunium and plutonium as in Real Life, the Confederate States Of America goes the other direction and calls them saturnium and jovium. (Britain calls element 94 churchillium.)

      London, Ontario, is renamed Berlin by the occupying US authorities, Roanoke, Virginia, is called Big Lick (Justified in that that was the original name before the N&W Railroad renamed the town), and Hawaii is British-ruled and still called the Sandwich Islands.
    • His War Between the Provinces series is basically a retelling of the American Civil War in the West from Chickamauga on, only with the map reversed (the rebels are in the north), the colors reversed (because indigo is a major rebel product) and with names either given alternates or horrid puns. General Rosecrans is renamed "Guildenstern." Chickamauga is renamed "The River of Death," and Lookout Mountain, "Sentry Peak." Georgia becomes "Peachtree," and Selma, Alabama is renamed "Hayek."
    • Harry Turtledove and Richard Dreyfus do this in The Two Georges with Boston, Oregon (rejected in real life by a coin flip; you probably know the city as Portland).
  • Piratica tweaks the name of every country out there, as well as the nationalities (we get things like "Canadee").
  • Done cleverly in Gene Wolfe's Latro series where places in the ancient world are identified by the literal meaning/folk etymology of their names. For example, Boetia is Cowland, Athens is Thought, and Sparta is Rope in the "Silent Country".
  • The Lord Darcy mysteries are set in the Angevin Empire, an Anglo-French superpower in a world where Richard the Lion Hearted's heirs kept their royal status into the 20th century. The basic geography is the same, but many regions' names have evolved differently. For instance, New England is all of North America (with Nova Borkum in place of NYC), and Mechiceo is an Angevin duchy.
  • In the series Stravaganza, there is an an alternate universe version of Italy known as Talia. Likewise, the UK equivalent is Anglia. There are also various city-states throughout Talia with Italian-esque names with similar meanings to their counterparts (ie, Venice = Bellezza, Florence = Giglia, Siena = Remora).
    • Remora is mentioned to have been founded by Remus, thence the name. See the below example.
  • Christopher Stasheff's A Wizard in Rhyme series stars a grad student from "our" world transplanted to an alternate medieval Europe. He lands in France, called "Merovence" after the Merovingian dynasty that once ruled there. Other nations are likewise renamed using historical influences: Spain is Ibile, Austria is Allustria, etc.
    • And Rome is Reme because in this universe, Remus won.
      • This is its own subclass of this trope. Practically everyone who makes "Earth, but with magic" makes "Remus won." the turning point. So Reme, the Reman Empire, etc. The Chrestomanci series by Diana Wynne Jones is another example.
      • Terry Pratchett's Strata as well.
  • The Chronicles Of Chrestomanci have a fair few more. World 12A in Charmed Life has Atlantis (North America), and the Series 7 worlds have Ludwich instead of London. The Thames is the Little Rhine; the Low Countries are Frisia and Moscow is Mosskva. Though in Series 7, Britain is part of continental Europe...
  • Tanith Lee does this quite frequently in her work. The Secret Books of Paradys are set in an alternate Paris, while The Secret Books of Venus are set in an alternate Venice. She also refers to the "Remusan Empire" in Cyrion.
  • Dan Simmons has a few of these in his duology Illium and Olympos. Thousands of years have changed Ulan Bator in Ulanbat, and a mishandle black hole has made Paris into Paris Crater.
  • In the Poul Anderson novella Eutopia, the various names of North America are used as shorthand for their respective alternate universes. The home universe of the dimension hoppers is called Eutopia, since in their history the Ancient Greeks colonized North America.
  • Arthur C. Clarke renamed Sri Lanka "Taprobane," (one of the island's many other names) and moved it 500 miles south to put it on the Equator for his novel "The Fountains of Paradise."
  • Michael Pryor's The Laws Of Magic series takes this approach to a faux-Victorian era Europe - England is Albion, Germany is Holmland, France is Gallia (and its capital city is Lutetia) and so on.
  • In Patricia Wrede's Thirteenth Child, America is Columbia, and the three systems of magic are Avrupan (European), Aphrikan (African) and Hijero-Cathayan (Indian-Chinese, actually two systems but apparently combined due to similarity. Mind you, I might be wrong about the Hijero=Indian bit, but both China and India are economic superpowers right now.).
  • Michael Moorcock uses this trope a lot in his alternate-universe and time-travel stories. One in particular, the empire of Granbretan (Great Britain) in the Hawkmoon books, is used as a Take That against certain aspects of his birthplace.
  • Poul Anderson, in his essay "Uncleftish Beholding", played with this trope and produced a lengthy essay on atomic theory written in what English might be if it had never borrowed words or structures from non-Germanic linguistic sources.

 At first it was thought that the uncleft was a hard thing that could be split no further; hence the name. Now we know it is made up of lesser motes. There is a heavy kernel with a forward bernstonish lading, and around it one or more light motes with backward ladings. The least uncleft is that of ordinary waterstuff. Its kernel is a lone forwardladen mote called a firstbit. Outside it is a backwardladen mote called a bernstonebit. The firstbit has a heaviness about 1840-fold that of the bernstonebit. Early worldken folk thought bernstonebits swing around the kernel like the earth around the sun, but now we understand they are more like waves or clouds.

  • Cryptonomicon, which takes place in a world just a little bit different from ours, calls Japan "Nippon".
    • Seems to be a trait common to most, if not all, all of Neal Stephenson's works.
    • That's actually the right name. "Japan" is the alternate name used by foreigners.
  • A non-alternate example in Mikhail Akhmanov's Dick Simon books. After the discovery of the Ramp, entire cities are moved off-world onto other habitable planets. US and Canada end up on a world they call Columbia. Colombia is not mentioned by name (probably because it's spelled and sounds the same in Russian), but, presumably, it went with the other South American nations to planet Latmerica. The other settled planets aren't as creative. Russia ends up on planet Russia, while European countries simply call their new world Europe (or, possibly, Europa).
  • In John Flanagan's Ranger's Apprentice, this is used rather stylishly, for example: Araluen = England, Gallica = France, Celtica = Wales, Hibernia = Ireland, Picta = Scotland, Teutlandt = Germany, Arrida = North Africa (Tripoli or Egypt), Skandia = Scandinavia, Nihon-Ja = Japan, Iberion = Spain, Toscana = Rome/Italy, the unnamed Temujai country = Mongolia (Genghis Khan's name was Temijin), Indus (briefly mentioned in Book 10) probably = India, etc.

Live Action TV

  • For no explained reason, London is "Londinium" in the Adam West-era Batman. And its police headquarters is New Ireland Yard.
    • DC Comics at the time (and mostly to this day, at least for US cities) didn't generally use real city names; apparently, this carried over to TV as well.
    • According to another episode of the Batman series, Gotham's (ie, New York's) neigbouring state is New Guernsey. Which is Joisey named after a different Channel Island.
  • Albion pops up in Merlin, though since it's Arthurian legend-based, it's justified.

Tabletop RPG

  • Seventh Sea has thinly veiled Renaissance-Enlightenment pastiches of the British Isles (Avalon), France (Montaigne), Italy (Vodacce), Eisen (Germany/the remnants of the Holy Roman Empire), Castille (Spain), Ussura (Russia) and Vendel (a combination of several Nordic and northern European states). There's also The Crescent Empire (the Middle East), Cathay (East Asia) and an island chain to represent the Caribbean.
  • Damnation Decade, a Green Ronin d20 System RPG based on tropes from 1970's sci-fi TV and movies, renames everything: America gets the slight change to Americo, Gordon Lightfoot and Edmund Fitzgerald get their names swapped, and then it gets weird (Richard Nixon becomes "Stanton Spobeck," for one).
  • Tribe 8 may be the weirdest example. The game takes place After the End when a bunch of Cosmic Horrors have descended from the sky and humans are organized in tribes around "Fatimas", avatars of the Goddess. The game takes place in the land of Vimary... which was once Montreal (founded in real life under the name Ville-Marie).
  • Castle Falkenstein : Most of Europe - sorry, "Europa" - has the same names and borders as in our reality, but South America is Antillea, and the Atlantic Ocean is the Atlantean Ocean, among other things.

Video Games

  • The 2027 mod for Deus Ex features the Russian Confederation.
  • The Quest for Glory series. Features Spielburg (Germanic town), Mordavia (Transylvania), Silmaria (Greece), Shapeir (Middle East), and Fricana (Africa). Scandinavia is called Jotunheim, but has the justification of having actual Jotuns.
  • Dragon Quest III's world map is based on the real world map, with locations having similar names to their real world counterparts. For example, Portoga is Portugal/Spain, Baharata is India, Isis is Egypt and Zipangu is Japan, among others.
  • In the same vein is Golden Sun, whose world map is extremely similar to Earth except it needs some continental shifts. A lot of the names harken back to old names, like prehistoric super-continent names, for the areas.
    • Dark Dawn continues the tradition and just gets gratuitous and/or lazy with it. The Japan-analogue people got relocated to a new chain of islands, which they named Nihan. You know, a slightly-mispronounced Nihon? To say nothing of Champa and Ayuthay.
  • The Korean MMOG Sword of the New World: Granado Espada (Gratuitous Spanish) plays in a fantasy, monster-overrun version of America, which was named after the two explorers Granado and (drum roll, please) Espada. This isn't too bad since real-world's America is named after the explorer Amerigo Vespucci.
    • Bilingual Bonus: "Distinguished Sword".
      • So would that make it "Sword of the New World: Distinguished Sword"?
      • It would be more like Bilingual Genius Bonus. "Distinguished" is an archaic yet still valid meaning for "Granado;" nowadays we native Spanish speakers use it almost exclusively to talk about loose grain. The grammar is all wrong, though; if you want to use "Granado," you would say "Espada Granada."
  • Possibly an example in Freelancer, which takes place in the future. The ships, and then the factions that sprung up from those ships, are the Liberty [USA], Bretonia [United Kingdom], Rheinland [Germany] and Kusari [Japan]. The fifth ship, the Hispania [Spain], broke down along the way and was lost. You can find it, if you're so inclined.
  • Pokémon seems to take place on an alternate Earth, or at least Japan, as the game maps are based on actual Japanese regions (though Hoenn was rotated). The exception is the Kanto region, named after the region that encompasses, among others, the prefectures of Tokyo and Gunma.
    • At least until the fifth generation. The Unova region is based not on a portion of Japan but on New York City and the surrounding area.
    • The Orre region, from the Gamecube games, is also probably based in an alternate America, specifically in Arizona.
    • One of Mew's pokedex entries mentions it being from South America.
  • The Grand Theft Auto series has examples of these in most of its versions: The State of San Andreas (California and Nevada), containing the cities of Los Santos (Los Angeles), Las Venturas (Las Vegas), and San Fierro (San Francisco), there is also Liberty City (New York City) and Vice City (Miami).
  • Warrior Kings is heavily revisionist (but not in a "this is how it should have gone" way), with the Catholic church becoming a military and political state rivaling Rome and the real Holy Roman Empire. To be more clear, most of mainland Europe is ruled by the Empire (The Catholic Church). Germany is denoted as Gallicus. England is Angland, the pagan warlords in the islands to the north (Svalbard?) are in Skane, despite the real Skane being in southern Sweden.
  • Valkyria Chronicles has 'Gallia' (the Netherlands). And, just like Castle Falkenstein,it takes place on the continent 'Europa'.
    • Switzerland might be a better fit: it's implied all Gallians have militia training, and they have a history of neutrality in continental conflicts between The Empire and The Federation.
      • However, the landscape looks very Dutch. Except for the massive pit mine and the sandy desert.
        • Mind you, the sandy desert is only there because of a certain cataclysmic historical event that doesn't have a counterpart in our world.
      • And according to a map in the trailer, Gallia is located somewhere around Latvia or Lithuania in this counterpart universe.
      • The ingame map does seem to have a lot of Dutch town names scattered around the larger map for no real reason.
  • Civilization IV has a mod - Rhye's and Fall of Civilization (also for expansions)- that has a dynamic naming system for cities so what at first is Constantinople will become Istanbul when captured by the Turks. (Side note - It actually has Davao and Washington D.C. in the right places - 2x2 tile squares.)
    • In Civ 3, if you founded enough cities to exhaust the list of names associated with that civilization, the game would start over with "New London" etc., but instead of "New Istanbul" you'd get "Not Constantinople".
  • Fable is set in Albion which is one of the oldest known names for England.
  • Fallout 2 has New Reno. However, for the most part this trope is averted, with names like The Boneyard (Los Angeles) or the original city names (Washington D.C. in the third game).
  • Valkyrie Profile has its own version of Japan named Yamato.
  • Sonic Unleashed has pretty much the Earth itself but with different names, such as Apotos for Greece, Holoska for Alaska, Empire City for New York, and Chun-Nan for China.
  • This comes up at least once in Assassin's Creed Revelations given the setting (i.e. Constantinople itself), naturally.

Web Comics

  • Industrial Revolutionary and it's big brother Jack of All Blades does this wonderfully in a surreal, humorous and yet close way. See for yourself!
  • Sorcery101 takes place in an alternate universe, wherein the territory that is our United Kingdom is called Terra, China appears to be called Sipan and the USA and Canada are a single country known as the UPH.
  • Fan Dan Go is set in an alternate England known as Anglise. Its capital city is Londinium, and the city of Lonchester is rather larger than the Real Life Lancaster.
  • Out There does this quite often - the main action takes place in Portstown (Boston), with occasional sojourns to Los Vicios (Las Vegas) or Oceanic City (Atlantic City). It is a bit jarring to see Boston called "P'Town"...
    • Also, Wally Green plays for the Arch City Starlings (St. Louis Cardinals).
    • Creator R.C. Monroe has explained that he does this because, if he used the actual cities, he believed that people who are actually from those cities would notice inconsistencies between the real-world city and the fictional city. If he used fictional city names, that would no longer be a problem.
  • Girl Genius is set in an alternate "Europa," but uses this trope inconsistently. Gay Paree is still "Paris," but the political geography has nothing whatever in common with Earth's, and Albia...refers to Queen Elizabeth I, not the kingdom of Britain.

Web Original

  • Decades of Darkness has this: Knoxville, TN is the new * US capital Columbia, Equador is northern Brazil, New England is a much more extensive term, and colonial cities across Africa, Australia, Asia and the Americas have different names.
    • Also inverted — The government of His Majesty, the Tsar of All the Russias, would like to make perfectly clear that it's Constantinople, not Istanbul.

Real life

  • The city now known as Istanbul was founded as "Byzantion," (often referred to in the latinised form "Byzantium") and was later renamed "Nova Roma" (New Rome) by Constantine, but people kept on calling it Constantine's City (Constantinopolis/Κωνσταντινούπολις/Constantinople) until the name stuck. The alternate name "Istanbul" came into use at least a millennium before Turkey finally made it official in 1930. Its origin might come from the Greek "εις την Πόλιν," literally "to the city," and roughly "downtown." It might also simply be a corruption of "-instantinople." Other names include the Slavic "Tsargrad" (City of the Emperor) and the Norse "Mikligarðr" (Big City). In spite of all this, there lingers a popular perception that Constantinople is a Turkish name applied through conquest by the Turks. Even locals get irritated when foreigners call it "Constantinople."
    • And Greeks get really irritated, even now, if you call it Istanbul.
    • Istanbul isn't the only city in Turkey that had it's name changed either, as during a very nationalistic period in Turkey's history most cities with Greek, Kurdish or Armenian names had their names "Turkified". A few Kurdish villages have had their names changed back though as the government is slightly more lax about it nowadays.
  • Australia after discovery by the Dutch was named New Holland for a while. Then Terra Nullius (no man's land) before finally becoming known as Australia (Southern land).
  • Egypt is originally called "Misr" (for "Capital City") in Arabic. Morocco is called "Al-Maghreb" ("The Country of the Sunset"). Arabic language itself adapts some country names in a very particular fashion: for example, Venise is called "Al-Bunduqia" (approximately "Where Bullets ("Bunduq", literally "Hazelnut") Are Made"), and "Yu-nan" for Greece for starters. The trope namer town is called "Al-Costantinyia". It also tends to render for some odd reason country names in feminine form (adding an -a suffix) like "Firansa", "Esbania", "Polanda"...
  • New Amsterdam was immediately renamed "New York" after the English took the city from the Dutch; this was done to publicize the conquest, boost nationalism, and honor the Duke of York, who was appointed its governor.
  • Speaking of the Dutch, that is only the English word for inhabitants and the language of the Netherlands (Netherlanders is what they call themselves). Confusingly, both the Netherlands and Germany refer to 'German' as Duits/Deutsch. This may be a mistake on English-speaking people's part.
  • Supposedly, Osama Bin-Laden made a point of referring Spain and Portugal as Al-Andalus. Al-Andalus (for which the modern southern portion of Spain, Andalucia is called) was what the Iberian Peninsula was called by the Islamic world, of which it was a part of, before the Reconquista period. He also referred to Iraq as Mesopotamia.
  • Many people still refer to The Hellenic Republic as Greece, and have never even heard the phrase "Hellenic Republic", although the Hellenic Republic is the official name, "Greece" is the unofficial name that people use casually. Just because it's not necessarily "proper" doesn't mean that we have to refer it as such all the time; I mean, we don't always call "America" the "United States of America", or the UK the "United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland", do we? It's just too bulky.
    • When Greece gained independence from the Ottoman Empire in the 19th century, government agents were sent to every village to spread the news that the residents were now Greek citizens. Many villagers were surprised, as they still considered themselves Romans!
  • Iran is a slightly different case, since the government accepts the use of both terms interchangeably to refer to the country but adamantly uses Iran officially. Iran has been the name of the nation since ancient times, but the first Iranian empire was based in the region of Pars, so the Greeks called the country Persia, and the name stuck for 2500 years.
  • The Polish-Ukrainian border has plenty of these problems, stemming back to the chaotic birth of Poland in the interbellum and the Soviet invasion and seizure of Eastern Poland in World War II.
    • Hell, even Kiev suffers from this. Or is it Kyiv?
      • The Norse named it Kænugarðr (Boat City)
    • A case study of this is Lemberg, Austria. Or perhaps Lwów, Poland. Then again we have Львов (L'vov), Soviet Union. Of course many in Львів (L'viv), Ukraine would object....
    • A lot of cities in former Austro-Hungarian empire had mixed populations (Germans were quite a diaspora back then) and thus multiple names, such as Pressburg/Pozsony/Bratislava, Breslau/Wrocław, Pilsen/Plzeň...
  • Many of those who are generally sore about the Vietnam War often refuse to call Saigon by its modern name, Ho Chi Minh City.
    • Most Vietnamese still use the old name as well.
      • God help you if you call Saigon as Ho Chi Minh City around any American or Vietnamese veterans.
    • Interestingly, plenty of places in Ho Chi Minh City still refers to it as Saigon (e.g. Saigon Zoo and Botanical Garden) so calling the city Saigon isn't necessarily incorrect.
  • St. Petersburg was renamed Petrograd before being renamed Leningrad and then being named St. Petersburg again.
    • Hence the joke about an old Jewish man picked up by the Stalinist police and brought in for questioning:

 Q: Where were you born?!

A: St. Petersburg.

Q: Where did you go to school?!

A: Petrograd.

Q: Where do you live?!

A: Leningrad.

Q: (menacingly) Where would you like to die?!

A: St. Petersburg.

    • There's also Tsaritsyn --> Stalingrad --> Volgograd
    • And Yuzovka [1] --> Trotsk [2] --> Stalino [3] --> Donetsk [4]
    • The entire former Soviet Union has this going on. After the Soviet Union crumbled most of the cities that had been changed to incorporate Lenin or Stalin's names have now reverted back to their original names.
  • A certain contentious strip of land in the Middle East has been known by quite a few names, most recently "Palestine" before it changed (back, I suppose) to "Israel", though depending on how world politics go at least some chunk of it may be referred to as "Palestine" again.
    • During Roman times it was referred to as Judea and Samaria (the latter roughly corresponding to the West Bank). Farther back after the reign of King Solomon, it was Israel (Northern Kingdom) and Judah (Southern Kingdom). Before that, it was Canaan...
    • The Romans purposedly renamed Iudaea to Palaestina after repressing a Jewish revolt, after the Philistines, their former enemies in the area. It became Syria Palaestina, part of the larger Roman Syria province.
    • When modern Israel was being founded, there was a debate of what to name it: "Judea," "Eretz Israel," "Zion," and "Palestine" were a few of the candidates. The debate went on so long that some documents were drawn up with a blank for the name of the country.
  • The city of New Berlin in southern Ontario changed its name to Kitchener during the First World War. Hitler, Ontario.
    • Several Canadian cities have gone through this: York/North York was changed to "Toronto" upon Confederation, as was Bytown --> Ottawa. Ontario and Quebec were themselves referred to as "Upper" and "Lower" Canada, respectively, until 1867.
      • "North York" is still used to refer to the suburb of Toronto where this Troper grew up, and many local buildings - such as the North York General Hospital - bear its name.
  • "China" comes from the Qin (Ch'in) Dynasty. They call their nation "Zhongguo" or "The Middle Kingdom".
  • "Japan" is also "Nippon" or "Nihon", or "The Source of the Sun". The name "Japan" in English and a lot of other languages comes from an old Chinese pronunciation for "Nihon" which was "Cipan" which was written by Marco Polo as "Cipangu". When the Portuguese came to Malaysia, they encountered the pronunciation having turned into "Jepang". And then when it was brought to English, it was "Giapan".
    • "Nippon" is the official designation, used in official Japanese government communication, as well as most corporate and formal situations. "Nihon" is a dialect variant used in casual, informal situations.
      • To expand further, 'Nippon' is the traditional form, remembered because of its importance and its frequent use in official situations; however, a few centuries of linguistic drift have corrupted the 'pp' sound to an 'h' sound[5], hence the casual form used in daily conversation.
  • There once was a Roman settlement in Britain named Eboracum, probably named after a Celtic town possible itself named after a founder called Eboras or alternatively from Eborakon meaning "place of yew trees". When the Angles invaded, they renamed it Eoforwic (switching Ebor for Anglian Eofor meaning boar). Then the vikings came, and the name of the city became Jórvík. Following the Norman conquest, the name eventually changed to York.
  • Mumbai, the second largest city in the world, was known as Bombay until 1995.
  • In 1850 there was a proposal to add an enormous state called "Deseret" to the United States. It stretched all the way from the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific Ocean. Congress decided to admit California instead, cut Deseret down to half its proposed size, and renamed it "Utah." Its capital, Great Salt Lake City, would have a much less radical name change a few years later.
  • For 190 years, most of the land now known as California was called "New Albion" and claimed by the British, despite a total lack of colonization. "California" was only the peninsula further south. Only in 1769, when the Spanish Empire began colonizing the region, did the name change.
  • The United States itself was originally going to be named Columbia, or United States of Columbia, or some variation thereof. The American moniker that was decided instead would symbolize how one day, all the Americas would be united. Up to World War I, the US' mascot was the goddess Columbia, as opposed to the more common nowadays Uncle Sam. In more iconic artwork, Columbia still represents the USA, as opposed to Uncle Sam.
    • So that's where that studio got their logo from...
  • Greece, which is called Ellada / Hellas by Greeks themselves. The word Greek comes from Latin, but it stuck so now the whole world uses it, even by Greeks themselves when talking to foreigners.
    • This goes back all the way to the Romans, who called the areas of modern-day Italy that were then heavy with Greek settlers as Magna Graecia, literally "Greater Greece."
  • Finland itself is called "Suomi" in Finnish, a language which doesn't even have an "f" sound. Still, they accept the (Swedish) name when talked to easily.
    • The name goes back to Roman times at least, who called the Finno-Ugric people living on the north-eastern shore of the Baltic Sea "Fenni".
  • Armenia has been referred to as such by foreigners going back to Ancient Egypt, where New Kingdom texts refer to it as 'Ermenen'. But going back almost as far, its natives have referred to their country as Hayastan. This could be because the Armenian race was formed by an inter-mixing of two ancient Anatolian tribes, the Armens and the Hayasa.
  • Hungary is Magyarország to its people, who call themselves Magyar. The Huns were actually the earlier rulers of the area, who conquered it from the Romans.
  • Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, a province in Pakistan, used to be named "Northwest Frontier Province". Other names that have been suggested for the province are Afghania, Abasin, Pashtunistan, Nuristan, and Ghandara.
  • Belgium has three official languages, so most cities have two or three names. Some examples are Antwerpen-Anvers; Mechelen-Malines-Mecheln; Brussel-Bruxelles-Brüssel; Doornik-Tournai. Road signs to these cities depend on which part of the country you're in.
    • Although German names are rarely signposted outside the small German-speaking area in the east of the country (close to Liège-Luik-Lüttich). Also, some non-Belgians tend to prefer to use the French names of some places for historical reasons (usually because of some battle), vide e. g. which name English-speakers use for the Flemish towns of Ieper-Ypres-Ypern and Bergen-Mons. This reflects the pre-World War 2 linguistic Walloon dominance.
  • South Africa has eleven official languages, so alternative names abound. This is especially true of cities that have descriptive names rather than being named after a founder; for instance, Cape Town (Kaapstad, iKapa, etc.). Some cities just have a ton of nicknames, e.g., Johannesburg also being called eGoli ("City of Gold"), Joburg, Jozi, etc.
    • For added controversy, a whole lot of city names are now up for review because they get associated with yesteryear. Although there are many local examples, the most controversial one is the name change of Pretoria (the proposed new name being "Tshwane"). Although Tshwane has long been the name of a local river, and by association a lot of the surrounding area, the city was founded as Pretoria (kind of like how there is an island called Manhattan in New York City, but NYC has its own name). So, insisting that the name change is a restoration of a pre-colonial name is somewhat dishonest, but which side of the argument you lend more weight to largely depends on your politics. Due to being heavily opposed by locals, the move to rename the city has been ruled unconstitutional and was withdrawn (for now), but that hasn't stopped mapmakers both local and international from enthusiastically renaming the place Tshwane.
    • Tshwane is now also the name of the newly-created metropolitan area that Pretoria is a part of, so that's somewhat justifiable. But it's still incorrect to refer to the city of Pretoria by that name.
    • As a compromise, the city was referred to as "Pretoria/Tshwane" in locally-issued print media during the World Cup.
    • Some Alternate History has South Africa rename itself Azania, an actual name that has been applied to various parts of the region, and one rechristened a future Johannesburg as "Mandelaville."
  • Taiwan is called The Republic of China on its official documents, China: Taipei or Chinese Taipei in international games, and occasionally also as "Formosa", as it was referred to as "Ilha Formosa" (the beautiful island) by early explorers. There was a movement to make "Taiwan" the official government name, but it didn't stick, not least because the folks across the border would regard this as a sneaky declaration of independence and object. Violently. Possibly with mushrooms, if you catch our drift...
    • There's also the fact that the Taiwanese government originally was the mainland government in exile, and to some extent may still consider itself as the "true" one. Of course, the regime in Beijing disagrees...
  • Dingle in Co. Kerry, Ireland was officially changed to its Irish name of Dangean. Naturally, many locals were upset with this and a campaign to change the name back is ongoing.
  • In the Middle Ages, China was known as "Cathay" and Siberia was called "Tartary". Note though that there was some confusion in the Middle Ages and early Renaissance as to whether Cathay was China or some country between China and Mongolia.
    • The confusion was legitimate, since 'Cathay' originally referred to the land of the Khitan, a Mongol Tribe that dominated most of Northern China and Manchuria before they were kicked out by another tribe, the Jurchens. Since Northern China was the eastern terminus of the Silk Road, and had previously been dominated by said Mongol tribe under the name of the 'Liao Dynasty', the name stuck in Europe as referring to all of China until the Europeans reached the country through sea routes. The remnants of the Liao moved into Central Asia and founded a rather large empire there, also referred to Cathay, henc ethe confusion.
  • The military regime in Burma changed the country's name to Myanmar, however many people still refer to the country as Burma and its former capital as Rangoon. Same thing for Kampuchea/Cambodia during the Khmer Rouge years.
  • "South Korea" is actually the Republic of Korea; "North Korea" is the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. Of course, neither Korea officially recognizes the other one.
    • This is more difficult in Sinosphere languages whose names for those two countries are derived from their respective endonyms in hanja. South Korea's official name is causally shortened to 韓國 (hanguk). North Korea's official gets shortened to 朝鮮 (choson). This doesn't stop people from using north/south coupled with either Han or Choson when referring to the two countries. See Names of Korea on The Other Wiki.
      • Further muddling things is that both Han and Choson were old names of Korea before the split. The name Korea itself is also derived from one of those old names.
  • Stroke Country. In particular, the Derry/Londonderry issue - use either one and you risk offending someone, whether it's the unionists or republicans. A compromise is the nickname The Maiden City.
  • Jakarta, the capitol of Indonesia. During the antiquity it was Sunda Kelapa. Then after Fatahillah, the general of the Sultanate of Demak, drove the Portuguese out, it became Jayakarta (City of Glory). Then during the Dutch Colonial era it was called Batavia. And finally, when the Japanese took over, it was renamed Jakarta, its official name today. (The Imperial Japanese, despite all the horrid things they did, fostered a sense of Asian self-esteem by reviving old or ancient Asian cultures that were made illegal in Asian countries during European rule.)
  1. After the Welsh industrialist named Hughes who funded its founding
  2. Possibly, for a little while in 1923; if it ever happened, it would be after Leon Trotsky
  3. Obvious
  4. After the Seversky Donets River on which it lies.
  5. via something like an 'f' sound, which is why you sometimes see 'Nifon', particularly in documents dating from Japan's early contact with the West, when it was current