People walk under a larg Macedonian flag on September 28, 2018 in Skopje, Macedonia. Macedonians will go to the polls Sunday to vote in a referendum to change the countries name to the "Republic of North Macedonia" and end a long running dispute with Greece. Macedonia would not be the first country in recent memory to change its name. (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

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Name Debate in Macedonia Is Part of a History of Global Identity Crises

The situation currently playing out in Macedonia has many parallels in history.

A referendum last weekend that would have changed the name of the current Republic of Macedonia to the Republic of North Macedonia failed due to low voter turnout, though the debate is far from settled. Macedonia’s 2018 identity crisis is certainly not the first of its kind. Countries changing their names for a variety of reasons is more common than you may think.

Macedonia’s potential change wouldn’t have even been the first of 2018, as King Mswati III turned the former Swaziland into the Kingdom of eSwatini in April, in part because he feared people too easily confused Swaziland and Switzerland internationally.

Just two years ago use of the name Czechia became official in the country most people know as the Czech Republic. That transition was made in the interest of having a one-word name.

The champion of name-changing very well may be the former Yugoslavia. When it formed in the aftermath of World War I, it was originally dubbed the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes. Later it became the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, before becoming the Federal People’s Republic of Yugoslavia, before becoming the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

Read the full story at National Geographic