Bad days for geography quizzers

Geography used to be a stable subject which did not need much updating. For many years the only genuine new country formed was Bangladesh, and the dubious Republic of Northern Cyprus a little later.

But quizzers in this line took a long time to recover from the twin shocks of the collapse of the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia, which meant about 23 new countries which had to be memorized along with their capitals. The reunification of Germany and (earlier) Vietnam at least helped to REDUCE the number of countries to be studied.

Then people had flights of fancy, changing Swaziland to Eswatini (to encourage E-commerce?) Its neighbors had earlier made the switch from Bechuanaland and Basutoland to Botswana and Lesotho. Meanwhile a few other new countries such as Eritrea and South Sudan sneaked in when nobody was looking.

Then we have the renaming of cities in India. Many of them involved reverting from the British pronunciation to the original pronunciation (as in Calcutta-> Kolkata, Calicut -> Kozhikode and so on). This topic is enough for a few doctoral dissertations.

Now the rulers of India have bigger ideas, playing around with the names of larger entities. The creation of the Union Territories of Jammu & Kashmir AND Ladakh was hailed as a masterpiece. So next comes a mini-masterpiece, the Union Territory (yes, just one) of Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu:

(It will take a while to figure out where the “and” and “&” will be used). Also, the people in these places do not seem to have asked for this reunification of the smaller bits of Portuguese India.

Perhaps there is a point here. How many of you can find D & NH on a map? Even if you can, do you know WHY it is an Union Territory? (Another interesting point is why Chandernagore is a part of West Bengal and not an Union Territory like the rest of French India); see

Places with bad names-1

There are places which have names which may sound funny or offensive in other languages. Probably the most famous one is this:

Fucking, Austria

More about this tiny place with a population of around 100:,_Austria

Obviously this name is not particularly significant to German speakers, but is a source of amusement to English speakers, especially Brits.

The Brits have something similar in Surrey, but not in the same class:

Dorking, England

While “dork” is not a verb, it is a noun in American English:Ā 

A standard sign in the US (especially in college classrooms) in “No food and drinks”. Someone at Stanford had put up a realistic sign stating “No freaks and dorks” which the faculty chose to leave untouched.

There was a controversial judge named Robert Bork who was nominated by President Reagan to the Supreme Court, but his nomination was rejected by the US Senate in 1987. While his name rhymes with “Dork”, the word predates him.

This town is somewhat larger than its Austrian counterpart. It is perhaps appropriate that it is famous for poultry:

Dorking Cock

More on the general topic of places with unusual names:

That is a bit exhaustive and lengthy, but a shorter one is:

This topic is indeed worthy of a doctoral dissertation.

Next we will take up a few such cases in India.