Sep 6, 2018 at 12:00am ET By Alyssa Walker

Confident in your geography skills, are you? Can you correctly identify every country on the planet? Don't worry, most of us can't. But you may be shocked to learn that you have likely called these seven countries by the wrong name at least once.

Fret not. You can fix it!

Get ready for a fun history lesson:

1. Swaziland: Kingdom of eSwatini 

Here's some recent history to start:

Africa's last monarch, King Mswati III, celebrated his country's 50th birthday with a new name. During the Golden Jubilee celebrations this past April, he declared that Swaziland will now be known as the Kingdom of eSwatini, which means 'place of the Swazi.'

Why? The name 'Swaziland' angered many of its citizens because of its mix of Swazi and English. 

According to an April 2018 article in The Guardian, King Mswati III said, "African countries on getting independence reverted to their ancient names before they were colonized. So from now on, the country will be officially be known as the Kingdom of eSwatini."

The name change may affect the Swazi constitution, the royal police force, the defense force, and the University of Swaziland. 

2. Macedonia: Republic of North Macedonia

In a similar story, this past July, Macedonia's parliament approved plans to hold a referendum on changing the country's official name to the Republic of North Macedonia. The vote will happen later this month. 

Why now? The name change would allow the former Yugoslav republic to overcome its dispute with Greece and join NATO and the EU.

For decades, Greece and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) battled over the name. When Yugoslavia divided, Macedonia declared its independence and called itself the Republic of Macedonia.

Greece objected, as its northern province is also called Macedonia, which causes confusion.

Some Macedonian nationalists do not support the change, calling it "an assault" on the country's identity.

Stay tuned...

Learn more about studying in Macedonia. 

3. Sweden: Sverige

The modern English name, Sweden, was derived from the Dutch, but went through many iterations.

Svierge comes from Swerike, from the end of the 13th century's Svearike. That term refers to older Swedish regions include Svealand.

It's a matter of medieval pronunciation, but to many, it matters. 

Learn more about studying in Sweden. 

4. Japan: Nippon or Nihon

'Japan' means 'Well, bread!' in Japanese, and the Japanese never use it. Depending on with whom you speak, Japan is either Nippon or Nihon.

A 2014 article in Japan Today explains that Nippon was the first term, known as 'Wa' or 'Yamato' sometime around the seventh century.

Nihon came as a nickname.

If you are familiar with Japanese kanji, or the symbols, the issue is complicated, and the Japanese government still has not made an official decision between Nippon or Nihon.

So where did 'Japan' come from? No idea.

Learn more about studying in Japan. 

5. Greece: Hellenic Republic

Greece's modern and ancient name is Hellas or Hellada, and its official name is the Hellenic Republic, or 'Heliniki Dimokratia.'

So where does Greece come from? The Latin Graecia, which the Romans used. It means 'land of the Greeks.'

Aristotle first used the name Graeci in Meteorology and used it to describe the people of the region, who by that time were known as Hellenes.

Learn more about studying in Greece.

6. Finland: Suomi

It is likely that outside of Finland, you did not see this one coming. 

For centuries of being called Finland, Suomi still thrives. Turns out Finland isn't Finland in Finnish.

The original Finnic alphabet does not even have an 'f.' Many believe the term Finland comes from the Swedes, as early as the 12th century. This makes sense, as Finland was under Swedish control for about 700 years.

A few ideas as to the origin of the term, as outlined in a February 2018 BBC article, shed some light on the issue.

According to a curator at the National Museum of Finland, Satu Frondelius, “There is no certain knowledge about the real origin of the name ‘Suomi’ ... One theory is that Suomi comes from the word ‘suomaa’ which means ‘swampland’ in Finnish.” The south-western part of the country is home to numerous lakes, which could have looked like swampland to outsiders. “Another theory is that the word comes from ‘suomu’, which means ‘scale’ [of a fish], suggesting that people in Finland wore clothes made out of fish skins.”

Learn more about studying in Finland. 

7. Czech Republic: Czechia

While Czechia is the Czech Republic's official name, no one calls it that. 

A quick history: in 1918, when Czechs formed a nation, they called it 'Czechoslovakia.' In 1993, the Czechs and Slovaks separated, leaving the Czechs stumped. They called themselves The Czech Republic. Note the article, the. Few other countries have articles. The Netherlands is one example, offering the short form version, Holland.

In an effort to make its name more accessible for English speakers, in 2016, the Czech Republic registered its formal short-version, Czechia.

But no one's using it. Why not? It's new. These things take time. 

Learn more about studying in the Czech Republic. 

Alyssa Walker is a freelance writer, educator, and nonprofit consultant. She lives in the White Mountains of New Hampshire with her family.

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