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Places with unusual names

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Whether they're unusually short, unusually long, sound like a surprising or naughty English word, or are just plain silly, places with unusual names can be fun destinations.

Understand[edit]

Both in English-speaking countries and elsewhere you can find places that have weird-sounding names to English speakers. Many of these places are small towns without much to do, but some offer T-shirts or other souvenirs with the place's name. If nothing else, you can always take a picture with a highway sign or "Welcome to X" sign to show your friends later. In non-English speaking countries, however, you may encounter even large cities and major travel destinations with unusual names.

For English-speaking countries, it's common that a funny name derives from a completely normal name in an older form of English or a native name for the place. In a few cases the name has been intentionally changed from a normal name to a more unusual one. In non-English speaking countries the unusual name of the place is of course just a normal name to the locals. This works the other way around too, normal names in English-speaking countries might sound funny to a foreigner. For instance, the small town of Roto, Australia has found its way onto lists of funny place names in Spanish, in which it means "broken". Finnish-speaking visitors may find Herne ("pea") Bay in Kent funny, as well as Piha ("yard") in New Zealand and the country of Nauru ("laughter").

See and Do[edit]

Even the smallest destinations on the list usually have other attractions, but given that you are in a place with a funny or unusual name, why not take a photo of road, street and perhaps even business signs with the name.

Buy[edit]

In some cases the place has indeed turned the name into a tourist attraction and therefore there are funny souvenirs you can buy, like the "Hell frozen over" postcards. Look out for bumper stickers, hats, T-shirts, postcards, or similar items at general stores, gas stations, and souvenir shops.

Respect[edit]

The locals are probably tired of hearing jokes about the name of their city. The names were often chosen many years ago, when the words had no double meaning, or make sense locally as the name only looks odd in the English language. Hypothetically, if "phoque" is a seal in some other language, there's no reason a community speaking that language shouldn't give the name to a geographic feature - even if phonetically it resembles a crude English-language expletive.

Also, don't feel tempted to steal any road signs no matter how funny the names on them are. Like the Route 66 signs that have been lost to souvenir hunters often enough for the locals to start painting the highway number shields directly onto the asphalt, these are needed for navigation by subsequent travellers.

Africa[edit]

Mafia Airport, the gateway to Mafia Island

Burkina Faso[edit]

Kenya[edit]

Madagascar[edit]

  • Nosy Be, a resort island. Here you can also find the town of Hell-Ville, and nearby a few smaller Nosy islands.

Republic of the Congo[edit]

  • Pool, the region around the capital.

South Sudan[edit]

  • Yei and Wau (South Sudan), two major South Sudanian cities that might or might not make visitors exclame yay! and wow!

Tanzania[edit]

  • Mafia Island, reportedly one of the Indian Ocean's most hidden gems, organized crime is probably not an issue here.

Asia[edit]

China[edit]

View of Guide
  • Guide, a small town, so you maybe don't need a guide
  • Hohhot, the capital of Inner Mongolia.

Indonesia[edit]

  • Gili Air (pronounced "gee-lee EYE"), an island, not an airline

Japan[edit]

  • Obama (meaning "little beach"), mildly famous as it happens to share its name with the 44th U.S. president. It's about 700 km (430 mi) from Obama to Usa, the centuries-old shrine in Oita (prefecture).

Kazakhstan[edit]

Oral railway station. One of the Trans-Siberian's southern siblings passes through here
  • Oral, a major city in the western part of the country near the Russian border, founded by the Cossacks.

Malaysia[edit]

  • Air Itam (pronounced "eye EE-tahm"), also not an airline, but a town.

Mongolia[edit]

  • Mörön, Hövsgöl, actually not an uncommon destination due to its central location

Myanmar[edit]

  • Insein is a township right across the Hlaing River from Yangon. If you are taken there, you probably won't be crazy, but you could be in trouble, as the Insein Prison has been notorious for the detention of political prisoners under harsh conditions.

Pakistan[edit]

Philippines[edit]

  • Antique - a province on the island of Panay

Thailand[edit]

  • Hang Chat – a town in the Northern River Valleys

Turkey[edit]

Batman airport. And, doesn't the shadow of the lamppost on the wall very remotely resemble a round logo with a bat inside..?

The bird was named after the country.

  • Batman — not exactly Gotham, but rather a dull hub for the oil drilling operations nearby
  • Van, a city on the shore Lake Van, established long before motorized vehicles were invented. Tatvan is on the other side of the lake.

Turkmenistan[edit]

  • Mary, formerly named Merv like the adjacient ruins of a city on the Silk Road, also on the world heritage list.

Uzbekistan[edit]

  • Pop, formerly named Bob (which, in turn, is the Arabic for gate)

Vietnam[edit]

  • Hue, the colorful former imperial capital.
  • My Son, yet another world heritage listed archaelogical site. No other places that appear to be named after relatives are found nearby.

Europe[edit]

Austria's most frequently stolen sign

Andorra[edit]

  • Pal is a great place to go skiing during winter, mate.

Austria[edit]

  • Fucking (rhymes with "booking"), a village of 100 inhabitants near Salzburg. About 70 kms to the northeast you can find the villages of Oberfucking and Unterfucking.

Bulgaria[edit]

  • Sofia, indeed named after a lady; the city is named after St. Sofia church in the city, in turn named after Sophia the Martyr.

Croatia[edit]

Denmark[edit]

Dubbed in various surveys and polls throughout the years as the "Happiest country in the world", here you can find Lol-land and Fun-en.

Estonia[edit]

  • Mustvee - funny for speakers of British English, and fortunately at least the bus station seems to have a public toilet .

Finland[edit]

  • Ii, this town in northwestern Finland has the shortest name in the country and reportedly one of the shortest in the world.
  • Joensuu, North Karelia's largest city "Joe n' Sue" literally translates to "river's mouth" and is where the Pielisjoki river flows into the Lake Pyhäselkä.

France[edit]

  • Condom, a small town in the department of Gers.
  • Nice (pronounced like the English word "niece"), a beachside city that's almost certainly the most popular destination on this list
  • Tours (with a silent "s"), a city in west central France. There are probably guided tours available here.

Germany[edit]

Bathing at the Caracalla Therme spa in Baden-Baden

Greece[edit]

  • Ia, also known as "Oia", a town on the island of Santorini

Ireland[edit]

Latvia[edit]

  • Madona, a town in Latvia, reportedly has nothing to do with the pop star nor the Christian religious figure.

Netherlands[edit]

Grave does feature a Jewish cemetery, among others
  • America, northwest of Venlo, has surprisingly little in common with the continents across the Atlantic Ocean – including Holland (Michigan).
  • Best, north of Eindhoven is arguably the best place in the Netherlands.
  • Enter in Overijssel can best be entered via the A1 highway.
  • Grave isn't as dead as the name might make you think. The fortified city centre isn't the youngest either, being some 800 years old.
  • De Hulk (The Hulk) in North Holland is not affiliated to the Marvel character.
  • Monster, located near The Hague has not had any sightings of monsters thus far.
  • Made is a place near Breda that surprisingly was made at some point in time. In Dutch the name translates to maggot.
  • Rectum, north of Enter, is not as shitty as it sounds.

Norway[edit]

  • Å (meaning "river"), on the island of Moskenesøya – one of several places called "Å".
  • Hell (from the Old Norse word for "overhang"), a village in Trøndelag.
  • Marker is a town where 3,400 Norwegian citizens have marked their home.
  • Ski, deriving its name not from a "ski" (which itself is a Norwegian loanword), but rather from an Old Norse word meaning "horse racing track".
  • Tonnes is a strong contestant for the heaviest postal code, weighing in at 8750 Tonnes.

Poland[edit]

  • Puck – a city in Pomorskie, unclear if they have an ice hockey team. Just across the Puck Bay, you can find the town of Hel.

Spain[edit]

  • Hospitalet de Llobregat, a bedroom community of Barcelona, and in its southern part there actually is a large hospital (Hospital de Bellvitge).
  • Roses

Switzerland[edit]

Saas-Fee in the Saas Valley
  • Saas-Fee, yes, you often need to pay for Software as a Service, but this is a town and ski resort located in the Saas Valley together with Saas-Balen, Saas-Grund and Saas-Almagell.

United Kingdom[edit]

North America[edit]

Canada[edit]

Overlooking the Bay of Islands, Blow Me Down Provincial Park
  • Blow-Me-Down Mountains and Blow Me Down Provincial Park, Lark Harbour near Corner Brook. Western Newfoundland is exposed to the open Gulf of St. Lawrence and it gets windy enough to stunt the growth of trees near the shoreline. A few places are named "blow me down"; the Newfies are not joking. At the top of a mountain? It only gets windier.
  • Dildo, Newfoundland and Labrador. One of many unique Newfoundland toponyms such as Ass Rock, Come by Chance, Pushthrough, Tickle Bay and Spread Eagle Island... not to mention Witless Bay. Gayside renamed itself Baytona. Newfoundland outports are prone to names like Joe Batt's Arm or Squid Tickle, but these are geographic features; an "arm" is a narrow extension, inlet, or reach from a much larger body of water while a "tickle" is a short narrow strait.
  • Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, near Fort Macleod, Alberta. Local natives were prone to herding buffalo off a cliff; one happened to be in the wrong place in the wrong time and the rest is UNESCO-listed history.
  • La Malbaie was named "the bad bay" by Samuel de Champlain in 1608, upon his finding no suitable anchorage for his ships. It didn't help that this Quebec bay is dry during low tide.
  • Medicine Hat, Alberta. It's named after a native word, saamis, that translates to Medicine Man's Hat.
  • Road to Nowhere, at the edge of Iqaluit, Baffin Island. There is no intercity road access to Nunavut. Iqaluit, on Frobisher Bay, is no exception.
  • In the Innu-aimun language, "Sheshatshit" means “a narrow place in the river”. The community, about 20 mi (32 km) beyond Goose Bay, Labrador on paved road, is inhabited by the Sheshatshiu Innu First Nation – who pronounce this "Sheshajeet".
  • On the Trans-Canada Highway. there's a Saint-Louis-du-Ha! Ha! in Quebec and a Wawa in Ontario, the latter being a native name for "goose".
  • Swastika is a small 1908-era mining community near Kirkland Lake in northern Ontario. When World War II in Europe broke out, the locals insisted they had the name first, Hitler be damned, and stubbornly refused to change it.

Caribbean[edit]

The yacht Granma on display, not in Granma but in Havana
  • Granma, a province in Cuba. Like the Communist newspaper, it's named after the yacht Fidel Castro and other revolutionaries sailed from Mexico to Cuba. The yacht, in turn, was named after the original (American) owner's grandmother.
  • Hell, a small community in the Cayman Islands
  • Morón in Cuba is likely inhabited by people just as smart as anyplace else

United States[edit]

  • Aloha, Oregon (and not Hawaii)
  • Bath, Maine
  • Boring, Oregon (and its twin town, Dull, Scotland!)
  • Carpinteria, California. It's not clear whether they also have carpenters from Nazareth
  • Celebration, Florida. It was designed by the Walt Disney Company to be a "perfect community".
  • Chicken, Alaska was named for ptarmigan, a bird hunted locally as food. Apparently "chicken" was easier to spell. No town twinning with Hahn, Germany though.
  • Christmas is in Florida. Other seasonal-themed U.S. postmarks include tiny Antler (South Dakota), a Santa Claus (Indiana, directly south of Ferdinand) and a pair of Bethlehems (NH and another in PA). Once a major steel-making town, Bethlehem PA was founded one Christmas Eve long ago.
  • Devil's Elbow is a tiny Route 66 community named for a particularly awkward bend in Missouri's Big Piney River.
  • Gay, Michigan is a former mining village on the Keweenaw Peninsula, named for the mine's director Joseph E. Gay. There's little here, other than a bar which has taken the name of the town and a Gay Parade on the 4th of July.
  • Grand Teton National Park and Teton County, Wyoming, were so named because early French explorers thought the highest peak in the mountain range and a couple of others looked like big teats.
  • Halfway, Oregon was named for being halfway between two other Baker County (Oregon) towns.
The country store in Hell, Michigan features some "hellish" signs
Interstate exit to Truth or Consequences

Central America[edit]

Quite a few Spanish-derived place names have been used more than once, mostly because they describe common climatic or geographic features (e.g. "Nevada" - snowy) or because they are named for a saint (e.g. San José, San Juan). So you might well find a City of Angels that contains a few hundred people at best or a San José that can't keep up with either its California or its Costa Rica namesake.

Oceania[edit]

Australia[edit]

This way to Wagga Wagga

French Polynesia[edit]

Micronesia[edit]

New Zealand[edit]

  • Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateaturipukakapikimaungahoronukupokaiwhenuakitanatahu, a hill in Hawke's Bay, North Island

South America[edit]

View of Lake Titicaca

Argentina[edit]

  • Jujuy, a province in the extreme northwest of the country.

Colombia[edit]

  • Turbo, a small city. You can get here by fast boats featuring "concussion-inducing bumps as the launch jumps the waves".
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