15 Major Cities And Their Names

So, how much do you know about the cities you visit every hear? The Big Apple used to be called New Amsterdam and was renamed New York, after the Duke of York, when the territory changed hands following the second Anglo-Dutch war. I bet you didn’t know that, and I’m also willing to bet that your knowledge about other major cities around the world is limited, as well. But, no worries – we’re here to change that. Here are more details about 15 major cities and their name, however strange it may be.

1. Tokyo


When Tokugawa Ieyasu became the first shogun of the Tokugawa shogunate, he made the small fishing village of Edo his capital. The city grew under his rule, and when the emperor returned to power in 1868, he moved the imperial palace from Kyotol) to Edo and renamed the city Tokio, meaning East Capital.

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2. Tel Aviv

Tel Aviv

The original name of this settlement was Ahuzat Baiet, meaning “housing settlement”. But settlers not change that, by combining the Hebrew word for spring, “Aviv”, with the word “Tel” to mean “man-made hill.”

3. Portland


The original settlers of America’s hipster Mecca wanted to name this new settlement along the Columbia River after their hometowns. So, it was down to a coin flip, which was won by Pettygrove.

4. Sydney


In 1788, Captain Arthur Phillip discovered a supply of fresh water for his thirsty fleet in a cove near Port Jackson, today’s Sydney Harbour. Although he originally wanted to name his new settlement Albion, he instead opted to call the bay Sydney Cove after the Secretary of State, Lord Sydney.

5. Rome


The legend talk about Romulus and Remus, the twin sons of the Roman god of war, Mars, being stolen from their mother by a vengeful uncle, dumped in the Tiber River, and rescued by a she-wolf who raised them until they were instructed to build a city on the site where they were rescued. A bit stretched, right?

6. Rio De Janeiro

Rio De Janeiro

“River of January”, the name Portuguese explorers gave to Guanabara Bay after the month in which they discovered it, was but a mere confusion. It seems they incorrectly assumed the bay was the mouth of a giant river and named the area “Rio de Janeiro” without checking first.

7. Moscow


The Russian capital sits on the Moscva River, which is obviously where the city’s name comes from. Some say it’s a derivative of a Finno-Ugric name meaning “river of” either cows, bears or darkness.

8. Mexico City

Mexico City

When Hernan Cortes conquered the natives in Tenochtitlan and pretty much wiped the city out of existence, they wanted a new name for the rebuilt, Spanish colonial city. Since the occupying tribe were known as the Mexica, and Cortes referred to the city as Mejica y Tenochtitlan, the new city was referred to as Ciudad de Mexico. The End.

9. Paris


This city was named after the Celtic Parisii tribe, the first to inhabit the island in the middle of the Seine around the middle of the third century BC.

10. Hong Kong

Hong Kong

The city’s name is based on the Cantonese pronunciation of characters that mean “fragrant harbor”. The name most likely refers to Hong Kong’s early role as a port from which they exported native agarwood to the northern provinces.

11. Los Angeles

Los Angeles

It’s pretty widely known that the City of Angels got its name from Spanish settlers so taken with its beauty that they considered it heaven on Earth. The original name, however, was a lot longer: El Pueblo de Nuestra Senora la Reina de los Angeles de Porcincula, or “The Town of Our Lady the Queen of Angels of the Little Portion”.

12. London


The name is actually derived from the Romans who founded the settlement around 43AD and called it Londinium, a form of the Celtic name for the city, which was believed to have been either the name of a local chief or a derivative of “lond”, the Celtic word for “wild”.

13. Beijing


Chinese characters don’t much lend themselves to transliteration, English interpretations of how the name is pronounced have changed over the years; “Beijing” is about as close as we get now to saying it like the Chinese. The current name was given to the city during the Ming Dynasty by Zhu Di, who moved his capital there.

14. Chicago


This city’s name comes from the French pronunciation of an Indian word meaning “wild garlic.” Before the banks of Lake Michigan were covered with concrete and CTA tracks, it was low-lying swampland ripe for the cultivation of products like onions and garlic.

15. Bangkok


King Rama I named the city “Krung Thep Mahanakhon Amon Rattanakosin Mahinthara Ayuthaya Mahadilok Phop Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom Udomratchaniwet Mahasathan Amon Piman Awatan Sathit Sakkathattiya Witsanukam Prasit”, the longest city name in the world. It translates to: “The city of angels, the great city, the residence of the Emerald Buddha, the impregnable city (of Ayutthaya) of God Indra, the grand capital of the world endowed with nine precious gems, the happy city, abounding in an enormous Royal Palace that resembles the heavenly abode where reigns the reincarnated god, a city given by Indra and built by Vishnukarn.”

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