The places with the longest names in the world

“Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch”. No, it’s not that the cat took a walk on my keyboard. It is the name of a small village on Anglesey island, Wales, and is the longest place name in Britain and the longest (accepted) village name in the world.

Few dare to pronounce it. Most people usually prefer to use one of the abbreviations, which are also a bit complicated for those that don’t know to speak Welsh (Llanfairpwllgwyngyll, Llanfair Pwllgwyngyll, Llanfair PG, or Llanfairpwll). The meaning of such a word does not fall short either: “Saint Mary’s Church in the hollow of the white hazel near a rapid whirlpool and the Church of St. Tysilio of the red cave”…

Aerial view of the village of Llanfair PG. Wikimedia Commons

Its peculiar denomination is associated with several peculiarities and anecdotes, as well as with several world records. For instance, the town’s web domain with its 63 characters (not counting the “.com”) was recognized in 2002 by the Guinness World Records as the longest on the Internet, although other domains later took over the position. The website itself (which is available in the references) tells several interesting stories about the town and its name and challenges the bravest to try to pronounce the name of the town correctly. If you want to train a little bit before, in Wikipedia you have a sample audio with the pronunciation.

A new species of edaphic bacteria was isolated at this same site in 2019, and the discoverers had the great idea of naming it after the town: Myxococcus llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogochensis, a challenge for microbiology students who have to mention it in an exam. Needless to say, it is the longest name in binomial scientific nomenclature so far. And what to say about the platform tickets of the town? They are a popular souvenir among tourists because of their great length (necessary to fit all the letters of the place name).

A great tourist attraction of this humble Welsh town is the sign of its train station, with which many visitors stop to take a picture and immortalize their passage through the town with the longest name in the world. Fortunately, just below the place name is the approximate pronunciation in English, to make life easier.

The unpronounceable hill of New Zealand

If you have already trained your tongue a little with the previous place name, then you are ready to pronounce the name of the next place: “Taumatawhakatangi hangakoauauotamateaturipukakapikimaungahoronukupokaiwhenuakitanatahu”. For cushy people, there is a more practical alternative: Taumata Hill. We have now traveled to the North Island of New Zealand, to a hill whose highest part rises 300 m in altitude.

The term is Maori (now Welsh seems friendlier) and would mean “the place where Tamatea, the man with the big knees, who slid, climbed and swallowed mountains, known as ‘landeater’, played his flute to his loved one”. And who was this Tamatea? According to ancient Maori legends, he was a burly warrior chieftain who lost his brother in the battle of Matanui against the Ngati-Hine tribe while trying to cross the village of Porangahau, near the hill. Extremely affected by the loss, he remained several days at the site of the battle mourning the death of his brother, to whom he paid homage every morning by climbing the hill of unpronounceable name and playing beautiful elegies with his Maori flute.

Its 85 letters constitute the longest accepted place name in the Latin alphabetical system according to the Guinness World Records. But be careful, because there is still one place whose name is almost twice as long as the Maori hill name.

The secret name of Bangkok

Capital of Thailand? If you were thinking of Bangkok, you were right. However, this has not always been its name. For the locals it is Krung Thep or Krung Thep Mahanakhon, which means “city of angels” or “of the gods” (and which last year became the co-official name of the Thai capital along with Bangkok), while “Bangkok” was coined by the foreign settlers. However, there is one more name, although I recommend you to catch your breath before reading it: “Krungteb Mahanakon Amon Ratta Nakosin Mahin Tharayud Tayama Mahadihlok Pharad Chataniburom Rich Rad Chaniwet Maha Satan Amon Phiman Awatansathit Sakthatthiyavid Sanukamprasit”. The translation reveals a tribute to the city by its founder, King Rama I: “the city of angels, great city of immortals, magnificent city of the nine gems, seat of the king, city of royal palaces, home of gods incarnate, erected by Vishvakarman at Indra’s behest”.

The ceremonial name of Bangkok is the longest place name in the world. If accepted, it would have received the Guinness World Record. Wikimedia Commons

This is indeed the longest place name in the world, although the Guinness record is held by Taumata Hill. The reason is that it is in disuse for obvious reasons. It is a ceremonial name and, despite its length, some people are able to recite it by heart. For others, saying Bangkok or Krung Thep is more than enough.


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