North Macedonia changed its name. Has anyone noticed?

A Google search
A Google search
By Euronews
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Euronews looks at Google searches to see if North Macedonia's new name is catching on


Changing the name of a country is a tricky task, as this article in the Economist reveals.

However, reseach from Google for Euronews reveals that North Macedonia may be catching on among internet users.

Since its split from Yugoslavia in 1991, the country had been internationally known by the clunky moniker of Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, or FYRoM, after Greece refused to recognise its use of the name Macedonia, which is already used by a region in northern Greece.

However, last year the two sides agreed a compromise that opens the way for the newly christened North Macedonia to join Nato and potentially the European Union.

Even as the country made international headlines at the end of last year, the volume of searches measured by Google in the UK for "Macedonia" dropped to its lowest level in more than three years during mid December.

Searches in the UK for "Macedonia" (red) and "North Macedonia" (blue) on GoogleGoogle

Even a spike in usage in January, as parliaments in Macedonia and Greece ratified the deal, was lower than previous peaks as searches for the new "North Macedonia" name steadily gained.

Across Europe, searches for the "Macedonia" dropped last year for the first time since 2013, according to figures shared with Euronews by Google.

Google won't supply absolute numbers for search, instead providing results based on an index that reveals whether interest is rising and falling. Perhaps unsurprisingly, there has been a sharp rise in the use of "North Macedonia" in the UK since the name's announcement last June.

Searches on Google in the UK for "North Macedonia" over past 5 yearsGoogle

Although the gap is narrowing, Google reports that across Europe so far in 2019 searches for "Macedonia" remain 1,800% higher than those for "North Macedonia". 

From the name change to succeed, what matters is that the public can make the difference between the former - a province of Greece - and the latter - a country to the north of its borders.

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