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Unusual place names from around the world

Sometimes, I think the hardest part about being an explorer must be coming up with the names for places. It must be hard to come up with a great name for a place on the spur of the moment, but some of the places on this list show that, sometimes, it might be best to spend a bit more time thinking about it.

While doing the research for this, I must confess to rather a lot of sniggering. Sadly, the entries I decided to include are slightly more mature than Bitch Mountain, in New York state…

Niuē, South Pacific Ocean


Credit: fearlessRich

Let’s start with the one that kick-started this idea in the first place. At first glance. this name seems perfectly respectable. However, the name of this island nation in the South Pacific Ocean, actually translates to “behold the coconut”. Sadly, there’s no mention as to why the coconut was especially impressive. I assume it resembled a humorous body part.

It was named as Savage Island by James Cook, after the native inhabitants quite reasonably refused to let him land there three times. Maybe they should have shown him that coconut.

Batman, Turkey


Credit: Marcel Oosterwikj

Not only does the city of Batman exist, it’s actually the provincial capital of the province of Batman, in Turkey. The mayor of the town even tried to sue Christopher Nolan and Warner Brothers for the use of the name. The area has been known by this name since around 546 BC, and was even conquered by Alexander the Great.

I’m really hoping the postcode is NANANANA.

Accident, Maryland, USA


Credit: Patty

We’ve all done it. You plonk down a house here, a shop there and the next thing you know, you’ve accidentally created a whole town. Well if you’re the founder of this small town (the 2010 census gives the population as just 325), you’d just call the town Accident. Job done.

Boring, Oregon, USA


Credit: diaper

While there are apparently a lot of boring places in the USA, this one has got to top the list, thanks mainly to the brilliant idea to pair the town with Dull, in Scotland. I’ll bet that meeting was riveting. But don’t worry, there’s probably as much to do here as there is anywhere else in Oregon, as the town was named after William H Boring.

Idiotville, Oregon, USA


Credit: Luke Detwiler

Located in the American northwest, the ghost town of Idiotville is for some reason failing to attract any new denizens. If you do decide to visit, be sure to stop by nearby Idiot Creek. But if you like the idea of living miles from anywhere (and presumable sharing the town with the ghosts) then why not look into moving to Idiotville?

DISH, Texas, USA

Unlike most of the entries on this list, the town of DISH chose this name on purpose and for a fairly good reason. The town was only founded in the year 2000 and used to be called Clark. However, in 2010 they agreed to renamed the town DISH (all capitals) in an agreement with a satellite television company. In exchange every citizen receives free satellite TV for ten years and a free DVR. I’m still not sure what the company gets out of this deal.

Lake Disappointment, Western Australia

Lake Disappointment

Sometimes our expectations get in the way of us. When you’re winding your way through the Australian outback, trying to avoid all the nasty beasties who exist only to end you, and hear about a lake, it’s hard not to get excited. However, when you get there and it’s not as nice as you pictured (what with it being saltwater), you can at least stop others suffering the same fate by naming it Lake Disappointment.

Disappointment Islands, Pacific Ocean

This apparently happened a lot more often than you’d expect. Once again, a lack of drinkable water in an area leads to some serious disappointment. But at least these explorers put a bit more effort in than the folks who named our last entry.

Inexpressible Island, Antarctica

Inexpressible Island

Credit: M. Murphy

After a long day of exploring, who can be bothered to come up with a name for a fairly boring bit of land on a vast frozen continent? Fair play. I’m not sure it bothers the penguins much either way.

Whether your destination has an unusual name or a common one, don’t visit it without travel insurance.


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