How are place names determined on NG maps?
National Geographic's policy for naming geographic features is governed by a representative council of advisors. This council meets frequently to assess available information about naming issues and, based on the best information and research available, seeks to make an independent judgment about future changes or clarifications on its maps, as well as to correct any errors. It is the policy of National Geographic to correct any errors as quickly as possible on the next published version of a particular map, atlas, web or map-app update cycle.
Conventional (English) place-names are predominantly used on this map website. In instances when a commonly recognized form of a well-known place-name, such as Bombay, differs from the official national form, Mumbai, the conventional form is listed in parentheses: Mumbai (Bombay).
National Geographic does not follow any single source in making its naming determinations. Decisions regarding the naming assigned to geographic places, locations, bodies of water, and the like are checked against a number of external entities, including the U.S. Board on Geographic Names; recognized reference books such as encyclopedias, dictionaries, geographical dictionaries, other atlases, independent academic texts, and other similar sources; international bodies such as the United Nations, the European Union, and the like; and the policies of individual governmental entities. Names commonly recognized as alternatives or variants by such sources are often used on our maps. In such instances, the primary name is determined by using the form recognized by the de facto controlling country of the area, or by using the generally held conventional form of the name. On occasion, where warranted and where space permits, explanatory notes stating the basis or context of a recognized variant naming convention are provided. Current examples of the application of this variant naming policy are: Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas); Sea of Japan (East Sea); and English Channel (La Manche).