March 26, 2018

The world's shortest place names


David Ellis

WOULD you believe there are nearly a dozen villages in Norway, Denmark and Sweden that have simply one letter in their name – just A for the greater majority of them, and O for one in Sweden.

And somewhat bizarrely, they're not the only places in the world that have pretty economic names when it comes to spelling: there are some thirty-odd towns, villages, municipalities, rivers and mountains have simply a single letter in their name in everywhere from Scandinavia, England, Scotland, France and Poland, to the USA, Panama, Micronesia, Madagascar, Japan, Tibet, Vietnam and Russia.

While A accounts for around a third of them – A means "brook" or "small river" in Danish, Norwegian and Swedish – there are five simply named U, another four that identify themselves only as O, three communities named Y, a couple E and rivers named the D in Oregon in the USA and Y in the north of Russia.

And in France, an historic chateau that's now a popular tourist attraction near Mortree in the north of the country is simply known as Chateau O, while in Argentina there's an eco-hippie community in Buenos Aires that identifies itself only as Commune A.


[] PROBABLY the world's simplest to make road sign – telling motorists they are leaving the village of Y in Somme in northern France. Around 100 people live in the village, referring to themselves as Ypsilonennes.

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