History and Instruments

Who decides which names go on maps

In the United States, the U.S. Board on Geographic Names (BGN) approves the official names and spellings of cities, rivers, lakes, and even foreign countries. If a town would like to change its name, it must petition the BGN for approval. Upon approval, the name is officially changed and updated in federal government gazetteers and records, which official and commercial mapmakers use for their maps.


This is a web preview of the "The Handy Geography Answer Book" app. Many features only work on your mobile device. If you like what you see, we hope you will consider buying. Get the App