Fun Facts with Daniel – The Island of Borneo and the World’s Longest Names

With an area of 743,330 km2 (287,000 sq mi), Borneo is the 3rd largest island in the world and the largest in Asia.  It is also the world’s only sea island to be divided by more than 2 sovereign countries.  It contains part of Indonesia, part of Malaysia, and all of the small sultanate of Brunei.  As of 2010, the island is home to 19,804,064, approximately the combined population of Ontario and Quebec.

Borneo’s rainforest, which covers most of the island, is 140 years old, making it one of the oldest rainforests on Earth.  The island’s wildlife is very diverse, with about 15,000 species of flowering plants (including 3,000 species of trees), 221 species of mammals, 420 species of birds, and 440 species of freshwater fish living on the island.

The longest place name in the world is the Thai city of Krungthepmahanakhon Amonrattanakosin Mahintharayutthaya Mahadilokphop Noppharatratchathaniburirom Udomratchaniwetmahasathan Amonphimanawatansathit Sakkathattiyawitsanukamprasit, with 176 letters.  The name, composed of Pali and Sanskrit words, translates to, “city of angels, great city of immortals, magnificent city of the nine gems, seat of the king, city of royal palaces, home of gods incarnate, erected by Vishvakarman at Indra‘s behest”.  It is often shortened to Krung Thep and in English it’s called Bangkok.

With 85 letters, the longest one-word place name is that of a hill in New Zealand called Taumatawhakatangi­hangakoauauotamatea­turipukakapikimaunga­horonukupokaiwhen­uakitanatahu.  Other long place names include the famous Welsh village of Llanfair­pwllgwyngyll­gogery­chwyrn­drobwll­llan­tysilio­gogo­goch (58 letters), a Massachusetts lake called Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg (45), and a South African farm by the name of Tweebuffelsmeteenskootmorsdoodgeskietfontein (44).

With 116 characters in total, the longest official place name in Canada is an Ontario municipality called Corporation of the United Townships of Dysart, Dudley, Harcourt, Guilford, Harburn, Bruton, Havelock, Eyre and Clyde.  The longest one-word place name in this country is Pekwachnamaykoskwaskwaypinwanik, which is a lake in Manitoba and has 31 letters.

At the other extreme, there are also many one-letter place names throughout the world, with names such as A, D, E, O, U, and Y.  In fact, the Vietnamese name for Italy is simply Ý.


           1. Topographical map of Borneo.                  2. Sign showing the full name of Taumatawhakatangi­hangakoauauotamatea­turipukakapikimaunga­horonukupokaiwhen­uakitanatahu.

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