Ms Rotterdam in the Norwegian fjords.
World's most unusual place names
Sign for Earth, Texas
Would you believe someone who said they came from Mars? Me neither. They could be telling the truth though, if they happened to be one of the 1,700-odd inhabitants who live in a Pennsylvanian town of that name. Perhaps slightly less silly-sounding is Jupiter, a medium-sized town in Palm Beach County, Florida. And while it is true for all of us to say we live on Earth, there is a hamlet of that name in Lamb County, Texas.
Peculiar or what? That's a town in Missouri by the way. It got its name when the town's postmaster Edgar Thomson had his first name choice rejected. He had suggested calling it Excelsior but a place of that name already existed in the state. When several other suggestions he made also got the thumbs down, Thomson got upset about and wrote to the postmaster general. "We want a name for the town that's sort of peculiar," he wrote. And he got one. There is also a historical plaque in Peculiar that reads: "In 1861-1864, while bloody battles raged throughout the southern states, nothing happened here."
Sinners, rejoice. Hell doesn't sound particularly hellish. This Norwegian village has become a mini tourist attraction because of its name - people like to get photographed in front of the sign. At the old warehouse near the railway station, moreover, another sign reads, "Gods expedition", an archaic form of the Norwegian word for cargo handling office (godsekspedisjon). On a slightly more conventionally appealing note, Hell Blues Festival takes place in the area around Hell each year.
There is another Hell - in Michigan - with a population of around 300 people. For several hundred years, the low, swampy area was mainly occupied by the Potawatomi Native American tribe. In the late 1830s, George Reeves, a New York farmer, started several businesses in the area including a general store, mill and distillery. In 1841 he was asked what he wanted the town to be named. He replied: "I don't care, you can name it Hell if you want to." His later attempts to rechristen it Reevesville or Reeve's Mills proved futile.
Hell (Grand Cayman)
Another Hell, in Grand Cayman, is a group of black limestone formations in the town of West Bay. People are not prohibited from wandering among the formations but there are two viewing platforms. Numerous versions abound of how this Hell got its name, most being variations on the theme, "A local official said, 'This is what Hell must look like.'" Hell is a popular tourist attraction with a red, hell-themed post office so you can send postcards from Hell and a gift shop where "Satan" greets people with, "How the hell are you?" Hell is a common stop for cruise ship tours.
Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateaturipukakapikimaungahoronukupokaiwhenuakitanatahu, one of the longest, and possibly the least easily pronounceable, place names in the world refers to a hill in the New Zealand township of Porangahau. Locals shorten the name to Taumata but the full Maori title is said to mean, "the summit where Tamatea, man with the big knees, climber of mountains, land-swallower who travelled about, played his nose flute to his loved one".
Lengthy place names needn't only refer to obscure places, however. How about Krung thep mahanakhon bovorn ratanakosin mahintharayutthaya mahadilok pop noparatratchathani burirom udomratchanivetmahasathan amornpiman avatarnsathit sakkathattiyavisnukarmprasit, which is the official name for Bangkok? It means, "Land of angels, the great city of immortality, of divine gems, the great angelic unconquerable land of nine noble gems, the royal and pleasant capital, site of the grand royal palace, eternal land of angels and reincarnated spirit, foreordained and created by the highest devas", but is often shortened to Krung thep.
And from the longest to the shortest. There's Ö in Sweden, U in Panama and Y in the Somme, France.
To the silliest (if you're not from there, that is). Middelfart, a town on the Danish island of Funen, means central passage, with reference to one of its three ferry links. Then there's Gross (in Nebraska), which would not, however, be as hard to live down as Poo, a town in the north of Spain, or indeed Poopoo, in Hawaii.
Ninety-Six is the name of a town established in the early 1700s in Greenwood County, South Carolina. It got its name from the mistaken belief that it was situated 96 miles away from the nearest Cherokee settlement. Bill Voiselle, pitcher for the New York Giants, gained the distinction of being the only baseball player to wear his hometown as a uniform number when he wore "96" in honour of his South Carolina birthplace.
On the subject of numbers, Eighty-Eight is a small town in Kentucky's Barren County. On 8 August 1988, 6,000 visitors descended on Eighty-Eight to buy postcards to be franked at 8.08am with an 88 postmark. One couple drove there to be married at 8.08 on the church's eighth step. Reportedly the town got its name when one of the founders looked in his pocket to find he had only 88 cents.
Foodies may like to know there's a place called Chicken in Alaska and an Egg and an Apples in Switzerland. Or you could go to Goodfood in Mississippi, where you could also get some Hot Coffee in the community of that name. Rottenegg (Switzerland) and Chunky (Mississippi) sound questionable, though.
Truth or Consequences - the road sign
Truth or Consequences in Sierra County, New Mexico, was originally called Hot Springs. The town's name was changed on 31 March 1950 after Ralph Edwards, host of the NBC radio programme Truth or Consequences announced that he would air the programme from the first town that renamed itself after the show in celebration of its 10-year anniversary. Several cities responded but the former Hot Springs won because it apparently embodied the same philosophy of "a real friendliness for people and a desire to help mankind".
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What about the place in Canada called.....DILDO, Or......COCKLICK END, near Slaidburn in Lancashire.
Wankers Corner, Southwest Main Street, Wilsonville, OR
(Google it on google maps!)
If it's not been mentioned before, there's a town called condom in the South West of France, not far from Toulouse.