Charles Bridge, Prague
The Charles Bridge in Prague, the capital city of... Czechia?Reuters

A statement from officials in the Czech Republic, including the prime minister and president, has said that the country would like to be referred to as "Czechia". The move would not get rid of the original, longer name, but would add an official shortened version for commercial and sporting use.

According to the statement, the Foreign Ministry will ask the United Nations to add equivalents of the new name in the official languages. In English it will be Czechia, while French will have le Tchequie.

"Distortions and misspellings" of the official name has been given as one reason for the change. A number of the country's sporting teams already use the word Czech on jerseys instead of the long name but this is thought of as inadequate as Czech is an adjective.

Not everyone agrees with the change, with the regional development minister voicing her disapproval on Twitter by saying the new name might be confused with the Russian federal republic of Chechnya.

The name is not simply a neologism either, says the go-czechia.com website, its first use in Latin is recorded in 1634 and in English in 1841. Other uses of the term Czechia are found in Australian press in the 19th century and it was commonly used by US newspapers between 1918 and 1960 to refer to the western part of Czechoslovakia, which is now the Czech Republic.

Czechoslovakia peacefully split into the Czech Republic and Slovakia in 1993. The move towards officially recognising the new name will have to be passed by the Czech parliament before it is lodged with the UN.