It’s Colombia, not Columbia. Organizations including Virgin Mobile, P.F. Chang’s and Lufthansa—and performers including Paris Hilton, Ozzy Osbourne, and Justin Bieber—have all made the mistake recently, which really annoys Colombians. (Wall Street Journal)
- Why does it matter that people misspell Colombia? Read the terrific Wall Street Journal article, as well as our excellent blog post “Why it Matters that Chechnya is not the Czech Republic” for some help.
- It’s (usually) not just a typo. Consistently misspelling “Colombia” can sometimes represent a misunderstanding and dismissal of national identity—if people, companies, and other organizations can’t even get the name of the country right, why would they respect anything about that country? From the article: “Spell our country correctly, [Colombian critics] say, and at the same time recognize that Colombia is no longer just a land of cocaine, coffee and leftist guerrillas, but one of natural beauty, a thriving economy, innovative cities and globally famous singers like Shakira and artists like Fernando Botero, the painter and sculptor.”
Colombia-Columbia and Chechnya-Czech Republic are just the tip of the geographic homophone mix-ups. See if you can spot these others.