11/12/2012 02:40 pm ET Updated Nov 13, 2012

Iceland Name Change? Contest To Rename Island Draws Controversy, Novel Suggestions

Note to Iceland: Graceland is already taken. So is Rockland.

But some other name may take the place of Iceland, according to reports.

Iceland's tourism agency, perhaps concerned that travelers are discouraged by the "Ice" part even though the island is warmed by the Gulf Stream, is sponsoring a contest to rename the country.

Since last summer, when the agency's Inspired by Iceland website asked, "What would you name Iceland if this was your first glimpse?" there have been hundreds of suggestions. Many of them might be more appropriate for an ad campaign than a placard at the United Nations.

Niceland, Danceland, Jump For Joy Land, Catch-A-Cloud Land, and OMGWTFland have been suggested on the tourism naming page. So has Volcanicland and, as USA TODAY reported, Eyjafjlakojland for the volcano that erupted in 2010 and bollixed air travel throughout Europe.

The judges at Promote Iceland, the economic development group that will pick a winner sometime after the contest ends March 21, are unlikely to choose such an unpronounceable mouthful, not least because mentioning the volcanic eruptions that gave birth to the island and continue to this day isn't good for tourism.

The government of the island nation, which weathered a financial collapse that led to the downfall of its leaders after a grassroots revolt, is under no obligation to change the country's name. But if it does, there is plenty of precedent.

As the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette noted, Iceland wouldn't be the first nation to want a new name. Rhodesia became Zimbabwe, the Gold Coast is now Ghana and British Honduras became Belize.

Folklore has it that a Viking explorer named Floki Vilgeroarson visited the island more than 1,000 years ago and named it Iceland not because there was so much frozen water but because it was really rather temperate and he wanted to discourage other settlers from following. The ruse may have worked as Iceland today is home to just a third of a million people.

Some of them are lukewarm about changing their country's name.

"Iceland is just about the only known brand name the country has, [and] the name is known," Ingjaldur Hannibalsson, dean of the University of Iceland's business school, told USA TODAY. "The idea of changing the name is ridiculous."



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