Why Over 1,700 Places Have the Same Name

Introduction

Depending on who you ask, you’ll get different answers as to what the most common place name in the world is. In the United States, Washington is the most common place name with 88 places called Washington – after the first president of the country. Famously, many places are called Springfield – 41 places in the US in fact. However, in the world, there is a place name so common that over 1,700 places use it as their name. But first, some other common place names.

Other Common Place Names

There are many place names repeated in the world. For instance, 55 towns are named Richmond after Richmond-upon-Thames in the United Kingdom. Alexandria is well-known to be an incredibly popular place name. Alexander the Great named 16 cities after himself, but there are many more that have been speculated to be named Alexandria or named after Alexander the Great. Also, not all places called Alexandria are named after him, but there are around 60 places called Alexandria.

San Jose

San Jose (or San José) is the most common locality/place name in the world, with over 1,700 places being called San Jose or a variation of the name (1,716 to be exact). San Jose is a Spanish name meaning Saint Joseph. Saint Joseph is a Christian religious figure recognized in many Christian denominations. Many cities that were founded by Spanish-speaking religious missions (in part of fully) chose the name San Jose because of Saint Joseph’s large role in Christianity. Most cities were named San Jose after experiencing population increases. The popularity of Christianity and the Spanish language worked together to make this the most common place name in the world. Both were incredibly influential, but the Spanish Empire’s naming influence stretches further than just the cities called San Jose. 

In fact, 40 out of the 50 most popular place names in the world are from Spanish origins. The most common place name that does not derive from Spanish is Aleksandrovka, with 571 localities named as such.

Furthermore, many of the most widespread place names are Spanish religious names – including San Antonio (named for St. Anthony) with 1,619 localities named as such, Santa Maria/ Santa María (named for the mother of Jesus in Christianity, Mary) with 1,246 localities named that, and Santa Rosa (named for St. Rose) with 1,212 localities named that.

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