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Administrative reform: Names of dozens of villages will change

For thousands of Estonians, the Administrative Reform Act meant new addresses, as the names of municipalities as well as in some places also the names of villages will change, ETV’s “Aktuaalne Kaamera” reported on Monday.

The names of Estonian villages are often references to the local geographic context, which means that in a lot of different municipalities and counties there are similar or even exactly the same names. With more and more municipalities now merging as a consequence of the Administrative Reform Act, this problem needed addressing.

A provision of the act now states that there can be no two villages with the same name within a single municipality, which means that the names of dozens will have to change.

An example is Saaremaa, which is about to merge into a single municipality. The most common village names on the island are Liiva and Rannaküla, of which there are five. Other instances where more than one of Saaremaa’s villages have the same name are Kõnnu, Lahe, Metsa, and Mustla.

All of these names refer to their immediate environment, e.g. with Liiva meaning “sand”, and “Lahe” meaning “bay”, hence there are a lot of similar addresses that this far could be told apart because they were in different municipalities.

The rule will be that of the affected villages, only those with the largest populations can keep their original name. All the others will have to come up with new names.

Mayor of the island’s capital of Kuressaare and chairman of its union of municipalities, Madis Kallas, said that the most likely solution would be to add another word to the existing names, so that those villages didn’t lose their historic context.

All name changes have to be settled by the end of 2017.

Editor: Editor: Dario Cavegn

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