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Turkey changes its official name to Türkiye

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Going overseas to Turkey now, a country that has long sought to enhance its reputation as an international destination. The latest rebranding move - a new name. The U.N. has agreed to register Turkiye as the country's official name. NPR's Peter Kenyon reports that locals aren't sure what difference it makes.

PETER KENYON, BYLINE: The promotional campaign for the name change has been underway for some time, with videos like this one from Turkish Airlines featuring people saying the new name over and over.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED PEOPLE: Hello, Turkiye.

(CHEERING)

KENYON: President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government hopes the rebranding will give a boost to the economy as visitors start to return in large numbers after two pandemic-depressed tourist seasons. Some also wish to dissociate the country's name from the bird that traditionally appears on American dining tables at Thanksgiving and from the slang definition of a turkey as something that doesn't work or is foolish. It's not that much of a change for locals. The new name for Turkey is simply the way it's always been spelled and pronounced in Turkish. One observer noted it would be similar to calling Germany Deutschland. Turkish foreign policy analyst Yoruk Isik says this looks to him like a move to distract people from the long list of problems facing the country.

YORUK ISIK: Turkey is crumbling under possibly the biggest financial crisis since the Second World War. Our two neighbors are at war with each other. There is world food security crisis. And this is the moment we decide to change the country's name?

KENYON: To date, most international media, including NPR, have not adopted the change, but the souvenirs visitors will be hauling home from Istanbul's Grand Bazaar, will say, made in Turkiye. And people in Turkey will be wondering what the government's next move might be before Erdogan stands for reelection sometime in the next several months.

Peter Kenyon, NPR News, Istanbul.

(SOUNDBITE OF MURAT TUGSUZ'S "DESERT DREAM") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Peter Kenyon is NPR's international correspondent based in Istanbul, Turkey.