Label applied to a location in space: such as a landform, a concentration of population or a region encompassing both natural and human-made elements.
Any location in space, such as a landform or a human settlement, can be identified by a descriptive label. A region or larger area encompassing both natural and human-made elements can also be given a place name.
Although numerical systems of unambiguously specifying any location in space are now available. Place names continue to provide the most generally useful geographical reference system in the world.
The consistent and accurate use of names in describing or referring to a place is essential to avoid confusion in everyday living. It is no less important in genealogy and family history.
The term toponym can be used to refer to the class of place names; and their study is toponymy.
The names given to particular locations may reflect aspects of the language, culture and beliefs of the residents or those who have conquered them. A single location may have had several place-names throughout history reflecting the changes that have gone on around it.
Some places are known by two (or more) names at the same time. This can arise in a peaceful multi-lingual society or when there are competing claims on the same space.
Some governments establish authorities with the role of deciding and promulgating official names for places within their jurisdiction. This does not prevent the continuing use of local customary names alongside the authorised version.
In many cases, the name of the largest unit of space occupied by a nation state is used to describe the political and social organisation as well as the place it occupies.