One-letter wonders – the shortest geographical place names to visit

ByAndrea Thompson

May 1, 2024
Single-letter place names are rare due to a combination of historical, linguistic, and practical reasons.

Single-letter place names are rare due to a combination of historical, linguistic, and practical reasons.

Historically, place names often evolved from longer names that described geographical features, historical events, or cultural aspects of the area. Over time, these names could be shortened or simplified, but it was uncommon for them to be reduced to a single letter.

Y (France):

  • Located in the Somme department in northern France, the village of Y boasts the shortest place name in the country and one of the shortest globally.
  • The locals are known as Ypsiloniens.

Å (Denmark, Sweden, Norway):

  • The name Å graces small villages in Denmark, Sweden, and Norway.
  • In Norway, the small fishing village of Å is south of the Lofoten archipelago and a spectacular destination for those the outdoor adventurers in you.  Rugged mountains and amazing view.  Or dive into the blue beyond for an encounter with marine life, you can also visit the Lofotenstockfish Museum and the Norwegian Fishing Village Museum.

U Island (Micronesia):

  • U is an island in the Pacific Ocean, part of the Federated States of Micronesia.
  • Its name means “tide” in the local Pohnpeian language.
  • The Island residents hold a deep reverence for nature and you will find ancient stone ruins known as nan madol.
  • U Island is not isolated and modern amenities like satellite dishes connect the islanders to the world through social media.

Ì (Scotland):

  • Ì is an island in Iona, Scotland.
  • It is famous for the Iona Abbey, a centre of Gaelic monasticism for centuries.
  • It is a tourist destination, and visitors seek tranquillity from the island’s natural beauty.

Ö (Sweden):

  • The tiny village of Ö in central Sweden had a population of only 58 people back in 2010 and now boasts 26,000.
  • It is connected to the mainland by a 6km bridge and much of the island is fertile farmland because of the mild sunny weather .

While Y in Alaska holds the title of the world’s most highly populated single-letter place, it has recently been renamed Susitna North. These succinct names often emerge from frequent use and natural simplification over time.

So next time you encounter a place with a brief moniker, appreciate its elegance and the stories behind its one letter.