Go to any map sites (Google, openstreetmap etc.), you will see the India city names are only in English. For other countries however, you will see city names in either native languages or both English and native language.

Does this mean India people only use English names for their city? Even they speak Hindi?

  • 3
    I suspect this has more to do with your Google settings than the way people speak in India. Mar 23, 2016 at 23:43
  • 1
    I suspect it is because they want to sidestep the politics of providing a Devanagari alternative but not Bengali, Telugu, Mayalam, Kannada, and all the other writing systems in use, especially if a geographic names database in one or more of those scripts is not readily available. With an English-langauge locale, you'll also only see English names in Sri Lanka, Israel and Palestine, and Pakistani-controlled Kashmir (despite Urdu script in Pakistan proper). Google is also known to play games with names and borders based on your locale, for instance, with Crimea, Taiwan, and the McMahon Line.
    – choster
    Mar 24, 2016 at 21:56

3 Answers 3


For OpenStreetMap, objects can have several different tags for the name. The simple tag name is for the common, local name. They can also have tags for the name in other languages, using the ISO code for that language. eg name:enfor the name in English, or name:hi for the Hindi name. There are more tags for alternative names, or official names, or historic names etc.

It is up to the local community to decide what to use for the default name tag. In some places it will be obvious, if there is only one main language. But in places with multiple languages, it can be less clear, and may lead to disagreements about which one takes priority. So some countries could combine several different languages in the name tag.

Anyone producing a map using OpenStreetMap data can choose which of these name tags to use and show on the map. For the default map style on openstreetmap.org (known as 'Standard'), it only shows the name tag. Whereas for example, MapQuest Open shows the English name (name:en tag) followed by the local name if it is different. Or this Multilingual Map Test lets you specify what language to prefer.


Google Maps has default language settings for all countries. English is a lingua franca in India, so it's a sensible default, but you can easily change the language. For example, here's Google Maps in Hindi:


Note the ?hl=hi at the end. The full list of languages is here, although many (eg. Tamil) are currently for the interface only and don't change the map tiles themselves.

(Disclaimer: I used to work on Google Maps.)


It depends on which tool you use; Google Maps for example allows this to be set to another language. Check http://www.tutorialspoint.com/google_maps/google_maps_localization.htm for detailed instructions.

I have it set since a long time to show all names in the local country's language, and I see city names in India in Hindi and English (well I assume that other language is Hindi, I wouldn't know).

  • Cool, now I can see other names
    – Tony
    Mar 24, 2016 at 22:21

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