We run a sports history site and occasionally we run into issues where a person was born in Prague, but in 1887, and we wish to display the correct country at the time of their birth rather than at the current day.

We have used geonames extensively, but we need a historical geonames, where we could enter a current territory and a date and find the correct historical representation of that location. I realize that things like city annexation etc might complicate this somewhat, but for now I'd be very happy with source that lists a city's country over time.

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    I wonder if Wikidata would have this information.
    – gerrit
    Commented Jan 21, 2020 at 9:11
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    yes, Wikidata has the historical name of the country that a city belongs to: wikidata.org/wiki/Q1085 scroll down to "country" property
    – philshem
    Commented Jan 21, 2020 at 9:36
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    I guess that may work for larger cities, but for example Jaromir Jagr's birthplace of Kladno has only the Czech Republic listed. wikidata.org/wiki/Q155993
    – Sean
    Commented Jan 21, 2020 at 19:26
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    @Sean I'm probably answering a bit late, but I was looking for the same kind of data for the same purpose and I found you question. If you use Wikidata I think the best approach would be to ask first for the city entity to get two values: the name of the city at the time of the given date, and the country it belongs at that time. This doesn't mean that the country entity appears in its historical form. So then you have to request the country entity itself to check its status at the given date. If you found something else in the meantime, I would be glad to read about it.
    – Flo
    Commented Nov 8, 2022 at 17:13

1 Answer 1


The approach I would take is to get a current latitude and longitude of the city and then look it up in a collection of historical shapefiles such as the ones discussed here. You would have to do that query yourself using PostGIS or similar software, as I don't think a service exists for this.

  • 1
    If you do it, consider releasing it as open data
    – philshem
    Commented Jan 24, 2020 at 9:02

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