The 6th Divisional Meeting of UNGEGN ASE Division

26th of March 2018, Manila, Phillipines


6th Divisional Meeting
United Nations Group of Experts on Geographical Names (UNGEGN)
Asia South East Division (ASED)
26 March 2018
Manila, Phillipines


Attending Member Countries


Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Vietnam

Welcome Remarks


Dr. Peter N. Tiangco, Chair of UNGEGN-ASE Division delivered the opening address

Election of Executive Positions 


The Chair nominated the Philippines to take on the positions of Secretary and Rapporteur for this meeting. The nomination was agreed and seconded by all other members

Adoption of Agenda


The agenda was tabled by the Chair and adopted in the meeting



I. Chairman's Report

The Chair presented ASE Division's participation to the 30th UNGEGN Session and the 11th Conference on Standardization of Geographical Names, the 5th UNGEGN - ASE Divisional Meeting held in New York and the recently concluded 1st Regional Training Program in Toponymy including Marine Toponymy held in Manila.

First, in the 30th Session and the 11th Conference, a total of 251 participants from state members, observers and representatives from international scientific organizations participated in this event. During this event, the Division presented the UNGEGN - ASE Division which is posted on the UNGEGN website under Agenda Item 6 on August 17, 2017:

On 09 August 2017, the Division attended the side event meeting of the Working Group G) on Training Courses in Toponymy, presided by the then Convenor, Prof. Dr. Ferjan Ormeling to express the Division's intention to request a regional training. Said request was supported by the Working Group and therefore announced during the approval of Minutes of Meeting of the 30th UNGEGN Session and 11th Conference.

Second, the 5th ASE Division Meeting was held as a side event meeting on 09 August 2017 during the 30th Session and 11th Conference. Fourteen (14) delegates from five (5) member countries namely Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, and Vietnam participated in the said meeting. The meeting mainly focused on country reports and preparation for the proposed 1st Regional Training in Toponymy including Marine Toponymy.

The three resolutions agreed during the 5th Meeting were: (1) encourage participation of member-countries; (2) limit regional map and gazetteer by removing the Pacific South West region; and (3) each member country to verify their country data as published in the ASE Division website.

Lastly, the Chair coordinated with UNGEGNSecretariat and the Working Group on Training Courses after the 5tll Meeting in New York. A proposal for the regional training was submitted and then approved after a few months by the UNGEGN Secretariat.

The First Regional Training Course in Toponymy including Marine Toponymy recently concluded last 19 -24 March 2018 in Makati City, Philippines. This six-day training was organized to support capacity building for members of the UNGEGN- Asia South East Division in collaboration with United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA), United Nations Statistics Division (UNSD) and the National Mapping and Resource Information Authority (NAM ) of the Philippines. Six (6) UNGEGNtrainers facilitated the whole activity, namely:

  1. Prof. Dr. Ferjan Ormeling from The Netherlands;
  2. Honorary Chair, Helen Kerfoot of Canada;
  3. Prier Giorgio Zaccheddu of Germany;
  4. Prof. Hyo Hyun Sung of South Korea;
  5. Prof. Multamia Lauder of Indonesia; and
  6. Ms. Cecille Blake, representing the United Nations

Fifty-four (54) participants from six (6) member countries attended the training with the following composition:









Sri Lanka







II. Reports


The Geography Department (GD) under the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction (MLMUPC) of Cambodia presented the historical background of its gazetteer. The Geographic Names Division of the US Army Topographic Command published the Gazetteer of the Kingdom of Cambodia in 1971 and 2002. The 1971 edition was based on 1:50,000 topographic maps while the 2002 edition published by the National Imagery and Mapping Agency (NlMA) was derived from 1:250,000 JOG maps. Most geographic names in these gazetteers represent local spelling that was Romanized from Khmer script.

When the Geography Department (GD) of the Kingdom of Cambodia was established in 1991 in order to produce, manage and publish topographic maps and geographic-based data for the Kingdom, it has since published 1st and 2nd Edition of the Gazetteers, in 1995 and 1996, respectively. The first edition, the Gazetteer of Cambodian villages in two (2) volumes, contains names in Khmer and Romanized form and have reference to place names existing until December 31, 1994. The second edition does not contain a lot of changes in the Khmer system but the Romanized form was based on a transcription system instead of transliteration.

The current status of standardization of geographical names are: (a) development of a standard Geographic Code System (GCS) for all villages, communes, districts and provinces which is not official yet but widely used for data production and sharing among geographic information system (GIS) users; as of 31 March 2012, the Kingdom has 1 capital, 24 provinces, 198 cities/districts, 1,646 communes and 14,096 villages; (b) establishment of the National Commission on Geographical Names (NCGN) in August 2000 which comprises 13 ministries and mandated to review documentations, research and study meaning and writing in Khmer and its translation into its Romanized form, approve Romanized translation, and distribute and update geographical names of Cambodia; (c) approval by NCGN of 24 names of city/provinces in Cambodia using the old writing system; (d) use of transcription method rather that transliteration, in the Romanization system as applied in the second edition published by GD; for detailed differences, see UNGEGN Technical Reference Manual for the Standardization of Geographical Names, pages 29-34); and (e) development of topographic databases at scales 1:100,000 for the whole country. I 1:25,000, 1:10,000 and 1:5,000 in select areas, which contains geographical names for each feature.

At present, GD is working on a nationwide inventory of geographical features, data build-up of the national topographic database and updating the transcription Romanization System in UN.



The Geospatial Information Agency (BIG) has replaced the National Team of Standardization of Topographic Names as the New Geographical Names Authority of Indonesia. This is in reference to the dissolution of the said National Team as reported during the 30th Session and 11th Conference in New York on August 2017.

The roadmap of BIG in connection with geographical names in Indonesia has conducted standardization of island names in 2006 to 2008, administrative region names in 2009 to 2011 for thirty-three (33) provinces, natural geographical names in 2012 - 2014 also for thirty-three (33) Provinces, man-made place names from 2015 to 2017, remaining islands names from 2015 to present and names of cultural heritage objects for 2018 until 2020.

In 2017, BIG conducted several national activities in connection with the standardization of geographical names: (a) verified geographical names of man-made objects for twenty-two (22) provinces, as a continuation of its 2016 program; (b) submitted the updated Gazetteer of Indonesian Islands with a total number of 16,056 islands; (c) improved the app called SAKTI (Sistem Akuisisi data Toponim Indonesia) since its development in 2016 which created the WebGIS in order to manage data through the app; (d) coordinated with the Ministry of Marine Affairs for toponym data synchronization; (e) coordinated with twenty (20) ministries and agencies to provide Maps of Republic Indonesia which have updated Indonesian Maritime Borders; (f) conducted island names survey and verification in East Java Province through the Minis of Marine Affairs and Fisheries which resulted in ninety-three (93) verified island names; and (g) published Map of Indonesian Local Languages with the Ministry of Education and Culture.

For 2018, BIG has the following national plans and activities: (a) participation to the r= Regional Training in Toponymy including Marine Toponymy held in Manila in which there were eighteen (18) participants from Indonesian government and academe; (b) evaluation study of the Faculty of Law in Universitas Gadjah Mada (UGM) on the form of regulation regarding geographical names to be a Presidential Regulation; (c) conduct of Toponymy Training for government officials from eighteen (18) provinces which will include newest version of SAKTI; (d) verification of man-made geographical names for three (3) provinces using SAKTI; (e) verification and standardization of tourism related names for another 3 provinces; (0 coordination with the Ministry of Maritime Affairs to conduct island names verification in West Papua (Papua Barat) which will update the toponym database of Indonesia; (g) coordination meeting with the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Hydro­Oceanography of Indonesian Navy about Sea, Strait and Bay Names to be submitted to the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO); and (h) creating of a website for the National Working Team on Standardization of Geographical Names in Indonesia which will provide progress of the National Working Team.

At present, Indonesia maintains the website, newsletter and regional map and gazetteer of the UNGEGN-Asia South East Division. The ASE website has a new look and address:

and any contribution such as articles about toponym are welcome and may be submitted to the Division's email address:  The present glossary of Generic Terms of the Division has been filled by only five (5) countries namely Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei Darussalam, and the Philippines, which can be downloaded through this link:

Indonesia requested other countries to complete their Generic Terms as well. The current Regional Map and Gazetteer of ASE Division can be viewed at:

Indonesia strongly recommended that each member country should check their country database and submit corrected copies to and generic terms as well to those who have not submitted. Indonesia suggested that a contact person should be appointed from each country in order to communicate their country's contributions.



The Malaysian National Committee on Geographical Names (MNCGN), established on 11 September 2002, presented their country report which covers all activities on geographical names and related matters from August 2017 to March 2018.

First, the Malaysian National Committee on Geographical Names (MNCGN) and the National Technical Committee on Geographical Names (NTCGN) conducted several meetings and Workshops to address issues and disseminate information on guidelines in determining geographical names.

Second, the Working Group on Policy and Geographical Names Updating, administered by JUPEM, also conducted several meeting to address issues on policy and updating of geographical names, deliberated issues on the notification of geographical names of places in the government gazette, updated geographical names of ground features in large-scale town maps, and finalized the Toponymic Guidelines for Map and Other Editors for International Use which was written in English and Malay languages. This guideline was presented during the 11thUNConference on the Standardization of Geographical Names held in New York 2017.

Third, the verification of the Malaysian Geographical Names Database CPDNG)using digital topographic database at scales 1:50,000 and 1:25,000 is almost complete while verification at scales 1:5,000 and 1:10,000 is ongoing, The database consists of local names, location, historical background, Arabic character, audio file and gazette notification which have authoritative records for government and public use. This can be accessed through the MyGeoName application:

Fourth, the geographical names website called "MyGeoname" in Malaysia was last updated on June 13, 2017. Through this website, all information related to geonaming activities can be accessed by all MNCGN members through the following link:

Guidelines for the Determination of Geographical Names, Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ), issues of geographical names and list of liaison officers of each agency are also available in this website.

Fifth, the Working Group on Islands and Geographical Entities, established in June 2006, summarized the following: there are 872 islands with names, 495 geographical entities with names and 202 islands/geographical entities without names. The Working Group published Volumes I, II and III compiling the listing of islands and geographical names of thirteen (13) States of Malaysia, while Volume IV which compiled geographical names for one (1) State, is still being reviewed by State Authorities. The Working Group is also in the process of preparing inland geographical entities in order to distinguish it from offshore geographical entities.

Sixth, JUPEM also conducted workshops and briefing to disseminate information on guidelines in determining geographical names and in using the Geographical Names Database. This is a requirement to support the implementation of the MyGDI initiative, a Malaysian SDI being undertaken by MaCGDI.

Lastly, the Working Group on Policy and Geographical Names Updating prepared a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) in Updating the Geographical Names Database for Urban Areas. This document shall serve as the main reference of all State Liaison Officers in updating and verifying geographical names, This SOP has been distributed to all concerned states under Phase III.



The National Mapping and Resource Information Authority (NAMRIA), under the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), presented the Philippine country report for geographical names activities. Recent activities include: (a) accomplishment of Phase 1 of the Philippine Islands Inventory Project which covered Province of Palawan as Pilot Project Area using Very High-Resolution Satellite Images (VHRSI) at 0.30m resolution; (b) integration of geographical names in topographic map updating process and is being initiated in updating topographic maps at scale 1:50,000 and 1:250,000; (c) presided over the 4th ASE Division meeting held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on October 17-20, 2016 and the 5th Division meeting held in New York on August 9, 2017; (d) attended the 30th UNGEGNSession and 11th UN Conference on the Standardization of Geographical Names in New York; and (e) hosted the recently concluded 1st Regional Training in Toponymy including Marine Toponymy on March 19-24, 2018.

Additionally, the Philippine Standard Geographic Code (PSGC)a systematic coding scheme of geographic areas (i.e. Local Government Units, LGUs) in the Philippines, was updated and the latest update as of September 2017 are the conversion of one (1) municipality into a city and creation of seven (7) barangays.


September 2014

September 2017

No. of Regions



No. of Provinces



No. of Cities



No. of Municipalities



No. of Barangay



At present, there is an ongoing Phase II of the Philippine Islands Inventory Project which will have an updated inventory of islands with verified data and geographical names of fifty-eight (58) coastal provinces. This will update the 1941 Census Atlas of the Philippines and the 1989 Philippine Gazetteer.

Future activities include (a) integration of geographical names into the Philippine GeoportaI which serves as an online platform for collaboration, data sharing, and access; the geographical names will have its own layer consisting of point data of significant features and recordings of geographical names already collected; and (b) generalization of a large scale map at scale 1:10,000 into a medium-scale map at scale 1:50,000 which will give substantial additional information to update the gazetteer.



The Singapore Land Authority (SLA) presented that Singapore has no progress update on the place naming as all the built-up areas have already been named. Instead, Singapore is in the process to update the existing coun -wide aerial mapping that was completed in 2014. There is also a program in place to continuously update the road information by mobile laser scanning and image capture. They will provide a comprehensive report of this activity for the next divisional meeting.


Sri Lanka

The Committee for Standardization of Geographical Names (CSGN) is currently the geographical names board of Sri Lanka which commenced its work in March 2015 and will expire in December 2018. A proposal will be submitted to the Cabinet of Ministers for the appointment of a permanent committee before the CSGNterminates in this year. The CSGN comprising sixteen (16) members representing different institutions} is currently tasked to (a) define policies, principles, and guidelines for standardization; (b) data collection from field and relevant sources, processing according to guidelines and verification with authorized organizations; (c) public awareness campaign for incorporation to standardization. as applicable; (d) publication of standardized names for official and public use; and (e) introduction of a Romanization system for Sinhala language.

Ongoing standardization process of geographical names has two phases. Phase I which is almost completed, consists of data collection, processing, standardization, database creation, and transliteration. Phase II consists of (a) publishing standardized names in the web, get public views and incorporate said comments as deemed applicable; and (b) publishing final names for official and public use before 2018 ends. The results revealed that about 30% of geographical names used by the public are not recorded in any relevant data sources including topographic maps and administrative reports and about 20% of geographical names available in relevant data sources have inconsistencies in terms of correctness, use, positioning or spellings, among others. These results emphasized the importance of standardizing geographical names in Sri Lanka.

The permanent committee which will be appointed before end of year 2018 will continue activities of current CSGN,  and followings will be the main accomplishments of the permanent committee.

  • Maintain and update geographical names database and provide data to national and international applications.
  • Introduction of policies and guidelines for naming geographical features which are not having names currently, and legalize naming.
  • Introduction of policies and guidelines for re-naming (name changing) of existing names, and re-naming as applicable.
  • Introduction of methodology for collection of new names which are published by other authorized institutions, if any.
  • Co-ordinate where necessary. with other relevant organizations as applicable.
  • Make necessary arrangements for use of standardized geographical names and Sinhala Romanization system in all the applications
  • To render advice to any interested party on geographical names and Romanization matters.



The Department of Surveying, Mapping, and Geoinformation of Viet Nam (DOSMVN) is commissioned by the Ministry of Natural Resource and Environment (MONRE) to implement geographical names database management system as one of its functions.

Vietnam has fi four (54) ethnic groups with different languages and even writing scripts. About 86% of Vietnamese population came from Kinh ethnicity. The official language is Vietnamese with the Roman alphabet as the official Vietnamese script.

DOSMVN already completed 54 out of 63 provinces in standardizing geographical names for land features based on 1:25,000 scale, while there is an ongoing project for standardizing names of marine features based on 1:1,000,000 scale. DOSMVN published a technical guideline for the implementation of geographical names standardization in Vietnam which has the following principles: (a) target feature groups are administrative units, populated places, natural features, socio-economic elements, and transportation routes; (b) standard names must be written correctly based on Vietnamese dictation; (c) remaining geographical names shall be approved by the government or jurisdiction department or stated on legal agreements between Vietnam and neighbouring countries; and (d) conversions of geographical names from ethnic languages to Vietnamese shall use components of consonant, vowel and diacritical marks to convert it to the closest pronunciation as the original ones. Based on this guideline, the procedure includes: (a) implementation for each province; (b) geographical names database creation consisting of populating attribute information for each data; (c) conduct of standardized geographical names dissemination through government official journals released as Ministry Circulars signed by MONRE; and (d) update geographical names database.


III. Summary of Discussion

1. The three (3) resolutions during 5th Divisional Meeting were addressed accordingly:

1.1. In encouraging member countries to participate, we have sent communications to invite all members to the training and the 6th meeting as well, but it will be their decision if they want to participate. All members shall be furnished with documents and updates of the division's activities.

1.2. Indonesia already uploaded the Regional Map and Gazetteer of the Asia South East Division in the website. They are requesting all member countries to update their own country dataset

1.3. Member countries have not actively contributed to the ASE Division website. The website has a new look and address: Indonesia encourages all members to send a contribution through.

2. Election of the New Chair

2.1. The Philippines nominated Indonesia as the new Chair which was also supported by Cambodia and Vietnam. All member countries agreed with the nomination and Indonesia accepted the Chairmanship of the UNGEGN- Asia South East Division.

2.2. Adopting the resolution during the 2nd Divisional Meeting held in Bandung, Indonesia on 2 April 2014, the term of Divisional Chair is four (4) years.

3. Sri Lanka recommends circulating an email to everyone reminding them to update their country data in the ASE Division Website. Indonesia noted this recommendation.

4. Indonesia raised the frequency of divisional meetings and the Philippines confirmed that it is conducted every year. The Philippines recommended that the ASE Divisional Meetings, as much as possible be held in conjunction with UNGGIMactivities.

5. Sri Lanka and Cambodia expressed their appreciation to the Philippines for their hospitality and excellent preparations to the First Regional Training and the 6th ASE Division Meeting. The Chair, Dr. Peter Tiangco, welcomed their gratitude and also expressed the Philippines' appreciation for their support which made these activities successful.

6. No other matters were raised during the meeting.


IV. Resolutions

There were four (4) resolutions approved during the meeting, as follows:

  1. Assignment of a contact person from each member coun who will be the point person in all communications and concerns;
  2. Checking and verification of each member country on their country database and gazetteer as published in the regional database and gazetteer;
  3. The contribution of each member coun in populating or densifying the regional database and gazetteer;
  4. Conduct of divisional meetings every year, as much as possible, held back to back with other UN meetings.


V. Date and Venue of the 7th ASE Divisional Meeting in 2019

The 7th ASE Division meeting will be held as a side event meeting during the UNGEGN Session on April 2019 in New York


The file of Minutes Meeting of 6th ASE Divisional Meeting available to download here.