The Getty Museum created the Thesaurus of Geographic Names (TGN). The thesaurus includes names of places both historical and current. Places in TGN include administrative political entities (e.g., cities, nations) and physical features (e.g., mountains, rivers).
The GEOnet Names Server (GNS) is the official repository of standard spellings of all foreign geographic names, sanctioned by the United States Board on Geographic Names (US BGN). The database also contains variant spellings (cross-references), which are useful for finding purposes, as well as non-Roman script spellings of many of these names. All the geographic features in the database contain information about location, administrative division, and quality. The database can be used for a variety of purposes, including establishing official spellings of foreign place names, cartography, GIS, GEOINT, and finding places. (from web page)