List of country name etymologies
This list covers
English languagecountry names with their etymologies. Some of these include notes on indigenous names and their etymologies. Countries in "italics" no longer exist as sovereign political entities.
flag|Afghanistan::From "Afghan" and the Persian suffix -"stan" meaning "land of"; thus: "land of the Afghans". The origin of the word "Afghan" itself — which is synonymous with "
Pashtun" — remains uncertain. One explanation derives it from Apakan, an 8th or 9th century Iranian ruler.Fact|date=February 2007 Others point out a 3rd century Sassanid reference to "Abgan", the oldest known mention of a word variant of "Afghan".Fact|date=February 2007 It also appears in the inscriptions of Shapur Iof Iran at Naqš-e Rostam which mentions a certain Goundifer Abgan Rismaund.Fact|date=February 2007 The sixth-century Indian Astronomer Varahamihira, in his " Brhat Samhita" (11.61; 16.38), refers to Afghans as "Avagan." The seventh-century Chinese pilgrim Xuanzangwho travels from Kunduzand Balkhinto India where he refers to a people to the north of Sulaiman Mountainswhom he calls "Apokien", which alludes to Avagans or Afghans. A modern view supported by numerous noted scholars is that the name Afghan evidently derives from Sanskrit Ashvakaor Ashvakan(q.v.), (Panini's Ashvakayana), the Assakenoiof Arrian. The Ashvakayan/Asvakan are stated to be a sub-section of the Kambojaswho specialised in horse-culture.
flag|Åland (autonomous province of
Finland)::"Land [in the] water," from the Germanic root "*ahw-", cognate with Latin "aqua". The Finnish name "Ahvenanmaa" is partly borrowed, partly translated from Germanic.
flag|Algeria: :The name Algeria is derived from the name of the city of
Algiers(French "Alger"), from the Arabic word "الجزائر" ("al-ǧazāʼir"), which translates as "the islands", referring to the four islands which lay off that city's coast until becoming part of the mainland in 1525; "al-ǧazāʼir" is itself short for the older name "ǧazāʼir banī mazġannā", "the islands of (the tribe) Bani Mazghanna", used by early medieval geographers such as al-Idrisiand Yaqut al-Hamawi.
flag|American Samoa "(territory of the United States of America)":
:"See America above and Samoa, United States of America below."
flag|Andorra: :Etymology unknown and contested; of pre-Roman, possibly Iberian or Basque origin. The name "Andorra" might be derived from "al-Darra", the Arabic word for forest. When the
Moorsinvaded Spain, the valleys of the Pyrenees were especially wooded, and the title Andorra can be found linked to villages in other parts of Spain which had been under Moorish domination. Still others claim that it comes from the Spanish "andar", meaning "to walk", which gave name to the nomadic tribe of Andorrisoe which ostensibly migrated to the valleys in and around present-day Andorra, or could possibly originate from a Navarrese word "andurrial", which translates as "shrub-covered land." An oft-told legend is that the name came from the archaic "Endor", which Louis le Debonnaire christened what he referred to as the "wild valleys of Hell" after defeating the Moors – wild and desolate mountain ranges have been associated with the Devil throughout much European literature.
flag|Angola::From "Ngola", a title used by the monarch of the Kingdom of
Ndongo. The Portuguese named the area in honour of a "Ngola" allied with them.
flag|Anguilla "(overseas territory of the
United Kingdom)"::From the word for "eel" in any of several Romance languages (Spanish: "anguila"; French: "anguille"; Italian: "anguilla"), due to its elongated shape. The circumstances of the island's European discovery and naming are uncertain: Christopher Columbus(1493) or French explorers (1564) are both possibilities. [ [http://www.gov.ai/elections/anguillahistory.htm Anguilla's History] , Government of Anguilla website]
flag|Antigua and Barbuda::
Christopher Columbusnamed Antiguain honour of the Santa María La Antigua("Saint Mary the Old") cathedral in Seville, Spain, when he landed there in 1493. "Barbuda" means "bearded" in Portuguese. The islands gained this name after the appearance of the their figtrees, whose long roots resemble beards. Alternatively, it may refer to the beards of the indigenous people.
Latin"argentum", meaning " silver". Early Spanish and Portuguese traders used the region's Río de la Plataor "Silver River" to transport silver and other treasures from Peruto the Atlantic. The land around the terminal downstream stations became known as "La Argentina" – "The Land of Silver".
flag|Armenia::From Old Persian "Armina" (6th century BC), Greek "Armenia" (5th century BC). The further etymology of the Persian name is uncertain, but may be connected to the Assyrian "Armânum, Armanî" and/or the Biblical
Minni. The Old Persian name is an exonym, see Haykfor the native name and Urartufor the Biblical "Ararat".:*Armenian: Հայաստան "Hayastan"
flag|Aruba "(territory of
Netherlands)"::Two possible meanings exist. One story relates how the Spanish explorer Alonso de Ojedanamed the island in 1499 as "Oro Hubo", implying the presence of gold ("oro hubo" in Spanish means "there was gold"). Another possible derivation cites the ArawakIndian word "oibubai", which means "guide".
Latin"terra australis incognita" — "unknown southern land". Early European explorers, sensing that the Australian landmass far exceeded in size what they had already mapped, gave the area a generic descriptive name. The explorer Matthew Flinders(1774 – 1814), the first to sail around and chart the Australian coast, used the term "Australia" in his 1814 publication "A Voyage to Terra Australis". Previous Dutch explorers had referred to the continent as "Australisch" and as "Hollandia Nova" (New Holland). From the introduction in Flinders' book:
::"There is no probability, that any other detached body of land, of nearly equal extent, will ever be found in a more southern latitude; the name Terra Australis will, therefore, remain descriptive of the geographical importance of this country, and of its situation on the globe: it has antiquity to recommend it; and, having no reference to either of the two claiming nations, appears to be less objectionable than any other which could have been selected.*" [http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/encounter/collection/B12985211_259_3.htm Encounter 1802ndash 2002 : Collection Item View ] ]
:...with the accompanying note at the bottom of the page:
::"* Had I permitted myself any innovation upon the original term, it would have been to convert it into AUSTRALIA; as being more agreeable to the ear, and an assimilation to the names of the other great portions of the earth."
Antarctica, which is south of Australia, would be discovered in 1820, although who first saw it in that year is a matter of dispute."
flag|Austria::Compare the modern German "Österreich", from Old High German "ôstarrîhhi", which literally means "empire in the East." In the
9th century, the territory formed part of the Frankish Empire's eastern limit, and also formed the eastern limit of German settlement bordering on Slavic areas. Under Charlemagneand during the early Middle Ages, the territory had the Latin name "marchia orientalis" ( Eastern March). This translated to " Ostarrîchi" in the vernacularof the time; that Old High German form first appears in a 996document.:*Arabic "Nimsa": Presumably from the Slavic word nowaday used for Germany, via Turkish.:*Czech "Rakousko" (country) or "Rakousy" (Upper and Lower Austria): from "Rakous" (German: Raabs), an important fortress on the Moravian-Austrian border.:*Finnish "Itävalta"
flag|Azerbaijan::Native spelling "Azərbaycan" (from surface fires on ancient oil pools; its ancient name, "(Media) Atropatene" (in Greek and
Latin) or "Atrpatakan" (in Armenian), actually referring to the present-day Azerbaijan region of Iran. The name became "Azerbaijan" in Arabic. The Persians knew the territory of the modern republic of Azerbaijan as "Aran"; and in classical times it became "(Caucasian) Albania" and, in part, "(Caucasian) Iberia", although this last term corresponds mostly to the present-day republic of Georgia. ("See Georgia below.") The region of "Media Atropatene" lay further to the south: south of the River Araxes. "Aran" may derive from the same root as modern "Iran", while "Albania" and "Iberia" appear as toponyms of Caucasus mountain derivation. The name "(Media) Atropatene" comes from Atropates ("fire protector" in Middle Persian) who ruled as the independent Iranian satrapat the time of the Seleucids. The modern ethnonym 'Azerbaijani' has often become the subject of sharp differences of opinion between the ethnically Turkic inhabitants of the modern republic of Azerbaijan and the inhabitants of the Persian-dominated neighboring republic of Iran. Iranians regard the names "Azerbaijan" and "Atropatene" as expressions of historically Persian culture, and therefore often refer to the modern republic of Azerbaijan as "Turkish Azerbaijan", and to its inhabitants as "Azerbaijani Turks". In contrast, Turkophone Azerbaijanis insist on their own place as an historically continuous presence in Azerbaijani history. The suffix "-an" in Persian means "land".
flag|Bahrain::Arabic for "two seas". The exact referents of the "two seas" remain a matter of debate. Bahrain lies in a bay formed by the Arabian mainland and the peninsula of
Qatar, and some identify the "two seas" as the waters of the bay on either side of the island. Others believe that the name refers to Bahrain's position as an island in the Persian Gulf, separated by "two seas" from Arabia to the south and Iranto the north. Yet another claim suggests that the first sea surrounds Bahrainand the second "sea" metaphorically represents the abundant natural spring waters under the island itself.
Baker Island"(territory of the United States of America)"::Named after Michael Baker, of New Bedford, Massachusetts, who claimed to have discovered it in 1832 (subsequent to its actual discovery )Clarifyme|date=September 2008.
flag|Bangladesh:"Bangla" referring to the Bengali-speaking people, and "Desh" meaning "country", hence "Country of the Bengalis". The origin of 'Bangla' derives from ancient 'vanga' kingdom of present location of
Bengal. :*Bangladesh was formerly known as East Pakistanwhen it was the eastern exclaveof Pakistan. (See Pakistan below; note that the name "Pakistan" comes from an acronym of the country's various regions/homelands in which Bangladesh and its regions do not featureFact|date=July 2008)
flag|Barbados::Named by the Portuguese explorer
Pedro A. Campos"Os Barbados" ("The Bearded Ones") in 1536 after the appearance of the island's ficustrees, whose long roots resemble beards.
:"See also ".:From Belarusian, meaning "White
Rus'", "White Ruthenia". Formerly known as "Byelorussia", a transliteration from the Russian name meaning "White Russia". ("See Russia below.") The name changed after the collapse of the Soviet Unionto emphasize the historic and ongoing distinctness of the nations of Belarusand Russia. The exact original meaning conveyed by the term "Bela" or 'White' remains uncertain. Early cultures commonly employed the concept of "whiteness" as representing the qualities of freedom, purity, or nobility. On the other hand, it may simply have originated as a totem color of convenience. Part of the western territory of modern Belarus historically bore the name of "Chernarossija" or "Black Rus". The term "Black" most commonly applied to landscapes featuring especially rich and productive soils. How this may reflect on the origin of the term "White Rus" remains as yet unexplored. Yet another region in present-day western Ukraine historically had the name "Red Russia" or "Red Ruthenia". Colors represented cardinal directions in Mongol and Tatar cultureFact|date=July 2008, which may have influenced the naming of these lands.
flag|Belgium::From the name of a
Celtic tribe, the " Belgae". :The name "Belgae" may derive from the Proto-Indo-European "*bolg" meaning "bag" or "womb" and indicating common descent; if so, it likely followed some unknown original adjective. :Another theory suggests that the name "Belgae" may come from the Proto-Celtic"*belo", which means "bright", and which relates to the English word "bale" (as in "bale-fire"), to the Anglo-Saxon "bael", to the Lithuanian "baltas", meaning "white" or "shining" (from which the Baltic takes its name) and to Slavic "belo/bilo/bjelo/..." meaning "white" (as in the town names Beograd, Biograd, Bjelovar, etc, all meaning "white city"; see Beltane). Thus the Gaulishgod-names " Belenos" ("Bright one") and " Belisama" (probably the same divinity, originally from "*belo-nos" = "our shining one") might come also from the same source.
flag|Belize::Traditionally said to derive from the Spanish pronunciation of "Wallace", the name of the pirate who set up the first settlement in
Belizein 1638. Another possibility relates the name to the Maya word "belix", meaning "muddy water", applied to the Belize River.:* British Honduras(former name): after the colonial ruler (Britain). For "Honduras" see Honduras below. See also Britain, below.
flag|Benin::Previously called Dahomey, the country was renamed the People's Republic of Benin in 1975 after the
Bight of Benin— the body of water on which it lies. This name was picked due to its neutrality, since the current political boundaries of Benin encompass over fifty distinct linguistic groups and nearly as many individual ethnic groups. The "Benin" in "Bight of Benin" is itself the name of an old kingdom (the Kingdom of Benin) which was in the region, centred at Benin Cityin modern-day Nigeria. (The old kingdom was not coincident with the modern country of Benin, nor historically directly linked to it.) The name is said to derive, via "Ubini", from the Yoruba "Ile-ibinu", meaning a land of quarrels, referring to a historical period of dispute within the kingdom, and applied (perhaps derogatorily) by the Yoruba people. That was then corrupted by early Portuguese traders into "Benin", and the related term "Bini", the name of the people (though the people themselves use the name "Edo"). Some accounts suggest that "Bini" is related to the Arabic "bani", meaning "sons".
Dahomeywas the name of the ancient Fon Kingdom, and was determined to be an inappropriate name, as it was the name of the principal ethnic group of the country.
flag|Bermuda "(overseas territory of the
United Kingdom)"::From the name of the Spanish sea captain Juan de Bermúdezwho sighted the islands in 1503.
flag|Bhutan::The ethnic Tibetans or "Bhotia" migrated from
Tibetto Bhutanin the 10th century. The root "Bod" is an ancient name for Tibet.
Bhutanese language: "Druk Yul" — "land of the thunder dragon", "land of thunder", or "land of the dragon", from the violent thunder storms that come from the Himalayas.
Simón Bolívar(1783–1830), an anti-Spanish militant and first president of Bolivia after the country gained its independence in 1825. His surname comes from La Puebla de Bolibar, a village in Biscay, Spain. The etymology of Bolibar may be "bolu"- ("mill") + -"ibar" ("river"). Thus, it might mean a mill on a river.
flag|Bosnia and Herzegovina::The country consists of two distinct regions. The larger northern section, Bosnia, takes its name from the
Bosna river. The smaller, southern, territory, Herzegovina, takes its name from the German noble title "Herzog", meaning "Duke". Frederick IV, King of the Romans, made the territory's ruler, the Grand Vojvoda Stjepan Vukcic, a duke in 1448.
flag|Botswana::Named after the country's largest ethnic group, the
Tswana. :* Bechuanaland(former name): derived from Bechuana, an alternative spelling of "Botswana".
Bouvet Island"(territory of Norway)"::Named after the French explorer Jean-Baptiste Charles Bouvet de Lozier, who discovered the remote island in 1739.
flag|Brazil::Named after the
brazilwoodtree, called " pau-brasil" in Portuguese and so-named because its reddish wood resembled the color of red-hot embers ("brasa" in Portuguese), and because it was recognized as an excellent source of red dye. In Tupi it is called "ibirapitanga", which means literally "red wood". The wood of the tree was used to color clothes and fabrics.
:Another theory states that the name of the country is related to the Irish myth of
Hy-Brazil, a phantom islandsimilar to St. Brendan's Island, southwest of Ireland. The legend was so strong that during the 15th century many expeditions tried to find it, the most important being that of John Cabot. As the Brazilian lands were reached by Pedro Álvares Cabralin 1500 A.D., the Irish myth would have influenced the late name given to the country (after "Island of Real Cross" and "Land of Holy Cross"). The proof that the legend was popular among Iberic people may be verified by the name of the Azorean Terceira Island, registered in the 14th century in the Atlas Catalan and around 1436 on the Venetian map of Andrea Bianco.Clarifyme|date=September 2008
list of Brazil state name etymologies.
flagicon|United Kingdom Britain::From "
Pretani", "painted ones"Fact|date=September 2007; perhaps a reference to the use of body-paint and tattoos by early inhabitants of the islands; may also derive from the Celtic goddess BrigidFact|date=April 2007. The form 'Britain' (see also Welsh "Prydain") comes from Latin 'Britannia', probably via French. The former name of the island of Britain was "Albion", an ancient Greek adaptation of a Celtic name which may survive as the Gaelic name of Scotland, " Alba". Traditionally, a folk etymology derived the name from "Brutus", but this is almost certainly not the case. Brittanyderives from the same root.
flag|British Indian Ocean Territory "(overseas territory of the
flag|British Virgin Islands "(overseas territory of the
United Kingdom)":: Christopher Columbus, on discovering a seemingly endless number of islands in the north-east Caribbean in 1493, named them after Saint Ursulaand the 11,000 virgins. The word "British" distinguishes these islands from the adjacent US Virgin Islands.
Hindifrom Sanskrit"bhurni", meaning "land" or "country". Alternatively, said by some to be from a Malay exclamation "barunah!" meaning "great!", or "excellent!", in reference to the suitability of the location for settlers. It was renamed "Barunai" in the 14th Century, possibly influenced by the Sanskrit word "varunai", meaning "seafarers", later to become "Brunei". The word "Borneo" is of the same origin. In the country's full name "Negara Brunei Darussalam", "Darussalam" means "Abode of Peace" in Arabic, while "Negara" means "State" in Malay. "Negara" derives from the Sanskrit"Nagara", meaning "city."
flag|Bulgaria::Named after the
Bulgars. Their tribal name, "Bulgar", may come from "burg", which means "castle" in Germanic languages. A. D. Keramopoulos derives the name "Bulgars" from "burgarii" or "bourgarioi" meaning "those who maintain the forts" ("burgi, bourgoi, purgoi") along the northern boundaries of the Balkan provinces, and elsewhere in the Roman Empire, first mentioned in Greek in an inscription dated A.D. 202, found between Philippopolis and Tatar Pazardzhik(and last published in Wilhelm Dittenberger's "Sylloge inscriptionum graecarum", 3 ed., vol. II  , no. 880,1. 51, p. 593). The Bulgarians, previously known as Moesians, inhabited Thrace. :*An alternative Turkic etymology for the name of the pre-Slavicised Central-Asian Bulgars derives from "Bulgha" meaning " sable" and has a totemistic origin.:*Some associate the name "Bulgar" with the River Volgain present-day Russia: Bulgars lived in that region before and/or after the migration to the Balkans: see Volga Bulgaria.
flag|Burkina Faso::From two of the country's principal languages, meaning "land of upright people", "land of honest men" or "land of the incorruptible" ("Burkina" from the
More languageand "Faso" from Dioula). President Thomas Sankara, who took power in a coup in 1983, changed the name from "Upper Volta" in 1984. :*Upper Volta (former name): after the Volta's two main tributary rivers, both originating in Burkina Faso.
:"see Myanmar below."
flag|Burundi::From a local name meaning "land of the
flag|Cambodia::The name "Cambodia" derives from that of the ancient Khmer kingdom of
Kambuja(Kambujadesa). The ancient Sanskritname "Kambuja" or "Kamboja" referred to an early Indo-Iranian tribe, the Kambojas, named after the founder of that tribe, Kambu Svayambhuva, apparently a variant of Cambyses, Kambujiyaor Kamboja. See Etymology of Kamboja. :* Kampuchea(local name): derived in the same fashion. It also was the official English-language name from 1975 to 1989.
flag|Cameroon::From Portuguese "Rio de Camarões" ("River of Shrimps"), the name given to the
Wouri Riverby Portuguese explorers in the 15th century.
:From the word "Kanata" meaning "village" or "settlement" in the Saint-Lawrence Iroquoian language spoken by the inhabitants of
Stadaconaand the neighbouring region, in the 16th century, near present-day Quebec City. See also Canadian provincial name etymologies. Caroline Islands:Named after Charles II, king of Spainfrom 1665 to 1700.
:"See "Micronesia" and "Palau" below"
"flag|Catalonia"::"Catalunya" in Catalan. The origin is unclear and there are many hypotheses. Perhaps from the word meaning "land of castles" (see Castile for a similar origin). According to another somewhat similar theory (Lafont 1986), "Catalunya" could come from
Arabic"Qalat-uniyya" ("Qalat" means "castle" and "-uniyya" is a collective suffix) because medieval Catalonha used to be a frontier country with a lot of castles in front of the Muslim and Arabized zone of the Iberic peninsula. Some texts suggest that the name Catalunya derives from "Gauta-landia": Land of the Goths, or "Goth-Alania" meaning "Land of the Goths and Alans" [ [http://www.iranica.com/newsite/articles/v1f8/v1f8a013.html Alans, Encyclopædia Iranica] ] through Arabian "*Cotelanuyya" [cf. Andalusia, land of the Vandals] , as the Visigoths and Alans invaded and divided Iberia between themselves, agreeing to rule some parts together, with the region of Catalunya going to the Visigoths. Additionally, the Visigothic kingdom of Catalonia may have been named after the original homeland of the Visigoths, "Gotland". Coromines suggests an Iberian origin: "Laietani" (latinization of Iberian "laiezken") > "*laketani" > "laketans" > metathesized as "catelans" > "catalans", reforced by "castellani" (with an epenthetic "s" according to Coromines). Another theory suggests "*kaste-lan" as the Iberian name later latinized as "castellani" (an Iberian tribe in northern Catalonia according to Ptolemy); then the name would have evolved into "*catellani" > "*catelans" > "*catalans".
flag|Cayman Islands "(overseas territory of the
United Kingdom)":: Christopher Columbusdiscovered the islands in 1503 after winds blew him off his course from Panamato Hispaniola. He called the islands "Las Tortugas" ("The Turtles" in Spanish) due to the many turtles there. Around 1540, the islands gained the name "Caymanas", from a Carib word for marine alligators or " caiman", an animal found on the islands.
flag|Central African Republic::Named after its geographical position in the center of the continent of
Africa; see also List of continent name etymologies.
flag|Chad::Locally known in French as "République du Tchad". Named for
Lake Chad(or Tchad) in the country's southwest. The lake in turn got its name from the Bornuword "tsade": "lake".
ethnonym"Chechen" probably derives from the name of the ancient village of Chechanaor Chechen-aul. The village is on the bank of the Argun River, near Grozny. Another theory derives the name from "chechenit' sya", "to talk mincingly". [Webster's third international dictionary; Merriam-Webster1993, p.381]
:The native term, "Noxçi", is derived from "nexça" (sheep cheese), "nox" (plow) or from the prophet
Noah("Nox" in Chechen).
flag|Chile::Exact etymology unknown. Possibilities include that it comes from a native
Mapudungunterm meaning "the depths", a reference to the fact that the Andesmountain chain looms over the narrow coastal flatland. The Quechuaor MapucheIndian word "chili"/"chilli" or "where the land ends/where the land runs out/limit of the world" is a possible derivation. Another possible meaning originates with a native word "tchili", meaning "snow".
flag|China::The English name of China comes from the
Qin Dynasty, possibly in a Sanskritform; the pronunciation "China" came to the western languages through the Persian word چین "Chin". (see also: China in world languages):* Chinese: "Zhong Guo" — "central country":* Archaic English " Cathay", Turkish "Xytai" and Russian "Китай" ("Kitai"), from the Khitan peoplewho conquered north China in the 10th century.
flag|Christmas Island "(territory of
Australia)":: So named because Captain William Mynorsdiscovered the island on Christmas Day in 1643.
Clipperton Island"(territory of France)::Named after the English mutineer and pirate John Clipperton, who hid there in 1705.
flag|Cocos Islands "(territory of
Australia)"::Named after coconuts, the main local product.:*Keeling Islands (alternative name), after Captain William Keeling, who discovered the islands in 1609.
flag|Colombia::Named after the explorer
Christopher Columbus, despite the fact that he never was in the country.
flag|Comoros::From the Arabic "Djazair al Qamar": "island of the moon."
flag|Congo, Republic of the::Named after the former Kongo kingdom, in turn named after the
flag|Congo, Democratic Republic of the::Named after the former Kongo kingdom, in turn named after the
Bakongopeople.:* Zaire(former name), from "Nzere", "river", after Congo River.
flag|Cook Islands "(territory of
New Zealand)"::Named after Captain James Cook, who sighted the islands in 1770.
flag|Costa Rica::The name, meaning "rich coast" in Spanish, was given by the Spanish explorer
Gil González Dávila.
flag|Côte d'Ivoire::From French, meaning "Ivory Coast". The French so named the region in reference to the
ivorytraded from the area — in similar fashion, nearby stretches of the African shoreline became known as the "Grain Coast", the "Gold Coast" and the "Slave Coast."
flag|Croatia::Latinization of the Croatian name "Hrvatska", derived from "Hrvat" (Croat): a word of unknown origin, possibly from a Sarmatian word for "herdsman" or "cowboy".Fact|date=June 2007 Might be related to an aboriginal tribe of
TaínoIndian "Cubanacan" — "centre place". In Portugal, some believe that the name echoes that of the Portuguese town of Cuba, speculating that Christopher Columbusprovided a link. In Portuguese and Spanish, the word "cuba" refers to the barrels used to hold beverages.
flag|Wales|name=Cymru:Cymru is the Welsh name for
Wales, thought to mean "Land of the Compatriots" in Old Welsh. The term "Welsh" comes from the Anglo-Saxon "Wealh", meaning foreigner or unfamiliar neighbour.
flag|Cyprus::Derived from the Greek "Κύπρος" ("Kypros") for "
copper", in reference to the copper mined on the island in antiquity.
"flag|Czechoslovakia"::Roughly "land of the Czechs and Slovaks", from the two main Slavic ethnic groups in the country, with "Slovak" deriving from the Slavic for "Slavs"; and "Czech" ultimately of unknown origin.
flag|Czech Republic::From "Čechové" ("Češi", i.e. Czechs), the name of one of the
Slavic tribeson the country's territory, which subdued the neighboring Slavic tribes around 900. The origin of the name of the tribe itself remains unknown. According to a legend, it comes from their leader "Čech", who brought them to Bohemia. Most scholarly theories regard "Čech" as a sort of obscure derivative, i.e. from "Četa" (military unit).:* Bohemia (Latin and traditional English variant): after a Celtic tribe Boii.
flag|Dagestan::The word "Daghestan" or "Daghistan" ( _av. Дагъистан; Arabic and _fa. داغستان) means "country of mountains", it is derived from the Turkic word "dağ", meaning mountain and the Persian suffix -"stan" meaning "land of". The spelling "Dagestan" is a transliteration from
Russian language, which lacks the voiced velar fricative.
flag|Democratic Republic of the Congo:
:"See Congo, Democratic Republic of, above"
flag|Denmark::From the native name "Danmark", meaning "march (i.e., borderland) of the
Danes", the dominant people of the region since ancient times. The origin of the tribal name is unknown, but one theory derives it from PIE "dhen": "low" or "flat", presumably referring to the low elevation of most of the country.
flag|Djibouti::Named after the bottom point of the
Gulf of Tadjoura. Possibly derived from the Afar word "gabouti", a type of doormat made of palm fibres. Another plausible, but unproven, etymology is that "Djibouti" means "Land of Tehuti" or Land of Thoth, after the Egyptian Moon God.:* French Territory of the Afars and the Issas(former name): after the colonial ruler ( France) and the two main ethnic groups in the country. See also France, below.:* French Somaliland(former name): after the colonial ruler ( France). For Somaliland see Somalia below.
Latin"Dies Dominica" meaning "Sunday": the day of the week on which Christopher Columbusfirst landed on the island.
flag|Dominican Republic::Derived from
Santo Domingo, the capital city, which bears the name of the Spanish Saint Domingo de Guzmán, the founder of the Dominican Order.
flag|East Timor: :From the Malay word "timur" meaning "east". The local official
Tetumlanguage refers to East Timor as "Timor Lorosae" or "East Timor", or "Timor-Leste" in Portuguese. In neighbouring Indonesiait has the formal name "Timor Timur" — etymologically "eastern east". Indonesians usually shorten the name to "Tim-Tim". :* Portuguese Timor(former name): after the former colonial ruler ( Portugal). "Timor" as above.
Equator" in Spanish, as the country lies on the Equator.
ancient Greek(attested in Mycenean) Polytonic|Αἴγυπτος ("Aígyptos"), which, according to Strabo, derived from Polytonic|Αἰγαίου ὑπτίως ("Aigaíou hyptíōs") — "the land below the Aegean sea"). That is more apparent in the Latin form "Aegyptus". Alternatively, from the Egyptian name of Memphis, "*ħāwit kuʔ pitáħ", meaning "house (or temple) of the soul of Ptah".:*"Mişr" (Arabic name, pronounced "Maşr" in Egyptian Arabic): a widespread Semiticword (Hebrew: "Mitzraim"), first used to mean "Egypt" in Akkadian, and meaning "city" or "to settle or found" in Arabic. The Turkish name "Mısır" derives from the Arabic one. However, the Hebrew form means "straits or narrow places", referring to the shape of the country as it follows the Nile River, and takes on more symbolic weight in the Bible in reference to the Exodusstory.:*"Kême" (Coptic name): "black land" ( Ancient Egyptian"kmt"), referring to the mud of the Nile after the summer flood, as opposed to the desert, called "red land" (Ancient Egyptian "dšrt").
flag|El Salvador: :"The saviour" in Spanish: named after
constituent countryof the United Kingdom)::Derived from the Old English name "Englaland", literally translatable as "land of the Angles".:The indigenous languages of Irelandand Scotlandrefer to England as the "land of the Saxons" — for example, Irish "Sasana". Cornish — also a Celtic language— uses "Pow Saws" — literally "Saxon country".
flag|Equatorial Guinea::"Equatorial", from the word "equator". The
Equatordoes not pass through the country's land, though the country straddles the Equator, as its island of Annobonlies to the south, while the mainland lies to the north. "Guinea" perhaps comes from the Berber term "aguinaoui", which means "black". :* Spanish Guinea(former name): after the former colonial ruler ( Spain). "Guinea" as above; See also Spain, below.
flag|Eritrea::Named by Italian colonizers, from the Latin name for the
Red Sea, "Mare Erythraeum" (" Erythraean Sea"), which in turn derived from the ancient Greek name for the Red Sea: polytonic|Ἐρυθρά Θάλασσα ("Eruthra Thalassa").
flag|Estonia::From the Latin version of the Germanic word "Estland", which could originate from the Germanic word for "eastern (way)", or from the name "Aestia", first mentioned in ancient Greek texts. Palaeogeographers have not located "Aestia" exactly: the name may have instead referred to modern
Masuriain Poland. :* " Chud" ( Old East Slavic): originally derived from the Gothic for "people" (see "Deutschland" under the heading "Germany"); more recent folk-etymology has also linked the name to the Slavic root for "weird". Lake Peipusstill bears the name of "Chudskoe Lake" in Slavic languages.:* "Igaunija" (Latvian): from the ancient Ugauniantribe in southeastern Estonia.:* "Viro" (Finnish variant): from the ancient Vironiantribe in northern Estonia.
flag|Ethiopia::From the Greek word Αἰθιοπία ("Aithiopía",
Latin"Æthiopia"), from Αἰθίοψ ("Aithíops"), "Ethiopian" — sometimes parsed by Westerners as a purely Greek term meaning "of burnt (αἰθ-) visage (ὤψ)". However, some (i.e., the 16–17th c. Book of Aksum["Matshafa Aksum"] ) Ethiopian sources state that the name derived from "'Ityopp'is", a son of Cush, son of Ham who, according to legend, founded the city of Aksum.:* Abyssinia (former alternate name): derives from an Arabic form of the Ge'ez (and other Ethiosemitic languages) word " Habesha", a name referring to the collection of all tribes in ancient Ethiopia.
Europa Island"(territory of France)::The island was named for the British ship "Europa", which visited it in 1774.
flag|Falkland Islands (overseas territory of the
United Kingdom): :The English Captain John Strongnamed the strait between the two main islands the Falkland Soundwhen he landed on the islands in 1690, and the term eventually came to apply to the whole island group. The name honoured Anthony Cary, 5th Viscount Falkland, First Lord of the Admiralty, whose family name was also their residence " Falkland Palace" in Scotland.:*"Islas Malvinas" ( Spanish languagename): comes from the French sailors who frequented the islands during the 1690s. They came from St. Maloin Brittany, France, so others often referred to them in French as the "Malouines". :*Sebald Islands — a nearly defunct name of Dutch origin which commemorated Sebald de Weert, who is usually credited with first sighting the Falkland Islands in 1598.
flag|Faroe Islands (territory of
Denmark): :From Faroese (originally Old Norse) "Føroyar", "sheep islands".
flag|Fiji: :From the Tongan name for the islands: "Viti".
flag|Finland: :From Germanic, meaning "Land of the Finns". Originally, the Germanic term "Finn", deriving possibly from "finthan" ("wander, find"), and carried forth in the North Germanic languages, probably referred to hunter-gatherers, whose closest cultural successors in modern terms would be the
Sami people. Latin "Fennia". :*" Suomi" (Finnish name), Soome (Estonian name), Sum' (Old Russian name): may derive from the Baltic root "zeme" for "land": "zeme" ← "sheme" ← "shäme" → " Häme" ← "shaame" → " Saami" ← "Soomi" ← "Suomi".:*" An Fhionnlainn" (Irish name) is derived from "Finlandia" though by coincidence "Fionnlann" also means "Land of the fair" in Irish.
flag|France::French derivation of "Francia", "Land of the
Franks". A frankon was a spear used by the early Franks, thus giving them their name. The term "Frank" later became associated with "free" as the Franks were the only truly freemen, since they subjugated the Romanized Gauls.:* Gallia(Latin) from the name of a Celtic tribe. Many Celtic groups used similar names: compare Gaul, Galatia, and Galicia.
flag|French Guiana (territory of
:"See France above and Guyana below."
flag|French Polynesia (territory of
France)::The geographic term "Polynesia" means "many islands", formed from the Greek roots πολύ ("polý"), "much, many" and Polytonic|νῆσος ("nēsos"), "island".
:"See also France above."
flag|French Southern and Antarctic Lands (territory of
France)::From the geographic location of the territories (in the southern Indian Ocean). :"Note: France's claims in Antarcticare in abeyance because of the 1959 Antarctic Treaty."
:"See also France above."
flag|Gabon: :From "Gabão", the Portuguese name for the
Komoriver estuary( _fr. Estuaire de Gabon). The estuary took its name from its shape, which resembles that of a hooded overcoat ("gabão"). "Gabão" comes from Arabic قباء ("qabā’").
flag|Gambia, The: :From the
river Gambiathat runs through the country. The word "gambia" supposedly derives from the Portuguese word "câmbio" (meaning "trade" or "exchange"), in reference to the trade the Portuguese carried out in the area.
flag|Georgia (the west Asian country): :Derived from Persian "Gurj", [cite book
last = Curtis
first =Glenn E.
title = Georgia a Country Study
year = 2004
publisher = Kessinger Publishing
isbn = 1419121650
pages = 89] [cite book
last = Nasmyth
first = Peter
title = Georgia: In the Mountains of Poetry
year = 2001
publisher = Routledge
isbn = 0700713956
pages = 9] probably derived from a PIE term meaning "mountainous". In classical times Greeks referring to the region used the names of
Colchis(the coastal region along the Black Sea) and Iberia (further inland to the east). Some also believed that Georgia was so named by the Greeks on account of its agricultural resources, since "georgia" ("γεωργία") means "farming" in Greek. However, the modern Greek name is now taken to be a derivation from the Persian root "Gurj". [cite book
last = Wilson
first = Nigel Guy
title = Encyclopedia of Ancient Greece
year = 2006
publisher = Routledge
isbn = 0415973341
pages = 320] Both names probably derive from indigenous Caucasian languages.:* "Gruzia" in
Slavic languages("Грузия" in Russian, for example) and in Hebrew (גרוזיה), and "Gorjestân" (گرجستان) in Persian derive from the same source. "Gruzia", probably imported from Russian, is used in Vietnamese.:* "Sakartvelo" (Georgian name; in English commonly "Kartvelia"): derived from a pagan god called Kartlos, once regarded as the father of all Georgians.:* "Vrastan" ( _hy. Վրաստան)
Latin" Germania", of the 3rd century BC, of unknown origin. The Oxford English Dictionaryrecords theories about the Celtic roots "gair" ("neighbour") (from Zeuss), and "gairm" ("battle-cry") (from Wachter and from Grimm). Eric Partridgesuggested "*gar" ("to shout"), and describes the "gar" ("spear") theory as "obsolete". Italian, Romanian, and other languages use the latinate "Germania" as the name for Germany. The Irish languageuses "An Ghearmáin", also cognate.:* "Allemagne" (French), "Alemania" (Spanish), "Alemanha" (Portuguese), ألمانيا (Arabic), "Almân" (Persian), "Almanya" (Turkish): from the name of the Alamanni, a southern Germanic tribe, itself probably meaning "all the men", i.e. referring to a confederation of tribes.:* "Deutschland" (German), "Duitsland" (Dutch): from the Old High Germanword "diutisc", meaning "of the people" (itself from ancient Germanic "thiuda" or "theoda", "people") and "land", "land": "land of the people". Of the same root are "Tyskland" (Danish, Norwegian, Swedish), "Þýskaland" (Icelandic) and "tedesco" (Italian adjectiveform).:* "Niemcy" (Polish), "Německo" (Czech), "Nemecko" (Slovak), "Nemčija" (Slovene), немецкий ("nemetski") — but Германия ("Germania") for the country (Russian), "Németország" (Hungarian): Either from a Slavic root meaning "mute", "dumb", i.e., metaphorically, "those who do not speak our language" or from the Germanic Nemetestribe.:* "Purutia" (Tahitian): Prussia. :* "Saksa" (Estonian, Finnish): from the name of the Germanic tribe of Saxons(in turn, possibly from Old High German "sahs", "knife").:* "Vācija" (Latvian), "Vokietija" (Lithuanian):
flag|Ghana: :After the ancient West
Africankingdom of the same name. The modern territory of Ghana, however, never formed part of the previous polity. J. B. Danquahsuggested the use of the name in the run-up to Ghanaian independence. His research led him to believe that modern Ghanaian peoples descended from the ancient Ghana Kingdom; others dispute his conclusions.:* Gold Coast (former name): after the large amount of goldthat colonisers found in the country. Compare the names Europeans gave to nearby stretches of shore: " Ivory Coast", "Slave Coast" and "Grain Coast".
flag|Gibraltar (overseas territory of the
United Kingdom)::A corruption of the Arabic words "Jebel Tarik" which means "Tarik's Mountain", named after Tarik-ibn-Zeyad, a Berber who landed at Gibraltarin 711to launch the Islamicinvasion of the Iberian Peninsula.
Glorioso Islands(territory of France)::The Glorioso or Glorieuses Islands take their name, presumably, for their wonderful (glorious) looks. A Frenchman, Hippolyte Caltaux, settled in 1880 and established a coconut and maize plantation on Grande Glorieuse. (That does not explain the Spanish- or Portuguese-looking form of the name used in English.)
Latin"Græcus" (Greek "Γραικοί", claimed by Aristotleto refer to the name of the original people of Epirus):* " Hellas"/"Ellas"/"Ellada" (Greek name): land of the Hellenes, descended in mythology from the patriarch Hellen(not the abducted Helen); the place name has a linguistic cognatein the English verb "settle". A popular folk etymologyholds the name to mean "land of light", relating to "polytonic|ἥλιος" ("unicode|hḗlios"), the Greek word for " sun".:* "Hurumistan" (Kurdish variant), Urəm (Урым, Adyghe)::* "Saberdzneṭi" (საბერძნეთი, Georgian)::* "Yunanistan" ( Azeri, Kurdish variant, Turkish), "al-Yūnān" (Arabic), "Yunān" (Persian), "Yavan" (Hebrew): after Ionians, an older name for Greeks of Asia Minor
flag|Greenland (territory of
Denmark): :English name given by Eric the Redin 982to attract settlers.:* "Kalaallit Nunaat" (Greenlandic name): means "lands of humans".
flag|Grenada: :After the southern Spanish city of Granada. From Jewish and Arabic inhabitants around 1000 AD: Gárnata (Arabic: غرناطة). Columbus originally named the island "Concepción" ("Conception" in English).
flag|Guadeloupe territory of
France): : Christopher Columbusnamed the island in honour of Santa María de Guadalupein Extremadura, Spain, when he landed in 1493. The Spanish spelling is Guadalupe.
flag|Guatemala::The country name comes from the
Nahuatl"Cuauhtēmallān", "place of many trees", a translation of K'iche' Mayan "K’ii’chee’", "many trees" (that is, "forest"). [Campbell, Lyle (1997). "American Indian Languages: The Historical Linguistics of Native America". Oxford: Oxford University Press, pg. 378 n. 10] When the Spanish arrived, they saw a decayed treewith lots of trees around it right in front of the palace. The Spanish believed this the center of the Mayan Kingdom. When the Spanish asked the name of the area, the Native Amerindians told them that name.
flag|Guinea: :From the Susu (Sousou) language meaning "Women". The first Europeans to arrive in the area would have heard Susu, the main language spoken by the inhabitants of coastal Guinea. The English form comes via Portuguese "Guiné" from a (presumed) indigenous African name. Or possibly from the Berber "Akal n-Iguinawen" meaning "land of the blacks". :*
French Guinea(former name): after the colonial ruler ( France), and "Guinea" as above.
flag|Guinea-Bissau: :That part of the region known as "Guinea" which has as its capital the city of
Bissau. Compare the usage of " Congo-Brazzaville".:* Portuguese Guinea(former name): after the colonial ruler ( Portugal), and "Guinea" as above.
flag|Guyana: :From the indigenous peoples who called the land "Guiana", meaning "land of many waters", in reference to large number of rivers in the area.:*
British Guiana(former name): after the colonial ruler (Britain). "Guiana" has the same etymology as "Guyana".
:"See also Britain above"
Taíno/ ArawakIndian, "Hayiti" or "Hayti", meaning "mountainous land", originally "Hayiti". The country occupies the western half of the island of Hispaniola(roughly "little Spain").
Christopher Columbusnamed the country "Honduras", Spanish for "depths", referring to the deep waters off the northern coast.
flag|Hong Kong (
Special administrative regionof flag|China): :An approximate phonetic rendering of the Hakka / Cantonese name "香港", meaning "Fragrant Harbour" or "Incense Harbour"; more accurately "Heung1 Gong2" (Yale). The original "fragrant harbour" was a small inlet between the island of Ap Lei Chau(鴨脷洲) and the south side of Hong Kong Island, now known as Aberdeen Harbourin English, but still called "Heung Gong Tsai" (香港仔, Little Hong Kong) in Cantonese. The fragrance came from incense grown to the north of Kowloonthat was stored around Aberdeen Harbour for export, before the development of Victoria Harbour. The village of Heung Gong Tsuen (香港村) on Ap Lei Chau is perhaps the earliest recorded use of the name. Another legend goes that a female pirate named Xiang Gu （香姑）often attacks the harbour.
Howland Island(territory of the United States of America): :Captain George E. Netchernamed the island after the lookout who sighted it from his ship the "Isabella" on 9 September, 1842.
flag|Hungary: :Turkic: "on-ogur", "(people of the) ten arrows" — in other words, "alliance of the ten tribes".
Byzantinechronicles gave this name to the Hungarians; the chroniclers mistakenly assumed that the Hungarians had Turkic origins, based on their Turkic-nomadic customs and appearance, despite the Finno-Ugric language of the people. The Hungarian tribes later actually formed an alliance of the seven Hungarian and three Khazarian tribes, but the name is from before then, and first applied to the original seven Hungarian tribes. The ethnonym "Hunni" (referring to the Huns) has influenced the Latin (and English) spelling.:* "Uhorshchyna" (Угорщина, Ukrainian), "Vuhorščyna" (Вугоршчына, Belarusian), "Węgry" (Polish), "Wędżierskô" (Kashubian), and "Ugre" (Old Russian): from the Turkic "on-ogur", see above. The same root emerges in the ethnonym Yugrain Siberia, inhabited by Khantyand Mansipeople, the closest relatives to Hungarians in the Finno-Ugric language family.:* "Magyarország" (native name — "land of the Magyars"): According to a famous Hungarian chronicle ( Simon of Kéza: " Gesta Hunnorum et Hungarorum", 1282), Magyar (Magor), the forefather of all Hungarians, had a brother named Hunor (the ancestor of the Huns); their father king Menrot, builder of the tower of Babel, equates to the Nimrodof the Hebrew Bible. :* The Turkish languageuses "Macaristan", a compound derived from a Turkish spelling of "Magyar" and the Persian suffix "-stan" meaning "country".
flag|Iceland: :"Land of ice" ("Ísland" in Icelandic). Popularly (but falsely) attributed to an attempt to dissuade outsiders from attempting to settle on the land. In fact the early settler/explorer
Flóki Vilgerðarsoncoined the name after he spotted "a firthfull of drift ice" to the north. This occurred in spring after an especially harsh winter during which all his livestock had died and he started debating whether to leave.
flag|India: "Main|Origin of India's name":Derived from "Sindhu", the original name of the
Indus River(in present-day Pakistan), which gave its name to the land of Sindh. People later applied derivations of the Persian form of this name, "Hind", to all of modern Pakistan and India before they separated.:* Bharat ( Sanskritname): Popular accounts derive "Bharat" from the name of either of two ancient kings named Bharata.:* Hindustan ( Hindiname): The name Hind is from a Persian pronunciation of Sind. The Persian "-stān" means "country" or "land" (cognate to Sanskrit "sthāna": "place, land"). India is "al-Hind" (الهند) in Arabic, and sometimes in Persian (e.g. in the 11th century Tarik Al-Hind "history of India") and "Hind" (هند) in Persian. It also occurs intermittently in India, as in the phrase "Jai Hind". The terms Hind and Hindustan were current in Persian and Arabic from the 11th century Islamic conquests: the rulers in the Sultanate and Mughal periods called their Indian dominion, centred around Delhi, Hindustan.
The word Hindu (हिन्दु) was lent from Persian into Sanskrit in early medieval times and is attested — in the sense of dwellers of the Indian subcontinent — in some texts, such as Bhavishya Purāna, Kālikā Purāna, Merutantra, Rāmakosha, Hemantakavikosha and Adbhutarūpakosha.
The name Hindustan was in use synonymously with India during the
British Raj. The term is from the Persian Hindustān هندوستان, as is the term Hindu itself. It entered the English language in the 17th century. In the 19th century, the term as used in English referred to the northern region of India between the Indusand Brahmaputraand between the Himalayasand the Vindhyasin particular, hence the term Hindustani for the Hindi-Urdu language.
flag|Indonesia: :apparently invented in the mid-19th century to mean "Indies Islands", from the Greek "νῆσος" ("nēsos", "island"), added to the country name "India". (Europeans previously referred to Indonesia as the "East Indies".):*
Dutch East Indies(Dutch: "Nederlands Oost-Indie") (former name): after the former colonial ruler ( Netherlands).:*"Nam Dương" (Vietnamese variant):
flag|Iran: :"Land of the
Aryans" or "land of the free". The term "Arya" is from the PIE(Proto Indo-European), generally meaning "noble" or "free", cognate with the Greek-derived word "aristocrat".:*Persia (former name): from Latin, via Greek "Persis", from Old Persian "Paarsa", a place name of a central district within the region: modern Fars. A common Hellenic folk-etymology derives "Persia" from "Land of Perseus".:*"Uajemi" (Swahili variant): from the Arabic word "Ajam", which means any non-Arabs, including Persians: "the ones whose language we don't understand".
flag|Iraq: :From the city of Erech/
Uruk(also known as "Warka") near the river Euphrates. Some archaeologists regard Uruk as the first major Sumerian city. Another theory suggests that "Iraq" derives from "Irak", which in older Iranian languages meant "the Lesser Iran". The natives of the southwestern part of today's Iran also called their land "the Persian Iraq" for many centuries (for Arabs: "Iraq ajemi": no-Arabic-speaker Iraq). Before the constitution of the state of Iraq, the term "Iraq arabi" referred to Baghdad-Basra country.:* Mesopotamia(ancient name and Greek variant): a loan-translation (Greek "meso-" (between) and "potamos" (river), meaning "Between the Rivers") of the ancient Semitic "Beth-Nahrin", "Land of two Rivers", referring to the Tigrisand Euphratesrivers.
flag|Ireland: :After "
Éire" from Proto-Celtic "*Īweriū", "the fertile place" or "Place of Éire (Eriu)", a Celtic fertility goddess. Often mistakenly derived as "Land of Iron", or from a reflex of Proto-Indo-European "*arya", or from variations of the Irish word for "west" (modern Irish "iar", "iarthar").:* Hibernia(ancient name and Latin variant): apparently assimilated to Latin "hibernus" ("wintry").:*Ireland is known as "Eirinn" in Scottish Gaelic, from a grammatical case of "Éire". In the fellow Celtic languages: in Welsh it is "Iwerddon"; in Cornish it is "Ywerdhon" or "Worthen"; and in Breton it is "Iwerzhon".:*In Gaelic bardic tradition Ireland is also known by the poetical names of "Banbha" (meaning "piglet") and "Fódhla". In Gaelic myth, Ériu, Banbha and Fódla were three goddesses who greeted the Milesians upon their arrival in Ireland, and who granted them custody of the island.
flag|Israel: :Israel takes its name from the biblical patriarch
Jacob, later known as "Israel", literally meaning "struggled with God/he struggles with God". According to the account in the Book of Genesis, Jacob wrestled with a stranger at a river ford and won—through perseverance. God then changed his name to "Israel", signifying that he had deliberated with God and won, as he had wrestled and won with men.
flag|Italy: :"See also: , , ."
Latin"Ītalia", itself from Greek "polytonic|Ἰταλία", from the ethnic name "polytonic|Ἰταλός", plural "polytonic|Ἰταλοί", originally referring to an early population in the southern part of Calabria. That ethnic name probably directly relates to a word "polytonic|ἰταλός" ("italós", "bull"), quoted in an ancient Greekgloss by Hesychius (from his collection of 51,000 unusual, obscure and foreign words). This "Greek" word is assumed to be a cognate of Latin"vitulus" ("calf"), although the different length of the "i" is a problem. Latin"vitulus" ("calf") is presumably derived from the PIE root "*wet-" meaning "year" (hence, a "yearling": a "one-year-old calf"), although the change of "e" to "i" is unexplained. The "Greek" word, however, is glossed as "bull", not "calf". Speakers of ancient Oscan called Italy "Víteliú", a cognate of Greek "polytonic|Ἰταλία" and Latin"Ītalia". Varro wrote that the region got its name from the excellence and abundance of its cattle. Some disagree with that etymology. Compare Italus.:*"Friagi" or "Friaz"' (Old Russian): from the Byzantineappellation for the medieval Franks.:*"Valland" (variant in Icelandic): "Land of Valer" (an Old Norse name for Celts, later also used for the Romanized tribes).:*"Włochy" (Polish) and "Olaszország" (Hungarian): from Gothic "walh", the same root as in Valland. See details under "Wallachia", below.
:"See Côte d'Ivoire, above".
Taíno/ ArawakIndian "Xaymaca" or "Hamaica", "Land of wood and water" or perhaps "Land of springs".
flag|Japan: :From "Geppun",
Marco Polo's Italian rendition of the islands' Chinese name 日本 ( pinyin: "rìběn", at the time approximately "jitpun"), or "sun-origin", i.e. " Land of the Rising Sun", indicating Japanas lying to the east of China(where the sun rises). Also formerly known as the "Empire of the Sun".:*"Nihon" / "Nippon": Japanese name, from the local pronunciation of the same characters as above.
Jarvis Island(territory of the United States of America)::The island was named after the owners Edward, Thomas, and William Jarvis of the British ship "Eliza Francis" by her commander, Captain Brown, who discovered the island.
flag|Jersey::The Norse suffix "-ey" means "island" and is commonly found in the parts of
Northern Europewhere Norsemenestablished settlements. (Compare modern Nordic languages: "øy" in Norwegian, "ø/ö" in Danish and Swedish.) The meaning of the first part of the island's name is unclear. Among theories are that it derives from Norse "jarth" ("earth") or " jarl" ("earl"), or perhaps a personal name, Geirr, to give "Geirr's Island".
Johnston Atoll(territory of the United States of America): :Named after Captain Charles J. Johnston, the commanding officer of the ship "Cornwallis", who came across the atoll on 14 December, 1807.
flag|Jordan: :After the
river Jordan, the name of which derives from the Hebrew and Canaanite root "yrd" — "descend" (into the Dead Sea.) The river Jordanforms part of the border between Jordanand Israel/ West Bank. In classical times, the region (known as " Nabataea") encompassed territories on both sides of the River Jordan, infrequently also territories on the Sinai peninsula (in present-day Egypt).:* Transjordan(former name): "Trans" means "across" or "beyond", i.e. east of the river Jordan.:* "Urdun" (Arabic), literal translation of name Jordan, sometimes spelled "Urdan".
Juan de Nova(territory of France)::Named after João da Nova, a 15th century Portuguese explorer-navigator.
flag|Kazakhstan::Means "land of the Kazakhs". "Kazakh" means something like "independent-rebellious-wanderer-brave-free". The Russian term "kazak" (казак) is a cognate—"cossack" in English. The Persian suffix "
-stan" means "land".
Mount Kenya, from the Kĩkũyũ name "Kere-Nyaga" ("Mountain of Whiteness").:* British East Africa(former name): after its geographical position on the continent of Africaand the former colonial power, (Britain). :"See also Britain, above, and Africa on the Place name etymology page."
Kingman Reef(territory of the United States of America)::Named after Captain W.E. Kingman, who came across the reef while sailing the boat "Shooting Star" on 29 November, 1853.
flag|Kiribati::An adaptation of "Gilbert", from the former European name the "
Gilbert Islands". Note the pronunciation of "Kiribati": /IPA|'kiribas/.:* Gilbert Islands(former name): named after the British Captain Thomas Gilbert, who sighted the islands in 1788.
flagicon|South Koreaflagicon|North Korea
Korea(South and North)::Korea's first kingdom Gojoseonwas called Joseon at the time. Then followed the Three Kingdoms of Korea, which were also sometimes called the Three Han. The largest of the three was called Goguryeoor Goryeo.
GoryeoDynasty took its name from Goguryeo. During this time, Persian merchants brought the name Korea (derived from Goryeo) to the Western world. After Goryeo followed the Joseon Dynasty, which took its name from the earlier Gojoseon.
South Koreans call Korea " Hanguk" (from the Three Han), while North Koreans call it " Joseon" (from Gojoseon and Joseon Dynasty).
Names of Korea".
flag|Kosovo::Kosovo is a widely used place name in Slavic countries, stemming from the word "kos", which means "blackbird".
flag|Kuwait::From the Arabic diminutive form of "Kut or Kout" meaning "fortress built near water".
flag|Kyrgyzstan::Derives from three words — "kyrg" meaning "forty", "yz" meaning "tribes" and "
-stan" meaning "land" in Persian: "land of forty tribes".
:Another version derives the name from "kyrg", meaning "forty", "kyz" meaning "girl", and "
-stan", meaning "land" in Persian — thus, "land of forty girls".
flag|Laos: :Coined under French rule, derived from Lao "lao", meaning "a Laotian" or "Laotian", possibly originally from an ancient Indian word "lava". ("Lava" is the name of one of the twin sons of the god
Rama.) The name might also be from "Ai-Lao", the old Chinese name for the Taiethnic groups to which the Laopeople belong. [ [http://www.singto.co.uk/History/History.htm Singtondash Dedicated to Thai Boxing, and all things Thai ] ] Formerly known as " Lan Xang" or "land of a million elephants".
flag|Latvia: :Derived from the regional name "Latgale", the "Lat-" part associated with several Baltic
hydronyms, and "-gale" meaning "land" or "boundary land", of Baltic origin.
flag|Lebanon: :The name Lebanon ("Lubnān" in standard
Arabic; "Lebnan" or "Lebnèn" in local dialect) is derived from the Semiticroot "LBN", which is linked to several closely-related meanings in various languages, such as "white" and "milk". This is regarded as a reference to the snow-capped Mount Lebanon. Occurrences of the name have been found in three of the twelve tablets of the Epic of Gilgamesh(2900 BC), the texts of the library of Ebla(2400 BC), and the Bible(71 times in the Bible's Old Testament).
flag|Lesotho: :After the indigenous
Sotho people, whose own name means "black" or "dark-skinned".
flag|Liberia: :From the Latin "liber": "free", so named because the country was established as a homeland for freed (liberated) African-American slaves.
flag|Libya: :After an ancient Berber tribe called "Libyans" by the Greeks and "Rbw" by the Egyptians. Until the country's independence, the term "Libya" generally applied only to the vast desert between the Tripolitanian Lowland and the
Fazzanplateau (to the west) and Egypt's Nileriver valley (to the east). With " Tripoli" the name of new country's capital, and the old northeastern regional name " Cyrenaica" having passed into obsolescence, "Libya" became a convenient name for the country, despite the fact that much of the Libyan desert is Egyptian territory.
flag|Liechtenstein: :From the German "Light stone" ("light", as in "bright"). The country took its name from the Liechtenstein dynasty, which purchased and united the counties of
Schellenburgand Vaduz. The Holy Roman Emperorallowed the dynasty to re-name the new property after itself. Liechtenstein and Luxembourgare the only German-speaking former Holy Roman Empire duchies not assimilated by the countries Germany, Austria, and Switzerland.
flag|Lithuania: :Modern scholars tend to agree on a
hydronymic origin of this name, possibly from a small river "Lietava" in Central Lithuania. That hydronym has been associated with Lithuanian "lieti" (root "lie-"): "pour" or "spill". Compare to Old-Slavic "liyati": "pour", Greek "a-lei-son": "cup", Latin "litus": "seashore", Tocharian A"lyjäm": "lake".:Historically, attempts have been made to suggest a direct descendance from the Latin "litus" (see littoral). "Litva" (Gen. "Litvae"), an early Latin variant of the toponym, appears in a 1009 chronicle describing an archbishop "struck over the head by pagans on the border of Russia/Prussia and "Litvae". A 16th-century scholar associated the word with the Latin word "litus" ("tubes")—a possible reference to wooden trumpets played by Lithuanian tribesmen. A popular belief is that the country's name in the Lithuanian language ("Lietuva") is derived from a word "lietus" ("rain") and means "a rainy place".:*Lithuanian: "Lietuva".
flag|Luxembourg: :From Celtic "Lucilem" "small" (cognate to English "little") and Germanic "burg": "castle", thus "lucilemburg": "little castle". Luxembourg and
Liechtensteinare the only German-speaking former Holy Roman Empire duchies not assimilated by the countries Germany, Austria, and Switzerland.
flag|Republic of Macedonia: :The country name is from the _el. Μακεδονία ("Makedonía"), [ [http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/cgi-bin/ptext?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.04.0057%3Aentry%3D%2364599 Macedonia, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, "A Greek-English Lexicon", at Perseus] ] a kingdom (later, region) named after the
ancient Macedonians. Their name, Μακεδόνες ("Makedónes"), derives ultimately from the ancient Greekadjective μακεδνός ("makednós"), meaning "tall, taper", [ [http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/cgi-bin/ptext?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.04.0057%3Aentry%3D%2364596 Makednos, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, "A Greek-English Lexicon", at Perseus] ] which shares the same root as the noun μάκρος ("mákros"), meaning "length" in both ancient and modern Greek. [ [http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/cgi-bin/ptext?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.04.0057%3Aentry%3D%2364705 Makros, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, "A Greek-English Lexicon", at Perseus] ] The name is originally believed to have meant either "highlanders" or "the tall ones". [ [http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?search=Macedonia&searchmode=none Macedonia, Online Etymology Dictionary] ] The provisional term the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia is used in many international contexts in acknowledgment of a political dispute with Greeceover the historical legitimacy of the country's use of the name.
flag|Madagascar: :From the name of the island in
Malagasy language: "Madagasikara", itself derived from the proto-Malay "end of the Earth",Fact|date=September 2008 a reference to the island's long distance by sea from an earlier homeland in Southeast Asia.
flag|Malawi: :Possibly based on a native word meaning "flaming water" or "tongues of fire," believed to have derived from the sun's dazzling reflections on
Lake Malawi. But President Hastings Banda, the founding President of Malawi, reported in interviews that in the 1940s he saw a "Lac Maravi" shown in "Bororo" country on an antique French map titled "La Basse Guinee Con [t] enant Les Royaumes de Loango, de Congo, d'Angola et de Benguela" and he liked the name "Malawi" better than "Nyasa" (or "Maravi"). "Lac Marawi" does not necessarily correspond to today's Lake Malawi. Banda had such influence at the time of independence in 1964 that he named the former Nyasaland"Malawi", and the name stuck.:* Nyasaland(former name): "Nyasa" literally means "lake" in the local indigenous languages. The name applied to Lake Malawi(formerly Lake Nyasa, or "Niassa").
flag|Malaysia::The word Malaya is a combination of two Tamil/
Sanskritwords, Malay or Malai (hill) and Ur (town), meaning hilltown. The name came into use when several Indian Kingdoms entered Malaysia dating back to the 3rd Century (see Srivijaya). Hence, the Latin/Greek suffix -sia, makes the name Malaysia, literally meaning Land of the Malay people. The continental part of the country bore the name Malaya (without the "-si-") until 1963, when it gained the territories of Sabahand Sarawakon the northern part of the island of Borneo. Singaporeseceded in 1965. The name change indicated the expansion of the country's boundaries beyond Malay Peninsula. "Malaysian" refers to Malaysians of all races, while "Malay" refers to the native Malay people, who are about half the population.
flag|Maldives: :From the Arabic "mahal" ("palace") or "Dhibat-al-Mahal / Dhibat Mahal", as Arabs formerly called the country. Therefore it could mean "Palace Islands", because the main island,
Malé, held the palace of the islands' Sultan. Some scholars believe that the name "Maldives" derives from the Sanskrit"maladvipa", meaning "garland of islands". Some sources say that the Tamil "malai" or Malayalam"mala": "mountain(s)", and Sanskrit "diva": "island", thus, "Mountain Islands".:* "Dhivehi Raajje" (Maldivian name): "Kingdom of Maldivians". "Dhivehi" is a noun describing the Dhives people (Maldivians) and their language "Dhivehi" simultaneously.:* "Maladwipa": Sanskrit for "garland ("mala", pronounced /maalaa/) of islands"; or, more likely, "small islands", from "mala" (pronounced /mala/) meaning "small".:* "Dhibat Mahal" (Arabic).
flag|Mali: :After the ancient West African kingdom of the same name, where a large part of the modern country is. The word "mali" means "
hippopotamus" in Malinkéand Bamana.:* French Sudan(former colonial name). In French "Soudan français". The term Sudan (see below) stems from the Arabic "bilad as-sudan": "land of the Blacks".
flag|Malta: :From either Greek or Phoenician. Of the two cultures, available evidence suggests that the Greeks had an earlier presence on the island, from as far back as
700 BC.cite news|url=http://www.doi.gov.mt/EN/islands/dates.asp|publisher=Department of Informationndash Maltese Government|title=Notable dates in Malta's history|date=6 February 2008] The Greeks are known to have called the island "Melita" meaning " honey", as did the Romans; solid evidence for this is Malta's domination by the Byzantine Empirefrom 395 through to 870. It is still nicknamed the "land of honey".cite news|url=http://www.doi.gov.mt/EN/islands/dates.asp|publisher=Department of Informationndash Maltese Government|title=Notable dates in Malta's history|date=6 February 2008] [cite news|url=http://www.maltatoday.com.mt/2003/06/29/l7.html|publisher=Malta Today|title=Controversy over unique Maltese bee population|date=6 February 2008] The theory for a Phoenican origin of the word is via "Maleth" meaning "a haven". [cite book | last = Pickles| first = Tim | title =Malta 1565: Last Battle of the Crusades| publisher =Osprey Publishing| url =http://books.google.com/books?id=0LuvbRQ78sIC&pg=PA11&lpg=PA11&dq=Maleth+Malta+haven&source=web&ots=PGO2OF9Y9I&sig=rcodiMbexlDy5YwMXhelH7zEYyw| isbn = 978-1855326033] The modern-day name comes from the Maltese language, through an evolution of one of the earlier names.
flag|Martinique (territory of
France): :When Christopher Columbuslanded on the island in 1502 he named it in honour of St. Martin. (He had sailed past it in 1493 but did not land.)
flag|Mauritania: :Latin for "land of the Moors". Misnamed after the classical
Mauretaniain northern Morocco, itself named after the Berber Maurior Moortribe.
flag|Mauritius: :Named "Prins Maurits van Nassaueiland" in 1598 after Maurice of Nassau (1567–1625),
Stadtholderof Holland and Prince of Orange(1585–1625).
flag|Mayotte (territory of
France)::The name is a French corruption of the native "Maore" or "Mawuti", sultanates on the island around the year 1500.
flag|Mexico:After the Mexica branch of the
Aztecs. The origin of the term "Mexxica" is uncertain. Some take it as the old Nahuatlword for the sun. Others say it derived from the name of the leader Mexitli. Others ascribe it to a type of weed that grows in Lake Texcoco. Leon Portillasuggests that it means "navel of the moon" from Nahuatl "metztli" ("moon") and "xictli" ("navel"). Alternatively, it could mean "navel of the maguey" (Nahuatl "metl"). See also Mexican state name etymologies.
flag|Micronesia:A name coined from the Greek words "mikros" ("small") and "nesos" ("island") — "small islands".
Midway Islands(territory of the United States of America): :Named after their geographic location, perhaps from the islands' situation midway between North America and Asia, or their proximity to the International Date Line(halfway around the world from the Greenwich Meridian). [ [http://www.fws.gov/midway/faq.html "Frequently Asked Questions about Midway"] , U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service] Originally named the Middlebrook Islands or the Brook Islands, after their discoverer Captain N.C. Middlebrooks.
Moldova Riverin Romania, possibly from Gothic "Mulda": "dust", "mud", via the Principality of Moldavia("Moldova" in Romanian).
flag|Monaco:From the ancient Greek "monoikos" 'single-dwelling', through Latin "Monoecus". Originally the name of an ancient colony founded in the 6th century B.C. by Phocian Greeks, and a by-name of the demigod
Herculesworshiped there. (The association of Monaco with monks (Italian "monaci") dates from the Grimaldiconquest of 1297: see coat of arms of Monaco.)
Mongol; it probably means "brave" or "fearless".
flag|Montenegro:Venetian conquerors gave Montenegro its name, "Montenegro" meaning "black mountain", after the appearance of Mount
Lovćenor most likely its dark coniferous forests. "Montenegro" is in the Venetian dialect), while the standard Italian would be "monte nero", without the "g".:*"Crna Gora" (the local Serbian/Montenegrin name for Montenegro): literally translates as "black mountain". :*"Doclea" (ancient name for Montenegro): "Doclea", the name of the region during the early period of the Roman Empire, reflected the name of an early Illyrian tribe. In later centuries, Romans "hyper-corrected" it to "Dioclea", wrongly guessing that an "I" had disappeared due to vulgar speech corruption. :*"Zeta" (ancient name for Montenegro): The earliest Slavic name "Zeta" derives from the name of a river in Montenegro which itself derives from an early root meaning "harvest" or "grain".
flag|Montserrat (territory of the
United Kingdom): : Christopher Columbusnamed the island "Santa Maria de Montserrate" while sailing past it in 1493 because it reminded him of the Blessed Virgin of the Monastery of Montserrate in Spain. "Montserrat" itself literally means "jagged mountain".
flag|Morocco: :From "Marruecos", the Spanish pronunciation of the name of the city of "Marrakesh" (more precisely "Marrakush"), believed to derive from the Berber words "(ta)murt": "land" (or "(a)mur" "part") + "akush": "God". :* "Al Maghrib" (Arabic name): "the farthest west".
flag|Mozambique: :From the name of the
Island of Mozambique, which in turn probably comes from the name of a previous Arab ruler, the sheik Mussa Ben Mbiki.
flag|Myanmar::One explanation is that the name derives from the Burmese short-form name "Myanma Naingngandaw". An alternative etymology suggests that "myan" means "quick/fast" and "mar" means "hard-tough-strong". The re-naming of the country in 1989 has aroused political controversy: certain minority groups and activist communities perceive "Myanmar" to be a purely Burmese name that reflects the policy of domination of the ethnic Burman majority over the minorities. Those groups do not recognize the legitimacy of the ruling military government nor its authority to change the English name of the country. Accordingly, such groups, who have become accustomed to calling the country by its English name, continue to refer to Myanmar as "Burma".:*
Burma(former name): The name "Burma" apparently derives from the Sanskrit name for the region: "Brahmadesh", land of (the deity) Brahma.
flag|Namibia: :From the coastal
Namib Desert. "Namib" means "area where there is nothing" in the Nama language.:* South-West Africaand German Southwest Africa(former names): Self-explanatory
:"See also "Africa" at
List of continent name etymologiesand "Germany" above."
flag|Nauru: :The name "Nauru" may derive from the Nauruan word "Anáoero", which means "I go to the beach". The German settlers called the island "Nawodo" or "Onawero".
flag|Navassa Island (territory of the United States of America)::In 1504,
Christopher Columbus, stranded on Jamaica, sent some crew by canoe to Hispaniolafor help. They ran into the island on the way, but it had no water. They called it "Navaza", "nava-" meaning "plain", or "field". Mariners avoided the island for the next 350 years.
flag|Nepal: :The toponym "Nepal" may derive from the
Sanskrit"nipalaya", which means "at the foot of the mountains" or "abode at the foot," referring to its proximity to the Himalayas. (Compare the analogous European toponym " Piedmont".) Others suggest tbat it derives from the Tibetan "niyampal", which means "holy land".
flag|Netherlands: :Germanic for "low lands".:*
Holland(part of the Netherlands; a name often incorrectly used to refer to the country as a whole): Germanic "holt-land" ("wooded land") (often incorrectly regarded as meaning "hollow [i.e. marsh] land").:*Batavia (Latin): derived from the name of the Germanic Bataviitribe.:*" Nederland" (Dutch) "low-land". (Neder is a Dutch cognate to the English "nether": low or lower.):*"Alankomaat" (Finnish): "low lands".:*"Na hÍsiltíre" (Irish): "the low lands".
flag|Netherlands Antilles: (territory of
Netherlands)::" Antilles" from a mythical land or island ( Antillia), west of Europe, or a combination of two Portuguese words "ante" or "anti" (possibly meaning "opposite" in the sense of "on the opposite side of the world") and "ilha" ("island"), currently the name for these Caribbean Islands. "Netherlands" after the colonial ruler, the Netherlands.
flag|New Caledonia (territory of
France): :Captain James Cooknamed the islands in 1774 after Scotland, which is " Caledonia" in Latin). The mountains he saw reminded him, he said, of those in Scotland.flag|New Zealand: :After the province of Zeelandin the Netherlands, which means "sea land", referring to the large number of islands it contains. Abel Tasmanreferred to New Zealand as "Staten Landt", but later Dutch cartographers used "Nova Zeelandia", in Latin, followed by "Nieuw Zeeland" in Dutch, which Captain James Cooklater anglicised to "New Zealand". :* " Aotearoa" has become the most common name for the country in the indigenous Maori language, supplanting the loan-phrase "Niu Tireni". "Aotearoa" conventionally means "land of the long white cloud".:* " Nua Shealtainn" in both Irish and Scottish Gaelic, meaning "New Shetland" ("Sealtainn"), itself from a metathesised form of Scots "Shetland". Gaelic speakers seem to have folk-etymologised "Zeeland" when translating New Zealand's name from English.
flag|Nicaragua: :A merger coined by the Spanish explorer
Gil González Dávilaafter Nicarao, a leader of an indigenous community inhabiting the shores of Lake Nicaraguaand "agua", the Spanish word for "water"; subsequently, the ethnonym of that native community.
flag|Niger::English pronunciation: nee-zhay.:Named after the
Niger River, from a native term "Ni Gir" or "River Gir". The name has often been misinterpreted, especially by Latinists, to be derived from the Latin "niger" ("black"), a reference to the dark complexions of the inhabitants of the region.:"See also Nigeria, below".
flag|Nigeria: :After the
Niger riverthat flows through the western areas of the country and into the ocean.:"See also Niger, above".
flag|Niue (territory of
New Zealand): :"Niu" probably means "coconut," and "é" means "behold." According to legend, the Polynesian explorers who first settled the island knew that they had come close to land when they saw a coconut floating in the water. There is also a coincidental similarity with the Germanic words "niew", "nieu", "niewe", "niue", "nieue", "niewe", " nieuw", "nieuwe", "niuewe" "niuew", " new", and the Latinic " neo".
flag|Norfolk Island (territory of
Australia): :The first European known to have sighted the island, Captain James Cook, in 1774, on his second voyage to the South Pacific on HMS "Resolution", named it after the wife of the premier peer of Britain, Edward Howard, 9th Duke of Norfolk(1685–1777).
flag|Northern Mariana Islands (commonwealth in political union with the United States of America): :Portuguese explorer
Ferdinand Magellan(the first European to sight the islands, in 1521), named them "Islas de los Ladrones" ("Islands of Thieves"). In 1668 Jesuit missionary San Vitoreschanged the name to "Las Marianas" in honour of Mariana of Austria(1634–1696), widow of king Philip IV and regent of Spain (1665–1675).
flag|North Korea: :After the location in
Korea.:"See also Korea above"
flag|Norway::From the old Norse "norðr" and "vegr", "northern way". "Norðrvegr" refers to long coastal passages from the western tip of Norway to its northernmost lands in the Arctic. :*Natively called "Norge" ("Noreg" in
Nynorsk).:*"Urmane", or "Murmane" in Old Russian: from the Norse pronunciation of the word " Normans": "Northmen". (This word survives in the name of the Russian city Murmansk.):*"An Iorua" (Irish) seems to derive from a misinterpretation of Old Norse "Norðrvegr" as beginning the Irish definite article "an", common to most country names in Irish. The rest of the word was then taken as the country name. (A similar process took place in the development of the English word "adder": originally "a nadder".)
Occitan. From medieval Latin "Occitania" (approximately since 1290). The first part of the name, "Occ-", is from Occitan " [lenga d'] òc" or Italian " [lingua d'] oc" (i.e. "Language of Òc"), a name given to the Occitan language by Danteaccording to its way of saying "yes" ("òc"). The ending "-itania" is probably an imitation of the old Latin name " [Aqu] itania".
flag|Oman::The name "Oman" (also "Uman") is ancient. In his translation of a "History of the Imams and Seyyids of Oman", George Badger says that the name was already in use by early Greek and Arab geographers. The book "Oman in History" (Arabic: "Tarikh fi Uman") notes that the Roman historian
Yalainous(23–79 AD) mentions a city on the Arab peninsula he calls "Omana." The city (probably ancient Sohar, on the Omani coast) gave its name to the region.:According to "Tarikh fi Uman", "various Arab scholars proposed a variety of different linguistic origins for the name 'Oman'." Ibn al-Qabi suggested it comes from the adjective "aamen", or "amoun", meaning "settled (as opposed to nomadic) man." Other scholars have suggested the city was named after any of a number of historic, legendary or biblical founding figures, including Oman bin Ibrahim al-Khalil, Oman bin Siba' bin Yaghthan bin Ibrahim, Oman bin Qahtan, and Oman bin Loot (the Arabic name for the biblical figure Lot). Still others have suggested the name is based on a valley in Yemen from which the city's founders came.
Cambridgestudent and Muslim nationalist Choudhary Rahmat Alicoined this name. He devised the word and first published it on 28 January 1933 in the pamphlet "Now or Never". He constructed the name as an acronym of the different states/homelands/regions, which broke down into: P=Punjab, A= Afghania(Ali's preferred name for the North West Frontier Province), K= Kashmir, S= Sindhand the suffix "-stan" from Balochistan, thus forming "Pakstan". An "i" intruded later to ease pronunciation. The suffix "-stan" in Persian means "home of" and in Sanskrit means "place". Rahmat Ali later expanded upon this in his 1947 book "Pakistan: the Fatherland of the Pak Nation". In that book he explains the acronym as follows: P=Punjab, A= Afghania, K= Kashmir, I= Iran, S= Sindh, T= Turkharistan(roughly the modern central-Asian states), A= Afghanistanand N=BalochistaN. The Persian word پاک "pāk", which means "pure", adds another shade of meaning, with the full name thus meaning "land of the pure". Many Central and South Asian states and regions end with the element -"Stan", such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, Baluchistan, Kurdistanand East Turkestan. This Stan is formed from the Iranianroot *STA "to stand, stay," and means "place (where one stays), home, country." Iranian peoples have been the principal inhabitants of the geographical region occupied by these states for over thousand years. The names are compounds of -Stan and the name of the people living there. Pakistan is a bit of exception; its name was coined in 1933 using the suffix -istan from "Baluchistan" preceded by the initial letters. Interestingly, a word almost identical in form, etymology, and meaning to the Iranian suffix "-stan" is found in Polish, which has a word stan meaning "State" (in the senses of both polity and condition). It can be found in the Polish name for the "United States of America." Stany Zjednoczone Ameryki (literally "States United of America". Use of the name gradually spread during the successful campaign for the seccesion of a Muslim state from British India Empire.
flag|Palau::-?- :*Belau or Belaw (local names):-?-:*Pelew (alternative name): the English Captain Henry Wilson suffered shipwreck on a reef off Palau's Ulong Island in 1783. Wilson spelt "Palau" as "Pelew".
flag|Palestine: :Named after the ancient
Philistinesof the area around Gaza. The Philistines' name is derived from the proto-semitic root PLS, which means "to invade", and which indicates the traditional view of the Philistines as "the sea peoples" who invaded the Canaanite territory during biblical times. The Greeks adopted the name to refer to the broader area, as "Palaistinê". Herodotusand others considered that to be a part of Syria. The Roman Empirelater adopted that concept in the form Syria Palaestinaas a new name for the province formerly known as Judaea, after the defeat of Judaean rebellion of Bar Kochbain AD 135.:* "Jórsalaheimr", "Jórsalaland", "Jórsalaríki" in Old Norse: after Jórsala: Jerusalem.
Palmyra Atoll(territory of the United States of America): :Named after the boat "Palmyra", which belonged to the American Captain Sawle. He sought shelter on the atoll on 7 November, 1802, and became the first person known to land on it.
flag|Panama: :After a former village near the modern capital,
Panama City. From the CuevaIndian language meaning "place of abundance of fish" or "place of many fish", possibly from the Caribe "abundance of butterflies", or possibly from another native term referring to the Panama tree.
flag|Papua New Guinea: :The country acquired its name in the 19th century. The word "Papua" derives from Malay "papuah" describing the frizzy hair of
Melanesians. "New Guinea" comes from the Spanish explorer Íñigo Ortiz de Retes, who noted the resemblance of the local people to those he had earlier seen along the Guineacoast of Africa.
flag|Paraguay: :The exact meaning of the word "Paraguay" is unknown, though it seems to derive from the river of the same name. One of the most common explanations is that it means "water of the
Payagua(a native tribe)". Another meaning links the Tupi-Guaraniwords "para" ("river") and "guai" ("crown"), meaning "crowned river". A third meaning may be "para" ("river"), "gua" ("from"), "i" ("water") meaning "river that comes from the water", referring to the bog in the north of the country, which is actually in Brazil.
flag|Peru::The exact meaning behind the word "Peru" is obscure. The most popular theory derives it from the native word "biru", meaning "river" (compare with the River Biru in modern
Ecuador). Another explanation claims that it comes from the name of the Indian chieftain Beru. Spanish explorers asked him the name of the land, but not understanding their language, he assumed they wanted his own name, which he gave them. Another possible origin is "pelu", presumptively an old native name of the region.
flag|Philippines: :"Lands of King Philip" (
Philip II of Spain, reigned 1556–1598). The suffix "-ines" functions adjectivally. A recent and romantic descriptive name, "Pearl of the Orient Seas", derives from the poem, " Mi Ultimo Adios", written by Philippine nationalist hero José Rizal. Other names include "Katagalugan" (used by the Katipunanwhen referring to the Philippines and meaning "land of/by the river", though that name is used more to refer to the Tagalog areas) and "Maharlika" (from the name of the upper class in pre-Hispanic Philippines, meaning "noble").
flag|Pitcairn Islands (overseas territory of the
United Kingdom)::A member of the English Captain Philip Carteret's crew in his ship HMS "Swallow" first sighted the remote islands in July 1767. Carteret named the main island "Pitcairn's Island" after the man who first saw land: the son of Major Pitcairn of the Marines.
flag|Poland: :"Land of Polans", the territory of the tribe of Polans ("Polanie"). When the Polans formed a united Poland in the 10th century, this name also came into use for the whole Polish country. The name "Poland" ("Polska") expressed both meanings until, in the 13th/
14th century, the original territory of the Polans became known as Greater Poland("Wielkopolska") instead. The name of the tribe comes probably from Polish "pole": "field" or "open field".:* "Lengyelország" (Hungarian), "Lenkija" (Lithuanian), "Lahestân" (Persian) all derive from the Old Ruthenian or Old Polish ethnonym "lęděnin" (possibly "man ploughing virgin soil") and its augmentative"lęch".
flag|Portugal: :From medieval Romance "
Portucale", from Latin "portus", "port" and Cale, the name of the Roman Portus Cale, or Port of Cale (modern Portoand Gaia). The origin of the name "Cale" is debated. It may have been related to the Gallaeci, a Celtic people who lived north of the Douro Riverin pre-Roman times.:* Lusitania(ancient predecessor and literary variant): after the Lusitanians, probably of Celtic origin, as "Lus" and "Tanus", "tribe of Lusus".
flag|Puerto Rico (territory of the United States of America with commonwealth status)::
Christopher Columbusnamed the island "San Juan Bautista" in honour of Saint John the Baptistin 1493. The Spanish authorities set up a capital city called "Puerto Rico" (meaning "rich port"). For now unknown reasons, the island and capital city had exchanged names by the 1520s.
flag|Qatar: :Derives from "Qatara", believed to refer to the
Qataritown of Zubara, an important trading port and town in the region in ancient times. The word "Qatara" first appeared on Ptolemy's map of the Arabworld. In the early 20th century, English speakers often pronounced Qatar as "Cutter", close to the local pronunciation in Qatar. However, the traditional English pronunciation ("Kuh-tahr") has prevailed.
flag|Réunion (territory of
France)::The island changed names often in its distant past, but the name "Réunion" (French for "recombination") became associated with the island in 1793 by a decree of the French Convention. The name commemorates the union of revolutionaries from Marseillewith the French National Guardin Paris, which was on August 10, 1792.
flag|Romania: :"Roman Realm". The
Roman Empireconquered a large part of the country, and the inhabitants became Romanized ( Romanians). Older variants of the name include "Rumania" and (in a French-influenced spelling) "Roumania".
Dacia", older name and Latinvariant: named after the ancient people the Dacians.:*" Wallachia", Slavic name for the country, from the Gothic word for Celts: "walh". Later also used for the Romanized tribes. This Germanic form derives from the name of the Celtic tribe of Volcae. Compare with the etymologies of the names " Wales" and " Wallonia".
flag|Russia: :Generally agreed to be from a
Varangiangroup known as the Rus' and the state of Kievan Rus'they co-founded. (Soviet scholars attributed the foundation of the Old East Slavic state to Slavic cultural groups rather than Scandinavian dynasts, and therefore believed that the term "Rossija" derived from the name of the river Ros near Kiev.):*"An Rúis": (Irish name) means, literally, "The Rus", though using a singular definite article ("an") rather than the plural form "na" which would be grammatical. Use of "an" to denote a country is standard in Irish.:*"Krievija" (Latvian): named after the ancient Krivichstribe, related to modern Belarusians.:*"Vene", "Venemaa" (Estonian), "Venäjä" (Finnish): after the ancient people Venedes.
Etymology of Rus and derivativesand "Ruotsi" under Sweden (below) for details.":*Russian: "Rossiya" (Россия)
flag|Rwanda: :From the name of the "Vanyaruanda" people, a word of unknown origin, but probably cognate to the name of Rwanda. Also known fondly as "
Land of a Thousand Hills" (French: "Pays des milles collines").
flag|Saint Helena (territory of the
United Kingdom)::Named after Saint Helena (Helena of Constantinople; mother of the Roman emperor Constantine) by the Portuguese navigator João da Novawho discovered the island on Saint Helena's Day, 21 May 1502.
flag|Saint Kitts and Nevis::
St. Kittstook its name in honour of Saint Christopher, the patron saint of travelling. Christopher Columbusprobably named the island for Saint Christopher, though this remains uncertain. British sailors later shortened the name to St. Kitts. Nevisderives from the Spanish phrase "Nuestra Senora de las Nieves", which means "Our Lady of the Snows", after the permanent halo of white clouds that surrounded mountains on the island.
flag|Saint Lucia::According to tradition, named after
Saint Lucyby French sailors shipwrecked on the island on 13 December 1502 – the feast day of Saint Lucy.
flag|Saint Pierre and Miquelon (territory of
France)::Originally named the " Eleven Thousand Virgins" by Portuguese explorer João Álvares Fagundesin 1521. The French called the islands the "Islands of Saint-Pierre". Miqueloncomes from the Basque languageand means "Michael" (maybe after Saint Michael). In 1579 Martin de Hoyarçabal's navigational pilot published the names "Micquetõ" and "Micquelle" for the first time. The name evolved over time into "Miclon", "Micklon", and finally "Miquelon".
flag|Saint Vincent and the Grenadines::Named after the Spanish Saint Vincent by
Christopher Columbuson 22 January 1498, the day of the Feast of Saint Vincent. The Grenadines, like Grenada, take their name from the southern Spanish city of Granada.
flag|Samoa::The islands allegedly derive their name from that of a local chieftain, or from an indigenous word meaning "place of the
moa". The moa, a large bird now extinct, may have served as the islanders' totem.
flag|San Marino::Takes its name from Marinus, a (possibly legendary)
Christian stonemasonwho fled the island of Arbe(in modern day Croatia) to escape the anti-Christian Romans. He made his refuge on Mount Titanowith his Christianfollowers in 301/ 305in the area that acquired the Italian name "San Marino" (Saint Marinus).
flag|São Tomé and Príncipe::Portuguese for: Saint Thomas and Prince (islands). São Tomé was so named by Portuguese explorers because of its discovery on what was then considered St. Thomas's Day (December 21), perhaps in 1470 or 1471. Príncipe was originally called Santo Antão (Portuguese for Saint Anthony), presumably because of its discovery on Saint Anthony's feast day (January 17), perhaps in 1471 or 1472. The name was later changed to "Ilha do Principe" ("Prince's Island") in 1502, in reference to the Prince of Portugal to whom duties on the island's sugar crop were paid.
flag|Saudi Arabia::"Saudi" after the
House of Saud, the royal familywho founded the kingdom and who still rule it. The dynasty takes its name from its ancestor, "Sa`ûd", whose name in Arabicmeans "a group of stars/planets". The etymology of the term "Arab" or "Arabian" links closely with that of the place-name " Arabia". The root of the word has many meanings in Semitic languages, including "west / sunset", "desert", "mingle", "merchant", "raven" and "comprehensible", all of which appear to have some relevance to the emergence of the name. Remarkably, in Ancient Egyptian the area was already known as "Ar Rabi".
constituent countryof the United Kingdom)::Land of the Scots, from Old English"Scottas", "inhabitants of Ireland." Old English borrowed the word from late Latin"Scotti", of unknown origin. It may possibly have come from an Irish term of scorn, "scuit". After the departure of the Romans from Britain in 423, an Irish tribe invaded Scotland, and the name came with them. It later extended to other Irish who settled in the northern regions of Britain.:* Alba(Gaelic name): The Scots- and Irish-Gaelic name for Scotlandderives from the same Celtic root as the name Albion, which designates sometimes the entire island of Great Britainand sometimes the country of England, Scotland's southern neighbour. The term arguably derives from an early Indo-European word meaning 'white', generally held to refer to the cliffs of white chalkaround the English town of Dover, ironically located at the furthest end of Great Britain from Scotland itself. Others take it to come from the same root as "the Alps", possibly being an ancient word for mountain.:* Caledonia, an old Latin name for Scotland, deriving from the Caledoniitribe. Caledonia in Greek also means "good waters".
flag|Senegal::From the Senegal river. After a Portuguese variant of the name of the Berber
Zenaga(Arabic Senhaja) tribe, which dominated much of the area to the north of modern Senegal, i.e. present-day Mauritania.:* Daradia(Latin variant): -?-
flag|Serbia:The exact origin of the name is uncertain (see name of Serbs). The name of the
Sorbsin present-day Germanyhas the same origin.
Jean Moreau de Séchelles, Finance Minister to King Louis XV of Francefrom 1754 to 1756.
flag|Sierra Leone::Adapted from "Sierra Leona", the Spanish version of the Portuguese "Serra Leoa" ("Lion Mountains"). The Portuguese explorer
Pedro de Sintranamed the country after the striking mountains that he saw in 1462 while sailing the West Africancoast. It remains unclear what exactly made the mountains look like lions. Three main explanations exist: that the mountains resembled the teethof a lion, that they looked like sleeping lions, or that thunder which broke out around the mountains sounded like a lion's roar.:* Deorum Currus(Latin variant): -?-
flag|Singapore::"Singapura" (in Malay) derives from
Sanskrit"Simhapura" (or "Singhapura") which means "Lion City". Earlier the island was known as "Temasik" from Malay or Javanese root "tasik" meaning "lake". "Singapore" is the anglicized form of the Malay name which is still in use today along with variants in Chinese and Tamil, the four official languages of Singapore.
flag|Slovakia::From the Slavic "Slavs". The origin of the word "" itself remains controversial.:"See also: origin of the term Slav"
flag|Slovenia::From the Slavic "Slavs". The origin of the word "" itself remains controversial.
:"See also: origin of the term Slav"
flag|Solomon Islands::The Spanish explorer
Alvaro de Mendaña y Neyranamed the islands in 1567/8. Expecting to find a lot of goldthere, he named them after the Biblical King Solomonof Israel, renowned for his great wisdom, wealth, and power.
flag|Somalia::Takes its name from the "Somalis", its indigenous people. The eytmology of their name remains uncertain, but various sources have proposed the following::*From a Cushitic word meaning "dark," or "black," a reference to the color of their own skin. :*From a local phrase "soo maal" which means "go and milk," implying a friendly people who offered milk to their guests.:*From the name of an ancient and mythical figure-patriarch, whom almost all Somalis directly link to, known "Samaale".
flag|South Africa::Takes its name from its geographical location on the continent of
Africa.:*" Suid-Afrika" ( Afrikaans): "South [ern] Africa":*"Aifric Theas" (Irish): "South [ern] Africa":*" Azania" (alternative name): some opponents of the white-minority rule of the country used the name "Azania" in place of " South Africa" . The origin of this name remains uncertain, but the name has referred to various parts of sub-Saharan East- Africa. Recently, two suggestions for the origin of the word have emerged. The first cites the Arabic "`ajam" ("foreigner, non-Arab"). The second references the Greek verb "azainein" ("to dry, parch"), which fits the identification of Azania with arid sub-Saharan Africa. :*"Mzansi" (alternative name): a popular, widespread nickname among locals, used often in parlance but never officially adopted. ("uMzantsi" in isiXhosameans "south".)
:"See also Africa on the
List of continent name etymologiespage."
flag|South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands (territory of the
United Kingdom)::On 17 January 1775 the British Captain James Cooklanded on the main island and named it the "Isle of Georgia" in honour of King George III of the United Kingdom. He named the South Sandwich Islands after John Montagu, the 4th Earl of Sandwich, who served as the First Lord of the Admiralty at the time and who had helped fund Cook's explorations. The word "South" was added to distinguish these islands from the Sandwich Islands, now known as Hawaii.
flag|South Korea::After the location in
:"See also Korea above"
"flag|Soviet Union"::Shortening of
Union of Soviet Socialist Republics(USSR). The word "soviet" ( _ru. совет), a Russian abstract noun, means "advice", "counsel", or "council", and comes from Slavic roots connoting "shared or common" and "knowledge". :*Most languages, like English, have adopted the Russian loanword "soviet" as the national denominator of the Soviet Union. Examples are اتحاد سوفييتي, "Itihad sofieti" (Arabic), "Union soviétique" (French), "Szovjetunió" (Hungarian), "Unión Soviética" (Spanish) and "Umoja wa Kisovyeti" ( Swahili). However, in some languages the term "soviet", literally meaning "council", was translated into a corresponding term. Examples are "Nõukogude Liit" (Estonian), "Neuvostoliitto" (Finnish), "Padomju Savienība" (Latvian), "Tarybų Sąjunga" (Lithuanian) and Союз Радянських (Ukrainian, see " rada"). In Polish, both "Związek Radziecki" and "Związek Sowiecki" have been used. In Persian the name is اتحاد شوروی, "itehad shuravi" (in Tajik 'Иттиҳоди Шӯравӣ'), "shuravi" stemming from the Arabic word " shura".
flag|Spain::Phoenician/Punic אי שפנים "ʾÎ-šəpānîm" "isle of
hyraxes". The Phoenician settlers found hares in abundance, and mistook them for hyraxes of Africa; thus they named the land in their Canaanite dialect. The Latin-speaking Romans adapted the name as " Hispania". The Latin name was altered among the Romance languages, and entered English from Norman French "Spagne".
flag|Sri Lanka::"Resplendent Lanka" in Sanskrit. The name "Lanka" sometimes appears translated as "island" — "magnificent island". :*"Serendip" (ancient name): derived from the Sanskrit "sharan-dweepa", meaning "island of salvation". :*"Ceylon" (English), "Ceilão" (Portuguese), "Seilan" (former names): from the Pali "Sinhalana" meaning "land of the lions".
flag|Sudan::From the Arabic "Bilad as-Sudan", "Land of the blacks". Originally referred to most of the
Surinenpeople, the earliest known native American inhabitants of the region.
flag|Svalbard (territory of
Norway)::From Norse roots meaning "cold edge".
flag|Swaziland::Named after the
Swazipeople, the dominant ethnic group in the country. The word "Swazi" derives from Mswati I, a former king of Swaziland.
flag|Sweden::An old English plural form of
Swede. The exact development of the ethnonym remains uncertain, but it certainly derives from the Old English "Sweoðeod", in Old Norse: "Sviþjoð". The etymology of the first element, "Svi", links to the PIE "*suos" ("one's own", "of one's own kin"). The last element, "þjoð", means "people", cognate with "deut" in Deutschand "teut" in Teutons. :*"Sverige" (native name): derives from the phrase "Svia Rike", meaning "the realm of the Swedes". "Rike" has the same meaning as German "reich", Norwegian "rike", or Danish "rige" meaning "realm/empire/kingdom". See Austria (Öster"reich"), Germany (older name Deutsches "Reich").
:*"An tSualainn" (Irish name): means (literally) "Swedeland" and is formed from an ethnonym "Sua", evidently derived from "Svia" (see above) and "-lann", a common suffix denoting abstract nouns in Irish. The inclusion of "an", the singular definite article, as well as the elipsis "t" is necessary for grammatical purposes.:*"Ruotsi" (Finnish), "Rootsi" (Estonian), "Rūotšmō" (
Livonian), "Ruoŧŧa" (Sami): probably from a Varangian people called the Rus', originating from Roslagenin Svealand. Scholars debate the meaning of "rus", but it probably originates from the element "roþs-" ("relating to rowing") which has the same origin as "row".
Etymology of Rus and derivativesand Russia above"
flag|Switzerland::From the toponym
Schwyz(see there) first attested AD 972 as "Suittes", derived from an Alemannic proper name Suito.:* " Helvetia" (ancient Latinname), after the Celtic Helvetiipeople.
flag|Syria::From the ancient Greek name of the country, "Συρία" ("Syria"). Probably related to the name of the ancient state of
Assyria, although the original heartland of ancient Assyria actually lay in modern Iraq. Before the Greeks, the area of the modern state of Syria had the name "Aram", after which the Aramaic language, a former " lingua franca" of the Middle Eaststill spoken in a few villages there today, takes its name.
Taiwan( Republic of China): :The Han charactersused today mean "Terraced Bay" in Chinese (terraced rice fields typify the Taiwanese landscape). However, older characters (e.g. 台員) have entirely different meanings. Moreover, some scholars believe the characters serve merely as convenient phonetic vehicles for writing down an older Austronesian name. In the early 17th century, when the Dutch East India Companycame to build a commercial post at Fort Zeelandia (today's Tainan City), they allegedly adopted the name of an aboriginal tribe transliterated as "Tayouan" or "Teyowan" in their records. Chinese merchants (and, later, Chinese officials) also adopted this same name, although different transliteration into Han characterstended to obscure the real etymology by sound, and often evoked varying myths and imaginings. An old-fashioned story traced "Taiwan" to a Hokkien ( Minnan) phrase (埋冤) with the same pronunciation, meaning "burying the unjustly dead," suggesting the riskiness of the sea journey to Taiwan. But this kind of story has given way to more persuasive evidence from ethnological and colonial sources.:* Formosa (former name): Portuguese for "beautiful", presumably because of the beauty of the island.
flag|Tajikistan: :"Tajikistan" or "Tojikiston" (alternative name) means "land of the Tajiks", with "Tajiks" being an alternative name of the Persians. Tajikistan is the only country in the Soviet Union Commonwealth which is Persian-speaking and its history goes back to the Persian Empire. The suffix "
-stan", from Persian, means "land".: The root word "toj" is derived from the Persian word for "crown". Because of the influence of the Russians during the Soviet period, the root word "toj" changed slightly and in time became "tojik". The literal meaning of "Tajikistan" is "place where people have crowns." : Another possible root is the Tibetan "Tag Dzig" (pronounced "Tajik") by which they call all Persians, but in Tibetan this also means "tiger-leopard".Fact|date=February 2007 This could explain why so many Tibetan legends about their western neighbours feature tiger/ leopardcombinations.
flag|Tanzania: :A combination of the names of two states that merged to form this country,
Tanganyika, and Zanzibar. Tanganyika takes its name from the lake in the area, first visited by a European in 1858 in the person of Sir Richard Burton. Burton explained the meaning from local language as "tou tanganyka" meaning "to join", giving the sense "where waters met". In 1871, however, Henry Stanleysaid the word came from "tonga", "island" and "hika", "flat". Both theories remain uncertain. Zanzibar derives its name from the "Zengi" or "Zengj", a local people whose own name means "black". This root joined to the Arabic "barr", which means "coast" or "shore".
flag|Thailand: :The word Thai (ไทย) is not, as is commonly believed, derived from the word "thai" (ไท) meaning "freedom" in the Thai language; it is, however, the name of an ethnic group from the central plains. With that in mind the locals seemed to have also accepted the alternative meaning and will verbally state that it means "Land of the free". This might be due to language barriers and the avoidance of long difficult explanations.
:*Siam (former name): The Thai people called their land by this name from the
Sukhothaiperiod. It became the name of the country from the reign of King Rama VIor King Chulalongkorn. The name was changed to "Thailand" in the reign of King Rama VII (1925–1935) by the government of Siam at that time. The word "Siam" is probably derived from the Pālitoponym "Suvarnabhumi" "Land of Gold", the ultimate root being the Pāli root "sama" which variously denoted different shades of color, most often brown or yellow, but sometimes green or black.
flag|Togo: :From the settlement Togo, currently Togoville. In Ewe, "to" means "water" and "go", "shore".:* French Togoland (former name): See Togo (above) and France (above).
flag|Tokelau (territory of
New Zealand): :From the Tokelauan "North" or "Northern", describing the islands' location relative to Samoa. The Tokelauan people traditionally originated as settlers from Samoa.
flag|Tonga: :From the Tongan "South" or "Southern", describing the islands' location relative to
Samoa.:* Friendly Islands(former name): named by Captain James Cookin 1773 after the friendliness and hospitality of the people he met on the islands.
flag|Trinidad and Tobago::
Christopher Columbusencountered the island of Trinidad on July 31, 1498 and named it after the Holy Trinity. Columbus reported seeing Tobago, which he named "Bella Forma", but did not land on the island. The name "Tobago" probably derives from the tobaccogrown and smoked by the natives.:*"Kairi" or "Iere" (old Amerindianname for Trinidad): Usually translated as "The Land of the Hummingbird", although others have reported that it simply meant "island".
Tromelin Island(territory of France)::From the Chevalier de Tromelin (Knight of Tromelin), a French Royal Navy officer, captain of the French corvette " La Dauphine", who visited the island in 1776. [ [http://portal.unesco.org/en/ev.php-URL_ID=26887&URL_DO=DO_TOPIC&URL_SECTION=201.html UNESCO in action cultureThe shipwrecked memory of the L'Utile slaves: UNESCO ] ]
flag|Tunisia: :After its capital
Tunis, whose name possibly derives from a Berber word signifying a small cape. [ [http://www.mondeberbere.com/culture/chafik/maghreb/substratberbere.htm] in French]
flag|Turkey: :The Turkish name "Türkiye" consists of two parts: "Türk", which means "strong" in Turkish and usually refers to the inhabitants of
Turkeyor a member of Turkish nation; but the source of other part "iye" is not certain. It can be a latin suffix (Bohem-ia, Croat-ia etc.), an Arabic suffix -iyye or a Turkish word "iye" which means "owner". The root appears commonly among early Altaic tribal ethnonyms, and also appears in the name of the modern inhabitants of Turkmenistan.:* " Rum" (Р'ом, ڕۆم Kurdish variant): after the Sultanate of Rûm. When the Persiansmet the Byzantines, these called themselves "Rhomaioi" ("Romans"), which gave the name " Rûm" to the region where the Turks would settle.
flag|Turkmenistan::From "Turkmen" and "-stan". "
-stan" as a Persian suffix means "land". Thus: "land of the Turkmen people.
:"See also Turkey, above"
flag|Turks and Caicos Islands (territory of the
United Kingdom)::"Turks" after the indigenous Turk's Head "fez" cactus; and "Caicos" from the indigenous Lucayanterm "caya hico", meaning "string of islands".
flag|Tuvalu::From the native "eight islands" or "eight standing with each other" (Tuvalu actually consists of nine islands — only eight of them traditionally inhabited). An earlier name, "Niulakita", the name of the first atoll settled in 1949, became suppressed.:*
Ellice Islands(former name): named after Edward Ellice, a British politician and merchant, by Captain Arent de Peyster, who sighted the islands in 1819 sailing on the ship "Rebecca". Ellice owned the cargo of the ship. The Ellice Islands received the name "Tuvalu" following a vote for secession from the Gilbert Islands (now Kiribati) in 1975/1976.
flag|Uganda::From the Swahili version of
Buganda, the kingdom of the 52 clans of the Baganda people, the largest of the traditional kingdoms in present-day Uganda. British officials adopted the name Uganda in 1894.
flag|Ukraine::From the Slavic words "
krai" (" kraj") and its derivative " krajina", both originally meaning "borderland", "marches", or from a later, more generic use of the same word " krajina" or " ukrajina" with the meaning "land", "region", "principality".
"flag|USSR|name=Union of Soviet Socialist Republics"::Also called the "
Soviet Union" for short. The word " soviet" ( _ru. совет), a Russian abstract noun, meant "council" or "board", in English became an adjective denoting persons from the country.
flag|United Arab Emirates::The etymology of the term "Arab" or "Arabian" links with that of the place name "Arabia". The root of the word has many meanings in
Semitic languages, including "west / sunset", "desert", "mingle", "merchant", "raven" and "comprehensible", all of which appear to have some relevance to the emergence of the name. " Emirate" refers to a territory ruled by an emir.:* Trucial States, Trucial Oman(former names): Before 1971 English-speakers knew the area as the "Trucial States" or "Trucial Oman", in reference of a nineteenth-century truce between the British and Arab sheikhs. It borders Omanand Saudi Arabia.
flag|United Kingdom::Shortened form of the full name: "The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland". Originally (from 1801) called "The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland", referring to the union between the
Kingdom of Great Britainand the Kingdom of Ireland. The name was officially changed to its present style in 1927 following the separation from the Union of the then Irish Free State(now the Republic of Ireland).
flag|United States of America::The term "United States" comes from the end of the Declaration of Independence: "We, therefore, the representatives of the" "united States" "of America, in general congress, assembled...". The
preambleto the U.S. Constitution reiterated the phrase: "We the People of the United States..."." The authors of these two documents probably used the phrase "united States" in place of a list of colonies/states because they remained uncertain (at the time of drafting) which colonies/states would sign off on the sentiments therein. The geographic term "America" specifies the states' home on the American continent, and is believed to derive from the Latinized version of the explorer Amerigo Vespucci's name, "Americus Vespucius", in its feminine form, "America". The feminine was chosen to match the ending of all other known continents at the time: Asia, Africa, and (as known in Latin) Europa.
List of U.S. state name etymologies, Lists of U.S. county name etymologiesand List of continent name etymologies.
flag|Uruguay::The name comes from the
Uruguay River(indeed its official name "Republica Oriental del Uruguay" — "oriental" meaning "east" — references its position east of the river). The word "Uruguay" itself may derive from the Guaraníwords "urugua" (" shellfish") and "i" ("water"), meaning "river of shellfish". Another possible explanation holds that the name "Uruguay" divides into three component Guaraní words: "uru" (a kind of bird that lived near the river); "gua" ("to proceed from"); and "i" ("water").
flag|U.S. Virgin Islands (territory of the United States of America)::
Christopher Columbusnamed the islands in 1493 after St. Ursulaand her 11,000 virgins, as he gained the impression of a seemingly endless number of islands. The term "U.S.", applied after the U.S. acquisition of the islands from Denmark in 1917, serves to distinguish this territory from the adjacent British Virgin Islands. :*Danish West Indies (former name): after the former colonial ruler ( Denmark).
:"See also United States of America above."
flag|Uzbekistan:: Comes from three words: "uz", meaning "self" in Turkic; "bek" meaning "master" in the Sogdian language, and "stan" meaning "land" in Persian. Thus, "Uzbekistan" = "Land of the Self Masters."
flag|Vanuatu: :Derived from a phrase found in some of the languages of Vanuatu meaning "Our Land":*
New Hebrides(former name): named after the Hebridesislands in Scotlandby Captain James Cookin 1774.
flag|Vatican City: :"Vatican" from the
Latin"vaticinari", "to prophesy", by way of the name of the hill "Mons Vaticanus" of which the Vatican City forms a part. Fortune-tellers and sooth-sayers used the streets beneath in Roman times.
Venice", from the diminutive form of "Venezia". The native stilt-houses built on Lake Maracaiboimpressed the European explorers Alonso de Ojedaand Amerigo Vespucciand reminded them of buildings in Venice.
flag|Vietnam::(Cognate of the Chinese: 越南), "Beyond the southern border", as referred to by the ancient Chinese, or "South Yue", after the Yue peoples of ancient southeast China.
flag|Wake Island (territory of the United States of America): :Named after the British Captain
William Wake, who sighted the island in 1796 in his boat the "Prince William Henry" (though the Spanish explorer Mendaña may have sighted it 1568).
constituent countryof the United Kingdom):":From Old English"Waelisc", "Walh", meaning "foreign" ( Old English"Waelisc" also provides the source of English word "Welsh"). Anglo-Saxons used their version of an Old Teutonic term to apply to speakers of Celtic languagesas well as to speakers of Latin. The same etymology applies to walnuts as well as to Cornwallin Britain and to Walloniain Belgium. Old Church Slavonicalso borrowed the term from the Germanic, and it served as the origin of the name of the Romanian region of Wallachia. Gaulor Gallia, as well as Gael and Gaelic share the same etymology, as G and W are often interchangeable between English and French (wasp/guêpe, ward/garde, etc.). In fact, the French word for Wales is "Pays de Galles", and Welsh is translated as "Gallois". SEE "CYMRU"
flag|Wallis and Futuna (territory of
France)::The "Wallis" comes from the English explorer Samuel Wallis, who sailed there in 1797.
flag|Western Sahara (claimed by
Moroccoand the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic)::After its geographic position in the west of the Saharadesert. "Sahara" is an English pronunciation of the word for "desert" in Arabic. The local nationalist group the Polisario Fronthave named their government in exilethe " Sahrawi ArabDemocratic Republic" after its people, the Sahrawis (or Saharawis).:* Spanish Sahara(former name): after its geographic position in the Saharadesert and the former colonial power ( Spain).
:"See also Spain above."
flag|Yemen::From the Arabic root "ymn", expressing the basic meaning of "right"; however, its exact meaning remains in dispute. Some sources claim it comes from the form "yamîn", meaning "right-hand side" and by extension "south" (many
Semitic languages, including Arabic and Hebrew, show traces of a system with south on the right and north on the left). Other sources claim that it originates from the form "yumn", meaning "happiness" or "blessings" (arising from the widespread idea that right = good.) The name (to the classical world "Arabia Felix" — "fortunate Arabia") originally referred to the entire southern coast of the Arabian Peninsula.
"flag|Yugoslavia" (former name): :From "Jugoslavija", which means "Land of the South Slavs" (South Slavic "jug" means "south").
flag|Zambia: :After the River
Zambezi, which flows through the east of the country and also forms the border with Zimbabwe.:* Northern Rhodesia(former name): named after Cecil Rhodes, a British South African minister and businessman who helped found the colony. "Northern" to differentiate it from Southern Rhodesia(modern Zimbabwe).
flag|Zimbabwe::Alteration of Shona "Dzimba-dze-mabwe", translated as "houses of stone" ("dzimba" = plural of "imba", "house"; "mabwe" = plural of "bwe", "stone"), referring to the stone-built capital city of the ancient trading empire of
Great Zimbabwe. Alternatively, the element "zi" means "big" — thus "big houses of stone".:* Southern Rhodesia/ Rhodesia(former names): named after Cecil Rhodes, a British South African minister and businessman who helped found the colony. "Southern" differentiated it from Northern Rhodesia(modern Zambia). The "Southern" adjective disappeared upon Zambiaachieving independence in 1964, and the area became known as Rhodesia.
List of etymologies of country subdivision names
List of continent name etymologies
List of political entities named after people
Lists of etymologies
List of double placenames
* Room, Adrian. "Brewer's Names: People. Places. Things". Cassell, 1992. ISBN 0-304-34077-4
* Room, Adrian. "Placenames of the World, Origins and Meanings". McFarland and Company, Inc, Publishers, 1997. ISBN 0-7864-0172-9
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List of country-name etymologies — This list covers English language country names with their etymologies. Some of these include notes on indigenous names and their etymologies. Countries in italics are endonyms or no longer exist as sovereign political entities. Contents A B C D… … Wikipedia
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List of California county name etymologies — This is a list of California county name etymologies. Most of California s counties were named by Spanish explorers, often for a Roman Catholic saint whose feast day intersected with the advance into a new part of Alta California. Native American … Wikipedia
List of U.S. county name etymologies, S-Z — This is a list of U.S. county name etymologies, covering the letters S to Z.*Sabine County, Texas *Sabine Parish, Louisiana *Sac County, Iowa *Sacramento County, California *Sagadahoc County, Maine *Saginaw County, Michigan *Saguache County,… … Wikipedia
List of Indiana county name etymologies — This is a list of Indiana county name etymologies. Many Indiana counties are named for United States Founding Fathers and personalities of the American Revolutionary War, the War of 1812 and Battle of Tippecanoe; early leaders of Indiana… … Wikipedia
List of Virginia county name etymologies — This is a list of Virginia county name etymologies. It does not include etymologies for the independent cities of Virginia. Alphabetical, by first letter A*Accomack County: Accomack is named for a Native American word decscribing the Eastern… … Wikipedia
List of Ohio county name etymologies — This list of Ohio county name etymologies lists the 88 counties of the U.S. state of Ohio, with the date of their creation. There is significant disagreement among the etymologists who have addressed the origins of many of these names. Where such … Wikipedia