List of country-name etymologies

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.




"Home of the Pashtuns" in Persian (افغانستان, Afghânestân), attested in the Persian-influenced Chagatai memoirs of the Moghul emperor Babur[1] in 1525. A compound of the exonym Afghân (افغا, "Pashtun") and the suffix -stân (ستان, "home of"). "Afghan" was first recorded in Arabic (أفغان, Afġān) in the 10th-century Ḥudūd al-ʿĀlam[2] and likely derives from the Prakrit Avagānā (आभगन) recorded in the 6th-century encyclopedia compiled by Varahamihira[3] or the Sassanid Persian Abgân first recorded in the 3rd century[4] or both. Both ultimately derive from the Sanskrit tribal name Aśvaka (अश्वक, "horsemen"), describing the Kambojas south of the Hindu Kush.[5] -Stan ultimately derives from the proposed Proto-Indo-European root *stā- ("stand").[citation needed]
Until the 19th century, the name Afghanistan was used for the traditional Pashtun territory between the Hindu Kush and the Indus River mostly in present-day Pakistan, while the kingdom as a whole was known as the "Kingdom of Kabul".[6] This was abandoned in favor of Afghanistan after its English translation had appeared on treaties between the British Raj and Qajarid Persia concerning the Barakzai dynasty of Kabul.[7] The change was confirmed by the 1919 Treaty of Rawalpindi[8] and the 1923 constitution.[9]
Kabul or Caboul, a former name: "Land of Kabul", a city probably deriving its name from the nearby Kabul River which was known in Sanskrit as the Kubhā,[10] possibly from Scythian ku ("water").[11] Although the city has only been attested at its present site since the 8th century, after the Muslim invasions made it preferable to the less defensible Bagram,[12] it has been linked to the Kabolitae (Ancient Greek: Καβωλῖται, Kabōlîtai)[13] and Cabura (Κάβουρα, Káboura)[14] found in some versions of Ptolemy,[15] which in turn has been claimed to have originally been a "Kambojapura" derived from Kamboja above and -pura (Sanskrit: पुर, "city").[16][verification needed]


"Land of the Albanians", Latinized from Byzantine Greek Albanía (Αλβανία), land of the rebel Albanoi (Αλβανοι) mentioned in the History of Michael Attaliates around AD 1080.[17] In her Alexiad, Anna Comnena also mentions a settlement called Albanon or Arbanon.[18] Both may be survivals of the earlier Illyrian tribe, the Albani of the Albanopolis northeast of modern Durrës which appears in Ptolemy around AD 150.[19][20] The demonym has been supposed to ultimately originate from Latin alba ("white")[citation needed] or from the proposed Proto-Indo-European *alb ("hill") or *alb- ("white").[21] A formerly popular pseudoetymology traced the name to Caucasian Albania (see Azerbaijan below).
Arbëri, its medieval endonym: "Land of the Albanians" in Albanian, presumably from the same source as above by way of rhotacism. An Arbanitai were mentioned in Attaliates's History as subjects of the Duke of Dyrrachium, near modern Durrës.[17]
Arnavutluk, its Ottoman Turkish name: "Land of the Albanians", a metathesis from Byzantine Greek Arbanitai and the Turkish locative suffix -lik or -luk.[22]
Shqipëri, its modern endonym: "Land of the Understanding", from the Albanian adverb shqip, "understanding each other".[23][24] A popular pseudoetymology ("Land of the Eagles") erroneously derives it instead from shqiponje ("eagle").[21]


"Land of Algiers", a Latinization of French colonial name L'Algérie adopted in 1839.[25] The city's name derives from French Alger, itself from Catalan Adjère,[26] from the Ottoman Turkish Cezayir and Arabic al-Jazāʼir (الجزائر, "The Islands"). This was a truncated form of the city's older name, Jazā’ir Banī Mazghannā (جزائر بني مازغان, "Islands of the sons of Mazgḥannā"), which referred to four islands off the city's coast which were held by a local Sanhaja tribe.[27][28] (These islands joined the mainland in 1525.) An alternate theory traces the Arabic further back to a transcription of the Berber Ldzayer in reference to Ziri ibn-Manad,[citation needed] founder of the Zirid Dynasty, whose son resettled the city.[29] In Berber, ziri means "moonlight".[citation needed]
Algiers[30] or Algier,[31] former names: As above.


Etymology unknown. Andorra was established as part of Charlemagne's Marca Hispanica and its name may derive from Arabic al-Darra (الدرا, "The Forest"),[citation needed] Spanish andar ("to walk"),[citation needed] or Navarro-Aragonese andurrial ("scrubland").[32] One folk etymology holds that it derives from the Biblical Endor, a name bestowed by Louis le Debonnaire after defeating the Moors in the "wild valleys of Hell".[citation needed]


"Land of Ndongo", from the Portuguese colonial name (Reino de Angola),[33] which erroneously derived a toponym from the Mbundu title ngola a kiluanje ("conquering ngola", a priestly title originally denoting a "chief smith",[34][35] then eventually "king") held by Ndambi a Ngola (Portuguese: Dambi Angola) as lord of Ndongo, a state in the highlands between the Kwanza and Lukala Rivers.

 Antigua and Barbuda

Antigua: "Ancient", corrected from earlier Antego,[36] a truncation of the Spanish Santa Maria la Antigua,[37] bestowed in 1493 by Christopher Columbus in honor of the Virgen de la Antigua ("Virgin of the Old Cathedral"[38]), a revered mid-14th-century icon in the Chapel of La Antigua in Seville Cathedral.[39]
Barbuda: "Bearded" in Spanish, corrected from earlier Barbado, Berbuda, Barbouthos, &c.[36][40] This may derive from the appearance of the island's fig trees or from the beards of the indigenous people.


"Platine" (lit. "Silvery"), from the 17th-century Spanish La Argentina, a truncation of Tierra Argentina ("Land beside the Silvery River", lit. "Silvery Land"), named via poetic Spanish argento in reference to the Río de la Plata (Spanish: "Silver River"; Latin: Argenteus), so-called by Sebastian Cabot during his expedition there in the 1520s after acquiring some silver trinkets from the Guaraní along the Paraná near modern-day Asunción, Paraguay.[41]


Etymology unknown. Latinized from Greek Armenía (Ἀρμενία), "Land of the Armenioi" (Αρμένιοι) attested in the 5th century BC,[42] from Old Persian Armina (Old Persian a.pngOld Persian ra.pngOld Persian mi.pngOld Persian i.pngOld Persian na.png) attested in the late 6th century BC,[43] of uncertain origin.
It may be a continuation of the Assyrian Armânum[44] which was conquered by Naram-Sin in 2200 BC[45] and has been identified with an Akkadian colony in the Diarbekr region.[44] The name has also been claimed as a variant of the Urmani or Urmenu appearing in an inscription of Menuas of Urartu,[46] as a proposed tribe of the Hayasa-Azzi known as the Armens (Armenian: Արմեններ, Armenner)[47][48] or as a continuation of the Biblical Minni (Hebrew: מנּי‎)[49] and Assyrian Minnai,[50] corresponding to the Mannai. (Addition of the Sumerogram ḪAR would make this name equivalent to "the mountainous region of the Minni".[51][52]) Diakonoff derived the name from a proposed Urartian and Aramaic amalgam *Armnaia ("inhabitant of Arme" or "Urme"),[53] a region held by Proto-Armenians in the Sason mountains.[citation needed] Ultimately, the name has been connected to the Proto-Indo-European root *ar- ("assemble", "create") also found in Ararat, Aryan, Arta, &c.[54][55]
The Armenians traditionally traced the name to an eponymous ancestor Aram (Armenian: Արամ),[56][57] sometimes equated with Arame, the earliest known king of Urartu.[58] Strabo derived the etymology from an Armenius of Armenium, a city on Lake Boebeïs in Thessaly,[59] while Herodotus called them Phrygian colonists.[60]
Hayastan, the local endonym: Etymology unknown. The modern Armenian Hayastan (Հայաստան) derives from earlier Armenian Hayk’ (Հայք) and Persian -stān (ستان). Hayk’ derives from Old Armenian Haykʿ (հայք), traditionally derived from a legendary patriarch named Hayk (Armenian: Հայկ).[61] Aram above was considered to be one of his descendants.


"Southern Land" in New Latin, adapted from the legendary pseudo-geographical Terra Australis Incognita ("Unknown Southern Land") dating back to the Roman era. First appearing as a corruption of the Spanish name for an island in Vanuatu in 1625,[62] "Australia" was slowly popularized following the advocacy of the British explorer Matthew Flinders in his 1814 description of his circumnavigation of the island.[63] Lachlan Macquarie, a Governor of New South Wales, used the word in his dispatches to England and recommended it be formally adopted by the Colonial Office in 1817.[64] The Admiralty agreed seven years later and the continent became officially known as Australia in 1824.[65]
Oz, a colloquial endonym: Likely a contraction from above. Folk etymology traces the name to the 1939 film, The Wizard of Oz, but the Oxford English Dictionary records the first occurrence as "Oss" in 1908.[66] Frank Baum's original book predates this and may have inspired the name,[67] but it is also possible Baum himself was influenced by Australia in his development of Oz.[68]
Nova Hollandia, a former name: "New Holland" in New Latin (Dutch: Nieuw Holland), after the Dutch province, bestowed by the Dutch explorer Abel Tasman in 1644. For the further etymology of Holland, see the Netherlands below.


"Eastern March", Latinized as early as 1147 from German Österreich,[69] from Old High German Ostarrîchi (996) or Osterrîche (998),[70] from Medieval Latin Marchia Orientalis, an eastern prefecture for the Duchy of Bavaria established in 976. A common pseudoetymology renders Österreich as "Eastern Empire", but this is a false cognate. Similarly, it is completely unrelated etymologically to Australia.


"Land of Aturpat", a Hellenistic-era king over a region in present-day Iranian Azarbaijan and Iranian Kurdistan, south of the modern state.[71][72] Despite this difference, the present name was chosen by the Musavat to replace the Russian names Transcaucasia and Baku in 1918. "Azerbaijan" derives from Persian Āzarbāydjān, from earlier Ādharbāyagān and Ādharbādhagān, from Middle Persian Āturpātākān, from Old Persian Atropatkan. (The name is often derived from the Greek Atropatene (Ἀτροπαρηνή),[73][74] Atropátios Mēdía (Ἀτροπάτιος Μηδία),[75] or Tropatēnē (Τροπατηνή),[76] although these were exonyms and Atropatkan was never thoroughly Hellenized.) Atropatkan was a renaming of the Achaemenian XVIII Satrapy of Eastern Armenia, comprising Matiene and the surrounding Urartians and Saspirians,[77] upon Aturpat's declaration of independence from the Diadochi Seleucus following the death of Alexander the Great. Aturpat's own name (Old Persian: Old Persian a.pngOld Persian tu.pngOld Persian ra.pngOld Persian pa.pngOld Persian a.pngOld Persian tu.png; Greek: Aτρoπάτης, Atropátēs) is the Old Persian for "protected by atar", the holy fire of Zoroastrianism.[78]
Albania, a former name: From the Latin Albānia, from the Greek Albanía (Ἀλβανία),[79] related to the Old Armenian Ałuankʿ (Աղուանք). The native Lezgic name(s) for the country is unknown,[80] but Strabo reported its people to have 26 different languages and to have only been recently unified in his time. It is often referenced as "Caucasian Albania" in modern scholarship to distinguish it from the European country above.
Arran, a former name: From the Middle Persian Arran, from Parthian Ardhan, derived via rhotacism from earlier names as above.[citation needed]
Transcaucasia, a former name: A Latinization of the Russian name Zakavkaz'e (Закавказье), both meaning "across the Caucasus Mountains" — i.e., from Russia. It appeared in the names of two states, the Transcaucasian Democratic Federative Republic and the Transcaucasian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic.



"The Shallows", from the Spanish name Archipiélago de las Bahamas, likely from a variant spelling of baja mar ("low" or "shallow sea") in reference to the reef-filled Bahama Banks.[81] First attested on the c. 1523 "Turin Map",[82] Bahama originally referred to Grand Bahama alone but was used inclusively even in English by 1670.[81] The Spanish name has been alternately derived from a translation of the Lucayan Taíno name of Grand Bahama, Ba ha ma (lit. "Big upper middle land"),[citation needed] or from the Palombe of John Mandeville's Travels whose fountain of youth became conflated with Caribbean legends about Bimini and Boinca.[51]


"The Two Seas" in Arabic (البحرين, al-Baḥrayn). However, which two seas were originally intended remains in dispute.[83] A popular folk etymology relates Bahrain to the "two seas" mentioned five times in the Quran. The passages, however, do not refer to the modern island but rather to the Saudi deserts opposite modern Bahrain.[83] It is possible Bahrain (previously known as Awal) simply acquired its name when that region became known as Al-Hasa, but today the name is generally taken to refer to the island itself. The two seas are then the bay east and west of the island,[84] the seas north and south of the island,[citation needed] or the salt water surrounding the island and the fresh water beneath it which appears in wells and also bubbling up at places in the middle of the gulf.[85] An alternate theory offered by al-Ahsa was that the two seas were the Great Green Ocean and a peaceful lake on the mainland;[which?] still another provided by al-Jawahari is that the original formal name Bahri (lit. "belonging to the sea") would have been misunderstood and so was opted against.[85]


"Country of Bengal", a compound of Bengali Bangla (Bengali: বাংলা, "Bengal") and -desh (দেশ, "country") which appeared in Sheikh Mujibur Rahman's 1971 declaration of independence for East Pakistan. The earliest reference to Bengal (বঙ্গাল, Bôngal) has been traced in the early-9th-century Nesari plates.[86] It is derived from the ancient Vanga or Banga Kingdom mentioned in the Mahabharata as located in eastern Bengal, which in turn is thought to preserve the name of a Dravidian-speaking tribe called the Bang who settled the region around the year 1000 BC.[87]
Folk etymologies also trace the name to the Austric Bonga (a sun god) and bhang, a preparation of cannabis.[88][89]
East Pakistan (Bengali: পূর্ব পাকিস্তান, Purbo Pakistan), a former name: See Pakistan below.
East Bengal, a former name: See above.


"Bearded ones", from the Portuguese Las Barbadas,[90] corrected from earlier Barbata, Barbuda, S. Barduda, Barbadoes, &c.[90] First attested by a 1519 map done by the Genoese cartographer Visconte Maggiolo.[91] As with Barbuda, the name may derive from the appearance of the island's fig trees or from the beards of the indigenous people. (Taylor was of the opinion that Barbuda was named for its men, Barbados for its figs.[51])


"White Russia", a compound of the Belarussian bel- (бел-, "white") and Rus (Русь, Rus') adopted in 1991. The meaning is "Russian" in the cultural and historic (Old Russian: рускъ, ruskʺ; Old Belarusian: руски, ruski; Russian: русский, russkiy) but not national sense (Russian: россиянин, rossiyánin), a distinction sometimes made by translating the name as "White Ruthenia", although "Ruthenian" has other meanings as well. The name is first attested in the 13th century as German Weissrussland and Latin Russia Alba, first in reference to Russia's White and then Black Sea coasts.[92] The exonym was next applied to Great Novgorod and then Muscovy after its conquest of that region, finally being applied to its present region in the late 16th century to describe ethnically Russian regions being conquered from Poland.[92] This last change was politically motivated, with Russia employing the foreign term to justify its revanchism at Poland's expense.[92] The original meaning of "white" in Belarus's name is unknown. It may simply have arisen from confusion with legends concerning Caucasian Albania[92] or from a use of colors to distinguish cardinal directions as seen in "Red Russia".[93] Other theories include its use to distinguish Belarus as "free" or "pure", particularly of Mongolian control, or to distinguish the region from "Black Russia", a region of productive soil.[citation needed] For the further etymology of Rus, see Russia below.
Belorussia or Byelorussia, a former name: "White Russia" in Russian (Белоруссия, Belorussiya), truncated from the White Russian Soviet Socialist Republic (Белору́сская Сове́тская Социалисти́ческая Респу́блика, Belorússkaya Sovétskaya Sotsalistícheskaya Respúblika) declared in 1919.
White Russia, a former name: a translation of the above.


"Land of the Belgae", from the Roman province of Gallia Belgica ("Belgic Gaul") derived from the Latinized name of a Celtic tribe. The present Kingdom of Belgium adopted the name upon its independence from the Netherlands in 1830 based on the French-language name of Henri Van der Noot's brief-lived United States of Belgium (États-Unis de Belgique) which had declared its independence from Austria in 1790. The tribe's exact endonym remains unknown, but the name Belgae is usually traced to the proposed Proto-Celtic root *belg- from the Proto-Indo-European *bhelgh-, both meaning "to bulge" or "to swell" (particularly with anger) and cognate with the Old English belgan, "to be angry".[94][95][96][97][98] An alternate etymology takes it from a proposed Proto-Indo-European root meaning "dazzling" or "bright"[99]


Etymology unknown. Traditionally derived from a Spanish transcription of "Wallace", a Scottish buccaneer who established an eponymous settlement (on Spanish maps, Valize and Balize[51]) along the Belize River (which he also named after himself) in the early 17th century.[100] Alternatively taken from the Mayan word beliz ("muddy water"),[101] presumably in reference to the river, or from Kongolese Africans who brought the name with them from Cabinda. Adopted in 1973 while still a self-governing colony of the United Kingdom.
A previous folk etymology took it from the French balise ("beacon").[51]
British Honduras, a former name: See Honduras and Great Britain below.


"[Land beside] the Bight of Benin", the stretch of the Gulf of Guinea west of the Niger delta, a purposefully neutral name chosen to replace Dahomey (see below) in 1975. The Bight itself is named after a city and a kingdom in present-day Nigeria having no relation to the modern Benin. The English name comes from a Portuguese transcription (Benin) of a local corruption (Bini) of the Itsekiri form (Ubinu) of the Yoruba Ile-Ibinu ("Home of Vexation"), a name bestowed on the Edo capital by the irate Ife oba Oranyan in the 12th century.[citation needed]
An alternate theory derives Bini from the Arabic bani (بني, "sons" or "tribe").[citation needed]
Dahomey or Dahomy, a former name: "Belly of Dã" in Fon (Dã Homè),[51] from the palace of the ahosu Akaba, traditionally built over the entrails of a local ruler.[102] In Fon, the name "Dã" or "Dan" can also mean "snake" or the snake-god Damballa. Upon the restoration of independence, the name was deemed no longer appropriate since the historic kingdom comprised only the southern regions and ethnicities of the modern state.
Abomey, a former name: "Ramparts" in Fon (Agbomè), from the palace of the ahosu Houegbadja.[citation needed]


Near Delhi, Tibet appears as "Thibet or Bootan"
"Thibet" with its interior and "Bootan" clearly separated
Two of Rennell's EIC maps, showing the division of "Thibet or Bootan" into separate regions.
Etymology unknown. Names similar to Bhutan — including Bottanthis, Bottan, Bottanter — began to appear in Europe around the 1580s. Jean-Baptiste Tavernier's 1676 Six Voyages is the first to record the name Boutan. However, in every case, these seem to have been describing not modern Bhutan but the Kingdom of Tibet.[103] The modern distinction between the two did not begin until well into George Bogle's 1774 expedition — realizing the differences between the two regions, cultures, and states, his final report to the East India Company formally proposed labeling the Druk Desi's kingdom as "Boutan" and the Panchen Lama's as "Tibet". Subsequently, the EIC's surveyor general James Rennell first anglicized the French name as Bootan and then popularized the distinction between it and greater Tibet.[103] The name is traditionally taken to be a transcription of the Sanskrit Bhoṭa-anta (भोट-अन्त, "end of Tibet"), in reference to Bhutan's position as the southern extremity of the Tibetan plateau and culture.[104][51] "Bhutan" may have been truncated from this or been taken from the Nepali name Bhutān (भूटान). It may also come from a truncation of Bodo Hathan ("Tibetan place").[citation needed] All of these ultimately derive from the Tibetan endonym Bod (See Tibet below). An alternate theory derives it from the Sanskrit Bhu-Utthan (भू-उत्थान, "highlands").[104]
Druk Yul, the local endonym: "Land of the Thunder Dragon" in Bhutanese (འབྲུག་ཡུལ་). Variations of this were known and used as early as 1730. The first time a Kingdom of Bhutan separate from Tibet did appear on a western map, it did so under its local name as "Broukpa".[103]


"Land of Bolivar" in New Latin, in honor of Simón Bolívar, one of the leading generals in the Spanish American wars of independence. Bolívar had given his lieutenant Antonio José de Sucre the option to keep Upper Peru under Peru, to unite it with the United Provinces of Rio de la Plata, or to declare its independence. A national assembly opted for independence, then sought to placate Bolívar's doubts by naming Bolívar as the first president of a country named in his honor.[105][106] The original name "Republic of Bolivar" was swiftly changed to Bolivia at the urging of the congressman Manuel Martín Cruz.[107]
Bolívar's own name derives from the village of Bolibar in Spanish Biscay. Its name comes from the Basque bolu ("windmill") and ibar ("valley").[108]

 Bosnia and Herzegovina

Self-descriptive, originally translated from the Ottoman Turkish for the union of the Pashaluks of Bosna and Hersek following the death of the latter's governor, Ali Pasha Rizvanbegović, in 1851.
Bosnia: "Land of the Bosna" in Latin, first attested in the Byzantine emperor Constantine VII's 958 De Administrando Imperio. (The 12th-century Chronicle of the Priest of Duklja also mentions an 8th-century source for the name which, however, has not survived.) "Bosna" was the medieval name of the classical Latin Bossina.[109] Anton Mayer proposed a connection with the proposed Proto-Indo-European roots *bos or *bogh ("running water").[110] Certain Roman sources[which?] similarly mention Bathinus flumen as a name of the Illyrian Bosona, both of which would mean "running water" as well.[110] Other theories involve the rare Latin Bosina ("boundary") or possible Slavic origins.[110]
Herzegovina: "Duchy" or "Dukedom", an amalgam of German herzog ("duke") and the Serbo-Croatian -ovina ("-land"). The duke was Stjepan Vukčić, Grand Voivode of Bosnia, who proclaimed himself "Duke of Hum and the Coast"[111] and then either proclaimed himself[111] or was bestowed the title[citation needed] "Duke of Saint Sava of Serbia" by the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick III around 1448. The Ottoman sanjak formed in the area after its 1482 conquest was simply called Hersek, but the longer Croatian form was adopted by Austria and English.


"Country of the Tswana" in Setswana, after the country's dominant ethnic group. The etymology of "Tswana" is uncertain. Livingstone derived it from the Setswana tshwana ("alike", "equal"),[112] others from a word for "free".[113] However, other early sources suggest that while the Tswana adopted the name, it was an exonym they learned from the Germans and British.[114]
  • Bechuanaland, a former name: from "Bechuana", an alternate spelling of "Botswana".


"Brazilwood", from the Portuguese Terra do Brasil, from pau-brasil ("brazilwood", lit. "red-wood"),[115] a name derived from its similarity to red-hot embers (Latin: brasa).[116][117][118] The name may have been a translation of the Tupi ibirapitanga, also meaning "red-wood".[citation needed] The ending -il derives from the diminutive Latin suffix -ilus.[116][117]
The appearance of islands named "Bracile", "Hy-Brazil", or "Ilha da Brasil" on maps as early as the c. 1330 portolan chart of Angelino Dulcert[115] sometimes leads etymologists to question the standard etymology. While most of these islands of Brazil are found off the coast of Ireland and may be taken to stem from a Celtic rendering of the legendary Isle of the Blessed,[115] the 1351 Medici Atlas places one Brazil near Ireland an a second one off the Azores near Terceira Island. That use may derive from its four volcanoes or reference its dragon's blood, a red resin dye. Regardless, the initial names of present-day Brazil were Ilha de Vera Cruz ("Island of the True Cross") and then – after it was discovered to be a new mainland – Terra de Santa Cruz ("Land of the Holy Cross"); this only changed after a Lisbon-based merchant consortium led by Fernão de Loronha leased the new colony for massive exploitation of the costly dyewood which had previously been available only from India.
Pindorama, a former name: "Land of the Palm Trees" in Guarani, the language of the Indians of Paraguay and southwest Brazil.[citation needed]

United Kingdom Great Britain

See the United Kingdom below.


Etymology unknown. Modern folk etymology derives it from a Malay exclamation Barunah! ("There!"), supposedly exclaimed by Awang Alak Betatar, the legendary 14th-century sultan, upon landing on Borneo or upon moving from Garang to the Brunei river delta.[119][120] An earlier folk etymology traced it to his alleged membership in an Arabian tribe called the Buranun.[citation needed] Chinese sources recording a mission from the king of "Boni" (渤泥, Bóní) as early as 978[121] and a later "P'o-li" (婆利, Pólì) seem to contradict these but may refer to Borneo as a whole.[122] It is mentioned in the 15th-century history of Java as a country conquered by Adaya Mingrat, general of Angka Wijaya,[123] and around 1550 by the Italian Ludovico di Varthema under the name "island of Bornei". Other derivations include an Indian word for "seafarers" (from Sanskrit: वरुण, varunai),[124] another for "land" (from Sanskrit: bhumi),[125] or the Kelabit for the Limbang River.[126]


"Land of the Bulgars", Latinized from Greek Boulgaría (Βουλγαρία), attested in the peace treaty signed between the Bolgar khan Asparukh and the Byzantine emperor Constantine IV in 681.[127] The name "Bulgar" is now generally derived from the Turkic tribe, the proto-Turkic bulģha ("to mix", "shake", "stir") and its derivative bulgak ("revolt", "disorder")[128] Alternate etymologies include derivation from a Mongolic cognate bulğarak ("to separate", "split off")[citation needed] or from a compound of proto-Turkic bel ("five") and gur ("arrow" in the sense of "tribe"), a proposed division within the Utigurs or Onogurs ("ten tribes").[129]
Within Bulgaria, some historians question the identification of the Bulgars as a Turkic tribe, citing certain linguistic evidence (such as Asparukh's name) in favor of a North Iranian or Pamiri origin.[130][131]

 Burkina Faso

"Land of Honest Men", from an amalgam of More burkina ("honest", "upright", or "incorruptible men") and Dioula faso ("father's house"), selected by President Thomas Sankara following his 1983 coup to replace Upper Volta.
Upper Volta, a former name: "Land of the Upper Volta River", whose main tributaries originate in the country. The Volta itself (Portuguese: "twist", "turn") was named by Portuguese gold traders exploring the region.[citation needed]


"Burmans", in reference to the nation's largest ethnic group, a correction from 18th century "Bermah" and "Birma", from Portuguese Birmania, probably from Barma in various Indian languages, ultimately from Burmese Bama (ဗမာ), a colloquial oral version of the literary Myanma (မြန်မာ),[132] the eventual pronunciation of the Old Burmese Mranma,[133] first attested in a 1102 Mon inscription as Mirma,[134] of uncertain etymology. It was not until the mid-19th century that King Mindon referred to his position as "king of the Myanma people",[135] as it was only during the Konbaung Dynasty that Burmans fully displaced the Mon within the Irrawaddy valley.
The Indian name is alternatively derived from Brahmadesh (Sanskrit: ब्रह्मादेश), "land of Brahma".[citation needed] A folk etymology of Myanma derives it from myan ("fast") and mar ("tough", "strong").[citation needed]
Myanmar, the present endonym: As above. The terminal r included in the official English translation arose from the nation's status as a former British colony and reflects non-rhotic accents such as Oxford English.


"Land of the Rundi-Speakers" in Rundi, adopted upon independence from Belgian Ruanda-Urundi in 1962.[136]



"Land of the Kambojas", Latinized from French Cambodge, from Sanskrit Kambojadeśa (कम्बोजदेश). These Kambojas are apparently the same Kambojas mentioned above in Afghanistan, whose etymology – or even relationship with Cambodia – is uncertain and highly disputed. Yaska in the 7th century BC and Nirukta[137] derived the name Kamboja from "enjoyers of beautiful things" (Sanskrit: kamaniya bhojah).[138] The AD 947 Baksei Chamkrong inscription and Cambodian tradition derive Kambuja from the descendants (-ja) of Svayambhuva Kambu, a legendary Indian sage who journeyed to Indochina and married an naga[disambiguation needed ] princess there named Mera.[139][140] Others suppose it to be an exonym derived from Old Persian Kambaujiya ("weak") or the cognate Avestan Kambishta ("the least")[141] an amalgam of Sanskrit and Avestan roots meaning "unshaken".[142][143] Others derive it from Cambay or Khambhat in Gujurat.[144]
Kampuchea, an endonym and former name: As above, from the Khmer Kampuchea (កម្ពុជា), from Sanskrit Kambojadeśa (कम्बोजदेश, "land of Kambuja").
Srok Khmer, a local endonym: "Land of the Khmers" in Khmer (ស្រុកខ្មែរ)


"Shrimp", from the singular French Cameroun derived from the German Kamerun, from the Anglicized "Cameroons" derived from the Portuguese Rio de Camarãos[145] or Camarões ("Shrimp River") bestowed in 1472 on account of a massive swarm of the Wouri River's ghost shrimp.[145]
Kamerun, a former name: The German name for their colony there between 1884 and the end of World War I, as above. Formerly also known simply as German Cameroon.
Cameroun, a former name: The French name for their colony there between World War I and 1960, as above. Formerly also known simply as French Cameroons.


"Village", from Laurentian Kanada,[146] adopted for the entire Canadian Confederation in 1867, from name of the British Province of Canada formed by the 1841 reunification of Upper and Lower Canada, previously established by a division of Quebec, the British renaming of the French territory of Canada. French Canada had received its name when its administrators adopted the name used by the explorer Jacques Cartier to refer to St. Lawrence River and the territory along it belonging to the Iroquoian chief Donnacona. In 1535, he had misunderstood the Laurentian Kanada as the name of Donnacona's capital Stadacona.[147]
A former folk etymology derived the name from Spanish or Portuguese acá or cá nada ("nothing here") in reference to the region's lack of gold or silver.[148][149]
Quebec, a former name: "Where the river narrows", from Algonquin kébec via French, in reference to the St. Lawrence River near modern Quebec City. Samuel de Champlain chose the name in 1608 for the new town there,[150] which gave its name to a section of French Canada and then the British province of Quebec, which eventually became modern Canada and even briefly included the entire Ohio River valley between the enactment of the Quebec Act in 1774 and the surrender of the region to the United States in 1783. (Modern Quebec was formed from Canada East during the Canadian Confederation in 1867.)

 Cape Verde

"Green Cape", from the Portuguese Cabo Verde, from its position across from the mainland cape of that name since its discovery in 1444. The cape is located beside Gorée Island in the modern nation of Senegal and is now known by its French form "Cap-Vert". Ironically, the islands' lack of fresh water and rainfall[151] leave them fairly sere.

 Central African Republic

Self-descriptive, from its French name République centrafricaine. For further etymology of "Africa", see List of continent-name etymologies.
Ubangi-Shari, a former name: From the French Oubangui-Chari, from the Ubangi and the Chari Rivers, which ran through the territory.


"Lake", from Lake Chad in the country's southwest, whose name derives from the Kanuri tsade ("lake").[citation needed]


Etymology unknown. The name dates to the "men of Chilli",[152] the survivors of the first Spanish expedition into the region in 1535 under Diego de Almagro. Almagro applied the name to the Mapocho valley,[153] but its further etymology is debated. The 17th-century Spanish chronicler Diego de Rosales derived it from the Quechua Chili, a toponym for the Aconcagua valley, which he considered a corruption of Tili, the name of a Picunche chief who ruled the area at the time of its conquest by the Inca.[154][155] Modern theories derive it from the similarly named Incan settlement and valley of Chili in Peru's Casma Valley,[153] the Quechua chiri ("cold"),[156] the Aymara tchili ("snow"[156][157] or "depths"[158]), the Mapuche chilli ("where the land ends" or "runs out"),[152] or the Mapuche cheele-cheele ("yellow-winged blackbird").[152][159]
A folk etymology connects the name to chili peppers, sometimes via the Mexican Spanish chile ("chili"), but the two are almost certainly unrelated.[160]

Republic of ChinaChina China

Etymology unknown. First recorded in English in 1555 in Richard Eden's Decades of the New World, probably from Malay China via Portuguese[51] ultimately from Sanskrit Cīnāh (चीन),[161] found in the Laws of Manu and the Mahabharata in reference to a people of the south Tibetan or Burmese highlands, the region of the modern Chin peoples. An alternate derivation traces it from Marco Polo's Italian Chin (used in Il Milione only for the East China Sea and not for the country itself), from Middle Persian Cin (چین), to the Sanskrit.
The common folk etymology derives the name from Shi Huangdi's 3rd century BC Qin dynasty, the first imperial one of China's history. However, the Indian name may predate this[citation needed] and refer instead to the earlier state of Qin, some other Indo-Chinese people such as the Zina or Tsen of Guizhou's Yelang kingdom,[51][162] or Jihnan.[51] Additionally, the very close correlation of "Qín" (Chinese: ), traditionally Romanized "Ch'in", to the modern "China" is deceiving, since the Old Chinese pronunciation was closer to *dzin[163] or even *Nʌ-tsir.[164]
Cathay, a former & literary name: "Khitai", from Marco Polo's Italian Catai, used for northern but not southern China, ultimately from the Khitan endonym Kitai Gur ("Kingdom of the Khitai"),[165] possibly via Persian Khitan (ختن) or Chinese Qìdān (契丹).
Seres and Serica, former names: "Land of Silk" in Greek (Σηρες, Sēres) and Latin, respectively. The further etymology is typically derived from the Chinese for silk (t , s , p ), but the modern correspondence belies the Old Chinese pronunciation *sə.[164]
Taiwan, the common name for the Republic of China: Etymology unknown. The present Chinese name (, pinyin: Táiwān) conveys the meaning "Terraced Bay", but older versions such as have entirely different meanings and suggest that the Chinese is merely a transcription of an older – possibly Austronesian – name. This is supported by Dutch East India Company records from Fort Zeelandia (today's Tainan City) which list a tribe as "Tayouan" or "Teyowan".[citation needed] A former pseudoetymology derived the name from Hokkien 埋冤, meaning "burying the unjustly dead" and suggesting the riskiness of the sea journey to the island.[citation needed]
Zhongguo or Chung-kuo (Chinese: t 中國, s 中国, p Zhōngguó), the most common endonym: originally meaning "Central Demesne", then "Middle Kingdom", now equivalent to "Central Nation". (For many other endonyms, see Names of China.)


"Land of Columbus" in Spanish, adopted in 1863[166] in honor of the earlier Gran Colombia formed by Simón Bolívar in 1819 after a proposal of Francisco de Miranda for a single pan–Hispanic American state.
Cundinamarca, a former name: "Condor's Nest" in Quechua[167] phono-semantically matched with the Spanish marca ("march"), adopted upon independence from Spain in 1810 on the erroneous[167] assumption it had been the indigenous Chibcha name for the native kingdom around Bogotá and the Magdalena Valley.
New Granada, a former name: Self-descriptive, from the earlier Spanish Viceroyalty of New Granada, named after the region of Province of Granada in Spain. Adopted in 1835 following the secession of Venezuela and Ecuador from Gran Colombia. For further etymology of "Granada", see Grenada below.
Granadine Confederation, a former name: From the adjectival form of Granada (Spanish: Granadina).


"Moons", from the Arabic Jazā'ir al-Qamar (جزائر القمر, "Islands of the Moon").

 The Congo (Republic)

"[Land beside] the Congo River", adopted by the country upon independence in 1960 from the previous French autonomous colony Republic of the Congo (French: République du Congo) established in 1958, ultimately from the name of the original French colony French Congo (Congo français) established in 1882. The river itself derived its name from Kongo, a Bantu kingdom which occupied its mouth around the time of its discovery by the Portuguese in 1483[168] or 1484[169] and whose name derived from its people, the Bakongo, an endonym said to mean "hunters" (Kongo: mukongo, nkongo).[170]
French Congo, a former name: As above, with the inclusion of its occupier to distinguish it from the Belgian-controlled Congo to its south. For further etymology of "France", see below.
Middle Congo, a former name: From its position along the river, a translation of the French Moyen-Congo, adopted as the colony's name between 1906 and 1958.
Congo (Brazzaville) and Congo-Brazzaville, alternate names: As above, with the inclusion of the country's capital to distinguish it from Congo (Léopoldville) or (Kinshasa) to its south. Brazzaville itself derives from the colony's founder, Pierre Savorgnan de Brazza, an Italian nobleman whose title referred to the Italian name of the Croatian island of Brač, derived from the Latin Brattia.

 The Congo (Democratic Republic)

As above, adopted upon independence in 1960 as Republic of the Congo (French: République du Congo).
Congo Free State, a former name: As above, a translation of the French État indépendant du Congo ("Free State of the Congo"), formed by Leopold II of Belgium in 1885 to administer the holdings of the International Congo Society acknowledged as separate from the country of Belgium at the 1884 Berlin Conference.
Belgian Congo, a former name: As above, following the Free State's union with Belgium in 1908, whose name was often included to distinguish the colony from the French-controlled Congo to its north. For further etymology of "Belgium", see above.
Congo (Léopoldville) and Congo-Léopoldville, former names: As above, with the inclusion of the country's capital to distinguish it from Congo (Brazzaville) to its north. This usage was especially common when both countries shared identical official names prior to Congo-Léopoldville's adoption of the name "Democratic Republic of the Congo" (République démocratique du Congo) in 1964.[171] Léopoldville itself was named for Leopold II of Belgium upon its founding in 1881. Leopold's own name derives from Latin leo ("lion") or Old High German liut ("people") and OHG bald ("brave").
Congo (Kinshasa) and Congo-Kinshasa, alternate names: As above, following the renaming of Léopoldville after the nearby native settlement of Kinshasa or Kinchassa[172] to its east[173] as part of the Mobutist Authenticity movement.
Zaire or Zaïre, a former name: "[Land beside] the Congo River", a French form of a Portuguese corruption of the Kongo Nzere ("river"), a truncation of Nzadi o Nzere ("river swallowing rivers"),[174] adopted for the river and the country between 1971 and 1997 as part of the Authenticity movement.

 Costa Rica

"Rich Coast" in Spanish, although the origin of the epithet is disputed. Some claim it was bestowed by Christopher Columbus in 1502 as Costa del Oro ("Gold Coast"),[51] others by the explorer Gil González Dávila.[citation needed]

 Côte d'Ivoire

"Ivory Coast" in French, from its previous involvement in the ivory trade. Similar names for Côte d'Ivoire and other nearby countries include the "Grain Coast", the "Gold Coast", and the "Slave Coast".
Ivory Coast, an alternate name: Self-descriptive, the English translation of the above.


Etymology uncertain. From Medieval Latin Croātia, from Cruati ("Croatians") attested in the Šopot Inscription, from North-West Slavic Xrovat-, by liquid metathesis from proposed Common Slavic *Xorvat-, from proposed Proto-Slavic *Xarwāt- (*Xъrvatъ)[175] or *Xŭrvatŭ (*xъrvatъ).
The most common theory[175] derives it from Harahvat-, the Old Persian name for the Arachosia or Helmand River, or from Harahuvatiš, the land surrounding it. This is cognate with the with the Vedic Sarasvatī and Avestan Haraxvaitī.[176] This derivation seems to be supported by a 3rd century Scythian form Xoroathos (ΧΟΡΟΑΘΟΣ) appearing in the Tanais Tablets.[citation needed]
Alternate theories include Zbigniew Gołąb's proposal that it is a borrowing from Proto-Germanic *C(h)rovati, presumed to mean "warriors clad with horn-armor"[177] or chrawat, "mountaineers".[51]


Etymology unknown. First bestowed by Christopher Columbus as Cabo de Cuba (the modern Punta de Mulas) after a supposed local settlement named "Cuba",[51] probably from the Taino cubao ("abundant fertile land"[178]) or coabana ("great place"[179]).
Scholars who believe that Christopher Columbus was Portuguese rather than Genovese argue "Cuba" is derived from the town of Cuba near Beja in Portugal.[180][181]


Etymology unknown. Latinized from the Greek Kúpros (Κύπρος), first attested as Mycenaean Greek Linear B Syllable B081 KU.svgLinear B Syllable B039 PI.svgLinear B Syllable B053 RI.svgLinear B Syllable B036 JO.svg (Kupirijo, "Cypriot").[182] Possible etymologies include the Greek kypárissos (κυπάρισσος, "cypress")[183] or kýpros (κύπρος, "henna").[citation needed]
The most common folk etymology derives its name from "copper", since the island's extensive supply gave Greek and Latin words for the metal.[184] Although these words derived from Cyprus rather than the other way around, the name has more recently been derived from an Eteocypriot word for "copper" and even from the Sumerian zubar ("copper") or kubar ("bronze").[citation needed]


"Land of the Czechs and Slovaks", Latinized from the country's original name – "the Czechoslovak Nation"[185] – upon independence in 1918, from the Czech endonym Češi – via its Polish orthography[186] – for the people of the Austrian provinces of Bohemia and Moravia and the Hungarian province of Slovakia, which together with Austrian Silesia formed the new state. For further etymology of "Czech", see Czech Republic below; for further etymology of "Slovak", see Slovakia below.

 Czech Republic

Self-descriptive, adopted upon the Velvet Divorce in 1993. The name "Czech" derives from the Czech endonym Češi via Polish,[187] from the archaic Czech Čechové, originally the name of the West Slavic tribe whose Premyslid dynasty subdued its neighbors in Bohemia around AD 900. Its further etymology is disputed. The traditional etymology derives it from an eponymous leader Čech who led the tribe into Bohemia. Modern theories consider it an obscure derivative, e.g. from četa, a medieval military unit.[188]
Czechia, an uncommon alternate name: A Latinized version of the above.
Czechy or Čechy, a former endonym: "Land of the Czechs" in archaic Czech. Now typically considered to refer only to the area of Bohemia proper, excluding Moravia and other areas.
Česko, a current endonym: "Land of the Czechs" in modern Czech. Although it appeared as early as the 18th century, Česko remained uncommon enough that most Czechs only associated it with its appearance in the Czech name for Czechoslovakia and avoided it following the division of the country. Given the inability to use the former name Čechy either, government campaigns have attempted to made Česko more common.[189]



Etymology uncertain, but probably "The Danish forest" or "march" in reference to the forests of southern Schleswig.[190] First attested in Old English as Denamearc in Alfred's translation of Paulus Orosius's Seven Books of History against the Pagans.[191] The etymology of "Danes" is uncertain, but has been derived from the proposed Proto-Indo-European root *dhen ("low, flat"); -mark from the proposed Proto-Indo-European root *mereg- ("edge, boundary") via Old Norse merki ("boundary") or more probably mörk ("borderland, forest").
The former folk etymology derived the name from an eponymous king Dan of the region.


Etymology unknown, named for its eponymous capital Djibouti, founded in 1888 by the Catalan Eloi Pino and the capital of the previous French colonies French Somaliland and Afars & Issas. The city's name has been traced to its district Gaboot,[citation needed] the Afar gabouti (a kind of doormat made from palm fibers),[citation needed] and "Land of Tehuti", after the ancient Egyptian moon god.[citation needed]
French Somaliland, a former name: From its position near Somalia, with the colonial ruler distinguishing it from British Somaliland and Italian Somaliland. For the further etymology of France and Somalia, see below here and here.
Afars and Issas, a former name: From the country's two main ethnic groups, the Afars and Issas.


"Sunday Island" in Latin, feminized from diēs Dominicus ("Sunday", lit "Lordly Day"), possibly via Spanish Dominga, for the day of the island's sighting by Christopher Columbus on 3 November 1493. At the time of Dominica's discovery, there was no special saint's day on that date and Columbus's own father had been named Domenego.
Wai'tu Kubuli, a former endonym: "Tall is her body" in the local Carib dialect.[192]

 Dominican Republic

"Republic of Santo Domingo", the capital city of the Spanish-held region of Hispaniola since its incorporation by Bartholomew Columbus on 5 August 1498 as La Nueva Isabela, Santo Domingo del Puerto de la Isla de la Española ("New Isabela, Saint Dominic of the Port of Hispaniola") either in honor of Sunday (see Dominica above),[51] his father Domenego, or Saint Dominic's feast day[193] on 4 August.[194] Nicolás de Ovando shortened the name to Santo Domingo de Guzmán upon the city's refounding at a new site after a major hurricane in 1502.[195] Dominic himself was named for Saint Dominic of Silos, the monk at whose shrine his mother was said to have prayed.[citation needed] Dominic (from the Latin Dominicus, "lordly" or "belonging to the Lord") was a common name for children born on Sunday (see "Dominica" above) and for religious names.[citation needed]
Hispaniola, a former name: "Spanish [island]", Latinized by Peter Martyr d'Anghiera[196] from Bartolomé de las Casas's truncated Spanish Española, from the original La Isla Española ("Spanish Island") bestowed by Christopher Columbus in 1492.[196] Replaced by the Royal Audiencia of Santo Domingo theoretically in 1511 and actually in 1526.
Spanish Haiti, a former name: Self-descriptive, translated from the Spanish name República del Haití Español chosen upon independence in 1821. The "Spanish" distinguished it from the adjacent French-speaking Haiti. For further etymology of "Haiti", see below.
Ozama and Cibao, a former name: From the French Départements de l'Ozama et du Cibao, from the Taino cibao ("abounding in rocks", referring to the island's Central Range) and the Ozama River, from Taino ozama ("wetlands", "navigable waters").[citation needed]


 East Timor

"Eastern East [Island]", from the Portuguese Timor-Leste ("East Timor"), in reference to the state's position on the eastern half of the island of Timor, whose name derives from the Malay timur ("east"), from its position in the Lesser Sundas.
Portuguese Timor, a former name: As above, with the addition of its colonizer to distinguish it from Dutch and later Indonesian Timor on the western half of the island. For further etymology of Portugal, see below.
Timor-Leste, an alternate name: "East Timor" in Portuguese.


"Equator" in Spanish, truncated from the Spanish República del Ecuador (lit "Republic of the Equator"), from the former Ecuador Department of Gran Colombia established in 1824 as a division of the former territory of the Royal Audience of Quito. Quito, which remained the capital of the department and republic, is located only about 25 miles (40 km), ¼ of a degree, south of the equator.
Quito, a former name: "Quitus", after its capital Quito, truncated from the original Spanish "Santiago de Quito" and "San Francisco de Quito", after an Andean Indian tribe recently annexed to the Incan Empire at the time of its conquest by the Spanish.


The Egyptian name Km.t appearing on the Luxor Obelisk in the Place de la Concorde, Paris.
"Home of the ka of Ptah", from Latin Ægyptus, from Greek Aígyptos (Αἴγυπτος), from Mycenean Akupitiyo or *Aiguptiyós[citation needed] (Linear B Syllable B008 A.svgLinear B Syllable B081 KU.svgLinear B Syllable B039 PI.svgLinear B Syllable B037 TI.svgLinear B Syllable B036 JO.svg). Possibly derived from Egyptian Gebtu (Coptos, modern Qift),[51] although now more often derived from Egyptian Ḥwt kȝ Ptḥ (Hwt k3 Pth.jpg, proposed reconstructions *Ħāwit kuʔ Pitáħ[citation needed] or *Hakupitah[citation needed]), an alternate name for Memphis, the capital of the Egyptian empire, by metonymy from the cult and temple of Ptah there. Ptah's name itself meant "opener", both in relation to his creation of the world and his role in the opening of the mouth ceremony.[197]
Strabo recorded the Greek folk etymology that it derived from the Greek Aigaíou hyptíōs (Αἰγαίου ὑπτίως, "[land] below the Aegean").
Miṣr or Maṣr, the local endonym: "City" in Arabic (مصر),[citation needed] ultimately from Akkadian.[citation needed]
*Kemet, a former endonym: "Black Land", reconstructed from Egyptian kmt, distinguishing the Nile flood plain from the "Red Land" of the desert, later becoming Coptic Kīmi (Ⲭⲏⲙⲓ). A previous folk etymology related the name to the Biblical Ham.

 El Salvador

"The Savior" in Spanish, a truncation of the original Provincia de Nuestro Señor Jesus Cristo, el Salvador del Mundo ("Province of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Savior of the World"), a territory within the Spanish Kingdom of Guatemala named for its capital La Ciudad de Gran San Salvador ("City of the Great Holy Savior"), founded around April 1, 1525, by Gonzalo de Alvarado, whose brother Pedro had previously instructed him to name a settlement in the territory of Cuscatlan after the Feast of the Holy Savior.[198][199]
Cuzcatlán, a former endonym: "Place of Diamonds", from the Nahuatl Kozkatlan.[citation needed]

England England

"Land of the Angles", from Old English Englaland,[200] for the Germanic tribe first attested in 897.[201] The Angles themselves were first attested as the Latin Anglii in Tacitus's 1st-century Germania and the name was extended to cover the other Germans in Britain after the ascension of the Kentish Egbert to the Saxon thrones.[51] Their etymology is uncertain: possible derivations include Angul[citation needed] (the Angeln peninsula of eastern Jutland),[202] the "people of the Narrow [Water]" (from the proposed proto-Indo-European root *ang-, "narrow", or *angh-, "tight") in reference to the Angeln's Schlei inlet,[citation needed] "people of the meadows" (cf. Old High German angar),[51] the god *Ingwaz[citation needed] – a proposed Proto-Germanic form of Freyr's earlier name Yngvi, – or the Ingaevones who claimed their descent from him.[citation needed]
Anglia, a former name: As above, in its Latin form.
Angelcynn, a former name: "Folk of the Angles", from Old English, name used by Alfred the Great.

 Equatorial Guinea

Self-descriptive. Although the country's territory does not touch the equator, it straddles the line: the island Annobon lies to the south while the mainland is to the north. For further etymology of "Guinea", see below.
Spanish Guinea, a former name: See Spain and Guinea below.


"Land of the Red Sea", adopted in 1993 upon independence from Ethiopia, from the Italian colony established in 1890, named by Francesco Crispi on the suggestion of Carlo Dossi, Italicized from the Latin transcription Mare Erythræum of the Greek Erythrá Thálassa (Ἐρυθρά Θάλασσα, "Red Sea").


"Land of the Aesti", a correction of earlier Esthonia, a Latinization of the Danish Estland, from an earlier Baltic people recorded as the Ostiatoi as early as Pytheas's On the Ocean in 320 BC, possibly ultimately from the proposed Proto-Germanic *austam and Proto-Indo-European *aus- ("east").[citation needed]


"Land of the Blacks", from Latin Æthiopia, from the Greek Aithiopía (Αἰθιοπία), "land of the Aithíopas" (Αἰθίοπας, lit "burnt-faced"), originally in reference to all Sub-Saharan Africa.[51]
An Ethiopian folk etymology recorded in the Book of Aksum traces the name to an "'Ityopp'is", supposed to be a son of Cush.
Dʿmt or Damot, a former name: Unknown etymology, reconstructed from the Proto-Ge'ez: Himjar dal.PNGHimjar ajin.PNGHimjar mim.PNGHimjar ta2.PNG and Ge'ez Dmt (ዳሞት).
Axum or Aksum, a former name: Uncertain meaning, from its capital Axum (Ge'ez: አክሱም) of unknown etymology.
Abyssinia, a former name: Uncertain meaning. Latinized in 1735 from a Portuguese corruption Abassia[51] of the Arabic al-Ḥabašah (الحبشة‎),[203] from Ge'ez Ḥababaśā (ሐበሻ) or Ḥabaśā (ሐበሣ), first attested in 2nd- or 3rd-century engravings as Ḥbś or Ḥbštm (ሐበሠ),[204] of unknown origin. Possibly related to the 15th-century-BC Egyptian Ḫbstjw, a foreign people of the incense-producing regions.



"Viti Levu", from its Tongan form Fisi, popularized by British explorer James Cook.[205] Viti Levu's own name is the Fijian for "Great Viti", a word some derive as "look-out".[206]


"Land of the Finns", from the Swedish spelling,[51] first attested in Old Norse runestones in present-day Sweden. Early mentions of the Fenni in Tacitus's 1st-century Germania and the Phinnoi (Greek: Φιννοι) in Ptolemy's 2nd-century Geographia are today thought to refer to the modern Sami. The etymology of "Finn" is uncertain: it may derive from Germanic translations of the Finnish suoma ("fen")[51] or from the proposed Proto-Germanic *finne ("wanderers", "hunting-folk").[207]
Suomi, the local endonym: Uncertain etymology. Possibly derived from the proposed Proto-Baltic *zeme ("land")[208] or from the Finnish suoma ("fen").[51]


"Land of the Franks", from Late Latin Francia, from Old Frankish Franko. The name "Frank" itself has been derived from the historic framea javelin,[51] proposed Proto-Germanic *frankon ("spear", "javelin"), – although the characteristic weapons of the Franks were the sword and the Frankish axe – and from the Proto-Germanic *frankisc ("free") from *frank ("free")[51] – although they were not masters until after their conquest of Gaul.
Gallia, a former name: "Land of the Celts", from Latin Gallia, of uncertain etymology. Possible derivations include an eponymous river[citation needed] or a minor tribe reconstructed as *Gal(a)-to- whose name was cognate with the Proto-Celtic *galno- ("power", "strength").[citation needed]
Gaul, a former name: "Land of Foreigners", from French Gaule, from Proto-Germanic *Walhaz, originally meaning "Volcae" but eventually simply "foreigner".



"Cloak", Anglicized from the Portuguese Gabão, bestowed on the Komo River estuary for its supposed resemblance to a gabão, a kind of pointy-hooded overcoat whose name derives from the Arabic qabā’ (قباء‎).

 The Gambia

"Kaabu", selected upon independence in 1965 from the name of the former British colony, named for the Gambia River, from a corruption of the Portuguese Gambra and Cambra first recorded in 1455 by Alvise Cadamosto,[209] a corruption of a local name Kambra or Kambaa (Mandinkan: "Kaabu river") or Gambura, an amalgam of Mandinkan Kaabu and Wolof bur ("king").[210]
A folk etymology traces the word from the Portuguese câmbio ("trade", "exchange"), from the region's extensive involvement in the slave trade.


Etymology uncertain. The terms "Georgia" and "Georgian" appeared in Western Europe in numerous early medieval annals. At the time, the name was folk etymologized – for instance, by the French chronicler Jacques de Vitry and the "English" fraudster John Mandeville – from a supposed especial reverence of the Syrian Saint George. According to several modern scholars, "Georgia" seems to have been borrowed in the 11th or 12th century from the Syriac Gurz-ān or -iyān and Arabic Ĵurĵan or Ĵurzan, derived from the New Persian Gurğ or Gurğān, itself stemming from the Ancient Iranian and Middle Persian Vrkān or Waručān of uncertain origin, but resembling the eastern trans-Caspian toponym Gorgan, from the Middle Persian Varkâna ("land of the wolves"). This might have been of the same etymology as the Armenian Virk' (Վիրք) and a source of the classical Iberi (Greek: Ἴβηρες, Ibēres).[211][212]
Another theory semantically links "Georgia" to Greek geōrgós (γεωργός, "tiller of the land") and Latin georgicus ("agricultural"). The Georgi mentioned by Pliny the Elder[213] and Pomponius Mela.[214] were agricultural tribes distinguished as such from their pastoral neighbors across the Panticapaeum in Taurica.[215]
Sakartvelo, the local endonym: "Place for Kartvelians" in Georgian, from Kartli (Georgian: ქართლი), attested in the 5th-century Martyrdom of the Holy Queen Shushanik, possibly from a cognate with the Mingrelian karta (ქართა, "cattle pen", "enclosed place"). Traditionally taken by the Georgian Chronicles as referring to Kartlos, an eponymous ancestor who supposedly built a city Kartli on the Mtkvari River near modern Armazi.
Iberia, a former name: Latinized from Greek Ibēría (Ἰβηρία), possibly from Virk' as above.[216]


Meaning uncertain. German attested 1520, Anglicized from Latin Germania, attested in the 3rd century BC,[citation needed] popularized by Julius Caesar as a reference to all tribes east of the Rhine,[217] and repopularized in Europe following the rediscovery and publication of Tacitus's Germania in 1455.[217] Proposed derivations include the Celtic gair- ("neighbor"),[218] gairm ("battle-cry")[218] or *gar ("to shout"),[citation needed] and gar ("spear").[citation needed]
Deutschland, the local endonym: "The People's Land", from Old High German diutisciu land, from the Germanic þiudiskaz (sometimes translated as "vernacular",[217] as opposed to Latin and Romance languages like Old French), a form of *þeudō, from the proposed Proto-Indo-European *tewtéh₂- ("people").[219]
Holy Roman Empire, a former name: Self-descriptive, a translation of the Latin Imperium Romanum Sacrum, used to describe the papally-bestowed medieval Roman Empire from the reign of Frederick Barbarossa[220] and avowedly German (Latin: Imperium Romanum Sacrum Nationis Germanicæ, "Holy Roman Empire of the Germanic People") after the 1512 Diet of Cologne.[221][222]


"Warrior King",[223] adopted at J. B. Danquah's suggestion upon the union of Gold Coast with British Togoland in 1956 or upon independence on March 6, 1957, in homage to the earlier Malian Ghana Empire, named for the title of its ruler.[citation needed] Despite the empire never holding territory near the current nation, traditional stories connect the northern Mande of Ghana – the Soninke, Dyula, Ligby, and Bissa – to peoples displaced following the collapse of the old Ghana.[citation needed]
Togoland and British Togoland, former names: See Togo below.
Gold Coast, a former name: Self-descriptive. Compare the names Europeans gave to nearby stretches of shore, as Côte d'Ivoire above.


Etymology uncertain. From Old English Grecas and Crecas, from Latin Græcus, presumably from Greek Graikoí (Γραικοί). The Romans were said to have called all the Greeks after the name of the first group they met,[citation needed] although the location of that tribe varies between Epirus – Aristotle recorded that the Illyrians used the name for Dorian Epiriots from their native name Graii[224][225] – and Cumae – Eusebius of Caesarea dated its settlement by Boeotians from Pithecusae[226] led by Megasthenes and Hippocles to 1050 BC.[227] The town of Graea (Γραῖα, Graĩa) in or near Oropos, Boeotia,[227] appeared in Homer's Catalogue of Ships and was said to be the oldest in Greece,[citation needed] and the Parian Chronicle lists Graikoí as the original name of the Greeks.[228] The town and its region (Γραϊκή, Graïkē) have been derived from the proposed Proto-Greek *grauj ("old age") and Proto-Indo-European root *gere ("to grow old").
Folk etymology linked the name with an eponymous patriarch Graecus, related to Hellen below.
Hellás, the local endonym: Etymology unknown. Modern Greek Elláda (Ελλάδα) and classical Hellás (Ἑλλάς) both derive from Greek Hellēn (Ἕλλην). Aristotle traced the name to a region in Epirus between Dodona and the Achelous, where "Selloi" (possibly "sacrificers"[citation needed]) were said to be priests of Dodonian Zeus and operators of the first oracle.
Folk etymology linked the name with an eponymous patriarch Hellen (completely distinct from the female Helen of Troy), said to be the son of Deucalion and Pyrrha and to have originated in Thessalic Phthia. Achilleus commanded their forces at Troy.[229] His brother Amphictyon was said to have founded the Great Amphictyonic League, which banded 12 city-states together to protect the temples of Apollo at Delphi and of Demeter at Anthele.


"Granada", from its French name La Grenade, from earlier Spanish Granada, whose own name derived from the Emirate and Taifa of Granada, named for their capital Gharnāṭah (Arabic: غَرْنَاطَة‎), originally a Jewish suburb (Garnata al-Yahud) of Elvira which became the principal settlement after the latter was destroyed in 1010.
Concepción, a former name: "Conception", bestowed by Christopher Columbus upon his discovery of the island in 1498. Its hostile Carib natives, however, limited colonization until the name had fallen from use.


"Forest", from the Nahuatl Cuauhtēmallān (lit "Place of Many Trees"), a translation of the K'iche' K'ii'chee' (lit "Many Trees").[230]


Etymology uncertain. Anglicized from Portuguese Guiné, traditionally derived from a corruption of Ghana above, originally in reference to the interior and applied to the coast only after 1481.[231] Alternate theories include a corruption of Djenné[232] and the Berber ghinawen, aginaw, or aguinaou ("burnt one", i.e. "black").[231]
French Guinea, a former name: As above, from the French Guinée française, a renaming of Rivières du Sud in 1894. For further etymology of "France", see above.
Rivières du Sud, a former name: "Southern Rivers" in French.
Guinea-Conakry, an alternate name: As above. Conakry, the capital, is traditionally derived from an amalgam of Baga Cona, a wine producer,[clarification needed] and Sosso nakiri ("other side" or "shore").[233]


Etymology uncertain as above. From the Portuguese República da Guiné-Bissau adopted upon independence in 1973.
Portuguese Guinea, a former name: As above. For further etymology of "Portugal", see below.


"Land of Many Waters" in an indigenous language.[which?][234]
British Guiana, a former name: As above. For further etymology of "Britain", see United Kingdom below.



From Taíno/Arawak, Hayiti or Hayti, meaning "mountainous land", originally Hayiti. The name derives from the mountainous and hilly landscape of the western half of the island of Hispaniola.


Christopher Columbus named the country "Honduras", Spanish for "depths", referring to the deep waters off the northern coast.


Turkic: on-ogur, "(people of the) ten arrows" – in other words, "alliance of the ten tribes". Byzantine chronicles 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 Uralic 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.
  • Ugre (Old Russian), Uhorshchyna (Угорщина, Ukrainian), Vengrija (Lithuanian), Vuhorščyna (Вугоршчына, Belarusian), Wędżierskô (Kashubian), and Węgry (Polish): also from Turkic "on-ogur", see above. The same root emerges in the ethnonym Yugra in Siberia, inhabited by Khanty and Mansi people, the closest relatives to Hungarians in the Uralic language family.
  • Magyarország (native name – "land of the Magyars"), and derivatives, eg. Czech Maďarsko, Serbo-Croatian Mađarska, Turkish Macaristan: 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 Nimrod of the Hebrew Bible.



"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 explorer and settler Flóki Vilgerðarson named the island after spotting "a firth full of drift ice" to the north[citation needed].


Via Latin, Greek Ινδία (meaning "region of the Indus River), and Old Persian

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