The Surprising Stories Behind 50 Country Names

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Part of the joy of travel is discovering the background and the story of the country you are visiting. Names of nations can tell you something about a country’s history, geography, legends, and who is living there.

24/7 Wall St. reviewed sources such as Globehunters to compile a list of the surprising stories behind 50 country names.

Click here to read about the surprising stories behind 50 country names

Countries tend to be named after: a geographic feature, the ethnicity of its residents, the characteristics of its inhabitants, someone important, a spiritual inspiration, or the legacy of explorers.

The names of many of the countries in Central America reference water, such as Honduras (“Deep water”). European nations such as the Slovak Republic (“Land of the Slovaci”) and Finland (“Land of the Finns”) are often named after the ethnic group that lives there. 

Some countries take their moniker from the physical characteristics of their natives, such as Macedonia (“Land of the tall people”). It should come as no surprise that Bolivia’s name is derived from South American revolutionary leader Simon Bolivar (“Bolivar’s land”).

Countries in the Caribbean such as St. Kitts & Nevis are named after Christian saints (“St. Christopher”). Many of the nations have made tourism a major part of their economy. Here are the most tourist-friendly countries in the world.

We know the story of how America was named — after famed Italian navigator Amerigo Vespucci. But did you know Vespucci had a hand in the name of another country in the Western Hemisphere?

All the world’s nations have a story to tell about how they were named. Here are the surprising stories behind 50 country names.

24/7 Wall St. reviewed sources such as globehunters.com, etymonline.com, and everyculture.com to compile a list of the surprising stories behind 50 country names.