Special Report

The Surprising Stories Behind 50 Country Names

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1. Italy
> Population: 60.4 million

The name Italy might have come from Vitali, the name of a tribe that settled in the region of Calabria. That part of Italy is connected with the Latin word “vitulus” or “calf.” This is where “land of cattle” might have come from. Another theory is the name refers to the legendary ruler Italus.

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2. Canada
> Population: 37.1 million

The name Canada originated in the 1560s and is believed to be a derivation of a word from an Iroquoian language spoken in the St. Lawrence Valley.

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3. Mexico
> Population: 126.2 million

The origin of the name “Mexico” likely came from the Mayan Nahuatl language meaning “place of the Mexica,” nomads who migrated to the Valley of Mexico.

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4. Wales
> Population: 3.1 million

“Cymru” is the Welsh word for Wales and it means “‘friends” or “fellow countrymen.” However, most people know the nation as Wales, which stems from a word used by the Anglo Saxons who invaded the region, and it means “foreigners” or “outsiders.”‘

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5. Kosovo
> Population: 1.8 million

The name Kosovo comes from a Serbian place name that means “field of blackbirds.”