Nearly every country on earth is named after one of four things

Brilliant piece by Thu-Huong Ha of

Our countries’ names instill in us a sense of pride. Our leaders use them as emotional triggers in speeches, and so do citizens, creating slogans around country names to rally support on social media and conjure unity in protests. It’s easier than putting “make the land between Mexico and Canada great again” on hats. But just like our first names are handed to us without our input, the names of nations are inherited, arbitrary, and, often, absurd. Sometimes we get names we don’t want, and our efforts to correct don’t stick.

According to our research, the majority of country names fall into just four categories:

  • a directional description of the country
  • a feature of the land
  • a tribe name
  • an important person, most likely a man

Further, our research reveals that the way countries get their names is hardly ever democratic, and very few are rooted in the national qualities we like to associate with them, like liberty, strength or justice.

Read on…

Just one country is named after a woman: St Lucia and we call all of them motherlands!

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