11 Countries Whose Names Are Different From Those Mentioned on the World Map
The names of countries and regions that we see on the world map don’t always correspond to the original names given to them by the peoples who live in this territory. We have already written about popular countries like Japan and Finland, and now we’ve decided to talk about less obvious territories, like Greenland.
At Bright Side, we decided to prepare a second selection of the original names of different countries.
The name of the country comes from the ancient German word Ostarrîchi — Eastern State. The word “Austria” is the Latinized version of the original name of the country. It became the reason for a little confusion. The fact is that “ost” in German means “east,” and “auster” in Latin means “south.”
The origin of the word “Armenia” goes back to the ancient name of the region, Armi. According to another version, the toponym originated from the name of the first king of Urartu — Arame. However, the local name of Armenia has nothing to do with these words and sounds like “Hayk.” In the Middle Ages, the country was called Hayastan.
The origin of this name also has several versions. According to one of them, it comes from Hayk, the mythological leader of the Armenians, who, according to the legend, defeated the army of the Babylonian king in the battle of 2492 BCE.
It’s widely believed that the name “Bhutan” comes from the Tibetan language from the words “bod” (Tibet) and “anta” (outskirts), meaning “Outskirts of Tibet.” The name passed from the Tibetan language to some Indian languages and eventually became known to the world as the word “Bhutan.” In reality, the country is called Druk Yul, which can be translated as “the Land of the Thunder Dragon.”
Germany has a different name in the different languages of the world: the French call it Allemagne, the Finnish call it Saksa, the Danish call it Tyskland, the Polish call it Niemcy. At the same time, the Germans call their country Deutschland. According to one of the versions, the word goes back to the Proto-Germanic word Þeodisk [θeodisk], meaning “related to the people,” and primarily meant language.
In other languages, the names of the country appeared thanks to the names of the tribes that lived in those territories. The word “Germany” comes from the Celtic word “gair” which means “neighbor.”
The name Greenland was invented by the Norwegian-born Icelander Erik the Red. By doing this, he hoped to attract as many new settlers as possible, although the harsh northern island can hardly be called green.
The name of the country in the indigenous Greenlandic language is Kalaallit Nunaat (“land of the Kalaallit”). The Kalaallit are the indigenous Greenlandic Inuit people who inhabit the country’s western region.
The country is officially called al-mamlaka al-maḡribiyya, literally “The Western Kingdom,” in short al-maḡrib. “Maghreb” in Arabic means “the country where the sun sets,” which is quite logical given its geographical location on the Northwest coast of Africa.
The name Morocco comes from the French language, where the country was called Maroc. This word comes from the name of the capital Marrakech. Most likely this name came from the Berber word “amur akush,” meaning “Land of God.”
In the Irish language, the country is called Tuaisceart Éireann which means “island to the north.”
In Korean, the name of the country sounds like “Joseon” and it has no connection to the north. In general, the division into North and South Korea exists only in foreign languages. In Korean the names of the countries have nothing in common, South Korea sounds like Hanguk.
The name Joseon existed long before Kim Il-Sung and the Korean War. This was the name of the ruling dynasty under which the state flourished. Besides, the word “Joseon,” written in Chinese characters, means “Land of the Morning Calm.”
In Welsh, the country is called Cymru [ˈkəmrɨ]. It comes from the word “combrogi,” meaning “fellow-countrymen.” The English words “Wales” and “Welsh” derive from the same Old English root, a descendant of Proto-Germanic Walhaz, which was itself derived from the name of the Gaulish people who lived on this territory.
The Swedish name of the country is Sverige [ˈsvæ̌rjɛ] (a compound of the words Svea and rike) which literally means “realm of the Swedes.”
In Gaelic, the Scottish call their country “Alba.” The ancient Greeks, and after them the Romans, called the entire island, currently known as Great Britain, Albion. Later the name was related only to the territory of modern Scotland. The word “Alba” is based on the Indo-European root for “white.” Perhaps this name appeared due to the white cliffs of Dover.
As for the English word “Scotland,” it derived from the Greek word skotos meaning “darkness, gloom,” and the tribes that lived in this land were called “skot.”
Do you know of any other countries whose names are different from the ones written on the world map? Share your knowledge in the comments below.