LIST: Country Names Before and Origin

Here is the list of country names all around the world. These names were "before" names, ancient names, or origin of the name. Some country names are still with no specific or exact source. Most of the names were given by the discoverer. Please refer to the list below in no particular order or ranking.


  • Afghanistan - Ariana
  • Albania - Albanoi
  • Algeria - Barbary Coast
  • Andorra - theory suggests that the name may have been derived from the Navarro-Aragonese word "andurrial" which translates to "the land of scrubland or bushes."
  • Angola - derives from the Kimbundu word for king.
  • Antigua and Barbuda - Wadadli is Antigua before
  • Argentina - Río de la Plata
  • Armenia - Hayk, Hayastan
  • Australia - New Holland
  • Austria - Ostarrîchi
  • Azerbaijan - derived from the Persian "Azar," meaning "fire," and "Baijan," "protector or guardian."
  • The Bahamas - derived from "baja mar" (shallow sea)
  • Bahrain - Mishmahig, Tylos, Awal
  • Bangladesh - East Pakistan
  • Barbados - Los Barbados
  • Belarus - Belorussia or White Russia
  • Belgium - derived from the Belgae tribes which lived in the northern part of what was then Gaul around the third century BC.
  • Belize - British Honduras
  • Benin - Dahomey
  • Bhutan - Druk Yul
  • Bolivia - Upper Peru, Charcas
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina - N/A
  • Botswana - Bechuanaland
  • Brazil - Terra do Brasil
  • Brunei - derived from Baru nah (loosely translated as "that's it!" or "there")
  • Bulgaria - derived from Bulgars
  • Burkina Faso - Republic of Upper Volta
  • Burundi - Ruanda-Urundi
  • Cap-Vert - Cabo Verde
  • Cambodia - Kampuchea
  • Cameroon - Rio dos Camarões
  • Canada - Upper and Lower Canada
  • Central African Republic - Ubangi-Shari
  • Chad - derived from Lake Chad
  • Chile - derived from "men of Chilli"
  • China - Zhongguo
  • Colombia - New Granada
  • Comoros - Grande Comore
  • Congo, Democratic Republic of the - Zaire
  • Congo, Republic of the - Congo-Brazzaville
  • Costa Rica - derived from Christopher Columbus's "la costa rica," meaning "rich coast"
  • Côte d’Ivoire - Ivory Coast, Costa Do Marfim
  • Croatia - derived from Medieval Latin Croātia, itself a derivation of the native ethnonym of Croats
  • Cuba - derived from Taíno language
  • Cyprus - derived from ku-pi-ri-jo, meaning "Cypriot"
  • Czech Republic - Czechoslovakia
  • Denmark - Danmǫrk
  • Djibouti - French Somaliland
  • Dominica - Nature Isle of the Caribbean
  • Dominican Republic - derived from La Isla Española ("the Spanish Island"), later Latinized to Hispaniola.
  • East Timor (Timor-Leste) - Portuguese Timor
  • Ecuador - derived from the Spanish word for Equator.
  • Egypt - Kemet
  • El Salvador - Cuzcatlan
  • Equatorial Guinea - Spanish Guinea
  • Eritrea - derived Latin form Erythræa
  • Estonia - Austervegr
  • Eswatini - Kingdom of Swaziland, Swaziland
  • Ethiopia - Abyssinia
  • Fiji - Viti
  • Finland - Suomi
  • France - Gaul
  • Gabon - Jeunesse Gabonais
  • The Gambia - derived from The River Gambia.
  • Georgia - Sakartvelo
  • Germany - Germania
  • Ghana - Gold Coast, also after the medieval Ghana Empire of West Africa
  • Greece - Hellas
  • Grenada - La Granada
  • Guatemala - derived from the Nahuatl word Cuauhtēmallān (nahwiki), or "place of many trees", a derivative of the K'iche' Mayan word for "many trees" or, perhaps more specifically, for the Cuate/Cuatli tree Eysenhardtia.
  • Guinea - French Guinea
  • Guinea-Bissau - Portuguese Guinea
  • Guyana - derived from guiana ("land of water")
  • Haiti - Saint Domingue
  • Honduras - derived from Spanish word Honduras ("depths") for the deep waters off its coast.
  • Hungary - Regnum Ungarie (Regnum meaning "kingdom")
  • Iceland - Snæland or "snow land"
  • India - Jambudvipa
  • Indonesia - Dutch East Indies (or Netherlands East Indies).
  • Iran - Persia
  • Iraq - Mesopotamia
  • Ireland - Ogygia
  • Israel - Jacob
  • Italy - Corfinium renamed to Italia
  • Jamaica - Xaymaca, which meant "land of wood and water"
  • Japan - Wa, Wakoku
  • Jordan - Hashemite Kingdom of Transjordan
  • Kazakhstan - Astana
  • Kenya - The Colony and Protectorate of Kenya
  • Kiribati - Tungaru
  • Korea, North - Democratic People's Republic of Korea
  • Korea, South - Joseon, also Daehan Jeguk (Korean Empire)
  • Kosovo - Kosovo and Metohija
  • Kuwait - derived from Hindustani kūt ("fort")
  • Kyrgyzstan - Kirgiziya
  • Laos - Kingdom of Laos
  • Latvia - derived from the name of the ancient Latgalians
  • Lebanon - derived from the name of a mountain (Mons Libanus)
  • Lesotho - Basutoland
  • Liberia - Christopolis renamed to Monrovia
  • Libya - Italian North Africa
  • Liechtenstein - Vaduz and Schellenberg (united two territories)
  • Lithuania - derived from Latinized form of the Old Church Slavonic word for Lithuania, "Litva"
  • Luxembourg - derived from that of the castle, Lucilinburhuc ("Little Fortress")
  • Madagascar - uncertain origin, derived from Malagasy (Malegache)
  • Malawi - Nyasaland
  • Malaysia - Malaya
  • Maldives - Maldiva Islands
  • Mali - French Sudan
  • Malta - Melita
  • Marshall Islands - derived from John Marshall, who visited in 1788
  • Mauritania - takes its name from the ancient Berber kingdom and later Roman province of Mauretania, and thus ultimately from the Mauri people
  • Mauritius - named after Prince Maurice of Nassau
  • Mexico - probably Meshtleeko
  • Micronesia, Federated States of - N/A
  • Moldova - Bessarabia
  • Monaco - derived from Monoikos, which means "single house."
  • Mongolia - Ulaanbaatar
  • Montenegro - Monte nigro
  • Morocco - Marrakesh
  • Mozambique - Portuguese Guinea
  • Myanmar - Burma
  • Namibia - Namib (vast place), German South-West Africa (Deutsch-Südwestafrika)
  • Nauru - may derive from the Nauruan word Anáoero, which means 'I go to the beach'
  • Nepal - derives its name from an ancient Hindu sage called Ne
  • Netherlands - Holland
  • New Zealand - comes from the Dutch 'Nieuw Zeeland'
  • Nicaragua - Nicarao, the name of the Nahuatl-speaking tribe which inhabited the shores of Lake Nicaragua before the Spanish conquest of the Americas, and the Spanish word 'Agua', meaning water
  • Niger - N/A
  • Nigeria - Royal Niger Company Territories
  • North Macedonia - Macedonia
  • Norway - "Denmark-Norway"
  • Oman - Muscat and Oman
  • Pakistan - Pakstan
  • Palau - Los Palaos
  • Panama - definite origin of the name Panama is unknown
  • Papua New Guinea - word papua is derived from an old local term of uncertain origin while "New Guinea" (Nueva Guinea) was the name coined by the Spanish explorer Yñigo Ortiz de Retez
  • Paraguay - got its name from the Paraguay River
  • Peru - derived from Birú, the name of a local ruler
  • Philippines - Las Islas Filipinas
  • Poland - Polonia, Rzeczpospolita Polska
  • Portugal - derived from the Roman-Celtic place name Portus Cale
  • Qatar - Beth Qatraye
  • Romania - United Romanian Principalities
  • Russia - Rus' and Russkaya Zemlya
  • Rwanda - Ruanda
  • Saint Kitts and Nevis - derived from Saint Christopher (Saint Kitts), and las nieves, or "the snows for Nevis
  • Saint Lucia - Louanalao
  • Saint Vincent and the Grenadines - Saint Vincent
  • Samoa - Tutuila Islands, Manu'a, American Samoa, German Samoa
  • San Marino - derives its name from Saint Marinus
  • Sao Tome and Principe - Santo Antão, Ilha do Príncipe
  • Saudi Arabia - Hejaz and Najd
  • Senegal - Republic of Mali
  • Serbia - the origin of the name Serbia is unclear, also People's Republic of Serbia
  • Seychelles - named after Viscount Jean Moreau de Séchelles
  • Sierra Leone - Sierra Leoa
  • Singapore - came from 'Singa Pura' which means Lion City in Sanskrit
  • Slovakia - Czechoslovakia
  • Slovenia - Federal Slovenia
  • Solomon Islands - named after King Solomon of the Bible.
  • Somalia - Somali Democratic Republic
  • South Africa - name "South Africa" is derived from the country's geographic location at the southern tip of Africa
  • Spain - Hispania
  • Sri Lanka - Ceylon
  • Sudan - Punt, Nubia
  • Sudan, South - Republic of South Sudan
  • Suriname - Dutch Guiana, also derived from an indigenous people called Surinen
  • Sweden - Swedeland or Sweathland
  • Switzerland - Confoederatio Helvetica (Helvetic Confederation)
  • Syria - Aram, Aramea
  • Taiwan - Formosa
  • Tajikistan - Tajik Soviet Socialist Republic
  • Tanzania - Tanganyika united with Zanzibar
  • Thailand - Mongkut King of the Siamese, Siam
  • Togo - German Togoland
  • Tonga - came from fakatonga, which means "southwards"
  • Trinidad and Tobago - derived from Iëre which meant 'Land of the Hummingbird', also La Isla de la Trinidad ('The Island of the Trinity')
  • Tunisia - Ifrīqiyyah
  • Turkey - Ottoman Empire
  • Turkmenistan - Turkmen Soviet Socialist Republic
  • Tuvalu - Ellice Islands
  • Uganda - taken from Buganda kingdom
  • Ukraine - Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic
  • United Arab Emirates - N/A
  • United Kingdom - united kingdoms of England and Scotland (Great Britain)
  • United States - British North America, or simply Virginia
  • Uruguay - Banda Oriental (east bank of River Uruguay)
  • Uzbekistan - Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic
  • Vanuatu - N/A
  • Vatican City - derived from the name of an Etruscan settlement, Vatica or Vaticum located in the general area the Romans called Ager Vaticanus, "Vatican territory"
  • Venezuela - Estado de Venezuela
  • Vietnam - Đại Việt (Great Viet)
  • Yemen - the union of two Yemeni states (Ottoman and British)
  • Zambia - Northern Rhodesia
  • Zimbabwe - Southern Rhodesia

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