The Warrior

How did some countries get their names?

Cord Mincher, Staff Writer

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Some countries have eye catching names, Like Turkey. Others are named opposite of what they are. Have you ever wondered why they were named these things? Well here’s the answers.
Starting with the most interesting, Turkey. Turkeys are not even native to the Middle East, where Turkey is located. They are, in fact, native to North America. Turkey got it’s name because of turkeys. Yes, I said it. Guinea fowls, similar to turkeys, were exported to Turkey from Madagascar. Europeans started to call the birds turkey fowls, and this gave the Turkish people their name. (Source:
Second, the Americas; and I’m referring to the continent. The name America refers to Amerigo Vespucci. Vespucci was an Italian cartographer; and lesser known navigator/explorer. He traveled to the new world twice, once in 1499, and again in 1502. Also, Vespucci discovered that it was a whole new continent, while Columbus thought it was Asia. This act of intelligence from Vespucci gave him the honor of having two whole continents named after him, instead of Columbus. No one else can say they had anything bigger named after them! (source 2: wise guide)
Next is the biggest country in the world: Russia. Fun fact: Russia has a surface area bigger than Pluto’s. Russia got its name from the medieval state called Rus, which was mostly populated by East Slavs. It was referred to by the occupants of Rus; as Russkaja Zemlja, or “Land of the Rus.” I think this was a very unglorified kingdom, but it makes me feel better that Russia decided the same thing, and took the name of the ancient kingdom.(source 3: country quest and source 2: google)
On to a different country, Swaziland. The jazzy sounding name comes from the 19th century king Mswati II. The king expanded the territory of Swaziland. After the Boer war, the British Empire took over Swaziland, a very small country just north of South Africa. The small monarchy is mostly surrounded by South Africa, and shares a small northwestern border with Mozambique. It was granted independence in 1968. (source 2: google)
‘Stan’ is a central Asian word that is used in multiple countries names. Afghanistan, Turkmenistan and Pakistan. Stan is derived from the Persian root ‘istan,’ meaning land. Some of the southern seven were part of the persian empire at some time.(source 2: google)
Iceland and Greenland are often laughed at and confused. Since Iceland and Greenland are seemingly opposite from their names, people like to poke fun at the geography of each country. According to legend, the two countries got their names from a band of Norwegian vikings. War had broken out, and that band fled. They settled in Iceland. In fear of being followed, they sent word back that their island was actually an ice-land, and that there was another island farther away that was a green-land. And so the green land became Iceland and the ice land became Greenland. But that is the fiction story. The real story is that Erik the Red, went to Iceland and later to Greenland. He wanted more people there, so he sent word back that the two islands were opposite, and so the two islands were named what the other should have. (Source 4:Hannibal and me)

Greenland Rodebay Oqaatsut Ice

Iceland Hot Springs

So obviously, some countries have more interesting and meaningful names than others. Some had names that were switched, and some names were over honoring people, like Vespucci. (Admit it, two whole continents? Thats too much, just for being smarter than columbus.) Names can sometimes be coincidental, too. But overall, I hope I answered your questions.

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How did some countries get their names?