Ever wondered how countries got their names or who has the responsibility of naming states? These tales will tell how legends, history and even comical disputes lead to their names.
Here are seven countries with intriguing tales about their names.
Largest in terms of population, China was derived from the name of the first emperor, Qin Shi Huangdi who established the Qin Dynasty (read as “chin”). Famous explorer, Marco Polo gave the name, “Cathay.” Its ancient name means, “All under Heaven.”
Want to know how the how the FIFA 2014 runner-up got its name? The tale starts with the Spanish man, Juan Diaz de Solis, after he was accused of murdering his wife. He escaped to Spain and led grand expansions. However he got hacked to death in the place which had a legendary “mountain of silver” or Sierra de la Plata. His brother-in-law followed suit and many explorers tried their luck to find it but nothing came out of it except the identity of the country, Tierra Argentina which is another term for Silver.
Ever wondered why Chile is homophone of chili? No there is no relation whatsoever.
Actually the inhabitants of the region, Mapuche used this word most probably because the continent ends at the shores of this land as the word Chile means “where the land ends.” Even the Spaniards who came to conquer the lands in earlier centuries called themselves “The Men of Chili” after reaching Europe.
Situated in Eastern Europe this landlocked country was actually named after a dog. One Roman prince, Dragos, was hunting a wild bison but was unsuccessful in hunting it. However, when he and his counterparts lost all hope, his faithful dog, Molda went forward and finally hunted the wild creature, losing its own life in the fight. Dragos was deeply hurt and decided to name the lands after the dog’s name.
While British expanded their empire by exploring Northern America, Spaniards moved toward the Southern side. In 1499, one Spanish voyager, Alonso de Ojeda and his aide, Amerigo Vespucci reached a place and saw the inhabitants living in elevated houses alongside coast and rivers. This reminded them of Venice and hence they named the land Venezuela, the “Little Venice.”
Literally, Pakistan means "Land of The Pure," the meaning of Pak being "pure" and –stan being "land." However, this word was originally coined in 1933 by an active Muslim student activist, Choudry Rehmat Ali in his pamphlet, “Now or Never” in which he wrote the reason for demanding independence. He made an acronym of the regions that wanted autonomy. These regions were Punjab, Afghan, Kashmir, Sind, Balochistan (PAKiSTan).
After the fall of communism in Eastern Europe in 1989, while some countries were arguing about resources division, there were 2 states in dispute about whether their names should have a hyphen or not. Following the bloodless coup “The Velvet Revolution,” the politicians of Czechoslovak Socialist Republic decided to choose the name for the new republic. The word, “Socialist” was removed and the state was to be called, “Czechoslovak Republic.” The Slovaks felt the name undermined them and suggested a hyphen between “Czecho” and “Slovak” to denote bonding. However no one supported this call and believed in Winston Churchill’s words that hyphen is to be regarded as blemish.
After this the republic in Czech was called “Czeskoslovenska federativini republika” and in Slovak it was called, “Czesko-slovenska federativna republica” with the hyphen.
Thankfully, this punctuation war ended on Jan. 1, 1993, and the two nations peacefully parted ways and the division came to be known as, “The Velvet Divorce” forming “Czech Republic” and “Slovakia” as separate nations.
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