The Neatest Little Paper Ever Read ®

Issue 974

NAMES OF COUNTRIES

• Simón Bolívar was a Venezuelan military leader who fought in the Spanish American wars of independence. Bolivia is now named after him.

• Colombia was named after Christopher Columbus.

• The word “America” springs from the name of Italian explorer and cartographer Amerigo Vespucci, the person credited with realizing that the continent the Europeans bumped into in the late 1400s was not India.

• France comes from the old Germanic word “frankon” which meant a javelin or a lance, but it’s not certain whether the weapon’s name came from the name of the people, or if the people were named for the weapon.

• The Greeks, suspecting there was a land down under, called it Terra Australis Incognita, meaning “unknown southern land” which became Australia.

• Sierra Leone means literally “lion mountains” in Spanish, named by Portuguese explorer Pedro de Sintra in 1462.

• The Tuareg tribe inhabits the regions around the Sahara Desert. Their word “aginaw” means “black people” and turned into “Guinea.” The Malaysian word “pepuah” meaning “frizzy hair” is likely to be the origin of “papua” giving us Papua New Guinea.

• The Arabic words “al-Jazair” means “the islands” referring to several small islands that were once located in the bay of what is now called Algeria.

• Although there are about 25 countries named after men, there are few named after women, one being St. Lucia, a Caribbean island named for Saint Lucy, a Christian martyr who was murdered around the year 300 A.D.

• The Philippines are named after Spain’s 16th-century King Philip II.

• Swaziland is named for the Swazi people, who are said to get their name from the 19th-century king Mswati II.

• Tobago comes from the Carib word “tavaco” denoting the pipe in which they smoked tobacco leaves.

• While on an expedition along the coast of South America, Amerigo Vespucci saw houses built over the water, which reminded him of Venice, so he named the land Venezuela.

• The Huron-Iroquois word “kanata” meaning “village” or “settlement” gave us Canada.

• Liberia comes from the Latin word “libre” meaning “free.”

• The Indo-European word “alb” meaning “mountain” gives us Albania.

• The Spanish word “argentine” means “silvery” and resulted in Argentina, a land where Spanish explorers noted that the natives wore much silver jewelry.

• The Spanish phrase “baja mar” means “shallow sea” and may be the origin of the Bahamas.

• Barbados is a Spanish word meaning “bearded.”

• The German word “kamerun” means “shrimp” and Cameroon is a place where many shrimp were found.

• The African Kanuri tribe’s word meaning “lake” is “tsade” which became Chad.

• Costa Rica means “rich coast” in Spanish.

• Nauru, an island northeast of Australia, is reportedly named after the indigenous word “anáoero,” meaning “I go to the beach.”