This Is How Some Countries Got Their Names

TravelandLeisurePublished: November 22, 201714 views
Published: November 22, 2017

The ancient names of present-day countries tell us a lot about their history, legends, and mythology. Same as contemporary languages, many country names were based on Latin or Greek language.

Italy, was once called Vitalia, meaning “the land of cattle,” because of its southern area which was rich in grazing herds.

The ancient name of Greece was Hellas or Ellada. One of the myths says that the only survivors of a flood had began repopulation by tossing stones that turned into humans. The first one became their son, Hellen, which is maybe the source of the Hellenic terminology.

France was named for the Germanic tribes, Franks, that invaded the region after the Roman Empire fell. The area’s name became Francia, which in Latin means “land of the Franks.” Some believe that this name comes from the old German word "franca", meaning fierce or brave.

Ancient Romans called Germany - Germania, but the origin of this name is not clear. One suggestion is that it came from the Celtic word "gair", which means neighbor.

In ancient times, Malta was known for honey and its unique species of bees. That is why the Greeks called it Melitta or Melite, based on their word for honey (meli).

The name of the Bahamas is believed to originate from the Spanish words "baja mar", meaning “shallow sea”.

Columbus wandered around the world, discovering new places. When he stepped on the land of Costa Rica, thinking that he can find gold there, he gave this name to the country, which in Spanish means “rich coast.”

The 15th-century Italian explorer, Amerigo Vespucci, while sailing under the flags of Spain and Portugal, landed in what is now South America and Central America. Later the famous mapmaker Mercator marked the name America on both the northern and southern continents.

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