Why are there so many countries that end in -stan? In total 7 countries: Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan include the suffix -stan in their names.
These countries have a combined population of nearly 280 million people (fewer than only China, India and the United States) and cover an area of 5.45 million square kilometers (7th largest in the world).
The first clue is their location, all 7 countries can be found in central Asia. ‘Stan’ comes from the Persian word for “place of” or “country” which derives from the word sta or ‘to stand’. All 7 -stans are contiguous with modern Iran, which is the modern successor state to Persia. See map below:
So what does any of this have to do with the United States? Why is it a -stan country like Kyrgyzstan? Well for an answer to that, you’ll have to watch this fascinating video by Roots and Routes:
Bonus Map If the Stans United:
Want to learn more? Then read:
- Palgrave Concise Historical Atlas of Central Asia
- Inside Central Asia: A Political and Cultural History of Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkey, and Iran
- The Great Game: The Struggle for Empire in Central Asia (Kodansha Globe)
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