Ever fantasized about running your own country? How about naming one after yourself? As the map above shows, a select group of individuals have achieved a degree of immortality due to countries being named after them.
However, it should be noted that in many cases, the countries themselves only came into existence long after the death of the person they’re named after.
Italian explorer Amerigo Vespucci deserves special recognition. The Latin version of his name, Americus, is the basis for America. So not only is the richest and most powerful country on earth named after him, he also lent his name to two continents. Not bad.
Simón Bolívar also deserves a special mention, as his name is included in not one but two countries. Bolivia is the obvious one, but did you know that Venezuela’s official name is the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela?
Not surprisingly, religious figures are the most common group to name countries after and includes countries as diverse as El Salvador, Georgia and the Solomon Islands. Israel also falls into this category as it was the name given to the patriarch Jacob and means something along the lines of “Triumphant with God.”
Interestingly, Saudi Arabia, where you can find Islam’s two holiest cities of Mecca and Medina, is not named after a religious figure but comes instead from the House of Saud.
Finally, my favourite name origin has to be Mauritius, which is named after Maurice, Prince of Orange, monarch in all but name of the United Provinces of the Netherlands from 1618-1625. While he was a key figure in the Dutch Revolt, he’s not exactly at the top of the list of people you’d expect to name a country after.
If you’d like to learn more, consider the following books:
- Amerigo: The Man Who Gave His Name to America
- The Kingdom: Arabia and the House of Sa’Ud
- Bolivar: American Liberator
- Dutch Revolt 1559-1648
Any names surprise you? Leave your comments below:
Well, America is not a country. .. America is a whole continent. As far as I know the real name of “America” is United States of America. And Georgia is the name given by other western countries. The real name is Tsaakashvelo and there’s no relation between Georgia and Saint George as you said.
Romi Del Tredici says
I think they know that América is not a country, but it`s a part of the name. Like in “República Bolivariana de Venezuela”, Simon Bolivar refers to one word of the official country name.
Still, the “America” in United States of America refers to the continent as a whole, which of course derives from Vespucio’s name. In the Venezuelan case, it is called that way honoring Simon Bolivar. Two different things.
Romi Del Tredici says
But this is a COUNTRIES map. The confeccion its ok.
Correct, however it’s called Sakartvelo ( land of the kartvelians) Kartveli- Georgian
I thought exactly the same. It’s unbelievable how people do the same mistake over and over again
Otto Kobakhidze says
In Case of Georgia, this is not certainly true. 1) word Georgia might be derived from Greek word ”Georgios” that means ”tiller of the land.” 2) Georgians do not call themselves Georgia, but Sakartvelo, that comes from the name of Eastern Georgian region ”Kartli”.
USA still has “America” in the name… so nothing is wrong with the map 😉
It is also Saudi Arabia and not “Saud”, still named after House of Saud.
I think it’s funny that foreigners, especially people from Central and South America won’t let this go. It’s like they’re upset that people call the USA “America” and yet they aren’t a part of it. It’s not some exclusive club so get over it. People don’t call Chileans Americans, they don’t like Brazilians Americans, they don’t call Guatemalans Americans for several reasons. One reason is that the official country name doesn’t include the word “America” in it. People should just accept the fact that’s not changing, unless you want your country to be annexed into the USA 😉 lol
My friend… If people from outside the US don’t “let go” of that, is simply because it’s just another example of US imperialist attitude towards the people living in it’s “backyard”.
Read a little about how the terms Hispanic America and Latin America came to be and you’ll see what I mean.
I guess it’s very easy to not see those things if you are living in the imperialist country yourself…
Usually when people refer to a Western nation as an “imperialist country” means they aren’t being objective…hmm?
It’s not an imperialist attitude at all. Is it easier to say United States of America people, or American citizens? It’s more of a mouthful the former way.
P.S. Read Romi’s comment above. This is it though, “I think they know that América is not a country, but it`s a part of the name. Like in “República Bolivariana de Venezuela”, Simon Bolivar refers to one word of the official country name.” boom!
And once again I catch myself arguing with a guy who will never know what I’m talking about untill he steps out of his “american” bubble…
Once again I find myself debating with someone who makes assumptions about the other person.
The native Armenian name for the country is Hayk’. The name in the Middle Ages was extended to Hayastan, by addition of the Persian suffix -stan (place). The name has traditionally been derived from Hayk (Հայկ), the legendary patriarch of the Armenians and a great-great-grandson of Noah, who, according to the 5th-century AD author Moses of Chorene, defeated the Babylonian king Bel in 2492 BC and established his nation in the Ararat region. The further origin of the name is uncertain.
It’s already preatty hard to convice most United States citizens that there’s a vast and very diverse world outside their borders… now imagine how hard it is to convince them that their country is not called “America”, ’cause that’s a whole continent.
Seriously, US. citizens are still calling their country America? When will they learn?
Amerigo Vespucci “he also lent his name to two continents” Which 2 continents? There is only one called America. Or you might think there is North America (Canada and the U.S.) and South America (from Mexico to Argentina) if the later you are really ignorant. North America is from Canada to Mexico (the U.S is in the middle. Central America from Guatemala to Panama. And South America from Colombia to Argentina. And still those three are just one continent: America
Andre Engels says
Shouldn’t China be included here? It’s named after the Qin dynasty, which in turn is named after the family name of its founder, ‘first emperor’ Qin Shi Huang.
you missed Lietchenstein
Columbia means dove which implies holy spirit. It could be argued that the country of Columbia is named after the Holy Spirit and not the man.