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: