17 Most Surprising Literal Translations of Country Names
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17 Most Surprising Literal Translations of Country Names

I've always wanted to vacation in the Land of Young Cattle...

17 Most Surprising Literal Translations of Country Names

Etymology is the fascinating study of the history of words. But have you ever wondered where your country's name came from? A name can provide important insight into a nation's origins. Recently, Finity.com created a global map with literal translations. To see the full map, click here.

  1. In the Navel of the Moon- Mexico

Mexico is the Spanish translation of this Aztec name.

2. Land of Many Rabbits- Spain

Around 300 BC when Carthaginians came, they called the country Ispania (from Sphan, "rabbit"), which means "land of the rabbits.

3. Island of Tall People- Macedonia

The country name originates from the ancient Greek adjective makednos, meaning "tall", which may have been describing the indigenous population.

4. Land of Young Cattle- Italy

Originally called Vitalia, the name comes from the same root as the Latin vitulus (a one-year-old calf).

5. Land of the Rising Sun- Japan

Ancient China had a great influence on Japan. Japan relative to China is in the east, where the sun also rises.

6. Place of Pomegranates- Grenada

Explorers named the land Grenada, which is Spanish for Pomegranate.

7. White Russia- Belarus

The name white Russia has two theories. It could either be describing the white clothing that ancient slavic people generally wore or it suggests the so-called "purity" of the Belarussians, who, unlike their Moscovite neighbors, never intermarried with the Mongols.

8. Hippopotamus- Mali

Based on a legend about a hippopotamus named Mali Sadio.

9. Northern Way- Norway

This refers to an ancient viking route.

10. The Village- Canada

The name "Canada" comes from the Huron-Iroquois word "kanata," meaning "village" or "settlement."

11. Red Like an Ember- Brazil

Brazilwood or redwood resembles red hot embers.

12. Those Who Went Away- Botswana

In the 18th century after a Zulu force was led into the region, the local people were forced out onto arid land.

13. Southern Land- Australia

The Greeks named it Terra Australis Incognita, which means "unknown southern land"

14. Little Venice-Venezuela

In 1499, Italian navigator Amerigo Vespucci was on an expedition in Venezuela when he saw houses on stilts. This reminded him of Venice.

15. Bearded Ones- Barbados

"Bearded ones" can either be describing the hanging roots of the native fig tree that resemble a beard or it can be referring to the common physical trait of the indigenous population.

16. Mountainous Land- Haiti

Haiti comes from the native Taíno language which means "land of high mountains"

17. Land of the Pure- Pakistan

In 1933, Pakistani movement activist Choudhry Rahmat Ali coined the name. He used it to refer to five northern regions of British India: Punjab, Afghania, Kashmir, and Indus-Sind. Also, the prefix "Pak" means "pure" in Urdu.

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