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List of etymologies of country subdivision names


List of etymologies of country subdivision names

This article provides a collection of the etymology of the names of country subdivisions. This page generally only deals with regions and provinces; cities and other localities and features may appear listed under the individual country, with a link below.


  • Australia 1
    • States 1.1
    • Territories 1.2
      • Mainland 1.2.1
      • External 1.2.2
  • Austria 2
    • States 2.1
  • Belgium 3
    • Regions 3.1
    • Provinces 3.2
  • Brazil 4
  • Cambodia 5
  • Canada 6
    • Provinces and territories 6.1
    • Historical regions 6.2
  • Chile 7
    • Regions 7.1
  • China 8
    • Provinces 8.1
    • Special administrative regions 8.2
  • Czech Republic 9
    • Historical regions 9.1
  • Denmark 10
  • Dominican Republic 11
  • Estonia 12
  • Finland 13
  • France 14
    • Historic regions 14.1
    • Territories 14.2
  • Germany 15
    • States 15.1
    • Historic regions 15.2
  • Greece 16
  • India (Republic of India) 17
  • Indonesia 18
  • Iran (Persia) 19
  • Iraq 20
  • Ireland (Eire) 21
  • Italy 22
  • Japan 23
    • Main Islands 23.1
  • Korea 24
  • Laos 25
  • Malaysia 26
  • Mexico 27
  • Mongolia 28
  • Morocco 29
  • Kingdom of the Netherlands 30
    • Constituent countries 30.1
    • Provinces 30.2
    • Other names 30.3
  • New Zealand 31
    • Provinces 31.1
    • Other categories 31.2
  • Norway 32
    • Counties 32.1
    • Territories 32.2
  • Pakistan 33
    • Provinces 33.1
    • States 33.2
  • Papua New Guinea 34
  • Peru 35
  • Philippines 36
  • Poland 37
  • Portugal 38
  • Romania 39
  • Russia 40
  • Slovakia 41
  • South Africa 42
    • Before 1994 42.1
    • After 1994 42.2
  • Spain 43
  • Sweden 44
    • Historical Provinces 44.1
    • Present counties 44.2
  • Switzerland 45
  • Taiwan 46
  • Thailand 47
  • Ukraine 48
  • United Kingdom 49
    • Constituent countries 49.1
    • British Crown Dependencies 49.2
    • British Overseas Territories 49.3
  • United States 50
    • States 50.1
    • Counties 50.2
    • Territories 50.3
  • Venezuela 51
  • See also 52
  • Notes 53








  • Burgenland (German; Hungarian: Várvidék; Croatian: Gradišće): originally called Vierburgenland, "Land of four Burgs (castles)", a name suggested in 1919 from the endings of the four former counties forming the state: Preßburg, Wieselburg, Ödenburg and Eisenburg. In 1922 Austria ceded Ödenburg to Hungary and dropped the numeric prefix Vier- ("four"); the remaining three counties became Burgenland.[14] The Hungarian Várvidék and Croatian Gradišće calque the German Burgenland
  • Carinthia, German Kärnten: etymologically related to the early Slavic medieval principality Carantania (Slovenian Karantanija, German Karantanien); a suggested etymology references a Celtic term for "stone" or "crag", while a popular etymology holds that the name means "land of friends"
  • Lower Austria, German Nieder-Österreich: the lower part (lower in height) of the original territory of Austria ('the eastern country'), as opposed to Upper Austria; also called Österreich unter der Enns "Austria below the (river) Enns"
  • Salzburg: after the city of Salzburg (literally "salt castle"), which takes its name from the salt mines that existed there during the Middle Ages
  • Styria, German Steiermark: after the castle of Steyr; in the high Middle Ages, it formed a march of the Holy Roman Empire, hence -mark
  • Tirol: after the Tirol Castle near Meran
  • Upper Austria, German Ober-Österreich: the upper (physically higher) part of the original territory of Austria, as opposed to Lower Austria; also called Österreich ob der Enns "Austria above the (river) Enns"
  • Vienna, German Wien: from Celtic Vindobona (vindo "white" + bona "foundation, fort")
  • Vorarlberg, literally "in front of the Arlberg", takes its name from the Arlberg, a mountain (German: Berg) characterised by Arle, a local German term for "mountain pine".



  • Brussels, Dutch Brussel, French Bruxelles (the capital city, outside any province; also Belgium's third region): medieval Dutch broek 'bog' + zele (in many place names in the Low Countries="habitation using thatching")
  • Flanders, Dutch Vlaanderen, French Flandre(s): plural of a terrain type; or "flooded land"; or a compound Flemish vlakte "plain" and wanderen "to wander".[15] The name extended from the historical county (about half lost to French and Dutch neighbours; the rest roughly made up two administrative provinces, East Flanders and West Flanders; in French les Flandres, plural) to the whole Dutch-speaking, majority part of Belgium (French la Flandre, singular)
  • Wallonia, French Wallonie: from the (Romanized (Germano-) Celtic, now Francophone) Walloon people: as in many European countries, so named by Germanic neighbours; meaning: "strangers". Compare "Wales" below.


  • Liège: of disputed etymology. The name Liège may have the same origin as the ancient name of Paris, i.e. Lutetia; the German form, Lüttich, suggests this. Liège and Lutetia would both derive from Latin lucotætia, "marsh" or "mud". Another suggestion derives the names from Latin Lætica, "colony", or Leudica, "free". Alternatively, the Latin Leudica meaning "public place" may have given rise to the Walloon Lîdje and thence to Liège. Note that the name appeared in written form as Liége (with an acute accent) until the 1950s.




Provinces and territories

Historical regions

  • Acadia (French Acadie): origin disputed:
    • Credited to Italian navigator Giovanni da Verrazzano, who first named a region around Chesapeake Bay Archadia (Arcadia) in 1524 because of "the beauty of its trees", according to his diary. Cartographers began using the name Arcadia to refer to areas progressively farther north until it referred to the French holdings in maritime Canada (particularly Nova Scotia). The -r- also began to disappear from the name on early maps, resulting in the current Acadia.[16]
    • Possibly derived from the Míkmaq word akatik, pronounced roughly "agadik", meaning "place", which French-speakers spelled as -cadie in place names such as Shubenacadie and Tracadie, possibly coincidentally.[17]
  • Nunatsiavut: Inuktitut, meaning "our beautiful land".[18]



Roman numerals originally identified the regions in order from north to south (except Santiago). With the establishment of Arica-Parinacota and Los Ríos Region in 2007 the numbers no longer reflect the regions' positions.



Special administrative regions

Czech Republic

Map of the Czech Republic with traditional regions and current administrative regions

Historical regions

  • Bohemia: "Land of the Boii", a Celtic tribe of the region. The ultimate etymology of Boii is uncertain, but has been connected to Proto-Indo-European roots meaning "cow" and "warrior"
    • Czechia, an alternate name for Bohemia: From Czech Čechy, from Čech ("a Czech"). Traditionally traced to a Forefather Čech, who brought the Czechs into Bohemia.
  • Moravia: "Land of the Morava"


  • Bornholm: the Old Norse version of the name, Burgundarholm, suggests connections with the Burgundians, who traditionally originated in Scandinavia
  • Copenhagen (Danish: København) - a corruption of the original designation for the city, Købmandshavn, or "Merchants' Harbour" in Danish. It comes to English via the German Kopenhagen.
  • Danish Virgin Islands, a former territory: See British Virgin Islands below.
  • Faroe Islands (Danish: Færøerne, Faroese: Føroyar), from Old Norse Føroyar - literally, "Sheep Islands", from their dense population of sheep. Another theory suggests that the lexeme fár- / fær- instead derives from Celtic and means "distant".
  • Greenland (Danish: Grønland): from Old Norse Grœnland, literally, "green land"; so named by Erik the Red to induce settlement there. Greenlandic-speakers use the name Kalaallit Nunaat, meaning "Land of the Greenlanders"
  • Jutland (Danish: Jylland; German: Jütland) - name associated with the Jutes
  • Zealand (Danish: Sjælland) - literally "sea-land" or "the land in the sea" from Old Norse "Selund" and Old Danish "Sialand". A highly speculative alternative interpretation postulates an origin from *Selha-undi, "seal".

Dominican Republic


Note: Estonian maakond means "county" and maa means "land". Counties given here without the suffix -maa take their names (and etymologies as given here) from their capitals.

  • Hiiumaa: from Estonian hiis - "holy grove", or hiid - "giant", meaning "land of holy groves" or "land of giants".
  • Ida-Virumaa: "Eastern Virumaa" - see Virumaa below
  • Jõgeva: from Estonian jõgi - "river" (Pedja river) and possibly vahe - "between" (since the old estate stood on an island in the river), meaning "between rivers".
  • Järvamaa: from Estonian järv - "lake", meaning "land of lakes".
  • Läänemaa: from Estonian lääne - "western", meaning "western land".
  • Lääne-Virumaa: "Western Virumaa" - see Virumaa below
  • Petseri: from Russian peshchera - "caves".
  • Põlva: from Estonian põlv - "knee". According to a legend, a virgin was once bricked in a church wall on her knees. According to another version, the Tartu-Võru and Kanepi-Räpina roads form a curve, shaped like a knee.
  • Pärnu: named after Pärnu river, that drains into the sea at Pärnu
  • Saaremaa: from Estonian saar - "island", meaning "island-land".
  • Valga: from German family names de Walco and de Walko. According to another version, from Old Estonian valketa - "white".
  • Virumaa: from several Finnic languages virukas - "big" or "strong", or vire "sharp" or "penetrating" (for wind), meaning "land of the strong / big" or "land of the sharp / penetrating winds". (In Finnish, the words for Estonia and Estonians derive from Virumaa - Viro and virolaiset.)


  • Helsinki: The Swedish name Helsingfors ( or ) represents the original official name of the city of Helsinki (in the very beginning, in the form 'Hellssingeforss'). The Finnish language form of the city's name probably originates from 'Helsinga' and similar names used for the river currently known as Vantaanjoki, as documented as early as the 14th century. Helsinki (pronounced with the stress on the first syllable: ), refers to the city in all languages except Swedish and Norwegian. Helsingfors comes from the name of the surrounding parish, Helsinge (source for Finnish Helsinki) and the rapids (in Swedish: fors), which flowed through the original village. The name Helsinge possibly originated with medieval Swedish settlers who came from Hälsingland in Sweden. Another possible derivation looks to the Swedish word hals (neck), referring to the narrowest part of the river, i.e. the rapids.[23]
  • Ostrobothnia (or in Swedish: Österbotten) - "Eastern Bothnia". Bothnia is a Latinization of Old Norse botn,[24] meaning "bottom". The name botn was applied to the Gulf of Bothnia as Helsingjabotn in Old Norse, after Hälsingland, which at the time referred to the coastland west of the gulf. Later, botten was applied to the regions Västerbotten on the western side and Österbotten the eastern side ("East Bottom" and "West Bottom"). The Finnish name of Österbotten, Pohjanmaa, or "Pohja"-land, gives a hint as to the meaning in both languages: pohja means both "bottom" and "north."


Historic regions

Most modern French départements take their names from local geographical features: usually rivers, occasionally mountain ranges or coasts. Thus most such names have a self-evident immediate origin: even non-speakers of French can deduce them with a minimum of geographical knowledge. The traditional provinces and regions (of any period) often bear names with richer but more obscure histories.

  • Alsace - from Latin Alsatia, a Latinised form of the Germanic name that also yields Old High German El-sasz, allegedly meaning "foreign settlement" (according to the OED article on "Alsatia"[25]); or "settlement on the Ill River"
  • Artois - from Latin Atrebatensis, adjectival form derived the Belgic tribe Atrebates, whose name comes from *ad-treb-ates, meaning 'inhabitants', based on the Celtic root treb- 'building', 'home' (cf. Old Irish treb 'building', 'farm', Welsh tref 'building', Middle Breton treff 'city', toponyms in Tre-, Provençal trevar 'to live in a house or in a village').[26] According to Alexander MacBain (d. 1907),[27] the name Atrebates parallels the Irish aitreibh, ‘building,’ Early Irish aittreb, ‘building,’ and Welsh adref, ‘homewards’. McBain states that the Celtic root treb corresponds to Latin tribus, ‘tribe’, and to English thorpe, ‘village’.[27] MacBain reconstructs *ad-treb- as the Proto-Celtic form of Early Irish aittreb.[27] The name of the main city of Artoi, Arras (Atrecht in Dutch) derives directly from the tribe's name Atrebates, so Artois properly means "territory of Arras".
  • Basque Country (French: Pays Basque, Basque: Euskal Herria) - derived from the ancient tribe of the Vascones via the medieval Duchy of Vasconia and a County of Vasconia, split from it. The Basque name derives from Euskara (the autochthonous name of the Basque language).
    • Labourd (Lapurdi): from the Roman city of Lapurdum (modern Bayonne).
    • Lower Navarre (French: Basse Navarre, Basque: Nafarroa Behera, Benafarroa). From the medieval Kingdom of Navarre, itself of disputed etymology (either Basque nabar: "brownish, multicolor", also "ploughshare"; or Romance nava: "river bank"; or Basque naba (valley, plain) + herri (people, land)). Compare Kingdom of Navarre#Etymology
    • Soule: deformation of the original Basque name Zuberoa or Xiberue
  • Brittany (Bretagne) - area occupied by refugee Britons from Roman Britain (Britannia) circa 500 AD
  • in France in the 5th century CE. Burgundy collapsed, and occupied and named Roman Empire which moved west when the western Germanic tribe take their name from the island of Bornholm; they comprised a Burgundians believe that the [31] Some scholars[30].Burgenda land uses the form Alfred the Great [29]
  • Champagne - from the Latin campania (plain, open country, battlefield)
  • Corsica (Corse) - possibly from the Phoenician Korsai, which means something like "forest-covered"
  • Dauphiné - from the nickname and coat of arms of former ruler Guy VIII of Vienne: "dolphin"
  • Franche-Comté - in French, literally the "Free County" of Burgundy (as opposed to the Duchy of Burgundy)
  • Gascony (Gascogne) - from the Duchy of Vasconia (also Wasconia), itself derived from the ancient tribe of the Vascones. In Latin and Romance languages in medieval times, Vascones came to apply to all the Basque-speaking peoples.
  • Languedoc - the region speaking the langue d'oc (as opposed to the regions whose language (langue d'oïl) developed into modern French)
  • Limousin - from an adjective referring to the local centre, Limoges
  • Lorraine - from the Mediaeval Latin coining Lotharingia, meaning the lands granted as a kingdom in 855 AD to Lothair, son of the Holy Roman Emperor Lothair I
  • Maine (province/county), from the Maine River, considered a variant/continuation of the Mayenne River, whose early French name suggests "middle river"
  • Normandy (Normandie) - land settled by Viking Northmen in the early 10th century
  • Occitania, from Occitània in Occitan. From medieval Latin Occitania (approximately since 1290). The first part of the name, Occ-, is from Occitan [lenga d']òc or Italian [lingua d']oc (i.e. "Language of Òc"), a name given to the Occitan language by Dante according to its way of saying "yes" (òc). The ending -itania is probably an imitation of the old Latin name [Aqu]itania.
  • Provence - from Latin provincia (province), short for Provincia Narbonensis, the Roman province located in present-day southern France.
  • Savoy - of unknown origin, but dating to the days of the Kingdom of Burgundy




  • Baden-Württemberg: formed by combining the names of the former states of Baden and of Württemberg.
    • Baden: after the city of Baden-Baden, formerly Baden, the name became reduplicated to distinguish it from the state (as in "Baden in Baden"). The name means "baths", after the springs in the city.
    • Württemberg: after Württemberg Castle, which stood on the Württemberg, a hill in Stuttgart, formerly Wirtemberg, further origin uncertain (-berg means "mountain")
  • Bavaria (German Bayern): the state of Bavaria developed out of the tribe of the Baiuvarii, who probably gained their name from the land of Bohemia
  • Brandenburg: after the city of Brandenburg. The earlier Slavic name of the castle (Burg) of Brandenburg appears as Branibor (Slavic for "Branim's forest", where bor means "a dense forest").
  • Hamburg: from the 9th-century name Hammaburg, where Hamma has multiple conflicting interpretations, but burg means "castle".
  • Hesse: after the tribe of the Chatti
  • Lower Saxony (German Niedersachsen): after the tribe of the Saxons. "Lower Saxony" became differentiated in modern times from the state of Saxony to its southeast. The word "lower" reflects Lower Saxony's location in the lowlands of the North German Plain, as opposed to Saxony, which has a higher elevation
  • Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania (German) Mecklenburg-Vorpommern): formed geographically by joining Mecklenburg with the western part of Pomerania, also called Hither Pomerania.
    • Mecklenburg takes its name from Mecklenburg Castle in Dorf Mecklenburg (Burg means "castle" in German, the first part means "big": compare Middle Low German mekel, cognate with English mickle — "big castle").
    • Pomerania (German Pommern) comes from Slavic roots meaning "near the sea" (in Slavic languages more means "sea"): the standard modern Polish name for the region, Pomorze, demonstrates this well.
  • North Rhine-Westphalia (German Nordrhein-Westfalen) — geographically formed by joining the northern part of the Rhineland (after the River Rhine) with Westphalia.
    • The name of the Rhine derives from Gaulish Renos, and ultimately from the Proto-Indo-European root *reie- ("to move, flow, run"); words like river and run share the same root.[35] The Reno River in Italy shares the same etymology. The spelling with -h- suggests a borrowing from the Greek form of the name, Rhenos,[35] seen also in rheos, "stream", and rhein, "to flow".
    • Westphalia formed the westernmost subdivision of the Saxon tribe; the origin of the second part (-falen in German) remains unknown
  • Rhineland-Palatinate (German Rheinland-Pfalz): formed geographically by joining parts of the Rhineland (after the River Rhine) with the Rhenish Palatinate, formerly a palatine county located near the Rhine, meaning that its count administered a palace of the Holy Roman Emperor.
    • The name of the Rhine derives from Gaulish Renos, and ultimately from the Proto-Indo-European root *reie- ("to move, flow, run"), the common root of words like river and run.[35] The Reno River in Italy shares a similar etymology. The spelling with -h- suggests influence from the Greek spelling of the name, Rhenos,[35] seen also in rheos, "stream", and rhein, "to flow".
    • The word Palatinate derives from Latin palatinus "imperial", from palatium "palace", after the location of the palace of the Roman Emperor Augustus on the Palatine Hill in Rome
  • the Saarland - after the Saar River
  • Saxony (German Sachsen): land of the Saxons (possibly the "sword-folk"). The state of Saxony developed out of the Saxon tribe, which principally inhabited present-day Lower Saxony; during the Middle Ages and early modern times, the name migrated to the current location of the state of Saxony
  • Saxony-Anhalt (German, Sachsen-Anhalt): formed geographically by joining the Prussian Province of Saxony (see above under Saxony) with Anhalt
    • Anhalt takes its name from Anhalt Castle near Harzgerode; the origin of the name of the castle remains unknown
  • Schleswig-Holstein: created by joining Schleswig and Holstein.
    • Schleswig takes its name from the City of Schleswig, which in turn derives its name from the Schlei bay and the Low German word wig for "trading place".
    • "Holstein" comes from a Saxon subtribe named, in Latin, Holcetae, whose means "dwellers in the wood" (Northern Low Saxon: Hol(t)saten; German: Holzsassen).
  • Thuringia (German Thüringen) — after the tribe of the Thuringii. Some have suggested that the Thuringii represent the remnants of the Hermanduri, the last part of whose name (-duri) became corrupted (-thuri) and afterwards suffixed with -ing, meaning "descendants of (the [Herman]duri)".[36]

Historic regions

  • Brunswick (German: Braunschweig): from the town of Brunswick, possibly originating as "Bruno's wik" (Bruno's marketplace) (with reference to the legendary founder Bruno, Duke of Saxony, died 880, or another Bruno) or as "burnt wik"); the High German form Braunschweig is an erroneous translation of the original Low German Brunswick
  • Franconia (German: Franken): from the traditional designation "Franks", referring especially to the Kingdom of the East Franks. The name refers to those areas east of the Rhine that were first occupied by the Franks, as opposed to areas that were held by the Swabians, Bavarians or Saxons. The ethnonym "Frank" has sometimes been traced to the Latin francisca (from the Germanic *frankon, akin to the Old English franca), meaning "javelin". While the throwing-axe of the Franks is known as the francisca, the weapon conversely may have taken its name from the tribe.
  • Hohenzollern: ultimately from the names of Hohenzollern Castle and its location, Mount Hohenzollern (known locally as Zoller or Zollern). The lexeme hoh/hohen in German means "high/height".
  • Oldenburg, after the city of Oldenburg, first recorded in 1108 as the town of Aldenburg, subsequently also a county, duchy, grand duchy and republic, meaning "old castle"
  • Prussia (German: Preußen) — (at times historically connected with Germany or with parts thereof): from the people known as the Prussians, a grouping of western Balt peoples whose collective name (German: Prussen or anciently Pruzzen) may possibly derive from an Indo-European root meaning "swamp": see Prussian people; for political reasons, the electors of Brandenburg decided to name themselves kings of Prussia in the 18th century; in this way, they transferred the name of the remote eastern region to a major German state
  • Swabia (German: Schwaben or Schwabenland): after the tribe of the Suebi whose name may come from Proto-Germanic *swēbaz based on the Proto-Germanic root *swē- meaning "one's own" [people],[37] from an Indo-European root *swe-,[38] the third-person reflexive pronoun.


  • Arcadia: from Arcas, the legendary eponymous leader of early Hellenic settlers
  • Sparta: from Greek Σπάρτη spartē, a cord or rope made from the shrub spartos, a type of broom
  • Macedonia, from Greek mak- (long, tall) - 'highland'.

India (Republic of India)

See List of Indian states and union territories by the etymology of their name.


  • Aceh: name of the coastal people of the area (the main group inhabiting the inland area are the Gayo people).
  • Banten: named in the honor of the former Banten Sultanate, which ruled over the region from 16th to the 18th centuries and became one of the main fronts of opposition against the colonial might of the Dutch East India Company (VOC).
  • Bengkulu: named after the Bengkulu river, which passes through the area of the province. The name of Bengkulu itself comes from the Malay word bangkai meaning "corpse", and hulu meaning "river-source" — it refers to the story that in the past the area near the source of the river Bengkulu had often served as a battlefield—tribes and clans battled each other on the river banks leaving them "full of corpses and blood".
  • Gorontalo: from the Dutch version of the local phrase hulontalo, meaning "lands surrounded by water" due to the many lakes and rivers formerly in the area
  • Irian Jaya: The name Irian is said to come from the Biak language. An alternative etymology for Irian (variously identified as a real etymology or a folk etymology) stems from the acronym Ikut Republik Indonesia, Anti Nederland ("Join/Follow the Republic of Indonesia, rejecting The Netherlands) (see the article on the Province of Papua — as of 2009 the official Indonesian and internationally recognized name for Irian Jaya). The word jaya means "victory" or "glorious" in Indonesian, referring to the Indonesian victory over the colonisers who controlled the area both militarily and diplomatically, a sign of pride as the Indonesians showed themselves capable not only of defending their lands from the Dutch attempt to reestablish colonial rule after World War II, but also of taking over lands not included in the 1945 proclamation or the 1950 reunification, specifically Irian Jaya' or the Province of Papua.
  • Jakarta: from the Javanese words jaya (meaning "victory") and karta (meaning "glory"), which make up the phrase "victorious & glorious; this refers to the victory of Prince Pati Unus (also known as Fatahillah) of the Demak Sultanate in his campaign to defeat the rival Malakka Sultanate of the Malay peninsula and Samudera Pasai Sultanate of Aceh region in the mid-16th century. The "glorious victory" also refers to the event of Indonesian Proclamation of Independence on 17 August 1945 which took place in the city.
  • Jambi: the province takes its name from the historical Jambi Sultanate which ruled over the area from the 17th to the 19th centuries
  • Lampung: From the word "Lambung" in the Old Malay phrase anjak Lambung, which means "descended from the heights". This refers to the ancestral riddle of the Lampung people, who allegedly had ancestors "descended from the heights". The "heights" reference the southernmost part of the Barisan mountain range that runs through all the western part of the Lampung province. More specifically, it is said that the "heights" refer to the plateau at the foot of the Pesagi Mountain. (The center of the legendary ancient Kingdom of Sekala Brak, allegedly one of the oldest kingdoms in Indonesia.)
  • Nusa Tenggara: from Nusa meaning "islands" (referring to the Lesser Sunda Islands that make up the area) and tenggara meaning "south-east" (referring to the position of the area within the country).
  • Sumatra: from Ibn Battuta's 14th-century pronunciation of the name of the Samudra Kingdom (13th to 15th centuries CE)
  • Yogyakarta: From 'Jogja' and 'Karta'. Jogja is a Javanised version of a Sanskrit word, 'Ayodhya', the prefix A- meaning 'not' and 'Yodhya' is synonymous to Hindi 'Yuddha', meaning battle, combat, fight, or war. Thus Ayodhya, which later Javanised into Jogja, meant 'The place of no fight' or in simpler interpretation, peaceful. This may refer to the geographic location of Jogjakarta, being fortified naturally by the Java Sea to the South, the Merapi Mountain to the north, the Gunung Sewu Karst Mountains to the east and Progo River to the west where it would be the perfect fortress of peace, and even more supported as a breeding place of peaceful life with its rich and fertile volcanic land and rivers, sourcing up to the majestic Merapi. The word 'Karta' means glory, referring to a hope that this city would bring glory to its people.

Iran (Persia)

  • Lorestan: land of the Lurs
  • Mazendran: its combination of 3 words: Mad (female, mother, mater) and Zainthi (wisdom, knowledge, science) Eran (aryans), Both MAD and Eran is either suffix or prefix of many places in greater Iran or Persia Europeans called + upper India


  • Iraqi Kurdistan: The name Kurdistan literally means Land of the Kurds. In the Iraqi Constitution, it is referred to as Kurdistan Region.[5] The full name of the government is "Kurdistan Regional Government" (abbrev: KRG).

Ireland (Eire)

  • Connacht: Connachta in Irish. "Descendants of Conn." From the Irish Connachta people, who all claimed descent from the High King Conn Cétchathach, Conn of the Hundred Battles.
  • Leinster: Laighin in Irish. From the Irish Laigin people, named after láigne, the broad blue-grey iron spearheads they carried, and Old Norse staðr, meaning place or territory
  • Munster: Mhumhain in Irish. From the Gaelic goddess Muman and the old Norse staðr, meaning place or territory
  • Ulster: Ulaidh in Irish. From the Irish Ulaid people, whose name probably comes from Old Irish ul, "beard", and old Norse staðr, meaning place or territory.
  • Meath: Mide in Irish. "Middle" in Old Irish. No longer a province of Ireland.


  • Campania: different interpretations: 1) from the Latin campania (countryside, plain, battlefield); compare Champagne in France. 2) from the ethnonym "campani", Oscan italic people who lived in the Apennines mountains in the Southern Italy before the Greek colonization. Greek ancient sources record the term "campani" before the Roman colonization, putting doubts on the Latin interpretation. Campania is likely derived from the toponym of the ancient city of Capua (from *Campuam/Kampuam = *Campania) which was the most important city in the region during the oscan and etruscan period
  • Friuli: from the Latin Forum Julii (The market of Julius), which at the beginning referred only to the city of Cividale, founded by Julius Caesar and then extended to the whole region
  • Latium (in modern Italian: Lazio): land of the early Italic inhabitants known as Latins, in their turn popularly associated with the mythological King Latinus [in turn, "Latins" (in Latin, Latīnī) — as well as the name of King Latīnus (simply the singular of the same name) — clearly derived their names from Latium by means of the ethnic suffix -īnus, with the obvious meaning of "inhabitant(s) of Latium", which makes this etymology ridiculously circular, but let that serve as a warning to the reader as to the quality of this and other etymologies on this page]. Ovid hints at perhaps a slightly more sophisticated folk etymology, with a legend of the naming of Latium after Saturn latente deo (as a god in hiding) after he allegedly fled to Italy following his expulsion by Jupiter. - Modern linguists postulate origins in a Proto-Indo-European language (PIE) root *stela- (to spread, extend), expressing the idea of "flat land" (in contrast to the local Sabine high country). But the name may originate from an earlier, non Indo-European one. See the Online Etymological Dictionary.
  • Lombardy: from the Germanic tribe of the Lombards (literally "long-beards" or "long-bearded axe people", or, according to another theory, "long-halberds"), who invaded Italy in the 6th century. Note: After the Lombard invasion, the name "Longobardia" or "Langobardia" applied to the whole of Italy for about two centuries, throughout Europe and also in Arabic (al-Ankubardiya). The name Italia did not return into wide use until the late 8th century
  • Marche: literally. "marches", "borderlands". In the Middle Ages the region lay on the boundaries between imperial lands and the more independent areas of southern Italy. The March of Ancona became the best known of such marche
  • Tuscany: the land of etruscans: in Attic Greek, the Etruscans were known as Τυρρήνιοι (Tyrrhēnioi), earlier Tyrsenoi, from which the Romans derived the names Tyrrhēni (Etruscans), Tyrrhēnia (Etruria), and Mare Tyrrhēnum (Tyrrhenian Sea). The Etruscans called themselves Rasenna, which was syncopated to Rasna or Raśna. In modern Italian Toscana derives from Etruria (Latin), later "Tuscia" (which now is the name of a subregion in the northern Lazio) and finally "Toscana".
  • Sardinia: speculatively linked with the Shardana people (that came from Sardis)
  • Sicily: island settled by the Sicels


Main Islands




  • Alor Star - alor in Malay means "furrow", while star refers to a kind of tree (Bouea macrophylla) that bears small, sour fruit known as kundang or remia in Malay
  • Cyberjaya - Malay: "cyber excellence", a reference to the city's designation as the "Silicon Valley of Malaysia"
  • Ipoh - named after the ipoh tree whose poisonous sap the Orang Asli used to coat their blowpipe darts with
  • Johor - from Arabic jauhar, or "precious stones"
  • Kangar - named for the Malay 'kangkok', a kind of hawk (Spizaetus Limnaetu)
  • Kelantan - said to be a corruption of gelam hutan, the Malay name for the Melaleuca leucadendron tree, also possibly derived from kilatan ("lightning")
  • Klang - possibly from Mon-Khmer klong or Malay kilang ("warehouse")
  • Kota Bharu - Malay: "new town/fort"
  • Kuala Lumpur - Malay: "muddy confluence", a reference to the founding of the city at the confluence of Gombak River and Klang River
  • Kuching - Malay: "cat", but probably a corruption of the Indian cochin ("port") or a reference to the treesmata kucing that used to proliferate where the city grew subsequently
  • Labuan - derived from the Malay labuhan ("anchorage")
  • Langkawi - Malay for "eagle island", but possibly related to Langkasuka, an ancient Hindu kingdom founded in Kedah in the 1st century CE
  • Malacca - named by the founder of Malacca, Parameswara, after the Melaka tree under which he sheltered
  • Negeri Sembilan - Malay: "nine states", a reference to the nine original districts (or nagari) settled by the Minangkabau
  • Penang - named after the Pinang tree
  • Perak - Malay: "silver", from the silvery colour of tin for which the area became famous; or possibly from the "glimmer of fish in the water"
  • Putrajaya - Malay: literally: "the son's victory"; but taken to mean "princely excellence". Named after the first Prime Minister of Malaysia, Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra, possibly with reference to the planned city's status as the new administration centre for the Federal Government
  • Selangor - possibly from the Malay selangau ("fly") due to the abundance of flies along the Selangor River
  • Sungai Petani - literally "farmer river" in Malay, said to originate from the concentration of paddy-fields and farmers in the state
  • Taiping - Chinese: "great peace"




  • Western Sahara, claimed territory: After its geographic position. "Sahara" derives from the Arabic aṣ-Ṣaḥrā´ (الصحراء), meaning "desert". The area is also claimed by the Sahrawis.

Kingdom of the Netherlands

Constituent countries


  • Drenthe (Dutch Low Saxon: Drentie): first mentioned in a Latin document of 820 as pago Treanth. Treanth probably finds its origin in the number three, as the area was then divided in three jurisdictions.
  • Flevoland: from Latin Lacus Flevo (Lake Flevo), a name used in Roman sources to refer to a body of water at what would later become known as the Zuiderzee. The Netherlands government established the province in 1986 on lands reclaimed from the Zuiderzee in the 1950s and 1960s.
  • Friesland (Frisian: Fryslân): land of the Frisians.
  • Gelderland (also English: Guelders): Named after the modern city of Geldern, Germany.
  • Groningen (Gronings: Grönnen or Grunnen). Named after its capital city. The origin of the city name is uncertain; theories include an original meaning of "people of Groni" (a man's name) or "green fields".
  • Limburg: Derived from the castle-fortified town of Limbourg which in turn was derived from "lint" "dragon" and burg "fortress."
  • North Brabant (Dutch: Noord-Brabant). The name in Carolingian times appeared in Latinised form as pagus Bracbatensis, from bracha "new" and bant "region".
  • North Holland (Dutch: Noord-Holland): Northern part of the region of Holland. See List of country name etymologies#Netherlands for the etymology of "Holland".
  • Overijssel: Dutch for "[Lands] across the IJssel river" (also Latin: "Transiselania")
  • South Holland (Dutch: Zuid-Holland): Southern part of the region of Holland. See List of country name etymologies#Netherlands for the etymology of "Holland".
  • Utrecht: named after the city of Utrecht, the name of which derives from Latin Ultraiectum ad Rhenum, meaning "place to cross the Rhine river".
  • Zeeland (also English: Zealand): Dutch for "sea land".

Other names

  • Alkmaar: from Aelcemaer, meaning 'lake of auks', due to the fact that lakes formerly surrounded the core of Alkmaar - all of them now drained and thus turned into dry land
  • Amsterdam: from Amstelredam, which means "dam over the Amstel" (the river Amstel flows through present-day Amsterdam)
  • Batavia (Germanic): "arable land" (derived from the regional name "Betuwe", as opposed to the other regional name "Veluwe" meaning "fallow" or "waste" land). Alternatively: the people known as the Batavians (Latin: Batavi) inhabited the island of Betawe between the Waal and the Rhine. The name of the island probably derives from batawjō ("good island", from Germanic bat- "good, excellent" and awjō - "island, land near water"), referring to the region's fertility.
  • Bonaire: Uncertain, but thought to have been originally derived from the Caquetio word bonay. Later Dutch and Spanish colonists modified it, first to Bojnaj and finally to its current name of Bonaire (French: "good air").
  • Holland (part of the Netherlands; but the term often refers to the country as a whole): Germanic "holt (i.e. wooded) land" (often incorrectly regarded as meaning "hollow [i.e. marsh] land")
  • Netherlands Antilles, a territory: From their Dutch owners and from a mythical land or island (Antillia), west of Europe, or a combination of two Portuguese words ante or anti (possibly meaning "opposite" in the sense of "on the opposite side of the world") and ilha ("island"), currently the name for these Caribbean Islands.
  • Rotterdam: meaning 'dam over the Rotte' (the river Rotte flows through present-day Rotterdam)
  • Stad en Ommelanden for the province of Groningen, meaning "city and surrounding lands" and referring to the city of Groningen and the medieval Frisian lordships west, north and east of the city.
  • Twente (region in the east of the province of Overijssel): from Latin tvihanti; or after the Germanic tribe the Tubantii as described by Tacitus; or an early form of the current Twents-language word for a 2-year-old horse: Tweanter.

New Zealand


Other categories

  • Cook Islands, a territory: In honor of British captain James Cook, who discovered the islands in 1770.
  • Levin: from a director of the railway company that established the town to help boost its railway
  • Niue, a territory: Niu probably means "coconut," and é means "behold." According to legend, the Polynesian explorers who first settled the island knew that they had come close to land when they saw a coconut floating in the water.
  • Plimmerton: from John Plimmer, Wellington pioneer, director of the railway company that created the seaside resort to help boost its railway; central Wellington has Plimmer's Steps.
  • Tasman: district named from the bay name, in honour of Dutchman Abel Tasman, commander of first European expedition to sight the country; also a mountain and glacier name. Abel Tasman National Park bears a fuller version of his name.
  • Tokelau, a territory: From the Tokelauan "North" or "Northern", in reference to their position relative to Samoa. The Tokelauan people traditionally suppose themselves to have originated from settlers from Samoa.
  • Waikato: Named after the Waikato River. The hydronym means "flowing water" in Māori.



  • Akershus – Fortress of (the district) Aker (named after the farm Aker, meaning agriculture field)
  • Aust-Agder – East Agder. Agder has a pre-Viking Age unknown meaning. Maybe meaning coast, related to English edge.
  • Buskerud – after a farm Buskerud, meaning the Bishops farm (rud more specifically means clearing the wood for farming)
  • Finnmark – Land of the Sami people.
  • Hedmark – Hed comes from the name of an old tribe. Mark means border land or wood land.
  • Hordaland – land of the Charudes, an old tribe.
  • Møre og Romsdal – Møre, and Rom valley. Møre probably means sea (land at the sea) and Roms comes from the river Rauma, unknown meaning.
  • Nordland – Northern land
  • Nord-Trøndelag – (Self-ruling) country of the Trønder people, northern part.
  • Oppland – the Upper lands
  • Oslo – disputed, maybe "the meadow beneath the ridge", see History of Oslo's name
  • Rogaland – land of the Rugii, an old tribe.
  • Sogn og Fjordane – Sogn refers to Sognefjord, "the fjord with tidal stream". Og Fjordane means "and the (other) fjords".
  • Sør-Trøndelag – (Self-ruling) country of the Trønder people, southern part.
  • Telemark – Tele comes from an old tribe. Mark means border land or wood land.
  • Troms – Unknown
  • Vest-Agder – West Agder. Agder has a pre-Viking Age unknown meaning. Maybe meaning coast, related to English edge.
  • Vestfold – West (side of) Fold, where Fold means fjord, here the Oslo Fjord.
  • Østfold – East (side of) Fold, where Fold means fjord, here the Oslo Fjord.





  • State of Azad Jammu and KashmirAzad: Urdu, "Free"; "Kashmir" either:
    • from the Koshur (Native Kashmiri) for "mountain tribes people" in north-east Pakistan; or
    • from Sanskrit Kaśyapa-mīra, sea (or lake) of the Kaśyapa,[42] although some regard this as a folk etymology.[43]

Papua New Guinea





  • Alentejo: meaning "beyond the Tejo (the Tagus river)"
  • Algarve: meaning "country to the west" (of the Guadiana River), from the Arab "Al-Gharb"
  • Azores: from Açores (pl.), after the "açor", a type of bird
  • Beira: quite literally, the "edge" (during the early phase of Portugal's history, Beira formed a borderland)
  • Madeira: "wood"
  • Minho: after the river Minho, that passes north of the region
  • Ribatejo: meaning "near the Tejo (the Tagus river)"
  • Trás-os-Montes: literally, "behind the hills", its territory is behind the mountains of Serra da Estrela


  • Bessarabia - from Basarab I, Wallachian prince who led some expeditions in this land
  • Bukovina - (from Serbian Bukovina in German: "Buchenland") = "beech land"
  • Dobrogea - from Dobrotitsa, ruler of the region in the 14th century[44]
  • Haţeg - "Terra Herzog"=Duke's land
  • Muntenia - from muntean=man of the mountains, from Romanian munte=mountain
  • Oltenia - from the river Olt, called Alutus by the Romans, possibly from Latin lutum, meaning "mud" or "clay".
  • Transylvania - "beyond the woods" — i.e., from Hungary
    • Ardeal - possibly a borrowing of the Hungarian name Erdély, like the Romani name Ardyalo — speakers of old Hungarian pronounced Erdély as Erdél. The initial Hungarian "e-" occasionally changes to "a-" in Romanian (compare Hungarian egres "gooseberry" and Egyed, which became agriş and Adjud in Romanian). However, the ending '-eal' in Romanian does not suggest a Romanian borrowing from Hungarian. In parallel examples, Hungarian -ely becomes -ei in Romanian. But when Hungarian adopts a word from Romanian, “a” usually becomes “e”: Andreas becomes Endre, the Latin ager becomes eger, etc. Thus the word Ardeal could become Erdély. - The linguist Josep Lad Pic determined that the word "Ardeal" has an Indo-European origin, while the words Erdely and Erdo do not. The Proto-Indo-European root *arde ("to grow", "high") manifests itself in the Old Indian árdhuka ("prospering"), and in Latin arduus ("high"). In Celtic Gaul, Arduenna silva parallels the English "Forest of Arden" and the Ardennes Woods in Belgium. In Romanian, deal means "hill" and ardica “to grow, high, prosperous”.
  • Wallachia - "land of the Romance-speaking people"


  • Arkhangelsk Oblast: the region of the city of Arkhangelsk, whose name the inhabitants traditionally associated with a monastery in the area dedicated to the Archangel Michael (Russian: Архангел Михаил or Arkhangel Mikhail).
  • Chechnya: the Russian ethnonym Chechen probably derives from the name of the ancient village of Chechana or Chechen-aul. The village stands on the bank of the Argun River, near Grozny. Another theory derives the name from chechenit' sya, "to talk mincingly".[45] Vasmer suggests a Kabardian origin: šešen.[46] The native term, Noxçi, comes from nexça (sheep cheese), nox (plow) or from the prophet Noah (Nox in Chechen).
  • Dagestan: the word Daghestan or Daghistan (Avar: Дагъистан; Arabic and Persian: داغستان‎‎) means "country of mountains"; it derives from the Turkic word dağ, meaning "mountain" and the Persian suffix -stan meaning "land of". The spelling Dagestan transliterates the Russian name, which lacks the voiced velar fricative.
  • Kaliningrad Oblast: from the Russian name Kaliningrad (Kalinin-city) of its largest city, renamed in 1946 to commemnorate Mikhail Kalinin
  • Kazan (former Imperial Russian governorate): (compare the name of the city of Kazan)
  • Khabarovsk Krai: the Khabarovsk region. The city of Khabarovsk took its name from the explorer Yerofey Khabarov
  • Leningrad Oblast: from the city (Saint Petersburg formerly known as Leningrad (Russian for Lenin-city)
  • Nizhniy Novgorod: Russian: literally "lower Novgorod": for "lower new city", "new city on the Lower Volga"; in contrast to the older Novgorod
  • Novaya Zemlya: Russian for "new land"
  • Sakhalin: derived from misinterpretation of a Manchu name "sahaliyan ula angga hada" (peak of the mouth of the Amur River). "Sahaliyan" means "black" in Manchu and refers to the Amur River (sahaliyan ula).
  • Siberia: from a Tatar word meaning "sleeping land"
  • Smolensk Oblast: from the river Smolnya
  • Vladikavkaz: Russian for "ruler of the Caucasus" or "rule the Caucasus"


  • Banská Bystrica: The name includes two distinct roots: the adjective Banská (from Slovak baňa - "mine") and the name of the local river Bystrica (from Slavic bystrica - "a swift stream").[47] Its name in Hungarian: Besztercebánya has the same semantic origin. The name literally means "mining creek".
  • Bratislava: The first written reference comes from the Annales Iuvavenses, which calls the locality Brezalauspurc (literally: Braslav's castle), in relation to the battles between the Bavaria and Hungary, which took place before the walls of Bratislava Castle in 907.[48] The castle got its name either from Predslav, third son of King Svatopluk I or from the local noble Braslav.[49] This former variant reappears as "Braslav" or "Preslava" on coins minted by King Stephen I of Hungary, dating to about the year 1000 and in which appeared the motto "Preslavva Civitas".[50] At the end of the Middle Ages, the name took its final German form Pressburg: Slovak of Prešporok derived from this.[50] Although Pressburg remained the official name until 1919, the Hungarians use and used the name Pozsony (attested by the 12th century).[50][51] Bozan could result from a ruling of the Bratislava Castle from the eleventh century. The name Posonium Latin derives from Hungarian.[52] In addition to these names, documents of the Renaissance call the city 'Ιστροπόλις' Istropolis which means "City of the Danube" in Ancient Greek. The current name, Bratislava, dates from 1837 when the Slavist scholar Pavel Jozef Šafárik reconstructed a variant of the name, Břetislaw[53] a from old names, believing that these derived from the name of the ruler Bretislaus I of Bohemia. This name was used at first request by members of the Slovak movement in 1844 as Bratislav. After World War, Slovak deputies tried not to rename the city with the name of "Wilson City" in honor of U.S. President Woodrow Wilson, trying to avoid annexation by Czechoslovakia. The proposal was rejected and the official name of the city became the de Bratislava on March in 1919, after the city became part of Czechoslovakia.
  • Košice: The first written mention of the city as "villa Cassa" dates from 1230.[54] The Slovak name of the city comes from the Slavic personal name "Koša" with the patronymic slavic suffix "-ice".[55] According to other sources the city name probably stems from an ancient Hungarian first name which begins with "Ko" such as Kokos-Kakas, Kolumbán-Kálmán, or Kopov-Kopó.[56] Historically, the city has been known as Kaschau in German, Kassa in Hungarian, Cassovia or Caschovia in Latin, Cassovie in French, Caşovia in Romanian, Кошицы (Koshitsy) in Russian and Koszyce in Polish (see here for more names).
  • Nitra: The first mention of Nitra dates back to 880 (other variations: 826 as Nitrawa, 880 as Nitra, and in 1111/1113 as Nitra, Nitria). The name of the city derives from the river Nitra. The name originates in the Germanic word Nitrahwa: in the Indo-European languages nid means "flow" while ahwa means "water".
  • Prešov: The city name originates in the Hungarian word eper which means "strawberry".[57] The city's historic coat of arms contains strawberries.[57] Historically, the city has been known as Eperjes in Hungarian, Eperies or Preschau in German, Fragopolis in Greco-Latin, Preszów in Polish, Peryeshis in Romany, Пряшев (Pryashev) in Russian and Пряшів (Priashiv) in Rusyn and Ukrainian.
  • Trenčín: Trenčín first appeared under Greek name Leukaristos (Λεθκαριστοσ), depicted on the Ptolemy world map around 150 CE. In 179 CE, during the Marcomannic Wars between the Roman Empire and Germanic Quadi, the Romans carved an inscription on the rock under the present-day castle, mentioning the place as Laugaricio. (The inscription marks the northernmost known presence of the Romans in Central Europe.) The first written mentions in the Middle Ages date from 1111 (as Treinchen) and from 1113 (adjective: Trenciniensis). The name became Trentschin in later German and Trencsén in Hungarian.
  • Trnava: The name of the city derives from the Slovak word tŕnie ("thornbush") which characterized the river banks in the region. The Hungarian name Nagyszombat (first mentioned in 1238 in the form of Zumbotel) originates from the Hungarian word szombat ("Saturday"), referring to the weekly market fairs held on Saturdays.
  • Žilina

South Africa

Before 1994

Map of the provinces of South Africa before 1994

After 1994

Current map of South African provinces


  • Andalusia: from the Arabic name (Al-Andalus, with several suggested etymologies) formerly applied to the whole Iberian Peninsula
  • Aragon: from the Aragon River, that gave its name to the county of Aragon, one of the little Christian polities that resisted Islamic rule in Spain during its greatest extent (see Reconquista)
  • Asturias: the land of the Astures, an early people of north-west Spain
  • Basque Country (Basque: Euskal Herria): from the ancient tribe of the Vascones, whose name became an ethnonym in the Middle Ages. The Basque name derives from Euskara (the autochthonous name for the Basque language).
    • Álava (Basque: Araba): of uncertain etymology. Various theories see it deriving from a Roman town called Alba, from several prossible Basque etymologies and even from Arabs (who, however, never occupied the province for long). A chronicle of 905 uses the form Arba, but later the word commonly appears as Alaba or Alava.
    • Biscay (Basque: Bizkaia, Spanish: Vizcaya): variant of bizkarra ("shoulder", "back" or, in this case, "mountain range" in Basque)
    • Guipuscoa (Basque: Gipuzkoa, Spanish: Guipúzcoa): of unknown etymology. Old documents sometimes use the variant Ipuscoa.
  • Cantabria: from the Cantabri, a mountain people defeated by the Romans only after a great military effort (Cantabrian Wars, 29 - 19 BC). Celtologists have suggested a derivation from the Celtic root cant-, meaning "rock" or "stone", and from the suffix -abr, used frequently in Celtic regions. From this we can deduce that the word "cantabrus" means "dwelling in the mountains", referring to the rugged terrain of Cantabria. Another suggestion derives Cantabria from the Celtic Kant ("mountain" or "rock") and Iber (the river Ebro), thus "The Mountains of the Ebro". Spaniards also call this region La Montaña ("The Mountain"), but usually call the Bay of Biscay the Cantabrian Sea.
  • Castile: the Spanish/Castilian name Castilla reflects the Spanish castillo ("castle") and the Latin castellum ("fort" or "fortress") with reference to numerous forts or castles erected by King Alfonso I for the defence of the area
  • Catalonia: from the castlà ("castellan") class who governed the nascent feudal Catalonia from their castles in the 11th and 12th centuries. (Compare the etymology of "Castile".) Other parallel theories exist: Lafont (1986) says Catalunya could come from Arabic Qalat-uniyya (Qalat means "castle" and -uniyya operates as a collective suffix) because medieval Catalonia formed a border country with a lot of castles in front of the Muslim and Arabized zone of the Iberic peninsula. Some texts suggest that the name Catalunya derives from "Gauta-landia": land of the Goths, or "Goth-Alania" meaning "Land of the Goths and Alans"[59] through Arabian *Cotelanuyya [cf. Andalusia, land of the Vandals], as the Visigoths and Alans invaded and divided Iberia between themselves, agreeing to rule some parts together, with the region of Catalunya going to the Visigoths. Additionally, the Visigothic kingdom of Catalonia may have taken its name from that of the original homeland of the Visigoths, "Gotland". Coromines suggests an Iberian origin: Laietani (latinization of Iberian laiezken) > *laketani > laketans > metathesized as catelans > catalans, re-inforced by castellani (with an epenthetic s according to Coromines). Another theory suggests *kaste-lan as the Iberian name, later Latinized as castellani (an Iberian tribe in northern Catalonia according to Ptolemy); then the name would have evolved into *catellani > *catelans > *Catalans.
  • Extremadura: from Medieval Latin Extrema Dorii (literally, "extremes of the Douro river"), referring to the territories south of the Douro basin; or from an Old Castilian word used to designate the further territories controlled by the Christians (see Reconquista)
  • Galicia: from Latin Gallaecia, the name of the province created in Roman Hispania by Diocletian in 298 CE. It derives from gallicoi or callicoi, (Galli or Celts).
  • León: the ancient kingdom and subsequent province of León take their name from the city of León, whose name derives from its position as the base of a Roman legion (Latin legio)
  • Navarre (Spanish: Navarra, Basque: Nafarroa): from the Kingdom of Navarre. Navarra has been argued to have either a Basque or Romance etymology. In the first case it would come from nabar ("brownish, multicolor", also "plowshare"), in the second from nava ("river bank").
  • Rioja: speculatively interpreted as "red" from the redness of a prominent soil type in the area.[60]


Historical Provinces

Provinces of Sweden

Sweden formerly consisted of historical provinces (Swedish: landskap), and the province-names still often serve to describe locations in Sweden. Their names often date from before the year 1000. Officially Sweden now subdivides into counties (Swedish: län), introduced in 1634.

Historical provinces:

Present counties


  • Aargau: German name labelling the district (Gau) of the River Aar.
  • Appenzell: from Latin abbatis cella, meaning "land of the abbot", referring to the fact that Appenzell originally belonged to the Abbey of St. Gall.
  • Basel: traditionally associated with the Greek basileus ("king") or basileos ("of the king"): the city saw itself as preserving the Imperial Roman heritage of its parent settlement, the Roman town of Augusta Raurica. Note the use of the basilisk as a Basler icon.
  • Bern: German Bär[e]n (bears): reflected in the capital city's bear-pits, foundation-legend and coat-of-arms
  • Graubünden: (the German name literally means "grey leagues") — from the Grey League, a grey-clad organisation started in 1395.
  • Jura: after the Jura Mountains.
  • Neuchâtel: French for "new castle"; Neuenburg (with the same semantic meaning) in German
  • Schwyz: named after the town of Schwyz; the origin of the town name is unknown.
  • St Gallen: from Saint Gall (c. 550 - c. 646), traditionally the Irish founder/namesake of the Abbey of St. Gall which came to dominate the area.
  • Solothurn: the city of Solothurn, capital of the Canton of the same name, first appears under the Celtic name Salodurum.
  • Thurgau: an early medieval Gau county named after the River Thur.
  • Ticino: from the principal river of the canton, the Ticino, a tributary of the Po River.
  • Uri: (speculatively) from the older German Aurochs, a wild ox (see aurochs); or from the Celtic word ure, a bull. (Note the head of the bull on the cantonal coat of arms.)
  • Valais (French), Wallis (German): from the Latin word vallis, meaning "valley"; the canton consists mainly of the Rhone valley.
  • Zurich: after the city of Zurich, called Turicum in 2nd-century Latin; the origin of the Latin name is unknown.


  • Changhua(彰化): "Manifest [Imperial] Influence" in Chinese (顯彰皇化)
  • Chiayi(嘉義): "Commend Righteousness" in Chinese
  • Hsinchu (新竹): Literally "New Bamboo" in Chinese, renamed from "Bamboo Fortress" (Chinese: 竹塹, Mandarin: Zhuqian)
  • Hualien (花蓮): Literally "Lotus Flower" in Chinese, renamed from "Whirling Waves" (Chinese: 洄瀾, Mandarin: Huilan)
  • Kaohsiung (高雄): Literally "High Grandeur" (Mandarin: Gaoxiong; Japanese: Takao), renamed from Takau (Chinese: 打狗; Mandarin: Dagou; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: Táⁿ-káu), "Bamboo Forest" in a Formosan language
  • Keelung: Literally "Prosperous Base" in Chinese, renamed from "Chicken Cage" (Chinese: 雞籠; Mandarin: Jilong; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: Ke-lâng), possibly derived from the Ketagalan people
  • Kinmen (金門): "Golden Gate". When a fortress was built to defend the coast of Fujian, Kinmen was described as being "as secure as a metal moat, proudly safeguarding the gate of the sea" (固若金湯, 雄鎮海門)
  • Miaoli (苗栗): Renamed from 貓狸 (Mandarin: Maoli), from the Bari Settlement of the Taokas Tribe, meaning "Plains"
  • Nantou (南投): From the Ramtau Settlement of the Arikun Tribe
  • Penghu (澎湖): "Splashing Lake" in Chinese
  • Pingtung (屏東): East of Banpingshan (literally "Half-Screen Mountain")
  • Tainan (臺南): "Southern Taiwan [City]" in Chinese
  • Taipei (臺北): "Northern Taiwan [City]" in Chinese
  • Taichung(臺中): "Central Taiwan [City]" in Chinese
  • Taitung (臺東): "Eastern Taiwan [City]" in Chinese
  • Taoyuan (桃園): "Peach Orchard" in Chinese
  • Yilan (宜蘭): Literally "Suitable Orchid" in Chinese, derived from the Kavalan people (Chinese: 噶瑪蘭)
  • Yunlin (雲林): Literally "Clouded Woods" in Chinese



Traditional regions

Most of Ukraine's oblasts take their names from their principal city; but Volyn Oblast, Zakarpattia Oblast, and the Crimean Autonomous Republic offer exceptions to this rule. See also subdivisions of Ukraine.

United Kingdom

Constituent countries

British Crown Dependencies

  • Jersey: The Norse suffix -ey means "island" and is commonly found in the parts of Northern Europe where Norsemen established settlements. (Compare modern Nordic languages: øy in Norwegian, ø/ö in Danish and Swedish.) The meaning of the first part of the island's name is unclear. Among theories are that it derives from Norse jarth ("earth") or jarl ("earl"), or perhaps a personal name, Geirr, to give "Geirr's Island". American writer William Safire suggested that the "Jers" in Jersey could be a corruption of "Caesar".[72]
  • Isle of Man: The island's name in both English and Manx (Mannin) derives from Manannán mac Lir, the Brythonic and Gaelic, equivalent to the god Poseidon.

British Overseas Territories

United States





See also


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