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 subnational entities. 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.



* New South Wales: named with reference to Wales by Captain James Cook cite web|url= |title=About New South Wales |accessdate=2008-02-07 ]
* Queensland: named in honour of Queen Victoria ["How Queensland Got Its Name" at]
* South Australia: located in the south-central region of Australia
* Tasmania: named after Abel Tasman, who sighted the island in 1642; originally named by Tasman as "Van Diemen's Land", after Anthony van Diemen, the colonial governor who commissioned Tasman's voyage
* Victoria: named in honour of Queen Victoria []
* Western Australia: comprises the western third of Australia


Mainland Territories

* Northern Territory: territory in the north-centre of Australia
* Jervis Bay Territory: bay named by Lieutenant Bowen in 1791 for the naval hero Admiral Sir John Jervis, 1st Earl of St Vincent. [cite web
url =
title = Jervis Bay History
accessdate = 2008-10-10
author =
last =
first =
authorlink =
coauthors =
date = 2008-02-19
work =
publisher = Territories Division, Attorney-General's Department, Australian Government
doi =
archiveurl =
archivedate =
quote = 1791 The bay was named 'Jervis Bay' by Lieutenant Bowen of the "Atlantic" in honour of Admiral Sir John Jervis under whom he had served.

External Territories

*Ashmore and Cartier Islands: named for Ashmore Reef islets and Cartier Island
** Ashmore Reef: first recorded sighting by a European, Captain Samuel Ashmore of the "Hibernia", 11 June, 1811 []
**Cartier Island: discovered by a Captain Nash, aboard the "Cartier" [ [ Australia ] ]
* Christmas Island: named on 25 December (Christmas Day), 1643, by Captain William Mynors of the British East India Company [ [ Christmas Island - Britannica Online Encyclopedia ] ]
* Cocos (Keeling) Islands:
** Cocos: after the plentiful coconuts "(Cocos nucifera)" growing there [ [ Cocos Tourism - Discovery ] ]
** Keeling: discovered in 1609 by William Keeling, a mariner of the English East India Company [ [ Encyclopedia - Britannica Online Encyclopedia ] ]
* Coral Sea Islands: uninhabited islands in the Coral Sea, named for the its coral formations, especially the Great Barrier Reef, the largest coral reef in the world. [ [ Encyclopedia - Britannica Online Encyclopedia ] ]
*Heard Island and McDonald Islands:
** Heard Island: discovered (first "confirmed" sighting) by Captain John Heard of the merchant vessel "Oriental", 25 November, 1853cite web
title= Heard island: History: Discovery
accessdate= 2008-08-28
publisher= Australian Antarctic Division
quote= The first confirmed sighting of Heard Island was made on 25 November 1853 by Captain John Heard on the merchant vessel "Oriental". Earlier sightings of land in the area in the 1830s are considered doubtful.
** McDonald Islands: discovered by Captain William McDonald, 4 January, 1854
* Norfolk Island (Norfuk: "Norfuk Ailen"): discovered and named by James Cook (1774) either for the Duke of Norfolk [ [ Encyclopedia - Britannica Online Encyclopedia ] ] or for his wife [ ] [] []


"Bundesländer" (States)

* 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. [ [ Burgenland ] ] The Hungarian "Várvidék " and Croatian "Gradišće" calque the German "Burgenland"Fact|date=February 2007
* 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"
* Tyrol, German "Tirol", Italian "Tirolo": after the castle of Tirol near Merano
* 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".


Official languages: Dutch; French; German

"Gewesten / Régions / Regionen" (Regions)

*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; 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".

"Provincies / Provinces / Provinzen" (Provinces)

*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.


See List of Brazil state name etymologies.


Provinces and territories

:See Canadian provincial name etymologies


*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". [ [ Acadia: Origin of the Word by Bill Casselman ] ] :# 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. [ [ Provinces and Territories - The origins of their names ] ]
*Nunatsiavut: Inuktitut, meaning "our beautiful land". [ [ Nunatsiavut Government | ] ]



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.

*Maule Region (Spanish "VII Región del Maule"): named after the Maule River.
*Biobío Region (Spanish "VIII Región del Biobío"): named after the Bío-Bío River.
*Los Ríos Region (Spanish "XIV Región de los Ríos"): refers to the river systems of Valdivia and Bueno and to the nickname of the city of Valdivia. The name may also reflect the name of Los Lagos Region (Spanish for Region of the Lakes) from which Los Ríos split away.
*Aisén Region, sometimes also spelled Aysén (Spanish "XI Región Aisén del General Carlos Ibáñez del Campo"): The name Aisén may come from the Huilliche word "achen", meaning "to crumble". Another theory suggests that the Chonos culture used the word to mean "going more to the interior", in reference to the Fjord of Aisén that stretches east from the Moraleda strait.
*Magallanes y Antártica Chilena Region (Spanish "XII Región de Magallanes y de la Antártica Chilena"): named in honour of Ferdinand Magellan, the Strait of Magellan and the city of Punta Arenas, formerly called "Magallanes".


People's Republic of China

Most of the names of the modern administrative regions appeared as coinages in the Ming Dynasty and in the Qing Dynasty in ancient China. The Republic of China (ruling all of China from 1911 to 1949) and the People's Republic of China (ruling most of China after 1949) inherited most of them, and each made modifications and innovations. This list only includes the subnational entities under the effective control of the People's Republic of China.

省 "Shěng" (Provinces)

* Anhui - Anqing + Huizhou (Huangshan)
* Beijing - "northern capital"
* Chongqing - "double celebration"
* Fujian - Fuzhou + Jian'ou
* Gansu - Ganzhou (Zhangye) + Suzhou (Jiuquan)
* Guangdong - Guangzhou + east (Dong)
* Guangxi - Guangzhou + west (Xi)
* Guizhou - after Mount Gui
* Hainan - "south of the ocean"
* Hebei - "north of the River (Huang He)"
* Heilongjiang - "black dragon river" (Amur)
* Henan - "south of the River (Huang He)"
* Hong Kong - "incense harbour" or "fragrance harbour"
* Hubei - "north of the lake (Lake Dongting)"
* Hunan - "south of the lake (Lake Dongting)"
* Jiangsu - Jiangning (Nanjing) + Suzhou
* Jiangxi - from "Jiangnanxi", meaning "western part of the region south of the Yangtze River"
* Jilin - Manchu name for "by the river"
* Liaoning - "Liao tranquil"; the region traditionally bore the name of "Liao"
* Nanjing - 'southern capital'
* Ningxia - "tranquil Xia," "Western Xia" was a Tangut state in the region from 1032 to 1227
* Qinghai - "green/blue sea" (after Lake Qinghai)
* Shaanxi - "west of Shan (陝) (a mountain pass region in China between modern Henan and Shaanxi)"
* Shandong - "east of the mountains (Taihang Mountains)"
* Shanxi - "west of the mountains (Taihang Mountains)"
* Sichuan - literally "four-rivers", after the four circuits (provinces) in the region during the Song Dynasty. Before then, the region simply had the name "Chuan" ("rivers") for its many rivers
* Tianjin - "river ford of the emperor (literally 'sky')"
* Xi'an - 'peaceful west'
* Xizang (Tibet) - either "Zang of the west" or "western Zang"; Zang (the Tibetan nationality) comes from "Tsang", a name for central-southern Tibet
* Xinjiang - "new frontier"
* Yunnan - "south of the clouds, or Yunling ("mountains of the clouds")"
* Zhejiang - old name of the Qiantang River

Republic of China (Taiwan)

The Republic of China governed all the territory of China from 1911 to 1949, and retreated to Taiwan after the Chinese civil war (1927 - 1949). The list below includes only the subnational entities under the effective control of the Republic of China.

* Hsinchu: "new bamboo" in Mandarin, named after a bamboo fortress
* Hualien: "lotus flower" in Mandarin
* Kaohsiung: "bamboo forest" in a Formosan language
* Miaoli: "plain" in a Formosan language, originally sounds like "pali" (貓裡)
* Penghu: "clashing-wave lakes" in Mandarin
* Tainan: "southern Taiwan" in Mandarin
* Taipei: "northern Taiwan" in Mandarin
* Taitung County: "eastern Taiwan" in Mandarin
* Taoyuan: "peach orchard" in Mandarin

Czech Republic

* Bohemia: from the Celtic tribe Boii, former inhabitants of the territory.
**Czech "Čechy"
* Moravia (Czech "Morava"): from the river "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".
* Faroe Islands (Danish: "Færøerne", Faroese: "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".Fact|date=October 2008
* 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".


* Helsinki: from Old Norse "Helsingfors" ("Helsing", a local tribe, plus "fors" meaning "waterfall")
* Ostrobothnia (or in Swedish: "Österbotten") - "Eastern Bothnia"


Note that 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 more obscure and superficially richer 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" [cite book
title= Oxford English Dictionary
edition= 2nd edition
year= 1989
publisher= Oxford University Press
location= Oxford
isbn= 0198611862
chapter= "Alsatia"
quote= [L. form of El-sasz, i.e. foreign settlement, Fr. Alsace.]
] ); or "settlement on the Ill River"Fact|date=October 2008
* Artois - from Latin "Atrebatensis", adjectival form derived the Belgic tribe Atrebates; the name of its main city Arras ("Atrecht" in Dutch) derives directly from the tribe's name Atrebates, so "Artois" properly means "territory of Arras"
* Brittany ("Bretagne") - area occupied by refugee Britons from Roman Britain ("Britannia") "circa" 500 AD
* Burgundy ("Bourgogne") - part of the land settled by the East Germanic Burgundians, who possibly originated on the island now known as Bornholm
* 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
* 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"
* 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


"Bundesländer" (States)

* 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" ("Branim's 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, Nordwestmecklenburg District ("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 ocean": 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.
** 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 word 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
* Thuringia (German "Thüringen") — after the tribe of the Thuringii

Historic regions

* Brunswick (German: "Braunschweig"): from the town of Brunswick, itself originating as "Bruno's "wik" (Bruno's marketplace) (with reference to the legendary founder Bruno, Duke of Saxony, died 880) or as "burnt "wik")
* Franconia (German: "Franken"): from the traditional designation "Franks", referring especially to the Kingdom of the East Franks
* Oldenburg, first recorded in 1108 as the town of "Aldenburg", subsequently also a county, duchy, grand duchy and republic
* 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
* Swabia (German: "Schwaben" or "Schwabenland"): after the tribe of the Suebi


* Arcadia: from Arcas, the legendary eponymous leader of early Hellenic settlers
* Sparta: from Greek "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 by the etymology of their name

Union Territories

* Andaman Islands: From the name of the Hindu God Hanuman (Hanumant)
* Chandigarh: "Chandi's fort". No actual fort ever existed; a large Chandi temple "protected" the locals, hence the name. The goddess Chandi appears as a form of the goddess Kali or of Parvati.
* Delhi: according to one theory: city of the Goddess Dhilika. The area had seven temples of Yoginis or Goddesses in the area, the highest dedicated to the Goddess Dhillika. Compare Dhillika.
* Lakshadweep: "Hundred Thousand Islands". In Sanskrit, "laksha" means "a hundred thousand" and "dweep" means "island".
* Puducherry: "Pudu" + "cheri", from the Tamil words for "new" and "settlement" or "camp". Formerly a French colony: "Pondicherry". [Reference:]


* Bandung: from the word "bandungan" (dam)
* Bekasi: from the word "candrabaga", a canal built in the Tarumanegara era; and "sesasi" ("a month")
* Jakarta: from "Jayakarta", "City of Victory"
* Jayapura: "jaya" means "glory" and "pura" means "city"
* Sumatra: from Ibn Battuta's pronunciation of the name of the Samudra Kingdom
* Surabaya: "sura" means "shark" and "baya" means "crocodile". The name came from myths or legends of a battle between Sura and Baya in the Surabaya River.

Iran (Persia)

* Lorestan: land of the Lurs
* Mazendran: land of Mazda Indra or the god Indra.


* Campania: from the Latin "campania" (countryside, plain, battlefield). Compare Champagne in France.
* 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 marches
* Sardinia: speculatively linked with the Shardana people and/or with Sardis
* Sicily: island settled by the Sicels


* Shikoku: literally "four provinces" in Japanese, referring to the four former provinces on the island: Awa, Tosa, Sanuki and Iyo


* Chungcheong - from the first characters in the city names Chungju and Cheongju.
* Gangwon (South Korea) /Kangwŏn (North Korea) - from the first characters in the city names Gangneung and Wonju.
* Gyeonggi - the Chinese characters for the name mean "area around the capital", referring to the location of the province around Seoul, South Korea
* Gyeongsang - from the first characters in the city names Gyeongju and Sangju.
* Hamgyŏng - from the first characters in the city names Hamju and Kyŏngsŏng (?).
* Hwanghae - from the first characters in the city names Hwangju and Haeju.
* Jeolla - from the first characters in the city names Jeonju and Naju (The first character of Naju is actually "ra"—"r" changes to "n" in the initial position, and the combination "nr" changes to "ll" due to phonological characteristics of the Korean language).
* P'yŏngan - from the first characters in the city names P'yŏngyang and Anju.


* 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 "mata kucing" trees 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"


:See Mexican state name etymologies



*Drenthe (Dutch Low Saxon: "Drentie"):
*Flevoland: from "Lacus Flevo" (Latin: "Lake Flevo"), a name used in Roman sources to refer to a body of water at what would later become known as the Zuider Zee. The province formed from land reclaimed from the Zuider Zee in the 1950s and 1960s.
*Friesland (West Frisian: "Fryslân"):
*Gelderland (also English: "Guelders"):
*Groningen (Gronings: "Grönnen" or "Grunnen"):
*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"): Germanic "holt (i.e. wooded) land" (often incorrectly regarded as meaning "hollow [i.e. marsh] land")
*South Holland (Dutch: "Zuid-Holland"): Germanic "holt (i.e. wooded) land" (often incorrectly regarded as meaning "hollow [i.e. marsh] land")
*Zeeland (also English: "Zealand"):

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)
* 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")
* Rotterdam: meaning 'dam over the Rotte' (the river Rotte flows through present-day Rotterdam)

New Zealand

See also List of New Zealand place names and their meanings.


* Auckland: in honour of George Eden, 1st Earl of Auckland, a patron of William Hobson, who founded and named the city of Auckland. The Earl took his sobriquet from Auckland in Durham, United Kingdom, possibly deriving from the Celtic "Alclet" or "Aclet", or "Cliffs of the Clyde". Although nowhere near the River Clyde, the locality may have had connections with the Celtic kingdom of Strathclyde; it may have borrowed the name of the Clyde for aesthetic or prestige reasons, as Alclet's river - the Gaunless - means "useless" in Old Norse; or a nearby river may have had the name "Clyde" — history does not record the name of the river Gaunless before the Norse named it
* Hawke's Bay: in honour of Edward Hawke, 1st Baron Hawke of Towton
* Marlborough: to commemorate John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough
* Nelson: in honour of Horatio Nelson, 1st Viscount Nelson (the Admiral)
* Otago: anglicised from the Māori name "Otakou", a "kainga" east of present-day Otago Harbour, originally meaning "one isolated village" or "place of red earth"
* Wellington: in honour of Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington

Other categories

* Levin: from a director of the railway company that created the town to help boost its railway
* 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.
* Waikato: Named after the Waikato River. The hydronym means "flowing water" in Māori.



* Afghania (North-West Frontier Province) - from the native Pashto language for "valley of the Afghans"
* Balochistan - Land of the indigenous Balochi people of the Makran that straddles south-east Iran and south-west Pakistan
* Punjab - from the Persian for "Land of Five Rivers" in Central Pakistan
* Sindh - from "Sindhu," the Sanskrit name for the Indus River

Pakistan-administered Kashmir

* State of Azad Kashmir — "Azad": Urdu, "Free"; "Kashmir" either:
**from the Koshur (Native Kashmiri) for "mountain tribes people" in north-east Pakistan; or
**from Sanskrit "KaSyapa-mIra", land of the Kasyapa, [
Talageri, Shrikant. Chapter 4:" [ The Geography of the Rigveda] ". "The Rigveda. A historical analysis." New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan 2000. Retrieved 25 November 2006
] although some regard this as a folk etymology. [Witzel, Michael. " [ Have Words, Will Travel!] " from "WESTWARD HO ! The Incredible Wanderlust of the Rgvedic Tribes Exposed by S. Talageri", "Electronic Journal of Vedic Studies" Vol. 7 (2001), issue 2 (March 31). Retrieved 25 November 2006.]

Papua New Guinea

* New Britain - in honour of Great Britain. Originally named by William Dampier in the Latin form "Nova Britannia"; called "Neu-Pommern" (New Pomerania) during the period of German colonization until the conquest of the area by Australia in 1914
* New Ireland - named after Ireland (with the Latin phrase "Nova Hibernia") by Philip Carteret in 1767 when he established that it differed from nearby New Britain. (Officially known as New Mecklenburg (German: "Neumecklenburg" or "Neu-Mecklenburg") during the period of German New Guinea from 1885 to 1914.)


* Greater Poland - from the tribe of Polans or from the word "pole" (field) meaning "country of fields" - "Greater" distinguishes it from the whole Polish state
* Kuyavia - "covered by sand dunes"
* Lesser Poland - in contrast with Greater Poland
* Lubusz Land - from the town of Lubusz
* Masovia - "boggy"
* Masuria - from the Masovians, who settled Masuria
* Podlachia, "by Lachs" , i.e., "by Poles"
* Polesie - "covered by forests"
* Pomerania - "along the sea"
* Silesia - from the holy Silesian mountain of Ślęża
* Subcarpathia - "at the foot of the Carpathians"
* Warmia - from the Old Prussian tribe of Varms


* 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"


"See: Etymological list of counties of Romania"

* Bessarabia - from Basarab I, Wallachian king who led some expeditions in this land
* Bukovina - (in German: "Buchenland") = "beech land"
* Dobrogea - "good land"
* 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"
** "Ardeal" - probably 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). An alternative explanation extracts the meaning "wooden hill": "arde" expresses an Indo-European root meaning "forest", the same as in English "Forest of Arden" and Belgian "Ardennes Woods"; "deal" means "hill" in Romanian.
* Wallachia - "land of the foreigners"


* Amur River: "Amur" comes from the Tungus "amor" for "great or big river".
* 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". [Webster's third international dictionary; Merriam-Webster 1993, p.381.] Vasmer suggests a Kabardian origin: "šešen". [cite book |last= Vasmer |first= Max |authorlink= Max Vasmer |title= Russisches Etymologisches Wörterbuch | volume= 3 |year= 1958 |publisher= Carl Winter|location= Heidelberg |language= German |pages= 334 |quote= ] 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" ( _av. Дагъистан; Arabic and _fa. 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.
* Grozny or Groznyy: Russian for "stern" or "severe" (as the adjective describing a fort)
* Kaliningrad Oblast: from the Russian name "Kaliningrad" (Kalinin-city) of its largest city, re-named 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"
* Novgorod: from Russian roots meaning "new city"
* Novosibirsk: roughly means "new Siberian city"
* Sakhalin: derived from misinterpretation of a Manchu name "sahaliyan ula angga hada" (peak of the mouth of Amur River). "Sahaliyan" means "black" in Manchu and refers to the Amur River ("sahaliyan ula").
* Siberia: from a Tatar word meaning "sleeping land"
* Smolensk: from the river Smolnya
* Vladikavkaz: Russian for "ruler of the Caucasus" or "rule the Caucasus"
* Vladivostok: Russian for "ruler of the East" or "rule the East"
* Volgograd: Russian for "city of the Volga" or "Volga city"

South Africa

* Eastern Cape, Northern Cape, Western Cape: from the Cape of Good Hope, the site of the first European settlement in today's South Africa, which would give its name to Cape Town, Cape Colony, and the former Cape Province, of which each of the three named provinces originally formed a part.
* Free State: the popular contraction of this province's historic predecessor, the Orange Free State.
* Gauteng: Sesotho for "Place of Gold"; historically used in that language to refer to Johannesburg and its surrounding area, known for its large gold-mining industry.
* KwaZulu-Natal: a combination of the names of the two entities that merged to form the modern province:
** KwaZulu: a bantustan formed in the apartheid era ostensibly as a "homeland" for the Zulu
** Natal: Portuguese for "Christmas". The Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama named the area: he landed on the coast of the future KwaZulu-Natal on Christmas Day in 1497.
* Limpopo: the Limpopo River forms the province's and the country's far northern boundary.
* Mpumalanga: "east", or more literally, "the place where the sun rises", in several Nguni languages, among them Swazi, isiXhosa, and isiZulu. Refers to the province's location as the easternmost in South Africa.
* North West: From its geographic position, in the north of the counrry and west of the main population centre of Gauteng.


* 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"] : variant of "bizkarra" ("shoulder", "back" or, in this case, "mountain range" in Basque)
** Guipuscoa (Basque: "Gipuzkoa"] : 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".)
* 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").


* Aargau: German name labelling the district ("Gau") of the River Aar.
* 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.
* Berne: 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.
* Neuchâtel: French for "new castle"; "Neuenburg" in German
* 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.
* Ticino: from the principal river of the canton, the Ticino, a tributary of the Po River.


:"See Republic of China (Taiwan)"


* Ban Dongphayom from "ban" (Thai for "village") + "dong" (Thai for "forest") + "phayom" (Thai for a type of hardwood of the genus Shorea) = "Hardwood Forest Village"
* Ban Grong Greng from "ban" (Thai for "village") + "Grong Greng" (named for Wat Grong Greng or Grong Greng Temple; the Thai word "grong" onomatopoeically names a "gong"; "greng" in Thai means "dread") = "Village of the Dreaded Gong"
* Ban Sam Ruen from "ban" (Thai for "village") + "sam" (Thai for "three") + "ruen" (Thai for "dwelling") = "Village of Three Dwellings"
* Bang Khratum from "bang" (Thai for "settlement") + "khratum" (Thai for the bur-flower tree or "Anthocephalus Chinensis") = "Bur-Flower Tree Settlement"
* Nakhon Pa Mak from "nakhon" (Thai for "town") + "pa" (Thai for "forest") + "mak" (Thai for the betel palm) = "Betel Palm Forest Township"
* Phitsanulok from "Phitsanu" (a cognate of Vishnu) + "lok" (Thai for "globe") = "Vishnu's Heaven"


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.

* Cherkasy Oblast: from the city Cherkasy
* Chernihiv Oblast: from the city Chernihiv
* Chernivtsi Oblast: from the city Chernivtsi
* Crimea: from the Crimean Tatar name: "Qırım"
* Dnipropetrovsk Oblast: from the city Dnipropetrovsk (re-named in 1926 after "Dnipro" ("Dnieper river") and the Soviet Bolshevik leader "Grigory Ivanovich Petrovsky")
* Donetsk Oblast: from the city Donetsk, after the Donets river. "Donetsk" forms a diminutive and tributary of the Don.
* Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast: from the city Ivano-Frankivsk, named after the famous Ukrainian writer Ivan Franko (1856 - 1916) in 1962
* Kharkiv Oblast: from the city Kharkiv
* Kherson Oblast: from the city Kherson
* Khmelnytskyi Oblast: from the city Khmelnytskyi, named in 1954 on the 300th anniversary of the Treaty of Andrusovo, after Cossack leader Bohdan Khmelnytsky
* City of Kiev: ancient name (Ukrainian: "Kyiv"). Myth/legend tells of a founder named " Kyi"
* Kiev Oblast: from the city Kiev
* Kirovohrad Oblast: from the city "Kirovohrad" ("Kirov City"), after Sergey Kirov (named Kirovo in 1934, Kirovograd in 1939)
* Luhansk Oblast: from the city Luhansk
* Lviv Oblast: from the city of Lviv, founded 1256 by King Danylo of Halych, and named after his son Lev Danylovich
* Mykolaiv Oblast: from the city Mykolaiv, after the day of Saint Nicholas (Ukrainian "Mykolai", Russian "Nikolai"), December 19, 1788, commemorating the fall of the Turkish fortress of Ochakiv to the Russians
* Odessa Oblast: after the city Odessa in 1795; etymology unknown, but see for some possibilities
* Poltava Oblast: from "Ltava", an ancient name of the city Poltava
* Rivne Oblast: from the city Rivne
* City of Sevastopol: (1783) Greek "highly respectable city, august city"; see
* Sumy Oblast: from the city Sumy
* Ternopil Oblast: from the city Ternopil
* Vinnytsya Oblast: from the city Vinnytsia
* Volyn Oblast: ancient name of the region of Volyn
* Zakarpattia Oblast: "beyond the Carpathian Mountains", Transcarpathia
* Zaporizhia Oblast: from the city Zaporizhia, in turn after region "beyond the rapids" (seventeenth century), downstream of the rapids of the River Dnieper
* Zhytomyr Oblast: from the city Zhytomyr (988), after Zhytomyr, prince of the Drevlians

United Kingdom

* For etymologies of the names "England", "Scotland", "Northern Ireland" and "Wales", see List of country-name etymologies.

* See also:
** British toponymy
** List of generic forms in British place names
** Etymological list of counties of the United Kingdom

United States


* List of U.S. state name etymologies


* Lists of U.S. county name etymologies


See also

* Etymology
* Toponomy
* List of country name etymologies
* List of political entities named after people
* Lists of etymologies
* List of double placenames

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