As much as I try, I can never correctly recall the Chinese name for China when I am trying to impress people: it sounds something like Jong-Guò and it’s written Zhōngguó, which means “country in the center”. The name China (or rather something that closely resembled this name) is first recorded in ancient Indian texts and has been later adopted by basically the rest of the world, but it never stuck in China itself.

There are many examples of countries which bear an unfamiliar name in a foreign language. We have decided to gather here just the most peculiar examples.

Number 10

Österreich (DE) – Austria (IT – ES) – Autriche (FR)

Rakúsko – Slovak (and Czech)

Where is this even coming from?

 

Number 9

Russia (EN) – Russland (DE) – Russie (FR) – Rossija (RU)

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Venäja – Finnish

Don’t put your nose between neighbours’ quarrel.

 

Number 8

Polska (PL) – Poland (EN) – Polen (DE) – Polonia (IT)

Lengyelország – Hungarian

I am sorry, what?

 

Number 7

Germania (IT) – Germany (EN) – Deutschland (DE) – Allemagne (FR)

Oh, yes, Germany has a lot of names, but all of them have some ring of familiarity, except maybe …

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Vācija – Latvian

 

Number 6

Inghilterra (IT) – Angleterre (FR) – Anglia (PL) – England (DE)

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Sasana – Gaelic

They clearly had a sense of who came there first, the Celts …

 

Number 5

Sverige (SE) – Sweden (EN) – Svezia (IT) – Suede (FR)

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Ruotsi – Finnish

Didn’t they just get confused with another country?

 

Number 4

Svizzera (IT) – Switzerland (EN) – Schweiz (DE) – Suisse (FR)

Elvetia – Greek (and Latin)

 

Number 3

France (FR) – Francia (IT) – Frankreich (DE)

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Bro-C’hall – Gaelic

Those barbaric Teutonic Frankish invaders, they stole our land but at least they got robbed of their own language.

 

Number 2

Greece (EN) – Grecia (IT) – Grece (FR) – Griechenland (DE)

Yunanistan – Turkish

Who’s this Yunani anyway?

 

And Number 1 …

Italia (IT) – Italy (EN) – Italie (FR) – Italien (DE)

Napoli-7

Olaszország – Hungarian

Well, ok, Hungarian is weird, we knew this already. But what about this?

Wlochy – Polish

And then they say the Poles are the Italians of the North …

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