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About Endonyms

An endonym is the name for a place, site or location in the language of the people who live there. These names may be officially designated by the local government or they may simply be widely used.

This map depicts endonyms of the countries of the world in their official or national languages. In cases where a country has more than one national or official language, the language that is most widely used by the local population is shown.

Some world language facts:

12 August 2013: Greetings io9 and related visitors!
You've made these past few days the most popular in the Endonym Map's history. Thank you for that. I've enjoyed reading the discussions on io9 and other websites, as well as the emails I have received. I am pleased that the map has gotten a mostly positive, sometimes enthusiastic, response.

Cartography is an iterative process and no single map will ever be absolutely correct. No matter how hard we try, we can always measure how far from perfect our attempts land. Your suggestions for corrections and updates are being noted and catalogued for possible use in future versions.

One big change I am exploring is the inclusion of minority language endonyms in some fashion. I would love to put all three official languages for Belgium on the map, or both Ireland and Éire for that matter. But with the limited space on a fixed map, there's just not room to do it fairly for all countries. And it bugs me to no end that places like South Africa and India have a dozen or so recognized languages, but there's only room on the map for one. But I am working on it and hopefully will come to a solution soon.

In the meantime, please enjoy the map!

See below the map for answers, corrections and discussion.

Explore the Map

Answers, Errata and Discussion

A map of this nature taps into some deep notions of personal identity and can arouse strong nationalist passions. Indeed, I've received many (mostly polite) questions and comments asking why a particular language was used for a label, where a particular name came from or why certain features were included or excluded from the map. The section below explains in greater detail why the map looks the way it does. It also mentions a few mistakes that will be corrected in the next edition of the map.

Where do the country names come from?

The vast majority of names come from the United Nations Group of Experts on Geographic Names and the U.N.'s database of county names. Other sources include the CIA World Fact Book, Wikipedia and various government websites.

X isn't a country.

The map includes disputed territories if they have established de facto sovereignty over their area, regardless of international recognition.

Also, errors in labeling imply some areas are sovereign countries when they are not. Such instances are noted in the Errata below.

X isn't a native language.

The Endonym Map expressly does not use the word "native" to describe the languages shown. These languages are local in that they are used officially or by the largest percentage of the local population. Because it is a map of countries (as opposed to peoples), it should more properly be read as a map of languages likely to be used for official business.

It is important to note that an endonym may not necessarily come from an area's indigenous language. Indeed, as a lasting effect of European colonialism, indigenous languages are often minority languages. The intent of this map is not to show place names in their "original" languages, but with the languages that are currently in use. In that sense, many of these names are native (i.e. used by local natives). But because of the potential for ambiguity and confusion, this map does not and will not refer to them that way.

Further, because many of these countries did not exist until Europeans carved up their borders, there may not be an indigenous name for them.

Where are Wales and Scotland?

The map shows top-level sovereignty based on ISO 3166 definitions (which are based on publication from the United Nations). Because this is an international map, countries are labeled with the face they show the world. The United Kingdom faces the world as a single entity (save for matters of football), thus it is labeled with the name it uses for international relations.

Ireland should be labeled in Irish as Éire.

Both "Ireland" and "Éire" are endonyms for the country. But because English is the more widely used language there, Ireland was chosen to be the label. Based on the 2006 census, only 30-40% of the population considers itself competent in the Irish language, with less than 10% using the language on an everyday basis.

For similar reasons, Isle of Man is labeled in English rather than Manx.

If you're going to use English, Ireland should be "Republic of Ireland".

The Republic of Ireland Act, 1948 provides an official description of the state as the Republic of Ireland. But the Irish constitution states the name is simply Ireland (or Éire), and it would require a constitutional amendment to change it.

On a similar note, Iceland is sometimes referred to as the Republic of Iceland (Lýðveldið Ísland), even by the United Nations. However, the word "republic" is written in lowercase letters in the Icelandic constitution. Thus, as with Ireland, "republic" is used as a descriptor and is not part of the name proper.

Antarctica?

If penguins could speak, what would they call it?

As politically-neutral territory, Antarctica does not have an endonym per se. However, among the territorial claimants, the majority of the continent is composed of English-speaking countries. English is also used as the lingua franca among various research stations.

Where's the pronunciation guide?

The scope of this map is limited to writing systems. If you wish to find a pronunciation or romanization of a country's name, I recommend starting at its Wikipedia entry.

Errata

Known errors. A special thank you to all the commenters and correspondents who helped me identify these. I apologize for them and they will be fixed.

  • Fiji is mis-labeled as "Republic of the Fiji Islands". The country changed its name to "Republic of Fiji" in 2011.
  • The map implies that Tasmania is a separate country. The island is in fact a state of Australia.
  • The Andaman and Nicobar Islands west of Thailand are a Union Territory of India and should be labeled as such.
  • The island group north of Maldives are the Lakshadweep Islands. They are also a Union Territory of India.
  • Alaska should be labeled "Alaska (U.S.A)".
  • The British Virgin Islands should be labeled as "The Virgin Islands". The "British" designation is not part of the territory's official name.
  • Despite its similarity to Portuguese, Spanish is not a historically significant language in Brazil. Upon further probing, sources used to make that claim cannot be verified. Brazil should not be shaded on the Hispanofonia corner map.
  • Although English is the only official language in Sierra Leone, 90+% of its population understands Krio. As with Haiti, it should be labeled in two languages. I have not been able to find a full Krio translation of "Republic of Sierra Leone" however. Sierra Leone is called Salone in Krio.
  • English is the dominant language of government, business and media in South Africa and is considered more politically neutral. Zulu, however, has many more speakers there and a Zulu endonym should have been included: iRiphabliki yaseNingizimu Afrika
  • The Maldives script was flipped when the map rendered. It should be read right-to-left like so:
    maldives proper script
  • The font for Bangladesh did not render properly. It should read like so:
    bangledesh proper rendering

Links

For a more detailed discussion of African names and indigenous languages, see African Country Names in Indigenous Languages at GeoCurrents.

Contact

If you've read this far and you still have questions, comments, corrections, compliments or insults, send them to [email protected].

Changelog

2013 edition changes

The world is an ever-changing place and hey, cartographers make mistakes. The 2013 edition of the Endonym Map contains the following changes and updates:

  • In 2012, Hungary passed a new constitution which shortened the country's name from "Republic of Hungary" to just "Hungary". The map reflects the new name in Hungarian.
  • The previous edition of the map showed the name of Mongolia in Mongolian script. Though the script is official, its use is considered more traditional. The Cyrillic alphabet is more widely used there, so the map now shows the name of the country in Cyrillic.
  • The "Channel Islands" in the English Channel have been separated into their proper names as the Bailiwick of Guernsey and the Bailiwick of Jersey.
  • A Pacific island that was discovered to not actually exist has been removed.
  • The endonym of Haiti is now shown both in French and Haitian Creole. This is because French is the dominant written language, while Haitian Creole is by more commonly spoken.
  • Various typographic and cartographic fixes and clean up.

2014-03-08

This page now uses Leaflet to power the map, resulting in a smaller data footprint and faster load times.

Languages shown on map

Country Formal Name (in English) Language shown
Republic of AbkhaziaAbkhaz
Islamic Republic of AfghanistanPersian
Aland Islands (Finland)Swedish
Republic of AlbaniaAlbanian
People's Democratic Republic of AlgeriaArabic
Territory of American Samoa (USA)Samoan
Principality of AndorraCatalan
Republic of AngolaPortuguese
Anguilla (UK)English
Antigua and BarbudaEnglish
Argentine RepublicSpanish
Republic of ArmeniaArmenian
Aruba (Netherlands)Dutch
Territory of Ashmore and Cartier Islands (Australia)English
Commonwealth of AustraliaEnglish
Republic of AustriaGerman
Republic of AzerbaijanAzerbaijani
Commonwealth of the BahamasEnglish
Kingdom of BahrainArabic
People's Republic of BangladeshBengali
BarbadosEnglish
Baykonur CosmodromeRussian
Republic of BelarusRussian
Kingdom of BelgiumDutch
BelizeEnglish
Republic of BeninFrench
The Bermudas (UK)English
Kingdom of BhutanDzongkha
Plurinational State of BoliviaSpanish
Bosnia and HerzegovinaBosnian
Republic of BotswanaTswana
Federative Republic of BrazilPortuguese
British Indian Ocean Territory (UK)English
British Virgin Islands (UK)English
State of Brunei DarussalamMalay
Republic of BulgariaBulgarian
Burkina FasoFrench
Republic of BurundiKirundi
Kingdom of CambodiaKhmer
Republic of CameroonFrench
CanadaEnglish & French
Republic of Cabo VerdePortuguese
Cayman Islands (UK)English
Central African RepublicSango
Republic of ChadArabic
Republic of ChileSpanish
People's Republic of ChinaChinese
Clipperton Island (France)French
Republic of ColombiaSpanish
Federal Islamic Republic of the ComorosComorian
Republic of the CongoFrench
Democratic Republic of the CongoFrench
Cook Islands (New Zealand)English
Coral Sea Islands TerritoryEnglish
Republic of Costa RicaSpanish
Republic of CroatiaCroatian
Republic of CubaSpanish
Curaçao (Netherlands)Papiamento
Republic of CyprusGreek
Northern CyprusTurkish
Czech RepublicCzech
Kingdom of DenmarkDanish
Republic of DjiboutiArabic
Commonwealth of DominicaEnglish
Dominican RepublicSpanish
Democratic Republic of Timor-LestePortuguese
Republic of EcuadorSpanish
Arab Republic of EgyptArabic
Republic of El SalvadorSpanish
Republic of Equatorial GuineaSpanish
State of EritreaTigrinya
Republic of EstoniaEstonian
Federal Democratic Republic of EthiopiaAmharic
Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas) (UK)English
Faroe Islands (Denamrk)Faroese
Republic of the Fiji IslandsFigian
Republic of FinlandFinnish
French RepublicFrench
Territory of French Polynesia (France)French
Territory of the French Southern and Antarctic Lands (France)French
Gabonese RepublicFrench
Republic of the GambiaEnglish
Gaza StripArabic
GeorgiaGeorgian
Federal Republic of GermanyGerman
Republic of GhanaEnglish
Gibraltar (UK)English
Bailiwick of Guernsey (UK)English
Hellenic RepublicGreek
Greenland (Denmark)Kalaallisut
GrenadaEnglish
Territory of Guam (USA)English
Republic of GuatemalaSpanish
Republic of GuineaFrench
Republic of Guinea BissauPortuguese
Cooperative Republic of GuyanaEnglish
Republic of HaitiFrench and Haitian Creole
Territory of Heard Island and McDonald Islands (Australia)English
Republic of HondurasSpanish
Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (China)Chinese
HungaryHungarian
Republic of IcelandIcelandic
Republic of IndiaHindi
Republic of IndonesiaIndonesian
Islamic Republic of IranPersian
Republic of IraqArabic
IrelandEnglish
Isle of Man (UK)English
State of IsraelHebrew
Italian RepublicItalian
Republic of Cote D'IvoireFrench
JamaicaEnglish
JapanJapanese
Bailiwick of Jersey (UK)English
Hashemite Kingdom of JordanArabic
Republic of KazakhstanKazahk
Republic of KenyaEnglish
Republic of KiribatiGilbertese
Democratic People's Republic of KoreaKorean
Republic of KoreaKorean
Republic of KosovoAlbanian
State of KuwaitArabic
Kyrgyz RepublicKyrgyz
Lao People's Democratic RepublicLao
Republic of LatviaLatvian
Lebanese RepublicArabic
Republic of LesothoSesotho
Republic of LiberiaEnglish
LibyaArabic
Principality of LiechtensteinGerman
Republic of LithuaniaLithuanian
Grand Duchy of LuxembourgLuxembourgish
Macau Special Administrative Region (China)Chinese
Republic of MacedoniaMacedonian
Republic of MadagascarMalagasy
Republic of MalawiChichewa
MalaysiaMalay
Republic of MaldivesDhivehi
Republic of MaliFrench
Republic of MaltaMaltese
Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (USA)English
Republic of the Marshall IslandsMarshalese
Islamic Republic of MauritaniaArabic
Republic of MauritiusEnglish
United Mexican StatesSpanish
Federated States of MicronesiaEnglish
Republic of MoldovaRomanian
Principality of MonacoFrench
MongoliaMongolian
MontenegroMontenegrin
Montserrat (UK)English
Kingdom of MoroccoArabic
Republic of MozambiquePortuguese
Republic of the Union of MyanmarBurmese
Nagorno-Karabakh RepublicArmenian
Republic of NamibiaEnglish
Republic of NauruNauruan
Kingdom of NepalNepali
Kingdom of the NetherlandsDutch
Netherlands AntillesDutch
Territory of New Caledonia (France)French
New ZealandEnglish
Republic of NicaraguaSpanish
Republic of NigerFrench
Federal Republic of NigeriaEnglish
Niue (New Zealand)Niuan
Territory of Norfolk Island (Australia)English
Kingdom of NorwayNorweigan
Sultanate of OmanArabic
Islamic Republic of PakistanUrdu
Republic of PalauPalaun
Republic of PanamaSpanish
Independent State of Papua New GuineaTok Pisin
Republic of ParaguayGuaraní
Republic of PeruSpanish
Republic of the PhilippinesFilipino
Pitcairn, Henderson, Ducie and Oeno Islands (UK)English
Republic of PolandPolish
Portuguese RepublicPortuguese
Commonwealth of Puerto Rico (USA)Spanish
State of QatarArabic
RomaniaRomanian
Russian FederationRussian
Rwandese RepublicKinyarwanda
Saint Barthelemy (France)French
Saint Helena (UK)English
Federation of Saint Kitts and NevisEnglish
Saint LuciaEnglish
Saint Martin (France and Netherlands)French & Dutch
Territorial Collectivity of Saint Pierre and Miquelon (France)French
Saint Vincent and the GrenadinesEnglish
Independent State of SamoaSamoan
Republic of San MarinoItalian
Democratic Republic of Sao Tome and PrincipePortuguese
Kingdom of Saudi ArabiaArabic
Republic of SenegalFrench
Republic of SerbiaSerbian
Republic of SeychellesEnglish
Republic of Sierra LeoneEnglish
Republic of SingaporeEnglish
Slovak RepublicSlovak
Republic of SloveniaSlovene
Solomon IslandsEnglish
Federal Republic of SomaliaSomali
Republic of SomalilandSomali
Republic of South AfricaEnglish
Republic of South OssetiaOssetian
South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands (UK)English
Republic of South SudanEnglish
Kingdom of SpainSpanish
Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri LankaSinhala
Republic of the SudanArabic
Republic of SurinameDutch
Kingdom of SwazilandSwati
Kingdom of SwedenSwedish
Swiss ConfederationGerman
Syrian Arab RepublicArabic
Republic of ChinaChinese
Republic of TajikistanTajik
United Republic of TanzaniaSwahili
Kingdom of ThailandThai
Togolese RepublicFrench
Kingdom of TongaTongan
Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic (Transnistria)Russian
Republic of Trinidad and TobagoEnglish
Republic of TunisiaArabic
Republic of TurkeyTurkish
TurkmenistanTurkmen
Turks and Caicos Islands (UK)English
TuvaluEnglish & Tuvaluan
Republic of UgandaEnglish
UkraineUkrainian
United Arab EmiratesArabic
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandEnglish
United States Minor Outlying IslandsEnglish
United States of AmericaEnglish
Virgin Islands of the United StatesEnglish
Oriental Republic of UruguaySpanish
Republic of UzbekistanUzbek
Republic of VanuatuBislama
State of the Vatican CityItalian
Bolivarian Republic of VenezuelaSpanish
Socialist Republic of VietnamVietnamese
Territory of the Wallis and Futuna IslandsFrench
West BankArabic
Western Sahara (Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic)Arabic
Republic of YemenArabic
Republic of ZambiaEnglish
Republic of ZimbabweEnglish