You may have noticed, after perusing a globe map for any length of time, that many nations’ names conclude with the suffix land. Some of these countries are Finland, Iceland, Ireland, the Netherlands, Poland, Switzerland, Thailand, New Zealand, Great Britain, Scotland, Somalia, and Puntland.
Names of countries that end in land often include the name of indigenous people who settled there long ago. As such, England refers to the homeland of the English, Scotland to the homeland of the Scots, Thailand to the homeland of the Thai, and “Poland” to the homeland of the Poles.
Don’t be deceived by a country’s name; the eponymous people are seldom the only indigenous people in the area.
The Celts, sometimes known as the Britons, arrived in the British Isles long before the Anglo Saxons, after whom England is called. The Celtic people were extremely dispersed over the British Isles, and their many distinct tribes reflected this.
In the fifth century, a Germanic people known as the Anglo Saxons began to colonize England. The Scots were not a monolithic population that had always lived in Scotland. It was home to a diverse population, including the Picts, who were eventually absorbed into the larger Scots ethnic group.
Countries ending in -land are not often named after their native peoples, however. They don’t call themselves the Ires, and no such people are living in Ireland. Eire, the Irish term for Ireland, really refers to a Celtic deity of the same name.
Irish means the land of Eire, hence the name of the country is derived from the name of the goddess. However, modern-day Irish people certainly don’t hold her in awe. Though some may, the great majority of Irish adhere to the Catholic faith.
New Zealand is also a notable exception. The Maori are the indigenous people of New Zealand, despite the common misconception that the country is named after them.
New Zealand was discovered and settled by British and Dutch explorers, and the Dutch cartographers (mapmakers) gave the island its current name, Zeeland, after the Dutch province of the same name.
The Dutch people’s homeland of The Netherlands is so called not because of any particular ethnic group but rather because of the country’s relatively level terrain.
The earliest known inhabitants of the islands now known as Greenland and Iceland were Scandinavian Vikings.
The summer Greenland was found, the island was undergoing a warm spell that made it unusually green throughout the colonization era. The Vikings, being literalists, gave it the name Greenland.
Even though modern Iceland is on average around 10 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than Greenland, the people they encountered there found it to be a far less welcoming place during their first visits.
Since the island and surrounding waters were frozen solid, the gloomy and despondent crew gave it the moniker Iceland. In modern times, Greenland is a Danish territory whereas Iceland has full sovereignty.
Additionally, the term land is used in the official language of several nations, although this does not always translate to the English name. In German, the country is referred to as Deutschland, for instance.
Since Somaliland and Puntland are not officially recognized as independent governments, you may not have heard of them. Somalia includes these territories and is recognized as a sovereign state by the vast majority of nations and the United Nations.
But the state has collapsed, and the government has no control over the population.
It’s important to note that Somaliland and Puntland are two territories inside Somalia that consider themselves to be separate nations with their governments. Somalis have a home in Somaliland. However, the term Puntland is derived from an old Egyptian myth about a legendary country called Punt.
Other nations’ names often end in land, albeit in languages other than English, there are many more. When translated literally from Persian, stan means land, hence each country whose name ends in stan is also the land of some specific people or ethnic group.
To put it simply, Uzbeks live in Uzbekistan, Kazakhs in Kazakhstan, Afghans in Afghanistan, Kyrgyz in Kyrgyzstan, Turkmen in Turkmenistan, and Tajiks in Tajikistan. However, once again, don’t assume anything based on the ethnicity implied by the name. The people and customs of these nations are quite varied.
Pakistan is another option; its name translates to country of peace. When people talk about Hindustan, they are usually referring to India (incidentally, the word “India” derives from the word Hindu).
Also See: Countries Currently At War 2022
The term land may also be found at the end of the names of several minor areas. The Canadian province of Newfoundland, the German state of the Rhineland, the English county of Northumberland, the American state of Maryland, and the Dutch province of Holland are all on the list.
Toponyms like land are used by hundreds of different places across the world. Africa was home to many extinct nations whose names included the word land, including Swaziland, Wituland, and Togoland.
Never forget Disney World, or Never Land from Peter Pan, where kids and adults alike aspire to live happily ever after. True, such locations aren’t nations.