Numerous countries in Central Asia have a name that ends in "stan," including:
As a generally accepted explanation, the suffix "stan" is an ancient Persian and/or Farsi word meaning country, nation, land, or place of, so, the country name of Afghanistan would then mean "homeland" of the Afghans, or place of the Afghans.
Until late in the 20th century, Kazakstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan were all part of the former Soviet Union. They all became independent states (countries) in 1991 when the U.S.S.R. dissolved.
Country Name Definitions
- Afghanistan Varied versions of Afghan are traced to the third century. Some historians feel the name derived from a 9th century Iranian emperor named Apakan.
- Kazakhstan Kazakh is a Turkic word meaning "someone independent and free." The name was later used by Russian people, eventually known as the Cossacks.
- Kyrgyzstan The Kyrgyz originated in Mongolia and they are historically mountain people. Kyr in Turkish means "mountain range," and when pluralized, gyz is added. So, the most plausible interpretation (or the meaning of the name Kyrgyz) is "Land of Mountaineers." Another possible meaning refers to the old Turkic language, where kyrg means "40" and yz means "tribes," so the word itself means "40 tribes."
- Pakistan One of the variations regarding "stan" is this: It's said that the modern name Pakistan was formed by combining the suffix "stan" from the existing territory of Baluchistan, with the first letters of Pashtun, Afghan, Kasmir and India, thus PAKIstan. Another option, verified by numerous sources, is that Pakistan is a composition of two words "PAK" and "ISTAN". PAK is a Persian/Urdu word meaning "Holy/ Pure/ Clean and "ISTAN" stands for "HOMELAND". Then the true meanings resolves to "Homeland of the Holy People".
- Tajikistan In Persian, taj means "crown" and ik means "head," so tajik means "a person wearing a crown on his head." Tajiks were originally Persians.
- Turkmenistan In the Turkic language, turk refers to the ancient Turks of Asia. The word men means "I" or "me." Turkmen then means "I am a Turk." The Turkmen originally known as the Oghuz, came from what we now call Mongolia.
- Uzbekistan Uzbek is considered to come from two turkish words: vz, which means "genuine," and bek, which means "genuine man." The Uzbeks are a mixture of nomadic Turkic tribes and ancient Iranian peoples.