Have you ever wondered where countries got their names from? Well, some countries are named after a prominent personality, a word from a native tribe, geographical feature or location, or a historical event. There are 195 countries in the world of which less than ten countries share parts of their names such as the Koreas, Congos, and Guineas. Some countries’ names are quite a mouthful that acronyms are often used to save on space and time. Prior to 2013, Libya name in Arabic was the longest country name in the world. It went by the name “Al Jumahiriyah al Arabiyah al Libiyah ash Shabiyah al Ishtirakiyah al Uzma.” The name was shortened to Dawlat Libya. But which countries have the longest names in the world?
Longest Country Names
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Often referred to as the UK, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is the longest country name, boasting of 56 characters. The UK is a sovereign country situated on the northwestern coast of Europe. It comprises of the island of Great Britain and the northernmost region of the island of Ireland. Although the UK is a state, England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland are also considered as countries. Wales, England, and Scotland are collectively referred to Great Britain. The word Britain is often used informally to refer to the United Kingdom.
Independent and the Sovereign Republic of Kiribati
Kiribati, formerly called the Gilbert Islands, has the second longest official name, Independent and Sovereign Republic of Kiribati which has 46 characters. The country changed its name from Gilbert Islands to Kiribati when it gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1979. The country comprises of several atolls and reef islands in the Pacific Ocean, covering an area of approximately 310 square miles. Kiribati is the local name of the main island that forms the nation and was chosen as the country’s new name at independence through local consensus.
The Democratic Republic of Sao Tome and Principe
The Democratic Republic of Sao Tome and Principe, popularly known as Sao Tome, has the third longest name with 45 characters. The island country is located in in the Gulf of Guinea and comprises of two major islands namely Sao Tome and Principe, which are approximately 87 miles apart. The two islands are situated off the northwestern coast of Gabon. The Democratic Republic of Sao Tome and Principe is the most stable and democratic state in Africa.
Other Countries With Long Names
Other countries such as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia have significantly long names that are often shortened as North Korea, Ethiopia, and Macedonia respectively.
What is the Significance of the Long Names?
Although most countries are known by their short names, the long names highlight the countries’ governance and sovereignty. From the name alone, you are able to tell which kind of government operates in the country and the likely government structure. For instance, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is definitely a kingdom ruled by the monarch while the Democratic Republic of Sao Tome and Principe holds elections and is headed by a president.