Countries That Start With The Letter K

Out of the world's 195 countries, there are only five whose names start with the letter "K." However, even though the sound "K" starts with the names of only three countries in English, this same sound is used in roughly 90% of all languages!

Additionally, in English, the "K" sound appears in only 0.69% of all words. This fact comes from researchers at Cornell University who examined a sample of 40,000 english words. Yet, how these three countries got their names that start with "K" is a fascinating story, so keep reading to learn more.

All Countries That Begin With K

Country Population Land Area
Kazakhstan 19,606,633 1,052,089 mi2
Kenya 55,100,586 224,088 mi2
Kiribati 133,515 313 mi2
Kuwait 4,310,108 6,879 mi2
Kyrgyzstan 6,735,347 77,201 mi2


Almaty, Kazakhstan.
Almaty, Kazakhstan.

Kazakhstan gets its name from the Kazakh people who live there, which literally means "land of the Kazakhs." The name Kazakh comes from the Turkic word "qazaq" which means "free spirit" or "free man." This name can be traced back to the region's nomadic lifestyle and culture that still carries on to this day.

Kazakhstan is the largest landlocked country in the world and the 9th largest country in the world overall. This country is located on the continent of Asia. Its neighboring countries are China, Russia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Turkmenistan.


Nairobi, Kenya.
Nairobi, Kenya.

Kenya derives its name from Mount Kenya, the tallest mountain in the country. The name of Mount Kenya changes depending on the local dialect, but the meaning remains the same. Whether it is "Kĩĩma- Kĩĩnyaa," "Kĩ-Nyaa," or "Kirenyaa" they all translate into "mountain of whiteness" due to the snow-capped peaks of Mount Kenya.

Found in East Africa, Kenya borders Uganda, Somalia, Ethiopia, and Tanzania. Kenya's history delves deep into prehistory and is considered to be the cradle of mankind. Some of the oldest human fossils and skeletons were discovered here.


A beach in Kiribati.
A beach in Kiribati.

The origins of how the land now called Kiribati got its name are rather charming and unique. In the 19th century, the islands that would one day become Kiribati were colonized by the British Empire and renamed the Gilbert Islands. The locals often mispronounced the name Gilbert into something that resembled "Ki-ri-bas." When the islanders were given their independence in the 1970s, the name stuck and became Kiribati.

The country consists of 33 islands. Many of these islands are uninhabited since they mostly consist of lagoons, coral atolls, and white sand beaches. With very few natural resources in Kiribati, the country's economy relies majorly on tourism.


Kuwait City, Kuwait.
Kuwait City, Kuwait.

Kuwait owes its name to the Arabic words Kut or Kout, which means "fort" or "fortress." This name is in reference to its capital city, Kuwait City, which can be traced to when it was once a heavily defended and vital trade node in the Middle East.

Even today, Kuwait is still one of the wealthiest countries in the Middle East per capita, thanks to its massive oil reserves. In the West, Kuwait is best known for being the victim of Saddam Hussein's invasion of 1990, kicking off the First Gulf War. Today, the small oil giant is doing much better and enjoys a high standard of living relative to its neighbors.


Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.
Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.

Also known as Kirghizia in the local language, the country's name is said to be derived from a Turkic word for 'forty' in reference to the 40 clans of the great Manas. The nomadic lifestyle that is typical of Central Asian nations is still strong in Kyrgyzstan, with its very name honoring the memory of its tribal past.

Kyrgyzstan is a landlocked Asian country that borders China, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Kazakhstan. It was once a part of the Soviet Union but broke off when the USSR collapsed in the early 1990s. The Kyrgyz culture is a fascinating blend of East Asia, Russia, and the Middle East, all wrapped into one.

There are only five countries that begin with K, but they are all fascinating in their own right. All of them are home to their own rich history and culture. Three of these countries are in Asia, 1 in Africa, and another in Oceania.


More in Geography