The Letter "R" decorated in the features of Planet Earth.

Countries That Start With The Letter R

Out of the world's 195 countries, there are only three whose names start with the letter "R.": Romania, Russia, and Rwanda. However, even though the sound "R" is the first letter of the names of only three countries in English, this same sound is used in roughly 44% of all languages! Around 94 countries (including Rwanda) have official names that start with "Republic of," such as Republic of Poland, Republic of Suriname, Republic of Turkey, and so on.

Additionally, in English, the "R" sound appears in about 6.02% of all words. This fact comes from researchers at Cornell University. Yet, how these three countries got their names that start with "R" is a fascinating story, so keep reading to learn more.

Countries that Start With The Letter R

Country Population Land Area



92,043 mi²

Russian Federation


6,601,665 mi²



10,169 mi²


Bucharest view from above during summer sunrise.
Bucharest, Romania, view from above during summer sunrise.

Romania is located in the southeastern part of Europe and borders Moldova, Ukraine, Hungary, Serbia, and Bulgaria. Bucharest is the country's capital, with a population of over 1.7 million people as per the 2021 census. Romania’s economy has experienced very significant growth over the past three decades. Since the Romanian Revolution in 1990, its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has grown eight times larger, and the standard of living of its residents has greatly improved. As of 2024, Romania’s unemployment rate was approximately 5.7%.

“Romania” is derived from the Latin word “Romanus,” meaning “Citizen of the Roman Empire.” The country adopted its constitution in 1991, which had an emphasis on democratic values and the importance of having an indivisible, sovereign, and unitary state. Romania later amended it in 2003. Romania has a constitutional republic with a parliament that consists of a Senate and a chamber of deputies. A president can serve a maximum of ten years (two terms of five years each). The popular vote defines the results of elections.

Russian Federation

Panorama of St. Petersburg, Russia, at the summer sunset.
Panorama of St. Petersburg, Russia, at the summer sunset.

Russia, or the Russian Federation, is located in the eastern part of Europe and the northern part of Asia. Due to its colossal size, it borders 14 countries, including Norway, Poland, Ukraine, Georgia, China, and North Korea, among others. It has a population of more than 144 million people.

“Russia” is derived from Greek and means “the people of Rus.” “Rus” refers to a group of people that arrived from the other side of the Baltic Sea and settled in current-day Russia. Russia possesses a centralized political system. Per the 1993 constitution, there is both a president and a prime minister. The government possesses three tiers: executive, legislative, and judiciary. The executive branch consists of a prime minister, president, and cabinet, while the legislative branch has a national assembly of 616 parliamentary members. Lastly, the judiciary branch comprises the Constitutional Court, Supreme Court, and other lower-level district and regional courts.

Russia is a mixed economy state and is the 11th largest economy in the world. As of 2024, the unemployment rate was at about 2.9%. The country mainly exports oil, natural gas, coal, timber, metals, and machinery. As of 2022, Russia was the second-largest exporter of gas worldwide. The oil and gas sector alone in Russia makes up about 34% of its federal budget revenues. It is also one of the largest exporters of nuclear energy worldwide and was the first country to establish a nuclear plant in 1954.


Kigali, Rwanda. Editorial credit: JS Gordon-Moran /
Kigali, Rwanda. Editorial credit: JS Gordon-Moran /

Located in Central Africa, The Republic of Rwanda is a landlocked country that borders the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, Tanzania, and Uganda. The current population is a little over 14 million people. Over 80% of Rwanda's residents live in rural areas, and only 1.5 million live in the country’s capital, Kigali.

Rwanda has three sects: the executive, legislative, and judiciary branches. The executive branch has both a president and prime minister, and within the legislative branch, there are two parliamentary chambers. The Supreme Court is the leading judiciary power.

King Gihanga founded Rwanda and named it based on the Kinyarwanda verb “Kwanda,” meaning “expansion.” Rwanda has had a very shaky economic situation since the Rwanda Genocide in 1994 against the Tutsi. Over the past few decades, Rwanda has been making significant economic reforms with support from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund plans to become a middle-income country by 2035. By the end of 2023, Rwanda’s unemployment rate was at about 16.8%. Over 90% of the country relies on agriculture-based revenue.

Although Romania, Russia, and Rwanda may have their first letter in common, they are very different in economic, social, and geographical regard. These countries also have different spellings depending on the language that one speaks. For example, in Albanian, Indonesian, and Spanish, “Romania” is spelled “Rumania.” In French, it is “Roumanie.” “Russia” has many different spellings as well. In German and Norwegian, speakers spell it as “Russland.” In Italian, “Rwanda” is spelled with a “U” instead of a “W” (as Ruanda). The various spellings of these countries are almost as diverse and dynamic as the countries themselves.


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