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

Countries That Start With The Letter S

S is the most common first letter for country names in English. In fact, out of the world's 195 countries, an impressive 26 of them start with the letter. In fact, “S” is used in roughly 67% of all languages around the globe, showing how common the letter and sound can be.

Additionally, in English, the "S" sound appears in about 6.28% of all words. This fact comes from researchers at Cornell University. Yet, how these 26 countries got their names that start with "S" is a fascinating story, so keep reading to learn more.

Countries That Start With The Letter S

Country Population Land Area
Saint Kitts and Nevis 47,755 101 mi2
Saint Lucia 180,251 238 mi2
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 103,698 150 mi2
Samoa 225,681 1,093 mi2
San Marino 33,642 24 mi2
Sao Tome and Principe 231,856 372 mi2
Saudi Arabia 36,947,025 830,000 mi2
Senegal 17,763,163 75,955 mi2
Serbia 7,149,077 29,913 mi2
Seychelles 107,660 176 mi2
Sierra Leone 8,791,092 27,699 mi2
Singapore 6,014,723 278 mi2
Slovakia 5,795,199 18,933 mi2
Slovenia 2,119,675 7,827 mi2
Solomon Islands 740,424 11,157 mi2
Somalia 18,143,378 246,201 mi2
South Africa 60,414,495 470,693 mi2
South Korea 51,784,059 38,502 mi2
South Sudan 11,088,796 248,777 mi2
Spain 47,519,628 195,124 mi2
Sri Lanka 21,893,579 25, 332 mi2
Sudan 48,109,006 718,723 mi2
Suriname 623,236 63,251 mi2
Sweden 10,612,086 173, 860 mi2
Switzerland 8,796,669 15,937 mi2
Syria 23,227,014 72,370 mi2

Countries in Africa that Start with S

Beautiful South Africa's Cape Town's, Mountain and Sea views.
Beautiful South Africa's Cape Town.

Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, and Sudan all start with S in the African continent. Sao Tome and Principe is one country comprising two islands in the Gulf of Guinea along the equator. One of the islands’ names means “Saint Thomas,” named after one of the saints, and the other meaning “Prince,” after one of the princes of Portugal in the 16th century. Senegal is in West Africa and borders the Atlantic Ocean. Its name comes from the Senegal River. Seychelles is an island off of East Africa. The French named the island after the Minister of Finance in 1756. Sierra Leone is in West Africa and borders the Atlantic. Portuguese explorer Pedro da Cinta gave it its name in the 15th century due to its tall mountains. Its name in English translates to “Lion Mountains”. Somalia is located in East Africa and is in the Horn of Africa. Generally, scholars believe Somalia’s name to have originated from the Somali ethnic group. South Africa is located at the southern tip of Africa. Perhaps not surprisingly, its geographical location is the reason for its name. Sudan and South Sudan were one country until they split in 2011 due to a civil war. Both countries are located in Northeast Africa. Sudan’s name comes from Arabic and means “land of the blacks.”

Countries In Asia That Start With S

Traditional Korean style architecture at Bukchon Hanok Village in Seoul, South Korea.
Traditional Korean style architecture at Bukchon Hanok Village in Seoul, South Korea.

Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka, and Syria all start with S in the Asian continent. Spanning across the Arabian peninsula, Saudi Arabia is the only country with coasts along the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea. The Saud Family has ruled it since the 18th century. The country’s name originates from the royal family name. Singapore is a tiny island in Southeast Asia near the Malay peninsula. The country is smaller than the US state of Rhode Island. Most people who live in the country are either Chinese, Indian, Malay, or Eurasian. The name “Singapore” comes from the Malay language, with “Singa” meaning “Lion” and “Pura” meaning “City.” South Korea is in East Asia and occupies the southern part of the Korean peninsula. Korea derived its name from the historical kingdom “Goryeo” or “Koryo,” which was a Dynasty that originated in 918 in the region. Sri Lanka is an island in the Indian Ocean, slightly southeast of India. Although Sri Lanka has had a long history of name changes, its current name, “Sri Lanka,” means “Splendid Island.” Syria is part of southwest Asia, on the east coast of the Mediterranean Sea. While scholars often debate the origins of the Syrian name, many believe that it comes from the Assyrian Empire that ruled from approximately the 14th to the 17th century BCE.

Countries In Europe That Start With S

Old cozy street in Madrid, Spain.
Old cozy street in Madrid, Spain.

San Marino‎, Serbia‎, Slovakia‎, Slovenia, Spain‎, Sweden‎, and Switzerland‎ all start with an S in Europe. San Marino is a landlocked country in Southern Europe, surrounded by Italy on all sides. San Marino’s name originates from the Stonemason Marinus, who founded the community in 301 CE. Serbia is also a landlocked country and is located in southeast Europe. The origin of Serbia’s name is not clear. However, many people believe the name is related to the West Slavic Sorbs in East Germany, as many people migrated from this area in the 6th century CE. Slovakia is yet another landlocked country, but in central Europe, its name means “Land of the Slovs.” Slovenia, located along the Adriatic Sea in Central Southern Europe, borders Croatia, Italy, Hungary, and Austria. While there is some uncertainty about its name, the meaning of its name seems to similarly mean “Land of the Slovs’, like Slovakia. Spain is located in the extreme part of southwest Europe, and its name comes from the Romans, who referred to the peninsula as “Hispania.” Sweden forms part of the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Its name comes from the Svea tribe that occupied the land in 500 CE. The name in English translates to “Land of the Svea.” Switzerland, landlocked in Central Europe, seems to have had its name derived from its Germanic name meaning “strength,” although this is unclear.

Countries In Oceania That Start With S

Lush, tropical islands are fringed by robust coral reefs in the Solomon Islands.
Lush tropical islands and coral reefs in the Solomon Islands.

There are only two countries in Oceania that start with S: Samoa and Solomon Islands. Samoa is a small island in the South Pacific Ocean. It gained independence from New Zealand in 1962. Historians cannot agree on the origins of Samoa’s name. Solomon Island is an archipelago composed of 992 islands in the Southwest Pacific Ocean. It became an independent country in 1978 after gaining independence from Britain. Spanish Explorer Alvaro de Mendana gave the country its name in 1568, as he believed it to be the biblical land of gold, where King Solomon found the gold to construct the temple of Jerusalem. Such gold, however, has never been found, although the government continues searching for it.

Countries in the Americas that Start with S

Basseterre, St. Kitts and Nevis town skyline at the port.
Basseterre, St. Kitts and Nevis town skyline at the port.

Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines are all islands considered to be in North America that start with S. All three countries are located in the Caribbean Sea. Saint Kitts and Nevis is one country composed of two islands. “Kitts” was a nickname for Saint Cristopher, while “Nevis” came from Cristopher Colombus, who called the island “Nuestra Señora de las Nieves (“Our Lady of the Snows” in English) due to the island’s cloud-covered peak. The origins of the names of Saint Lucia and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines are unclear and there are many myths and claims surrounding them. However, Saint Lucia’s name before colonization was “Louanalao,” and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines was “Hairoun.” The only country that starts with an S in South America is Suriname, located in the northern part of the South American continent. Suriname’s name originated from its early inhabitants, known as the Surinen.

These 26 countries scattered throughout the globe, in six different continents, demonstrate an impressive variety of geographical characteristics ranging from landlocked countries to remote islands. While all of these countries have their first letter in common, they are vastly different from one another and remind us of the earth's diversity.


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