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

Countries That Start With The Letter U

There are seven countries that start with the letter "U," but they do not all pronounce "U" with the same sounds, and those different sounds are also called 'phonemes.' Basically, the letter "U" can sound different in various words, like the difference between the "U" in "cube" and in "cub."

While the "U" sounds are fairly common in English, they are also frequent in other languages. For example, several of the specific phonemes of the English "U" — /j/ and /u/ — are found in 88%-90% of languages worldwide. Interestingly, the letter "U" appears in about 2.88% of English words, where it is considered a vowel. Below, you will also discover the origin of how these countries got their names and what these unique places are like.

The Seven Countries That Begin With The Letter "U"

Country Population Phonemes
Uganda 48,582,334 /ju/
Ukraine 36,744,634 /ju/
United Arab Emirates 9,516,871 /ju/
United Kingdom 67,736,802 /ju/
United States of America 328,239,520 /ju/
Uruguay 3,423,108 /jʊ/
Uzbekistan 35,163,944 /ʊ/ or /ʌ/


The shores of Lake Kyoga in Central Uganda.
The shores of Lake Kyoga in Central Uganda.

Uganda gets its name from the Swahili name of the Buganda Kingdom that ruled over the region before British colonization. Once the region became independent, it took on the name Uganda as a nod to the country's history.

Uganda is located in East Africa. Surrounded by its neighbors, Uganada is just one of many landlocked African nations. Its capital city, Kampala, is also the largest, with a population of roughly 1.5 million residents.


An Orthodox church in Kiev, Ukraine.
An Orthodox church in Kiev, Ukraine.

The name Ukraine originates from the old Slavic word krajina meaning "borderland." This is appropriate considering Ukraine has frequently been used as a buffer region between empires, nations, and ethnic groups.

Ukraine is currently in the midst of a devasting war against Russia. The conflict has been raging on for over two years now with no clear end in sight. Hopefully, the fighting can end soon, and Ukraine, a country known for its rich culture, can return to a sense of normalcy once again.

United Arab Emirates

City street in Dubai.
City street in Dubai.

Formally established in 1971, the United Arab Emirates, often just referred to as the UAE, this countries name is somewhat self-explanatory. Several Arab states and tribes once dominated the region before unifying to form a single country.

The UAE has quickly become one of the most sought-after tourist destinations in the world. The lavish lifestyles that are often on display in places like Dubai have caught the attention of the rich and powerful. Each year millions of international visitors arrive to catch a glimpse of the "City of Gold."

United Kingdom

The British parliament building in London.
The British Parliament building in London.

The United Kingdom's name comes from its founding moment in the early 18th century when both the English and Scottish crowns united under a single political union. Ever since then, the UK has been made up of four distinct regions. England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland.

The United Kingdom has had a profound and long-lasting impact around the world. London, the capital city of the United Kingdom, was once the seat of power for the British Empire, the largest empire in human history. Its cultural influence can still be seen and felt despite the empire essentially ending after WWII.

United States

The Capitol building is the meeting place of the United States Congress.
The Capitol building is the meeting place of the United States Congress.

Similar to the UK or UAE, the United States name comes from how the country came into being rather than any etymological origin. First known as the Thirteen Colonies during its time as a part of the British Empire, these colonies became states within a union, thus becoming the United States of America. "America" comes from Amerigo Vespucci, an Italian explorer who made voyages between 1497 and 1504.

Today, the United States is one of several economic, cultural, and military superpowers of the world. It does not matter what country you are in; American influence, through culture and politics, is likely present. While some analysts predict this level of influence will change sometime this century, American hegemony is not going anywhere fast.


Casapueblo in Uruguay.
Casapueblo in Uruguay. Image used under license from

The country of Uruguay gets its name from the Uruguay River, one of the major waterways that flows through its territory. The name Uruguay is thought to have come from the Guaraní language, which translates into "bird-river."

Uruguay is located in South America, next to Argentina and Brazil. Its capital city, Montevideo, is the largest in all of Uruguay and is nestled along the Atlantic coast.


An Uzbek woman in national costume.
An Uzbek woman in national costume

Uzbekistan translates into "place of" or "land of the Uzbeks." Istan is a Persian word meaning "place of," whereas Uzbek is the name of the majority ethnic group that lives in the region. It is thought that Uzbeks have inhabited the region as far back as the 11th century.

A landlocked country in Central Asia, Uzbekistan is surrounded by its neighbors Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan. Tashkent, the capital city of Uzbekistan, is also the largest and densest population center.

Final Thoughts

There are seven different countries around the world that start with the letter "U". Two are in Asia, one is in South America, two are in Europe, one is in North America, and another in Africa. Each of these countries has its own unique flavor and history. If ever given the chance to visit, all of these places are great places to travel to.


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