How did your country get its name

Where does the name Europe come from? And where do the countries get their names from?

European culture has a long history that has shaped our continent to this day. Lina, 8 years old wants to know: “Where does the name Europe come from? And where do the countries get their names from? "

The flag with the 12 stars has stood for the European Union since 1986. The 12 stars are supposed to symbolize the perfection and completeness in Europe. Source: © Ing A Kaprinay, Shutterstock

The word Europe comes from the Greek word "erebos". This means "dark". It stands for the Occident, so to speak, the place where the sun sets. In contrast, Asia, literally translated, means the Orient, i.e. the country in which the sun rises.

Fabulous Europe

However, other interpretations of the name Europe are also conceivable. In the Greek world of legends, Europe was the Phoenician king's daughter of Agenor. She was kidnapped to the island of Crete by the Greek god Zeus, who fell in love with Europe.

Zeus turned himself into a bull and swam with Europe to the Greek island. Once there, he turned back into his human form and made Europe his wife and Queen of Crete. The name Europe was later adopted for the whole of the West.

And where do the European countries get their names from?

Most of the time, the country names have something to do with the country, its history or its geographical features.

The name Bulgaria, for example, refers to the composition of the population. The word "Bulg" comes from Turkish and means "mixed". This indicates the different tribes within the country. This is also the case with Italy. The name "Italy" comes from the population of the Italici, who live in the lived on the southernmost tip of the peninsula in the first century BC.


Austria was once referred to as the country in the east - Ostarrichi. The geographical name was right, at least from the point of view of the Bavarians who had applied this term. The name Germany, on the other hand, comes from the Latin word "theodiscus", which means "belonging to the people". On Germanic soil one spoke the "Theodisca lingua", the "vernacular" and not Latin.

Every country in Europe has its own history, how it got its name.

You can find out even more exciting information in WAS IST WAS Volume 113 Europe. Countries, people and culture