Go on a journey with STUDIOTRE and find out what the names of European countries mean

The summer holidays are over, but STUDIOTRE would like to take you on a short trip so that you can find out about the origins of countries’ names and their literal translations.

We’ve already explored the USA and Latin America. Today, we’re heading to Europe.

Our first stop is among the volcanoes and geysers of Iceland, which you won’t be surprised to hear means “Land of Ice”. It was named by the settler Flóki Vilgerðarson, who spotted a “fjord full of ice” after a long, harsh winter.

Now let’s head to Portugal on the Atlantic Coast. It’s named after the Celtic people known as Callaeci or Gallaeci, who settled in the North of the country.

Our next stop is just over the border in Spain. There’s a fascinating story behind the country’s name. When the Phoenicians arrived in Spain, they found numerous hares, which they mistook for the hyraxes that live in Africa. Therefore, they called Spain the “Island of hyraxes”. The Romans adapted it to form the Latin name Hispania, which developed into the modern name Spain.

On the other side of the Pyrenees is France, which gets its name from the Franks: a group of Germanic tribes. In turn, their name comes from the old German term franka, meaning “brave”.

Now let’s move down through the Alps to Italy. There are two theories about the name of the famous boot-shaped peninsula in the Mediterranean:

  • It comes from the legendary hero Italus. He was the king of the Oenotrians, who occupied a vast territory spanning modern Apulia, Basilicata and Northern Calabria in around the 11th century BC.
  • It comes from Italicus, which was the name of the totem of a tribe that settled in Calabria. It is thought that in ancient times when this tribe lived there, the name Italia referred solely and specifically to modern Calabria.

Did any of the places that you visited on holiday have interesting names?
Visit the STUDIOTRE Facebook page and tell us all about them!


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