Many countries have "land" as a suffix, like England, Poland, Switzerland, etc., which means 'the land of the English', 'the land of the Swiss', etc.

Many other countries have "stan" as a suffix, like Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Afghanistan, etc. 'Stan' means land in their language, it became 'the land of the Kazakh', 'the land of the Turkmen', etc.

My question is about "-ia": many counties have "-ia" at the end, like Australia, Serbia, Nigeria, Croatia, Russia, Tunisia, and many more.
Can anyone tell me where that came from, or if it has any meaning?

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    Be careful of the word "Paki" - it can be regarded as offensive in the wrong circumstances.
    – Golden Cuy
    Commented Jun 22, 2018 at 3:29
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    Oh, didn't know that, shall I remove it from the question?
    – asmgx
    Commented Jun 22, 2018 at 3:31
  • @asmgx: Pakistan means "land of the pure". Please edit your body of question.
    – Ahmed
    Commented Jun 22, 2018 at 4:08
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    @IqbalAhmedSiyal to avoid confusion I changed Pakistan example to Turkmenistan, people who will read the questions won't know the land of the pure refers to which country unless they speak that language
    – asmgx
    Commented Jun 22, 2018 at 4:18
  • @asmgx: it's better.
    – Ahmed
    Commented Jun 22, 2018 at 4:20

4 Answers 4


-ia is a Latin ending (-ία in Ancient Greek) used to form abstract nouns. In this case, the "abstract" noun referred to a nation, that is, a collection of people and the locations where they lived. For example, the land of the Germani was Germania.

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    Almost certainly not, #mweiss.
    – tautophile
    Commented Jun 22, 2018 at 6:54
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    Russian actually still uses "Germania" Commented Jun 22, 2018 at 10:03
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    Is -ia cognate somehow with the Arabic suffix -iyya/ ـِيَّة‎? Commented Jun 22, 2018 at 11:28
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    In Italy (Italia, btw) we use it extensively. adding to those the OP listed, there are Francia, Germania, Spagna (>Hispania), Grecia etc. Commented Jun 22, 2018 at 12:19
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    @Wilson To expand on what Chris said, Arabic and Hebrew are both of the Semitic branch of the Afro-Asiatic language family, and Latin and Greek are both Indo-European languages, which are about as unrelated as you can get; no relationship between those two language families is known, and if there is one, it's far enough in the past that we can't trace any cognates.
    – Hearth
    Commented Jun 22, 2018 at 21:20

For Nigeria it was birthed from two(2) words namely ‘Niger’ and ‘area’ due to the Niger River crossing into the country and terminating and emptying into the Atlantic Ocean. The British colonialists were impatient mentioning the two and coined’Nigeria’ and this stacked forever…

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    This doesn't answer the question (and also seems an unlikely etymology) Commented Jul 17, 2022 at 17:28
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    A historian, Ozibo Ozibo, said historical evidence supports the claim that Flora Shaw suggested ‘Nigeria’ for the ‘Niger Area’ “in the early days of the British colonial adventurism.”
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Jul 17, 2022 at 18:28
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    @KillingTime The etymology of Nigeria appears to be legit, at least according the National Portrait Gallery site. I suppose this answer is saying that Nigeria is the exception that proves the rule.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Jul 17, 2022 at 18:38

The academic language of Western Europe was Latin, and the academic language of the Romans was Greek. Thus you get a lot of Greek and Latin forms in European science and geography, including -ia names.

Australia - Austral is from the Latin Australis, which means Southern. In the 19th Century the British changed the name from New Holland to Australia.

Russia - of the Rus, the Vikings who settled in Kiev and the surrounding region.

Italia is the Greek geographic term for Italy. The country is Repubblica Italiana in Italian.

  • 1
    It would improve your answer if you could give the definition and/or etymology of the -ia ending. Even though that information is given in other answers, it's good to strive for completeness.
    – Joachim
    Commented Feb 28, 2022 at 10:35
  • What precisely does this add to the to-the-point answer already posted, almost four years ago, by Mr. Beadles? New answers to old questions are welcome on this site, but they are expected to make it clear how they differ from what already appears on the same page.
    – jsw29
    Commented Feb 28, 2022 at 17:29

The word "ia" means "of god" or "from god". Ia stands for "Y" (yah-weh), greeks didnt have alphabet "Y" so they used ia instead.. So countries ending with word ia means "OF GOD's or "FROM GOD's"

  • 2
    Without a supporting link to an authoritative source this answer seems like guesswork, especially in light of the Greek ending it comes from which has no derivation from the Hebrew language. Commented Jul 13, 2020 at 21:12

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