Meanings of country names in Chinese

Susan, a friend of mine, comes from Germany. One day, she asked me,excitedly: ‘I heard that Germany in Chinese means a Land of Virtue. Is that true?’

‘True.’ I said, ‘DEGUO, Country of Virtue.’

‘I love Chinese! Tell me more. What is France in Chinese?’

– ‘FAGUO, Legal Country.’

‘Hm, it makes sense. How about America?’

– ‘MEIGUO, Beautiful Country.’

‘Really? and Britain?’

– ‘YINGJILI, Lucky flowers.’

‘Funny! and the Netherlands?’

– ‘HELAN, Lotus and Orchid.’


– ‘FENLAN, Fragrant Orchid.’


– ‘DANMAI, Red Wheat.’


– ‘JIEKE, Defeating the Enemies and Winning the War!’

‘OMG! Austria?’

– ‘AODILI, the Earthly Right Place.’

‘Why is it earthly?’

– ‘Because of Belgium. BILISHI, the Heavenly Right Time!’

‘OK. Portugal?’

– ‘PUTAOYA, the Teeth of Grapes.’

‘What? … Spain?’

– ‘XIBANYA, the Separated West Teeth!’

‘Got it! How about Asian Countries? Vietnam?’

– ‘YUENAN, the South of Yue People.’


– ‘Taiguo, Peaceful Country.’


– ‘CHAOXIAN, Bright Morning.’

‘How about Japan?’

– ‘RIBEN, the Root of the Sun.’

‘The names of Far East Countries make more sense in Chinese. Then China?’

– ‘We are not Far East. ZHONGGUO, the Center of the World.’

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