197 Country Names in Chinese (Complete List + Abbreviations)
Country names are crucial to add to your vocabulary when you learn the Chinese language. Whether you want to introduce yourself to your new Chinese friends or colleagues, or are reading international news and want to understand the setting, you’ll need to know the countries in Chinese.
Mandarin Chinese has a different name for every country in the world. Although in some cases, the name which is used to refer to a certain country might sound familiar to you, most of the time there is a big difference from its native name which makes the country totally unrecognizable if you don’t know the translation already.
Luckily for you, we got this entire post dedicated to country names in Chinese!
We’ll cover the full list of 197 countries in the world – both their official Chinese names and the abbreviations, teach you how to write the names in characters and pronounce them in standard Mandarin. Besides, we’ll look at the logic behind the Chinese country names and show you how they’re translated from English or their native languages in the first place. And at the end of the post, we’ll help you learn a few useful phrases you can use when introducing your Chinese-speaking friends to your country.
But first and foremost, let’s learn how to say “country” in Chinese.
“Country” in Chinese
The word for “country” in Chinese is:
- 国家 (guójiā)
It’s a very quick and simple word for you to learn! If you take the characters literally, 国 (guó) stands for “country”, and 家 (jiā) means “home”. In Chinese traditional thought, China was one big family, and the country was ruled as such, with the emperor being the patriarch.
Another word for “country” in Chinese is:
- 国 (guó)
You may also use 国 (guó), which is essentially a shortening of the word 国家 (guójiā) to refer to a country sometimes.
The difference between the two words is that 国家 (guójiā) can be used on its own to mean “country” while 国 (guó) generally only makes its appearance in country-related vocabulary words.
- 国外 (guówài) – abroad
Literally, “country outside”
- 国民 (guómín) – citizen
Literally, “country people”
Besides, a few country names in Chinese – including China itself – have the character 国 (guó) in it, so it’s a good word to add to your vocabulary as one of the first staple vocabulary words you learn.
List of Country Names in Chinese Containing 国 (guó)
- 中国 (Zhōng guó) – China
- 美国 (Měi guó) – Unites States
- 法国 (Fǎ guó) – France
- 德国 (Dé guó) – Germany
- 英国 (Yīng guó) – United Kingdom
- 韩国 (Hán guó) – Korea
- 泰国 (Tài guó) – Thailand
- 孟加拉国 (Mèng jiā lā guó) – Bangladesh
For countries other than the eight listed above, you have to learn each country’s name in Chinese separately, just like in many other languages, as the character 国 (guó) is not attached to any of them.
“China” in Chinese
The short Chinese name for the People’s Republic of China, of which 香港 (Xiāng gǎng) – Hong Kong is an alienable part, is 中国 (Zhōng guó).
The character 中 (zhōng) means “middle” or “central”, and 国 (guó), “country”. So the name 中国 (Zhōng guó) literally means “middle country”, or more precisely “central kingdom”.
Historically, the term 中国 (Zhōng guó) was used to refer to the states on the central Chinese plain in ancient China that were collectively related to each other through the same language and similar culture. They were labeled “central states” as opposed to the barbarian states and countries around them. By the late 19th century 中国 (Zhōng guó) had emerged as a common name for the whole country.
How Country Names Are Translated into Chinese
If you’re not entirely new to the Chinese language, you probably already know that Chinese has no alphabet, rather, the writing system is made up of thousands of different characters.
So in Chinese, all countries’ names are written in characters – not letters. And there is a standard Chinese name for each and every one of the countries.
Country Name Transliteration
With a few exceptions, most of the country names are transliterated into Chinese directly from their original names. This is typically done by breaking the name into syllables or phonemes and replacing them with similar-sounding Chinese characters.
For certain countries, this is convenient because all you have to do is imagine how you would say their names in a strong Chinese accent, and you’ve got it.
Case in point:
- Italy → I-ta-ly → 意大利 (pronunciation: Yì dà lì)
- Norway → Nor-way → 挪威 (pronunciation: Nuó wēi)
- Kenya → Ken-ny-ya → 肯尼亚 (pronunciation: Kěn ní yà)
But since Chinese characters can only represent syllables as concrete blocks of sound but not as fluid combinations of letters, many country names, when transliterated into Chinese, don’t bear too much resemblance to the originals.
- Latvia → La-t-vi-a → 拉脱维亚 (pronunciation: Lā tuō wéi yà)
- Ecuador → E-cua-do-r → 厄瓜多尔 (pronunciation: È guā duō ěr)
Plus, the Chinese language has a much smaller stock of sounds compared with English (there are only about 400 syllables in Chinese), so very often, the Chinese transliterations are a very, very rough approximation.
- Turkey → Tu-r-key → 土耳其 (pronunciation: Tǔ ěr qí)
(There is no “key” sound in Chinese)
- Ukraine → U-k-raine → 乌克兰 (pronunciation: Wū kè lán)
(There is no “raine” sound in Chinese)
Note as well that the Chinese transliteration of country names don’t always have to come from English, they could be based on countries’ native names or country-related words too.
For example, 科特迪瓦 (Kē tè dí wǎ) – the Chinese name for Ivory Coast, is transliterated from the country’s French name – Côte d’Ivoire; 西班牙 (Xī bān yá) – Spain, is based on the pronunciation of España – the country’s name in Spanish; And 印度 (Yìn dù) – India, is the transliteration of the word “Hindu”, which derived from Persian and used to refer to people from India.
Literal Translation for Country Names
A few countries got quite literal names in Chinese. For instance, the island country Iceland is 冰岛 (Bīng dǎo) with 冰 (bīng) for the ice and 岛 (dǎo) for the landscape. So the name means “Ice island”. Pretty neat, isn’t it?
Montenegro is another example, the country name means “black mountain”, therefore, it’s 黑山 (Hēi shān) in Chinese.
Combination of Sound and Meaning
While the vast majority of country names are translated into Chinese either based on sound or meaning, a few country names are a combination of both.
For instance, the “new” in New Zealand is translated to 新 (xīn), meaning “new” in Chinese, while the “Zealand” part is transliterated to 西兰 (xī lán) based on the sound. Other examples include the “north”, “south”, “central”, “and”, “islands” in North Macedonia, South Africa, South Sudan, Trinidad and Tobago, Solomon Islands, and so on.
Character Country Names
For countries that have historically used Chinese characters, original character country names are retained in Chinese.
For example, Japan is still 日本 (the Japanese name for Japan). It’s pronounced “Nippon” in the original Japanese but “Rì běn” in Chinese (characters are read differently in Chinese and Japanese). The same goes for other places like Korea – 韩国 (Hán guó), Vietnam – 越南 (Yuè nán) and Taiwan – 台湾 (Tái wān).
Meanings of Country Names in Chinese
Although the Chinese characters that make up country names having meanings on their own, these meanings are not connected to the particular country when they’re used for phonetic reasons.
For example, the United Kingdom is called 英国 (Yīng guó) in Chinese. The character 英 (yīng) means something like “handsome”, “brave” or “heroic”. But when a Chinese person hears the name 英国 (Yīng guó), she will not relate the name to a kingdom of knights and kings. It’s just the phonetics of “eng” as in “English” or “England”.
To further illustrate that these characters are used for phonetic reasons only, consider that Malta – 马耳他 (Mǎ ěr tā) is “horse ear he” and Portugal – 葡萄牙 (Pú táo yá) is “grape tooth” in word-for-word translation.
That said, the Chinese like to use characters with favorable meanings to transcribe foreign place names whenever possible. So the literal meanings of country names in Chinese often carry a positive connotation (sometimes neutral, but never offensive). For instance, America is 美国 (Měi guó) – “beautiful country”, not 霉国 (Méi guó) – “bad luck country” or “mildew country”, even though 霉 (méi) sounds more similar to the original “me” sound in “America”.
And sometimes, the characters chosen for a country’s name can even give you a hint as to the country’s whereabouts.
For instance, you can probably infer that Spain is geographically located in Western Europe from its Chinese name 西班牙 (Xī bān yá) as 西 (xī) stands for “west”. And for Australia – 澳大利亚 (Ào dà lì yà), the character 澳 (ào) is used to transcribe the “au” sound in its name, while also implying the country is surrounded by oceans (the radical 氵on the left side of 澳 is colloquially referred to as “three drops of water” and symbolizes flowing water), whereas for Austria – 奥地利 (Ào dì lì), a landlocked country, 奥 (ào) – a character without the “water” radical – is used instead to transcribe the “au” sound.
Now, here’s the interesting part:
Because of the limited range of syllables, Mandarin Chinese has lots of homophonous characters (having the same pronunciation but different meanings). So it’s easy to use different character combinations to transcribe the same country name. In other words, some countries have more than one name when written in characters.
For instance, Honduras is called 洪都拉斯 in China but addressed as 宏都拉斯 in Taiwan, though they are both pronounced “Hóng dū lā sī”.
On the other side of the spectrum, different (sounding) Chinese names may be given to places with the same English name. For instance, the Eastern European country Georgia is translated as 格鲁吉亚 (Gé lǔ jí yà) in Chinese, while the U.S. state Georgia is named 佐治亚 (Zuǒ zhì yà) to differentiate between the two.
In this article, we list the official country names that are used in Mainland China.
Complete List of All Country Names in Chinese
Well, if you came here for a simple list of country names in Chinese and are getting bored by all the explanations, you’ll find the list of official Chinese names for the worlds’ 197 countries in this section, complete with Chinese characters and Pinyin pronunciation.
We’ve organized the country names by continent first, then in alphabetical order, because country names are easiest to learn when you associate them with neighboring countries.
But while we’re on the subject, let’s take a quick look at how to say the continents in Chinese first.
“Continents” in Chinese
All right, let’s check out the full list of Chinese country names. Just pick out your country from the list below, continue reading this article on how to say what country you’re from in Chinese and you’re all set!
51 European Country Names in Chinese
We’ll start with 欧洲国家 (Ōuzhōu guójiā) – European countries. Note that while some countries are geographically in Asia (e.g. Armenia, Cyprus), but politically and culturally Chinese people consider them as a part of Europe, so they are listed here.
|Albania||阿尔巴尼亚||Ā ěr bā ní yà|
|Andorra||安道尔||Ān dào ěr|
|Armenia||亚美尼亚||Yà měi ní yà|
|Austria||奥地利||Ào dì lì|
|Azerbaijan||阿塞拜疆||Ā sài bài jiāng|
|Belarus||白俄罗斯||Bái é luó sī|
|Belgium||比利时||Bǐ lì shí|
|Bosnia and Herzegovina||波斯尼亚和黑塞哥维那||Bō sī ní yà hé hēi sài gē wéi nà|
|Bulgaria||保加利亚||Bǎo jiā lì yà|
|Croatia||克罗地亚||Kè luó dì yà|
|Cyprus||塞浦路斯||Sài pǔ lù sī|
|Estonia||爱沙尼亚||Ài shā ní yà|
|Georgia||格鲁吉亚||Gé lǔ jí yà|
|Hungary||匈牙利||Xiōng yá lì|
|Ireland||爱尔兰||Ài ěr lán|
|Italy||意大利||Yì dà lì|
|Kazakhstan||哈萨克斯坦||Hā sà kè sī tǎn|
|Kosova||科索沃||Kē suǒ wò|
|Latvia||拉脱维亚||Lā tuō wéi yà|
|Liechtenstein||列支敦士登||Liè zhī dūn shì dēng|
|Lithuania||立陶宛||Lì táo wǎn|
|Luxembourg||卢森堡||Lú sēn bǎo|
|Malta||马耳他||Mǎ ěr tā|
|Moldova||摩尔多瓦||Mó ěr duō wǎ|
|Monaco||摩纳哥||Mó nà gē|
|North Macedonia||北马其顿||Běi mǎ qí dùn|
|Portugal||葡萄牙||Pú táo yá|
|Romania||罗马尼亚||Luó mǎ ní yà|
|Russia||俄罗斯||É luó sī|
|San Marino||圣马力诺||Shèng mǎ lì nuò|
|Serbia||塞尔维亚||Sài ěr wéi yà|
|Slovakia||斯洛伐克||Sī luò fá kè|
|Slovenia||斯洛文尼亚||Sī luò wén ní yà|
|Spain||西班牙||Xī bān yá|
|Turkey||土耳其||Tǔ ěr qí|
|Ukraine||乌克兰||Wū kè lán|
|United Kingdom||英国||Yīng guó|
|Vatican City||梵蒂冈||Fàn dì gāng|
Although the average person on the street in China probably can’t tell the difference between the United Kingdom and England, there is an official Chinese name for each of the four constituent countries of the UK.
- England – 英格兰 (Yīng gé lán)
- Scotland – 苏格兰 (Sū gé lán)
- Wales – 威尔士 (Wēi ěr shì)
- Northern Ireland – 北爱尔兰 (Běi ài ěr lán)
43 Asian Country Names in Chinese
Here is a list of the Asian country names in Chinese, organized alphabetically. Feel free to add them to your Chinese vocabulary.
|Afghanistan||阿富汗||Ā fù hàn|
|Bangladesh||孟加拉国||Mèng jiā lā guó|
|Cambodia||柬埔寨||Jiǎn pǔ zhài|
|Indonesia||印度尼西亚||Yìn dù ní xī yà|
|Iraq||伊拉克||Yī lā kè|
|Israel||以色列||Yǐ sè liè|
|Kuwait||科威特||Kē wēi tè|
|Kyrgyzstan||吉尔吉斯斯坦||Jí ěr jí sī sī tǎn|
|Lebanon||黎巴嫩||Lí bā nèn|
|Malaysia||马来西亚||Mǎ lái xī yà|
|Maldives||马尔代夫||Mǎ ěr dài fū|
|Nepal||尼泊尔||Ní bó ěr|
|North Korea||朝鲜||Cháo xiǎn|
|Pakistan||巴基斯坦||Bā jī sī tǎn|
|Palestine||巴勒斯坦||Bā lè sī tǎn|
|Philippines||菲律宾||Fēi lǜ bīn|
|Qatar||卡塔尔||Kǎ tǎ ěr|
|Saudi Arabia||沙特阿拉伯||Shā tè ā lā bó|
|Singapore||新加坡||Xīn jiā pō|
|South Korea||韩国||Hán guó|
|Sri Lanka||斯里兰卡||Sī lǐ lán kǎ|
|Syria||叙利亚||Xù lì yà|
|Tajikistan||塔吉克斯坦||Tǎ jí kè sī tǎn|
|Timor-Leste||东帝汶||Dōng dì wèn|
|Turkmenistan||土库曼斯坦||Tǔ kù màn sī tǎn|
|United Arab Emirates||阿联酋||Ā lián qiú|
|Uzbekistan||乌兹别克斯坦||Wū zī bié kè sī tǎn|
54 African Country Names in Chinese
Now we’ll hop over the pond to learn the Chinese names for 54 African countries.
|Algeria||阿尔及利亚||Ā ěr jí lì yà|
|Angola||安哥拉||Ān gē lā|
|Botswana||博茨瓦纳||Bó cí wǎ nà|
|Burkina Faso||布基纳法索||Bù jī nà fǎ suǒ|
|Burundi||布隆迪||Bù lóng dí|
|Cape Verde||佛得角||Fó dé jiǎo|
|Cameroon||喀麦隆||Kā mài lóng|
|Central African Republic (CAR)||中非||Zhōng fēi|
|Comoros||科摩罗||Kē mó luó|
|Congo-Kinshasa||刚果(金)||Gāng guǒ (jīn)|
|Congo-Brazzaville||刚果(布)||Gāng guǒ (bù)|
|Côte d’Ivoire||科特迪瓦||Kē tè dí wǎ|
|Djibouti||吉布提||Jí bù tí|
|Equatorial Guinea||赤道几内亚||Chì dào jǐ nèi yà|
|Eritrea||厄立特里亚||È lì tè lǐ yà|
|Eswatini (Swaziland)||斯威士兰||Sī wēi shì lán|
|Ethiopia||埃塞俄比亚||Āi sài é bǐ yà|
|Gambia||冈比亚||Gāng bǐ yà|
|Guinea||几内亚||Jǐ nèi yà|
|Guinea-Bissau||几内亚比绍||Jǐ nèi yà bǐ shào|
|Kenya||肯尼亚||Kěn ní yà|
|Lesotho||莱索托||Lái suǒ tuō|
|Liberia||利比里亚||Lì bǐ lǐ yà|
|Libya||利比亚||Lì bǐ yà|
|Madagascar||马达加斯加||Mǎ dá jiā sī jiā|
|Malawi||马拉维||Mǎ lā wéi|
|Mauritania||毛里塔尼亚||Máo lǐ tǎ ní yà|
|Mauritius||毛里求斯||Máo lǐ qiú sī|
|Morocco||摩洛哥||Mó luò gē|
|Mozambique||莫桑比克||Mò sāng bǐ kè|
|Namibia||纳米比亚||Nà mǐ bǐ yà|
|Niger||尼日尔||Ní rì ěr|
|Nigeria||尼日利亚||Ní rì lì yà|
|Rwanda||卢旺达||Lú wàng dá|
|Sao Tome and Principe||圣多美和普林西比||Shèng duō měi hé pǔ lín xī bǐ|
|Senegal||塞内加尔||Sài nèi jiā ěr|
|Seychelles||塞舌尔||Sài shé ěr|
|Sierra Leone||塞拉利昂||Sài lā lì áng|
|Somalia||索马里||Suǒ mǎ lǐ|
|South Africa||南非||Nán fēi|
|South Sudan||南苏丹||Nán sū dān|
|Tanzania||坦桑尼亚||Tǎn sāng ní yà|
|Tunisia||突尼斯||Tū ní sī|
|Uganda||乌干达||Wū gān dá|
|Zambia||赞比亚||Zàn bǐ yà|
|Zimbabwe||津巴布韦||Jīn bā bù wéi|
23 North American Country Names in Chinese
Here is how you say the names of North American countries in Chinese.
|Antigua and Barbuda||安提瓜和巴布达||Ān tí guā hé bā bù dá|
|Bahamas||巴哈马||Bā hā mǎ|
|Barbados||巴巴多斯||Bā bā duō sī|
|Belize||伯利兹||Bó lì zī|
|Canada||加拿大||Jiā ná dà|
|Costa Rica||哥斯达黎加||Gē sī dá lí jiā|
|Dominica||多米尼克||Duō mǐ ní kè|
|Dominican Republic||多米尼加||Duō mǐ ní jiā|
|El Salvador||萨尔瓦多||Sà ěr wǎ duō|
|Grenada||格林纳达||Gé lín nà dá|
|Guatemala||危地马拉||Wēi dì mǎ lā|
|Honduras||洪都拉斯||Hóng dū lā sī|
|Jamaica||牙买加||Yá mǎi jiā|
|Mexico||墨西哥||Mò xī gē|
|Nicaragua||尼加拉瓜||Ní jiā lā guā|
|Panama||巴拿马||Bā ná mǎ|
|Saint Kitts and Nevis||圣基茨和尼维斯||Shèng jī cí hé ní wéi sī|
|Saint Lucia||圣卢西亚||Shèng lú xī yà|
|Saint Vincent and the Grenadines||圣文森特和格林纳丁斯||Shèng wén sēn tè hé gé lín nà dīng sī|
|Trinidad and Tobago||特立尼达和多巴哥||Tè lì ní dá hé duō bā gē|
|United States||美国||Měi guó|
Like the countries, every state in the United States also got its own Chinese name. So if you are an American visiting or living in China, here’s a special guide to help you explain which part of the United States you’re from to your curious Chinese friends.
12 South American Country Names in Chinese
Not enough? Let’s head down to 南美洲 (Nánměizhōu) – South America!
|Argentina||阿根廷||Ā gēn tíng|
|Bolivia||玻利维亚||Bō lì wéi yà|
|Colombia||哥伦比亚||Gē lún bǐ yà|
|Ecuador||厄瓜多尔||È guā duō ěr|
|Guyana||圭也那||Guī yě nà|
|Paraguay||巴拉圭||Bā lā guī|
|Suriname||苏里南||Sū lǐ nán|
|Uruguay||乌拉圭||Wū lā guī|
|Venezuela||委内瑞拉||Wěi nèi ruì lā|
14 Oceanian Country Names in Chinese
Last but not least, here are the country names of Oceania in Chinese.
|Australia||澳大利亚||Ào dà lì yà|
|Kiribati||基里巴斯||Jī lǐ bā sī|
|Marshall Islands||马绍尔群岛||Mǎ shào ěr qúndǎo|
|Micronesia||密克罗西亚||Mì kè luó xī yà|
|New Zealand||新西兰||Xīn xī lán|
|Papua New Guinea||巴布亚新几内亚||Bā bù yà xīn jǐ nèi yà|
|Samoa||萨摩亚||Sà mó yà|
|Solomon Islands||所罗门群岛||Suǒ luó mén qúndǎo|
|Tuvalu||图瓦卢||Tú wǎ lú|
|Vanuatu||瓦努阿图||Wǎ nǔ ā tú|
Differences in Country Names between Standard Mandarin and Taiwanese Mandarin
So far, we’ve been learning country names in standard Mandarin used in Mainland China. Although Taiwanese use traditional characters in all written Chinese, the country names in Taiwanese Mandarin are quite similar. In fact, the vast majority of country names sound the same.
For example, Russia is written as 俄罗斯 in Mainland China and 俄羅斯 in Taiwan – essentially, 羅 is the traditional form of 罗.
But some countries have a different name in Taiwanese Mandarin. You might be used to hearing a country name in standard Mandarin and then be caught off guard while traveling in Taiwan, for example, when you hear Qatar called 卡達 (Kǎ dá) when in China it’s called 卡塔尔 (Kǎ tǎ ěr).
Some more examples include:
Standard Mandarin: 克罗地亚 (Kè luó dì yà)
Taiwanese Mandarin: 克羅埃西亞 (Kè luó āi xī yà)
Standard Mandarin: 老挝 (Lǎo wō)
Taiwanese Mandarin: 寮國 (Liáo guó)
- Saudi Arabia
Standard Mandarin: 沙特阿拉伯 (Shā tè ā lā bó)
Taiwanese Mandarin: 沙烏地阿拉伯 (Shā wū dì ā lā bó)
Standard Mandarin: 尼尔利亚 (Ní rì lì yà)
Taiwanese Mandarin: 奈及利亞 (Nài jí lì yà)
- Sierra Leone
Standard Mandarin: 塞拉利昂 (Sài lā lì áng)
Taiwanese Mandarin: 獅子山 (Shīzi shān)
- New Zealand
Standard Mandarin: 新西兰 (Xīn xī lán)
Taiwanese Mandarin: 紐西蘭 (Niǔ xī lán)
Chinese Abbreviations for Country Names
Like in English, there is a list of standard abbreviations or short-form names for countries in Chinese.
Some most common country names are essentially the abbreviated forms of their full Chinese names already.
Take 美国 (Měiguó) for example. The full name of the United States of America in Chinese is 美利坚合众国 (Měilìjiān hézhòng guó) – literally, “America Federated Country”. The character 美 (Měi) is the shortening of the Chinese phonetic translation of “America” – 美利坚 (Měilìjiān), and 国 (guó) is the shortening of the literal translation of “United States” – 合众国 (hézhòng guó). So basically, 美国 (Měiguó) is “me country” as in “America Federated Country”.
Some other examples include:
- 法国 (Fǎ guó) – France
法国 (Fǎ guó) is the abbreviated name for 法兰西共和国 (Fǎ lán xī gònghé guó) – République française, or the French Republic.
法 (Fǎ) is the shortening of the phonetic translation of “France” – 法兰西 (Fǎ lán xī).
- 德国 (Dé guó) – Germany
德国 (Dé guó) is the abbreviated name for 德意志联邦共和国 (Dé yì zhì liánbāng gònghé guó) – Bundesrepublik Deutschland, or the Federal Republic of Germany.
德 (Dé) is the shortening of the phonetic translation of “Deutsch” – 德意志 (Dé yì zhì).
- 英国 (Yīng guó) – United Kingdom
英国 (Yīng guó) is the short name for 大不列颠及北爱尔兰联合王国 (Dà bù liè diān jí běi ài ěr lán liánhé wángguó) – the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
- 韩国 (Hán guó) – Korea
韩国 (Hán guó) is the abbreviated name for 大韩民国 (Dà hán mín guó) – 大韓民國 (hanja), or the Republic of Korea.
- 阿联酋 (Ā lián qiú) – UAE
阿联酋 (Ā lián qiú) is the abbreviated name for 阿拉伯联合酋长国 (Ā lā bó liánhé qiúzhǎng guó) – United Arab Emirates.
阿 (Ā) is the shortening of the phonetic translation of “Arab” – 阿拉伯 (Ā lā bó).
In case you are wondering, the name for China – 中国 (Zhōng guó) itself is also an abbreviation. Depending on the context, it can either mean 中华人民共和国 (Zhōnghuá rénmín gònghé guó) – the People’s Republic of China (PRC) or 中华民国 (Zhōnghuá mín guó) – the Republic of China (ROC – Taiwan).
Unfortunately, only a few countries get to have short-form names in Chinese. If you’re lucky enough to come from one of the countries below, then you can just use its short name for convenience.
- Bosnia and Herzegovina
Official Chinese Name: 波斯尼亚和黑塞哥维那 (Bō sī ní yà hé hēi sài gē wéi nà)
Short Name in Chinese: 波黑 (Bō hēi)
Official Chinese Name: 哈萨克斯坦 (Hā sà kè sī tǎn)
Short Name in Chinese: 哈萨克 (Hā sà kè)
Official Chinese Name: 印度尼西亚 (Yìn dù ní xī yà)
Short Name in Chinese: 印尼 (Yìn ní)
Official Chinese Name: 吉尔吉斯斯坦 (Jí ěr jí sī sī tǎn)
Short Name in Chinese: 吉尔吉斯 (Jí ěr jí sī)
Official Chinese Name: 马来西亚 (Mǎ lái xī yà)
Short Name in Chinese: 大马 (Dà mǎ)
Literally, “big Ma”
- Saudi Arabia
Official Chinese Name: 沙特阿拉伯 (Shā tè ā lā bó)
Short Name in Chinese: 沙特 (Shā tè)
Official Chinese Name: 塔吉克斯坦 (Tǎ jí kè sī tǎn)
Short Name in Chinese: 塔吉克 (Tǎ jí kè)
Official Chinese Name: 土库曼斯坦 (Tǔ kù màn sī tǎn)
Short Name in Chinese: 土库曼 (Tǔ kù màn)
Official Chinese Name: 乌兹别克斯坦 (Wū zī bié kè sī tǎn)
Short Name in Chinese: 乌兹别克 (Wū zī bié kè)
Official Chinese Name: 埃塞俄比亚 (Āi sài é bǐ yà)
Short Name in Chinese: 埃塞 (Āi sài)
Official Chinese Name: 澳大利亚 (Ào dà lì yà)
Short Name in Chinese: 澳洲 (Ào zhōu)
However, most countries can be abbreviated to the first character in their name when they are a part of a country-related word or phrase.
For example, 日本 (Rì běn) – Japan can be abbreviated to 日 (Rì) when referring to people or things pertaining to Japan, like
- 日军 (Rì jūn) – Japanese army
- 日货 (Rì gǔ) – Japanese products
- 日剧 (Rì jù) – Japanese TV shows
- 在日华人 (zài Rì huá rén) – Chinese people in Japan
You may also use single-character abbreviations when describing the relations between two or more countries. For example,
- 俄美关系 (É Měi guānxi) – Russia-US relations
俄 (É) → 俄罗斯 (É luó sī) – Russia; 美 (Měi) → 美国 (Měi guó) – United States
- 中日友好 (Zhōng Rì yǒuhǎo) – China-Japan friendships
中 (Zhōng) → 中国 (Zhōng guó) – China; 日 (Rì) → 日本 (Rì běn) – Japan
- 英法战争 (Yīng Fǎ zhànzhēng) – England-France war (Hundred Years’ War)
英 (Yīng) → 英格兰 (Yīng gé lán) – England; 法 (Fǎ) → 法国 (Fǎ guó) – France
- 以巴冲突 (Yǐ Bā chōngtū) – Israeli-Palestinian conflict
以 (Yǐ) → 以色列 (Yǐ sè liè) – Israel; 巴 (Bā) → 巴勒斯坦 (Bā lè sī tǎn) – Palestine
In common conversation, however, excessive use of abbreviations is undesirable, because it could easily lead to misunderstanding. For instance, 巴 (Bā) can be interpreted as 巴勒斯坦 (Bā lè sī tǎn) – Palestine, 巴基斯坦 (Bā jī sī tǎn) – Pakistan, or even 巴西 (Bā xī) – Brazil at the same time without a context!
Country Names in Chinese Conversation
All right, now you’ve seen the complete list of country names and know how to say your country in Chinese, but what’s the proper way of introducing your Chinese friends to your country?
Well, first, you have to be able to understand the question “where (or what country) are you from” when you get asked in Chinese.
“Where Are You From” in Chinese
There is more than one way to ask someone where she is from in Chinese. Here are the five most common questions you’ll hear from native speakers requesting this information.
Nǐ shì nǎ gè guójiā de?
Literally, “You are of which country?”
Nǐ shì nǎ guó rén?
Literally, “You are which country person?”
Nǐ shì nǎli rén?
Literally, “You are where person?”
Nǐ cóng nǎli lái?
Literally, “You from where come?”
- 你来自哪里？(more formal)
Nǐ lái zì nǎli?
Literally, “You come from where?”
“I am from …” in Chinese
You can of course just say the name of your country in response to these questions, but why wouldn’t you want to impress your Chinese-speaking friends with a full answer?
You can choose one of the four expressions below to express “I am from …” in Chinese.
Wǒ shì Jiā ná dà de.
Literally, “I am of Canada.”
Wǒ shì Jiā ná dà rén.
Literally, “I am Canada person.”
Wǒ cóng Jiā ná dà lái.
Literally, “I from Canada come.”
- 我来自加拿大。(more formal)
Wǒ lái zì Jiā ná dà.
Literally, “I come from Canada.”
Simply swap out Canada with your country and you can introduce yourself in Chinese, no matter what country you’re from!
There you go! Once you have these patterns down, you’re golden. So, tell me, what country are you from?
FAQ about Countries in Chinese
No, while America is translated to 美国 (Měi guó) in Chinese, the meaning of the character 美 (měi) is already lost in transliteration – it simply approximates the sound of “me” as in “America”. Chinese people don’t associate America with “beautiful” when saying the name.
Likewise, Britain – 英国 (Yīng guó) doesn’t really mean “brave land”. Nor do France – 法国 (Fǎ guó) and Germany – 德国 (Dé guó) mean “lawful country” and “moral country” in Chinese. It’s all about phonetics.
The official Chinese name for Russia is 俄罗斯 (É luó sī). The term 俄国 (É guó) refers to the Tsardom of Russia (1547-1721) or the Russian Empire (1721-1917), and is not used for the Russian Federation.
The measure word for “country” in Chinese is 个 (gè). To count countries, simply add 个 (gè) in between the numbers and 国家 (guójiā). For instance,
Wǒ qù guò sān shí èr gè guójiā.
I’ve been to thirty-two countries.
“The United Nations” in Chinese is 联合国 (liánhé guó), literally “united countries”. The permanent members of the United Nations Security Council – 联合国安理会 (liánhé guó ān lǐ huì) are 中国 (Zhōng guó), 法国 (Fǎ guó), 俄罗斯 (É luó sī), 英国 (Yīng guó), 美国 (Měi guó) (China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States).
The word for “world” in Chinese is 世界 (shìjiè). To say “in the world”, say 世界上 (shìjiè shàng). For instance,
- There are 197 countries in the world.
Shìjiè shàng yǒu yì bǎi jiǔ shí qī gè guójiā.