197 Country Names in Chinese (Complete List + Abbreviations)

country names in Chinese

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.  

For instance,

  • 外 (guówài) – abroad
    Literally, “country outside”
  • 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

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.

For example,

  • 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.

For instance,

  • 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

literal meaning of Chinese country names

Although the Chinese characters that make up country names have 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 都拉斯 in China but addressed as 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

countries 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

English Chinese Characters Pinyin
Europe 欧洲 Ōuzhōu
Asia 亚洲 Yàzhōu
Africa 非洲 Fēizhōu
North America 北美洲 Běiměizhōu
South America 南美洲 Nánměizhōu
Oceania 大洋洲 Dàyángzhōu
Antarctica 南极洲 Nánjízhōu

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.

English Chinese Characters Pinyin
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
Czechia 捷克 Jié kè
Denmark 丹麦 Dān mài
Estonia 爱沙尼亚 Ài shā ní yà
Finland 芬兰 Fēn lán
France 法国 Fǎ guó
Georgia 格鲁吉亚 Gé lǔ jí yà
Germany 德国 Dé guó
Greece 希腊 Xī là
Hungary 匈牙利 Xiōng yá lì
Iceland 冰岛 Bīng dǎo
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
Montenegro 黑山 Hēi shān
Netherlands 荷兰 Hé lán
North Macedonia 北马其顿 Běi mǎ qí dùn
Norway 挪威 Nuó wēi
Poland 波兰 Bō lán
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
Sweden 瑞典 Ruì diǎn
Switzerland 瑞士 Ruì shì
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.

English Chinese Characters Pinyin
Afghanistan 阿富汗 Ā fù hàn
Bahrain 巴林 Bā lín
Bangladesh 孟加拉国 Mèng jiā lā guó
Bhutan 不丹 Bù dān
Brunei 文莱 Wén lái
Cambodia 柬埔寨 Jiǎn pǔ zhài
China 中国 Zhōng guó
India 印度 Yìn dù
Indonesia 印度尼西亚 Yìn dù ní xī yà
Iran 伊朗 Yī lǎng
Iraq 伊拉克 Yī lā kè
Israel 以色列 Yǐ sè liè
Japan 日本 Rì běn
Jordan 约旦 Yuē dàn
Kuwait 科威特 Kē wēi tè
Kyrgyzstan 吉尔吉斯斯坦 Jí ěr jí sī sī tǎn
Laos 老挝 Lǎo wō
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
Mongolia 蒙古 Měng gǔ
Myanmar 缅甸 Miǎn diàn
Nepal 尼泊尔 Ní bó ěr
North Korea 朝鲜 Cháo xiǎn
Oman 阿曼 Ā màn
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
Taiwan 台湾 Tái wān
Tajikistan 塔吉克斯坦 Tǎ jí kè sī tǎn
Thailand 泰国 Tài guó
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
Vietnam 越南 Yuè nán
Yemen 也门 Yě mén

54 African Country Names in Chinese

Now we’ll hop over the pond to learn the Chinese names for 54 African countries. 

English Chinese Characters Pinyin
Algeria 阿尔及利亚 Ā ěr jí lì yà
Angola 安哥拉 Ān gē lā
Benin 贝宁 Bèi níng
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
Chad 乍得 Zhà dé
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
Egypt 埃及 Āi jí
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
Gabon 加蓬 Jiā péng
Gambia 冈比亚 Gāng bǐ yà
Ghana 加纳 Jiā nà
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
Mali 马里 Mǎ lǐ
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
Sudan 苏丹 Sū dān
Tanzania 坦桑尼亚 Tǎn sāng ní yà
Togo 多哥 Duō gē
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.

English Chinese Characters Pinyin
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
Cuba 古巴 Gǔ bā
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
Haiti 海地 Hǎi dì
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!

English Chinese Characters Pinyin
Argentina 阿根廷 Ā gēn tíng
Bolivia 玻利维亚 Bō lì wéi yà
Brazil 巴西 Bā xī
Chile 智利 Zhì lì
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
Peru 秘鲁 Bì lǔ
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.

English Chinese Characters Pinyin
Australia 澳大利亚 Ào dà lì yà
Fiji 斐济 Fěi jì
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
Nauru 瑙鲁 Nǎo lǔ
New Zealand 新西兰 Xīn xī lán
Palau 帕劳 Pà láo
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
Tonga 汤加 Tāng jiā
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

country names in 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:

  • Croatia
    Standard Mandarin: 克罗地亚 (Kè luó dì yà)  
    Taiwanese Mandarin: 克羅埃西亞 (Kè luó āi xī yà)
  • Laos
    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)
  • Nigeria
    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” – 利坚 (Měilìjiān), and 国 (guó) is the shortening of the literal translation of “United States” – 合众 (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 兰西共和 ( lán xī gònghé guó) – République française, or the French Republic.
    法 (Fǎ) is the shortening of the phonetic translation of “France” – 兰西 ( lán xī).
  • 德国 (Dé guó) – Germany
    德国 (Dé guó) is the abbreviated name for 意志联邦共和 ( yì zhì liánbāng gònghé guó) – Bundesrepublik Deutschland, or the Federal Republic of Germany.
    德 (Dé) is the shortening of the phonetic translation of “Deutsch” – 意志 ( 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 (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 拉伯长国 (Ā lā bó liánhé qiúzhǎng guó) – United Arab Emirates.
    阿 (Ā) is the shortening of the phonetic translation of “Arab” – 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 华人民共和 (Zhōnghuá rénmín gònghé guó) – the People’s Republic of China (PRC) or 华民 (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: 斯尼亚和塞哥维那 ( sī ní yà hé hēi sài gē wéi nà)
    Short Name in Chinese: 波黑 (Bō hēi)
  • Kazakhstan
    Official Chinese Name: 哈萨克斯坦 (Hā sà kè sī tǎn)
    Short Name in Chinese: 哈萨克 (Hā sà kè)
  • Indonesia
    Official Chinese Name: 西亚 (Yìn dù  xī yà)
    Short Name in Chinese: 印尼 (Yìn ní)
  • Kyrgyzstan
    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)
  • Malaysia
    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)
  • Tajikistan
    Official Chinese Name: 塔吉克斯坦 (Tǎ jí kè sī tǎn)
    Short Name in Chinese: 塔吉克 (Tǎ jí kè)
  • Turkmenistan
    Official Chinese Name: 土库曼斯坦 (Tǔ kù màn sī tǎn)
    Short Name in Chinese: 土库曼 (Tǔ kù màn)
  • Uzbekistan
    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)
  • Ethiopia
    Official Chinese Name: 埃塞俄比亚 (Āi sài é bǐ yà)
    Short Name in Chinese: 埃塞 (Āi sài)
  • Australia
    Official Chinese Name: 澳大利亚 (Ào dà lì yà)
    Short Name in Chinese: 澳洲 (Ào zhōu)
    Literally, “Au-continent” 

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

  • 军 ( jūn) – Japanese army
  • 货 ( gǔ) – Japanese products
  • 剧 ( jù) – Japanese TV shows
  • 华人 (zài  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 ( 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

countries 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.

  • 你是哪个国家的?
    Nǐ shì nǎ gè guójiā de?
    Literally, “You are of which country?”
  • 你是哪国人?
    Nǐ shì nǎ guó rén?
    Literally, “You are which country person?”
  • 你是哪里人?
    Nǐ shì nǎli rén?
    Literally, “You are where person?”
  • 你从哪里来?
    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.

  • 我是加拿大的。
    Wǒ shì Jiā ná dà de.
    Literally, “I am of Canada.”
  • 我是加拿大人。
    Wǒ shì Jiā ná dà rén.
    Literally, “I am Canada person.”
  • 我从加拿大来。
    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,

  • 我去过三十二国家。
    Wǒ qù guò sān shí èr  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.
    世界上有一百九十七个国家。
    Shìjiè shàng yǒu yì bǎi jiǔ shí qī gè guójiā.