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 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 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

EnglishChinese CharactersPinyin
North America北美洲Běiměizhōu
South America南美洲Nánměizhōu

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.

EnglishChinese CharactersPinyin
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.

EnglishChinese CharactersPinyin
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. 

EnglishChinese CharactersPinyin
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.

EnglishChinese CharactersPinyin
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!

EnglishChinese CharactersPinyin
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.

EnglishChinese CharactersPinyin
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.
    Shìjiè shàng yǒu yì bǎi jiǔ shí qī gè guójiā.
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