How the Names of Some Countries Originated


Some of the countries around the world have earned their name in a rather unique fashion. Moldova, for example, owes its name to a dog, for Spain it was the result of a mistake, while Argentina got its name because of a legend about a sunken treasure.

The name Argentina came from the legend related to the Portuguese seafarer and navigator Juan Díaz de Solís. He was on the run from authorities in Portugal, even killing his wife just to manage to escape the country.

On October 8, 1515, Juan Díaz found a mouth in the Pacific Ocean called Mar Dulce, or the Sweet Sea. Nearby is the present-day capital of Argentina - Buenos Aires, with the area inhabited only by aborigines at the time.


The clash between the settlers and the natives was a bloody one. A great many of the Portuguese, including Juan Díaz de Solís, were killed. Francisco de Torres took command of the expedition of survivors.

He pointed the ship on a new course and came across a much friendlier group of natives. At the new location, the settlers filled their ship with silver but after they set sail again they became shipwrecked and the treasure vanished without a trace.

Thousands have gone in search of the silver and eventually called the country Argentina, or the land of silver.

Moldova got its name from a dog named Molda. It was the pet of a Transylvanian ruler named Dragoș. The legend goes that during a hunt, Molda attacked a bull and during the struggle both the bull and the ruler's favorite dog died. Devastated by its death, the ruler ordered all of the surrounding lands named Moldova in honor of the dog.


Spain earned its name from the ancient Romans, who thought they had seen the rare hyraxes on its lands. In Latin, Spain means island of hyraxes. However, in reality the animals they had seen were actually rabbits.

Canada was given its name by a French explorer, who called the country canata or village. According to another theory, when the French arrived on these lands, the natives greeted them with the expression Aka nada, which meant that they wouldn't find anything. But the French thought that that was the name of the land and named it Canada.


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