There are 195 countries in the world. Most people could list the majority of them from memory, given some pen and paper and enough time. But how would they do at pronouncing all those names? Some country names are trickier to say than you originally thought. Here are seven country names you've almost certainly been mispronouncing (and how to say them correctly!).
Officially named the Republic of Iraq, the country became big news in 2003 when the United States invaded with the goal of overthrowing the then-leader Saddam Hussein. The war officially ended in 2011, but, according to History.com, things have only become more violent in the region. After the removal of Saddam Hussein, internal forces had to turn their attention to ridding the country of ISIS's influence. While the country is featured on many news channels every night, there is still a lot of confusion about how to actually pronounce the name. You'll hear variations such as eh-rock and ee-rack, but neither is right.
How it's pronounced: ee-rock
It's a popular tropical paradise situated in the heart of the Caribbean, but it's hard to know the right way to pronounce the name. According to the Antigua Barbuda website, the country offers 365 beaches, meaning you could visit a different beach every day for a year. If you get tired of beaches, you can head inland to learn more about the island's history. It was the landing place for Admiral Horatio Nelson in 1784, who established the island as a British territory. He then made it his base to enforce commercial shipping laws. The island was the first in the British Caribbean to abolish slavery in 1834, something it celebrates every year. Despite its rich history and tropical beauty, millions are still getting confused about the name. It's commonly pronounced with a "-gwa" at the end, but don't let the spelling fool you. That's not the only way to say it.
How it's pronounced by many locals: an-tee-guh
According to the BBC, Brunei has one of the highest standards of living in the world. That's thanks to the wealth that comes from the country's oil and gas reserves. The Sultan of Brunei is one of the last absolute monarchs in the world, retaining the full power of the crown. His reign, which started in 1968, hasn't been without controversy. The country follows a combination of a legal system based on English common law and Sharia law, so offenses such as adultery and theft can result in a stoning. You'll hear a lot of people, including those on the news, pronounce the country's name as "broo-neye," but this isn't correct.
How it's pronounced: broo-nay
Pakistan is another country you'll hear a lot about on the news, but one that's rarely pronounced correctly. It sits in a politically hot position between India, Afghanistan, and Iran. According to the CIA World Fact Book, the name Pakistan translates into "Land of Peace." That translation could be slightly ironic, as this is a country that's rarely experienced peace in its long history. It's long warred with India and was a key player in the first Gulf War. People commonly mispronounce the name as "pack-uh-stan."
How it's pronounced: pah-kee-stan
Djibouti is one of those countries that most people have heard of, but few people can find it on a map, let alone pronounce the name. But the little country in East Africa plays an important role in international commercial shipping, according to the BBC. That's thanks to its position along the Suez Canal. That position is also what creates the country's economy and the job market. Its position on the map gives it another important role on the world stage. Because it sits at the eastern edge of Africa, it's a gateway to the Middle East. So there are many countries with established military bases in Djibouti. But despite its importance in the global economy, you'll still hear people mistakenly calling it "di-bout-tee" or "di-ji-boo-ti." It's time to set the record straight on this one.
How it's pronounced: jeh-boo-ti
Officially known as the Kyrgyz Republic, it's no wonder many people trip over their tongues when trying to pronounce this string of consonants. Kyrgyzstan became an independent country in 1991 with the collapse of the USSR. It's focusing on building its tourism industry in the coming decade. Lonely Planet says the country is a great gateway for traveling into Central Asia. There is plenty of unspoiled natural beauty and friendly locals ready to play host to visitors. Before you go, though, you'll want to get your pronunciation right.
How it's pronounced: kur-gist-ann, with a hard 'g' sound
Qatar is a rags-to-riches story. According to BBC News, the country used to be the poorest in the Middle East. Thanks to the discovery of oil within its borders, though, it's now one of the richest in the region. Oil money funds the majority of the services within the country and creates the highest per capita income in the world, according to the CIA World Fact Book. The money has modernized the country, too, through efforts such as funding the country's international news network, Al Jazeera. The country is also promoting its tourism industry heavily. That includes advertising for the government-owned Qatari Airlines. Now is the time to brush up on your pronunciation (hint: it's not kay-tar).
How it's pronounced: kut-ahr