11 countries you’re probably mispronouncing

The fictional African kingdom of Nambia made the news after President Trump mispronounced “Namibia” during a U.N. speech. (Check #Nambia for all the snarky tweets.) Politics aside, people mispronounce words all the time — especially words rooted in unfamiliar languages. Here’s a primer on some of the most commonly mispronounced names of countries around the world. Let’s get hooked on the phonics of geography.

Namibia

Trump infamously referred to this country as “Nambia” while speaking to African leaders. He was probably confusing it with the Republic of Zambia, mentioned below. For future reference, it’s “NUH-MIH-BE-A,” with four syllables.

Zambia

Zambia suffers an inverse problem to that of Namibia: One might confuse it with Namibia and make mention of the nonexistent “Zamibia.” For good measure, this southern African nation is called “ZAM-BE-A.”

Kazakhstan

Some folks accidentally add an extra syllable to Kazakhstan, calling the Asian nation “KA-ZAK-A-STAN.” The correct pronunciation is the three-syllable “KA-ZACK-STAN.

Djibouti

Just ignore the silent consonant in front of “jibouti” and everything becomes a little clearer. “JA-BOO-TY” is in Africa, and it’s a small country that hosts America’s largest African military base.

Azerbaijan

Honestly, I was pronouncing this one “A-ZER-BY-AN,” pausing and looking confused after “ZER.” The correct way to refer to this country by the Caspian Sea is “AHH-ZER-BY-JOHN.”

Eritrea

“EAR-RE-TRAY-UH” is the common mispronunciation of this African nation, which is correctly referred to as “EAR-RE-TREE-UH.” Think tree, not tray.

Kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyzstan, the second of the Stans to make our list, has a silent “z.” The right way to say this one is “KEER-GA-STAN.”

Seychelles

It’s not “seashells,” which sounds like a lovely underwater nation populated by mermaids, but “SAY-SHELLS.” These islands are located in the Indian Ocean near Madagascar.

Liechtenstein

It’s not “LEESH-TEN-STEIN,” but “LICK-TEN-STEIN” with a hard “c” sound. Liechtenstein is a principality bordered by Switzerland and Austria.

Suriname

This is a sonorous four-syllable word that sounds like “SUR-A-NA-MA.” Located by the Caribbean Sea, Suriname is the smallest country in South America.

Sri Lanka

Some folks might say “SHREE-LANK-AH,” but Sri Lanka is pronounced “SREE-LANK-AH,” with no SH sound.


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