This Is the Most Mispronounced Country in the World
Here's how you're messing up the names of these beautiful nations.
There are nearly 7,000 languages in the world, so it’s no wonder why the way we pronounce the names of places tends to differ. And that’s not even taking into account all of the regional dialects that exist as well! Whether you’re learning about a country or hoping to visit someday, it’s best to know the right pronunciation—especially so you don’t embarrass yourself in front of a local. Without further ado, here are the most mispronounced countries and how to say them correctly. And for more areas you’re probably butchering, These Are the Most Mispronounced Towns in the U.S.
This European country is actually quite straight-forward, yet many people still mistakenly call it “Bel-AIR-us.” The correct pronunciation is “Bel-UH-rooz.” And for more destinations you should know how to say, check out The Most Mispronounced Places in America.
Laos is one of the most contested countries when it comes to pronunciation. The nation in Southeast Asia is often referred to as “Lao” (rhyming with cow), but locals say “Laos” as if it rhymes with “blouse,” according to Tripsavvy. The confusion could stem from the fact that Lao is the official language of Laos, and the term “Lao” is an adjective referring to the culture (Lao festivals, Lao art, and so on).
Spelling this East African country is almost as difficult as pronouncing it, thanks to the silent “d” and the “i” that sounds like an “a.” The one and only way to say Djibouti is “Ja-BOO-tee.” And for more nations that are hard to spell, These Are the Most Misspelled Countries in the World.
Don’t confuse Colombia with the District of Columbia. The South American nation is pronounced like “Co-LOHM-bee-ah” not “Co-LUHM-bee-ah.”
You’ve probably been butchering the name of this Middle Eastern nation located on the shores of the Persian Gulf. “Kah-TAR,” “cutter,” and “gutter” are all wrong; “Cut-tahr” is right, especially if you use the regional dialect.
If you’re dreaming of a vacation to this Caribbean island, make sure to call it “An-tee-guh” instead of “An-tee-gwah.” And for more useful information delivered straight to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.
The “g” in Niger tends to trip people up as they often pronounce the West African nation “Nigh-jer.” But it is supposed to sound like “Nee-ZHER,” rhyming with the French name Pierre.
Liechtenstein is one of the smallest countries in Europe, so you may not have heard of it as often as its neighbors, Austria and Switzerland. While it’s appropriate for Americans to say “Lick-TUHN-stine,” the nation’s official language is German, meaning residents pronounce it as “Likh-TUHN-shtine.”
Though Samoa may seem simple to pronounce, it’s likely that you’re putting the emphasis on the wrong syllable. Locals call the country “SAAH-moah,” as heard in their national anthem.
For some reason, we tend to add a “sh” sound to Sri Lanka. But it’s not “Shree-Lanka,” it’s “Sree-Lanka."
The first “u” in Uruguay can cause you to stumble on the name of this beautiful South American country. While it may seem like you should say “UHR-uh-gway,” the English pronunciation is “YUHR-uh-gway" and the Spanish pronunciation is "Oo-roo-GWAHEE."
When you’re using Iran in a sentence, don’t pronounce it as if you were exclaiming, “I ran fast!” The nation in the Middle East is actually called “Ee-rahn,” just like Iraq is known as “Ee-rock.”
The key to saying Moldova, an Eastern European country sandwiched between Romania and Ukraine, is to pronounce the “o” as an “a” sound. It’s “MAHL-doh-vuh,” not “MOLE-doh-vah.”
This pristine island in the Indian Ocean, just off the coast of Madagascar, is known as “Maw-RISH-us.”
The two “a” letters in Pakistan are what cause confusion with this Asian nation. When you sound out the word, make sure to use “Pock-kee-stahn.” Don’t mistake it for “PACK-is-tan.”
Nevis is the smaller sister island in the Caribbean nation of St. Kitts and Nevis. While St. Kitts is pretty clear in pronunciation, Nevis is a bit trickier. Draw out the word like you’re saying “knee,” such as “NEE-vus” instead of “NEV-is.”
Kiribati is an untouched archipelago in the middle of the Pacific. Unlike how you would spell it out “Kee-ree-bah-tee,” the correct pronunciation is “Kee-REE-bas.”