This Is the Most Mispronounced Country in the World

Here's how you're messing up the names of these beautiful nations.

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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.

1
Belarus

aerial view of nesvizh castle in belarus
Viktar Malyshchyts / Shutterstock

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.

2
Laos

laos
Shutterstock

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).

3
Djibouti

View on Gulf of Tadjourah, Djibouti, East Africa
iStock

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.

4
Colombia

Colorful colonial houses on a cobblestone street in Guatape, Antioquia in Colombia
Jess Kraft/Shutterstock

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."

5
Qatar

qatar
Shutterstock

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.

6
Antigua

antigua country names
Shutterstock

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.

7
Niger

niger
Shutterstock

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.

8
Liechtenstein

Liechtenstein
Shutterstock

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."

9
Samoa

Pago Pago, American Samoa. Camel Rock near the village of Lauli'i.
iStock

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.

10
Sri Lanka

green valley, waterfalls, and blue sky in sri lanka
Shutterstock

For some reason, we tend to add a "sh" sound to Sri Lanka. But it's not "Shree-Lanka," it's "Sree-Lanka."

11
Uruguay

Shutterstock

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."

12
Iran

historic city center of yazd
Shutterstock

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."

13
Moldova

Moldova
Shutterstock

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."

14
Mauritius

beach in mauritius
Shutterstock

This pristine island in the Indian Ocean, just off the coast of Madagascar, is known as "Maw-RISH-us."

15
Pakistan

peshawar National Geographic bee questions
iStock/SAKhanPhotography

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."

16
Nevis

Nevis
Shutterstock

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."

17
Kiribati

kiribati
Shutterstock

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."

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