Why do we translate countries names

I mean since the Germans call it Deutschland (Sp?) why don’t we just call it that and not Germany.

Or call it Nederland and not translate to Netherlands.

I recall we called it Ivory Coast until the government insisted on using Cote D’Ivorie which is basically French for Ivory Coast.

We called it Peking until China said unless we use the Bejing spelling they would no longer deliver mail etc.

I don’t really have an answer, just an observation. I work for a multinational company and I have noticed that different countries have their own terms for other counties. This could be so that the name can be used in that country’s dominate language. I mean, many languages alter a name while using it. For example, if something belongs to Dutchland (SP)- Germany - then its “Dutchland’s”. Using the country’s native name may make a mess of mail because the postal people are not use to see this form of the name, or the alteration means something else.
Also, some names have to be changed because of different writing systems. Even European countries have a slightly different way of using the same words we do, like those “…” things they put over U’s and such. And, of course there are countries that use completely different writing systems. A similar name in our alphebet would have to be developed so we could read it. Hope this makes since, I’m trying to be smart way past my bed time.

Many of our names for countries derive from Greek or Latin words. “German” comes from the Latin name for the culture. Centuries later, when members of that culture decided to unify into a nation-state, we were already in the habit of calling them “Germans”.

Names change, sometimes too fast for foreigners to follow. Burma or Myanmar? Zaire or Congo? Will today’s preferred name be around next week? For many centuries, the only thing westermers knew about East Asia was that it was ruled by the Ch’in family. So, thousands of years after the dynasty fell, we still call it “China”.

Sometimes, a nation’s own name for itself is difficult for foreigners to pronounce. The letters “st”, placed at the beginning of a word, are extremely difficult for Spanish-speakers to pronounce, so instead of “United States” they say “Estados Unidos”.

Well, there are English names for countries and cities (e.g. Rome for Roma) just as there are for anything else. In fact, newspapers and such have in the recent past become more willing to change traditional English names to conform to a country’s own preference - e.g. Sri Lanka for Ceylon, Myanmar for Burma (although IIRC the New York Times has recently reverted to Burma). This is especially true for former colonies that do not have an established English name going back centuries. But switching to the local names for most countries at this point would cause massive disruption in reference works (Suomi Tasavalta for Finland? Elliniki Dimokratia for Greece? Magyar Koztarsasag for Hungary? Bharat for India? Taehan Min’guk for South Korea?) And some countries themselves of course do not have a single “official” name for themselves, such as Switzerland (Schweiz, Suisse, Suiza).

And other countries of course do the same. The U.S. is Estados Unidos in Spanish, Etats-Unis in French, Veriningen Staten (SP?) in German. In Spanish England is Ingleterra, London is Londres, Germany is Alemania, France is Francia, etc.

This Cecil column might be of interest.