Several Latin names of modern countries end in -landia if the corresponding English name ends in -land: Islandia, Nederlandia, Irlandia, Thailandia, Finlandia (also Finnia). England has a much older Latin name, and it is different: Anglia. I do not know of any region name ending in -landia in antiquity.

Where does the -landia suffix come from? Is it related to Latin? My impression is that it is the Germanic word land used in names of countries and regions, adapted to Latin by adding -ia. Is there an alternative for -landia in more classical Latin style?

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    Is this any different from 'Heliopolis,' or Hierusalem' ?
    – Hugh
    Commented Oct 10, 2016 at 17:23
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    @Hugh, I'm not sure I understand your comment. Do you mean that there was something comparable to -landia in antiquity?
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Commented Oct 10, 2016 at 17:37
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    Just that, although -opolis is a convenient 3rd decl. ending, its not very Latin, And there are several foreign names which are simply accepted as indeclinable Latin nouns.
    – Hugh
    Commented Oct 10, 2016 at 17:46

2 Answers 2


The suffix -landia is definitely derived from Germanic land. It has no clear cognates outside the Germanic languages and there are some hypotheses that it is a loan from some pre-indogermanic European language and/or that there is a connection to the Basque language.

I see no better Latin alternatives for Islandia or Nederlandia, but Finnia is definitely good, and why not Thaiia with an -ia suffix? And wasn't Hibernia used for Ireland (the island) earlier?

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    Good to know that there are no known Italic cognates of land. Using the Latin terra would probably be silly: Isterra, Nederterra, Thaiterra.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Commented Oct 10, 2016 at 12:05
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    According to Philippa (2003-2009), there are cognates in Slavic and Celtic languages: etymologiebank.nl/trefwoord/land (They do not mention that those languages should have borrowed the word from Germanic.) They do agree that its ultimate root is quite possibly pre-Indo-European.
    – Cerberus
    Commented Oct 10, 2016 at 19:29
  • @Cerberus: Interesting. Grimm (see: woerterbuchnetz.de/cgi-bin/WBNetz/… ) explicitly discards the Celtic forms because of a different meaning, and says nothing about the Balto-Slavic ones. Commented Oct 11, 2016 at 13:42
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    Regarding my previous comment, I just remembered that England in Italian is "Inghilterra". Perhaps it's not that silly, after all. (Anyhow, I accepted the answer. Other answers are still welcome!)
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Commented Oct 11, 2016 at 14:46
  • The Latin name for the Netherlands is Batavia. Nederlandia is a modern invention.
    – fdb
    Commented Mar 6, 2021 at 22:01

The best suffix for -land in Classical Latin is unequivocally -ia. The vast majority of "lands" take this form: Italia, Hispania, Gallia, Hibernia, Germania, Graecia, Persia, Aegyptia, etc.

-landia to the Romans would only have been acceptable if it were a part of the name of the land given by its inhabitants. Should the Romans have met the English (as opposed to the Angles), they might have called their country Inglandia. It's fathomable. But nation-states didn't really exist back then. There were people and their lands. The area where those people lived came directly from the demonym. So Italia is the land where the Itali are, and Graecia is where the Graeci are.

The reality is that many of these countries came into being as countries only the Medieval and later periods, and what the Romans would have called them was supplanted by their neighbors, for whom Latin was not native. So Hibernia, the ancient name for Ireland, was neglected in favor of Irelandia, a combination of Eire (Gaelic) with the -landia ending from English. Finlandia seems to have come through the same way but ultimately from the Norse word for the people of Suomi, Finnr. Some source I saw, without citation unfortunately, says that the -landia suffix was Swedish. In that case, the -landia would likely be kept if the Romans had met Finland via the Vikings, and even then given their tendency for analogy would still call them the Finni and their land Finnia. (Cf. Tacitus' Fenni in Germ. 46; there is no Finlandia in Tacitus.) This is hypothetical, but it's sticking to what they typically did.

Whether this is "good Latin" or not will depend on how much Medieval and non-native impurities one permits in their language. It simply doesn't exist in ancient Latin. Iceland was (probably) Thule. Ireland was Hibernia. Others were simply terra ___orum where the territory was not clearly defined. From a native Latin perspective, it would be a barbarism to replace the native -ia with -landia. Of course, there aren't any around to argue for their language anymore, so modern Europeans have instead took from their own, more familiar language when attempting to write in Latin, thus displacing the original Latin forms.

By the way, -terre/-terra in French and Italian are calques of the English England. They are not examples of ancient Latin.

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    Slight tangent, but Suomi is the name of the country, not the people. If the Finns ever had an ethnonym for themselves as a whole it hasn't survived (though since Finn itself is extremely old and of disputed etymology, there's a non-zero chance it's related, even if neither Finnish nor any of its reconstructable ancestors at any point had /f/; Suomi is probably an exonym). Tacitus mentions Fenni, FWIW, which has usually been taken to refer to Finnic if not necessarily Finnish people.
    – Cairnarvon
    Commented Mar 7, 2021 at 1:11
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    @Cairnarvon Thanks for the correction. I knew about Tacitus' Fenni, but I still thought that was an exonym, but that it was lost and reintroduced by the Norwegians. I'm no expert in Medieval history, though, so feel free to suggest the necessary edits to correct the above.
    – cmw
    Commented Mar 7, 2021 at 2:19

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