Trivia Question

Q: What country’s name is actually an acronym?

Note that this isn’t referring to something like “USA” or “DRC” — I mean its conventional short form name is an acronym of other words.

A: Pakistan. It stands for Punjab, Afghania, Kashmir, Iran, Sindh, Tukharistan, Afghanistan, and BalochistaN.

From Wikipedia:

The Cambridge student and Muslim nationalist Choudhary Rahmat Ali coined this name. He devised the word and first published it on 28 January 1933 in the pamphlet “Now or Never”. He constructed the name as an acronym of the different states/homelands/regions, which broke down into: P=Punjab, A=Afghania (Ali’s preferred name for the North West Frontier Province), K=Kashmir, S=Sindh and the suffix -stan from Balochistan, thus forming “Pakstan”. An “i” intruded later to ease pronunciation. The suffix -stan in Persian means “home of” and in Sanskrit means “place”. Rahmat Ali later expanded upon this in his 1947 book Pakistan: the Fatherland of the Pak Nation. In that book he explains the acronym as follows: P=Punjab, A=Afghania, K=Kashmir, I=Indus Valley, S=Sindh, T=Turkharistan (roughly the modern central-Asian states), A=Afghanistan and N=BalochistaN. The Persian word پاک pāk, which means “pure”, adds another shade of meaning, with the full name thus meaning “land of the pure”. Many Central and South Asian states and regions end with the element -Stan, such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, Baluchistan, Kurdistan and East Turkestan. This Stan is formed from the Iranian root *STA “to stand, stay,” and means “place (where one stays), home, country.” Iranian peoples have been the principal inhabitants of the geographical region occupied by these states for over thousand years. The names are compounds of -Stan and the name of the people living there. Pakistan is a bit of exception; its name was coined in 1933 using the suffix -istan from Baluchistan preceded by the initial letters. Interestingly, a word almost identical in form, etymology, and meaning to the Iranian suffix -stan is found in Polish, which has a word stan meaning “State” (in the senses of both polity and condition). It can be found in the Polish name for the “United States of America.” Stany Zjednoczone Ameryki (literally “States United of America”. Use of the name gradually spread during the successful campaign for the seccesion of a Muslim state from British India Empire.

Although Wikipedia refers to the “I” as standing for “Indus Valley”, this explanation from Choudhary Rahmat Ali names Iran as the correct answer.


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