How Was Our Country Named America?

You may have wondered why, since it was Columbus who discovered America, why wasn’t it named Columbia, after him?

Historians tell us that when Columbus discovered our land, he didn’t believe that he had found a new continent; he simply believed that he had found an unexplored part of the continent of Asia. He even believed this until his death in 1506.

Meanwhile, another explorer, Amerigo Vespucci, made four voyages to this land, beginning in 1497. He realized that this was a new, unknown land and simply called it the “New World,” and never suggested giving it his name or any other name for that matter.

Yet America was named after Amerigo Vespucci, and under strange circumstances. It seems that Vespucci wrote many letters to his friends describing the New World. A dishonest author was said to have gotten hold of some of these letters, rewritten them, and published them in a book.

This book found its way into the hands of a German map maker, who decided to call this new land after Amerigo. It would be Americus or America on his new map. He decided on America since that was the feminine form of the name, just as Europe and Asia are feminine names as well.

Other map makers followed this German’s lead, and America was born.

Amerigo Vespucci died without ever knowing that this land was named after him!


  1. Birdblue says

    The United States, should be called The United States from American Continent, as the American continent was named decades before the thirteen colonies idiots! THE UNITED STATES IS IN AMERICA! THE CONTINENT AMERICA !!!!!!

  2. Anonymous says

    Some people are asking why we get so mad when USA call themselves America, and let me answer your question. We wouldn’t give a crap if they knew America is a continent but the problem with the USA is that they DON”T consider America a continent, they always say North America & South America. So my question is why? America includes the North and the South. Today I asked my US history teacher if America was a continent or a country, he answered America is a country and that saying that America is a continent is like saying Germany is a continent; really? See how ignorant people are? That’s what makes me mad, they are so full of themselves that they think they have the right to call their country America.

  3. dany says

    for those who are saying get over it! the author never stated America is a country, all I can say to you is are you stupid? the title says how was our country named America? helloooo!!! the correct term to refer to people who are from the United States should be US people, and the term americans should be use for all the countries who are part of the American continent, just the same way we call europeans not only to the people of France or the UK, but all those people who are from a country that is part of Europe, just the same way we don’t call asians only to chinese people, but to all those people who are from a country that is part of Asia, it does not matter that the name America is part of your country, that does not entitles you to be the only ones to be called americans, it’s as simple as that, unfortunately most of US people do not understand this, for example, the official name for Mexico is United Mexican States, but nobody refers to the people of Mexico as people from the States, get a clue! oh and by the way it’s Cristobal Colon, not Christopher Columbus, he was from Spain, therefore we should call him by his spanish name, and only in the US you celebrate Columbus day, in other spanish speaking countries what they celebrate is “El dia de la raza” the day of the people, it’s a celebration to the people of the american continent and it’s culture, not an specific celebration to Cristobal Colon. And it’s celebrated every october 12th, the official day of the arrival of Cristobal Colon to what is now the Dominican Republic, not like in the US where they might celebrate this holiday on the 13th, or the 14th or even the 15th because you want it to be on a weekend, how ridiculous!

  4. Dude says

    This argument is silly! First America is a country! You could argue that other countries of the continents of America could be called Americans, however America is the name of the country! The United States of America,America is in the title! If someone is from Chicago for example they are from Chicago, Illinois and America. People from here could be called Chicagoans, Illinoisans or Americans and all would be acceptable! If you want to debate if someone from Canada wants to be considered Canadian and American I don’t have a problem with that, I would like to mention that some are acting like America is the only country, continent or whatever to do this! The one comment about Asia is sorted wrong! When people around the would refer to Asia most do not think of all the countries, such as Russia, India or Pakistan, they think of, well to be not so politically correct, oriental countries! Yes it could be argued that maybe this is racist, but so would be the term Africans( usual the black nations of Africa, not places like Egypt!,or Europeans, whites! Lastly, people on the comments seem to blame America only for doing this! The Europreans( The Germans, The French etc., the Chinese, the Japanese or Asians (hehe), Mexicans, Columbians, Russians, Egyptians and almost all other countries of the world call people from the United States of America Americans! It’s hard to argue America is arrogant for doing this, when the rest of the world does it!

  5. trueAmerican says

    But in “the new world” there are 2 continents. North America and South America. They are 2 separate continents. While America singularly is the country of the United States of America

  6. Whatever says

    Wow, this is ridiculous. Are you really getting that angry about this? When someone asks about nationality it is common knowledge it refers to the country, not continent, that you’re from. Thus people from the only country in the world with the word “America” in it can shorten their name/nationality to America or Americans. Just like people from the United Mexican states call it “Mexico.” Argentine Republicans call themselves Argentine or Argentinean, The Federative Republic of Brazil calls themselves Brazilians, people from the Republic of Peru call themselves Peruvians, it’s just how it works. Nobody is going to say “I’m an Argentine Republican” or “United States of American,” it’s just weird. And if you think rationally, the USA has all the right to claim that nationality because not only were they the first independent country in the AmericaS (thus the first true Americans beside the natives the colonizers killed off), but their ancestors made up the first colonies to those lands and were deemed “American” by their European counterparts. And the name stuck, so instead of getting worked up about something silly why don’t you be more proud to bear the name of the country you’re from? Their are some really beautiful countries on these two continents outside of “America.” Which leads me to another point, with modern science and scientific advancement, every country in the world outside of Spanish speaking ones teach the Americas as 2 continents, not one…also there are only 8 planets now, and the world is not flat, KEEP UP!

  7. Ray says

    And when the aliens come the Americans will call themselves Earthlings and claim there are two different Earths. “We are are the USA of Earth, so we can rightfully call ourselves Earthlings, so dumb of you no to put the planet’s name in your country’s name”.

  8. Jack Shere says

    If you live in the United States of America you are an a American. Can’t believe people are discussing this.

  9. Your Teacher says

    How ignorant can people be?!?!?
    First, our country’s name is The United States of AMERICA but most people shorten it to America. Its not that we said, you all better call our country that, its that people just do it. Honestly, this all sounds like jealousy, insecurity and plain hatred. Oh, and don’t ask me jealous of what or insecure why…look within yourself for those answers.

    Second, many many years ago yes it was taught that there were 5 continents but now, if you are asked, the answer should be 7 (also acceptable 6 if you count Europe and asia as one Eurasia). Things change people!!! The definition of a continent should clear it up for you. Look it up!!!! Antarctica is clearly a continent and South America is clearly NOW a separate continent. Again, look up the definition of a continent. Why people are so reluctant to change is beyond me. Dividing North and South America doesn’t make one better than the other. It just changed. I think South Americans have trouble accepting this more than others but its really not a big deal or do you believe that your countries are now insignificant because its not together with Mexico, Canada and the US???

    It just changed!!! Things change!!! Stop answering the question about how many continents there are with the ignorant answer “5”. Clearly there are not 5, say 6 or 7 but NOT 5.

  10. David me says

    yes yes, that’s right people from the U.S. have named themselves as if they were the whole continent, America IS A CONTINENT, NOT A COUNTRY!
    and not even the President knows how his country is called, teachers, people who (“is smart”), writters, etc. all those people says Americans when they refer to themselves, that’s a offense to the other countries from this Continent, and the worst is that most people called them americans :p that’s like when people say no I’m not american I’m canadian, salvadorean, mexican, colombian, etc. it really sucks!


  11. whatif says

    what if a area inside europe get indenpendece and proclaim the name for themself
    “United States of Europe”

    will they be europeans? yes but all other ppl from other countys on europe are ¡Europeans too.

    then the ppl from United States of Europe call his country “Europe”

    now you undestand?

    when i travel on europe im been called american, and im ok with that. im not from USA, but i still are an American

    when someone call other American to other, the USA think they refer to a country and the other refer to the continent.

    BTW United States of Mexico refear to the region using a word that comes from they ancerters
    you use United States of “A FULL CONTINENT NAME”

    thats the problem, some made the mistake to think the full continent is called The Americas, there is only 1 american continent,
    even if you want to split it on 2, 3 or more parts, to refer to regions of the continent, examples:

    A.- 1.-North America, 2.-South America
    B.- 1.-North America, 2.-Central America, 3.-South America
    C.- 1.-East America,2.-Mid America, 3.-West America
    D.- 1.-North East America, 2.-Sout West America
    E- 1.-America Septentrionalis, 2.-America meridionalis
    F.- 1.-Oriental America, 2.-Occidental America
    G.- 1.- Anglo-America, 2.-Hispanic-America, 3.-Franco-America, 4.-Portuguese America, 5.-Latin America,
    and you can keep selecting areas to split the AMERICAN CONTINENT to refer to specifc areas, but thats does not change the continent name, even if today people give for garanted some “comon uses” as if they are true or right.

    other example. the language called Spanish does not exist, its just a word used to refer to other language. for example, the constitution of Spain, states that the official language of the spaniards is Castilian, but is comonly used the word “Spanish” on english and even on castilian as the name of the language, because is easy to make ppl understand with language is one refering to, because the word Spanish as a language is widely spread. but even if is widely spread and used, it does not mean is correct.

    ETC,… so you can see what i mean,

    if the people that is from USA want to call themself “Americans” is ok because they are from the American Continent so it will be not wrong, same as if the people from Canada want to call themself Americans, they can too, with the same right.

    if a country is called “Union of states of this countinent”, that country does not have a name, they just use their status as a name, but isnt a true name.because not all states from America are on that Union, there is a lot of states (and provinces, as they are called on other areas of the American Continent) that are not united to that “United States of the America”

    United States of Mexico is diferent, do you know any mexican state outside that UNION? the union of states of mexico?
    or do you see any other ?

    Federative Republic of Brazil do you see any other brazilian state outside the federative republic?
    a very good example is Republic of Argentina, or Argentine Republic (Republica Argentina)

    there is 3 offitial Names for taht country,
    1.- “Nacion Argentina” (Argentine Nation) is allowed to be used on legislative work on the congress of Argentina.
    2.- “Republica Argentina” (Argentine Republic) this is the more widely know and used among all the 3 official names of the country.
    3.- “Provincias Unidas del Rio de la Plata” (United Provinces of the Río de la Plata) see? “provinces” are the name given on some countrys then other countrys prefer to use the word “states”…

    this name “United Provinces of the Río de la Plata” (some translate it as “United Provinces of the River Plate”) was widely used on some period of the MDCCC century

    my english is not very good, but i just want to point all this, i dont say hay you are wrong, i just say, is not correct even if is standarized or given for garanted and widely used by people from the US as a comon word for a resident of USA (American), or as a short for “united States of America” (America)

    the term that i really dont like is Americas, beause there is only one America Continent. you can split it on regions for practical use, but “the americas” is incorrect.

    there is only America, Europe, Asia, Africa and Oceania, you can add Antartic region as a continent too, but you cant Split 1 continent on 2 or 3 or more contient, you can split it on regions or areas. but you cant just divide a contient into several contient (you can split it on SUB-Contients like. South America or North America but you need to point out that you speak about Sub-Continents and not to diferent continents

  12. lis says

    Read about the Amerrique mountains in Nicaragua……You will be surprised as who really named America, Our beautiful continent.

  13. mordecaif says

    yes is sad that in the year 2013 people believe that for example my people from El Salvador came from other place we didn’t came from any where we were here no one discover us we were mixed confused and extinct to the point that today we are foreign people. and we need a visa to travel in hour land one day will be some kind of compensation for now they say we are from El Salvador like say we are from another planet ooh is that why they call it illegal alien

  14. leo dorsey says

    all maps show the countries of NORTH AMERICA as: CANADA, UNITED STATES & MEXICO.

    None are called “AMERICA”.

  15. Jen says

    The funny thing is, using the word “America” is very foreign sounding to me, and I’m an American. I’ve never heard an American say they were born or live in America, they say the “states” or the “United States” or name their home state but never do they say they were born or live in America. We do however refer to ourselves as Americans because it’s been part of our name since the beginning and it certainly wasn’t arrogance that gave us the name, we were just learning how to stand on our own.

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