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Why Do We Call Germany Germany?

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While traveling around Europe, have you ever noticed the names people use for what most of us know as Germany? Most local Germans call their homeland Deutschland, while the Spanish call the country ‘Alemania’.

In Poland, Germany goes by the name ‘Niemcy.’ This country has almost six names, but why is this variety? And why do we call Germany Germany and not, let’s say, “the beer land” (I just made that up)? It does feel like a mystery, and I am here to solve it for you.

What Is the History of Germany?

Why Do We Call Germany Germany

Before diving into the story behind the name and origin, let’s briefly examine Germany’s extensive and exciting history. Germany is a large northern European country, home to more than 82 million people. However, the Germany you find on the map today didn’t become a country like that.

It is a product of a complex history that started with a renowned figure, Julius Caesar. To make it more understandable, here is a quick yet detailed story of Germany’s past.

Why Do We Call Germany Germany: The Story

In 500 BC, powerful Germanic tribes moved to Northern Germany. They fought against the Roman Empire, led by Julius Caesar.

The tribes won the war and settled in northern Germany. However, the rest of the country was still under the control of the Roman Empire.

Roman Empire

After the fall of the Roman Empire, the Franks conquered the Germanic Tribes and won over their land. They came under the control of Charlemagne, who is still famously referred to as the “father of the German Monarchy.”

However, the Frankish Empire’s unity was also not long-lived. After the passing of the Treaty of Verdun, the Frankish Empire experienced a division and separated into three different regions.

Following this division, in 936 CE, Otto I became the king of Germany and the ruler of the Holy Roman Empire. From this point on up to 1918, many changes took place.

There was a thirty-year-long war and the establishment of the Kingdom of Prussia in this region. Then, 1914 marked the beginning of World War I, which ended with Germany’s defeat.

In 1933, Adolf Hitler became Germany’s Chancellor and initiated World War II. While Hitler successfully conquered much of Europe, Germany faced another defeat against Britain, the United States, and their Allies.

This war divided the country into two parts: East Germany and West Germany. The Soviet Union ruled East Germany. However, the western part was a free state. They had a Berlin Wall between them to keep locals from escaping from their respective regions.

When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1989, the wall was no longer there, and Germany became a single country. In 1991, Berlin became the capital of Germany, and the Euro was declared the official currency; that was it!

See Related: Germany Currency: Everything You Need to Know

Germany’s Many Names

Phew! With such a history, Germany has seen it all. However, there is something else you should know, too. The place you and I call Germany has more than one name. While it may sound strange, this fact is worth reading.

Why Do We Call It Germany?

Germany is an English-derived term that comes from the Latin word Germania. Julius Caesar gave this title to represent the people east of the Rhine.

The name Germany existed long before the country’s complete union. The country you see on the map today began in the 19th century when Otto von Bismarck combined different regions into one single empire.

Who Came Up With the Title “Germany” in the First Place?

It all started when the Roman Empire was taking over Europe. The Germanic tribes were the first to move to this land to win against the Romans.

While the Romans successfully took control of a massive area of land in Western Europe, they failed to conquer the area under the power of the Germanic tribes.

However, after a few years, the Germanic tribes eventually joined the Roman Empire to strengthen its weakened affairs. But let’s keep that story for another day.

Since it was centrally located in Europe, Germany shared borders with people from different languages and cultures. When the Germanic tribe came to this place, many regions adopted their language and started calling the area Germania.

The root of the word Germania comes from the Gauls. Gauls was a title given to the Celtic tribes of Continental Europe in France. Julius Caesar had already conquered the Gauls, and to distinguish them from the unconquered Rhine, he named them Germani.

Germani meant “neighbors,” or as some historians think, “men of the forest.” However, quite soon, ‘Germani’ got a modification by the Englishmen who anglicized the term, and today, we have Germany. However, English only began to use the word in the late 1500s.

Before that, the region was commonly referred to as Almany.

Why Do We Call Deutschland Germany?

Now, many of you may ask, is it Germany or Deutschland? Many countries around the world have endonyms and exonyms.

While the former is the name a place gives itself, the latter is the term other countries call that place. This is exactly what applies to Germany’s different names. Germans use Deutschland as an exonym. Deutschland is a native title for the word Germany which means people or nation.

The word first came into being in the 8th century. At that time, the locals didn’t identify themselves as Allemanis or Germans. Instead, they existed as individuals, free from the influence of Roman and Latin culture.

They had a distinct name for their language and culture: ‘ Duits Disk.’ This term means “of the people.” As the German language developed, ‘Duits Disk’ became ‘Deutsch,’ and the region was given ‘Deutschland’ as the new name.

Throughout Europe, the word Deutsch and Deutschland went through many modifications. Each country called it with a different title.

For instance, the Italians translated Deutschland to Tedesco. Moreover, some English speakers started calling the region Germany to differentiate between the many Germanic speakers.

What Are the Different Names of Germany In Other Languages?

Deutschland

Since Germany is a central part of Europe, it is famous for many things; it is not just the beer or the landscape that attracts people from around the world.

Germany’s six different names in varying languages are a highlight for people who love to read about this country. While I have mentioned a few names above, here is a better description of different titles and their meaning.

Allemagne

This is a French word for Germany. However, it is referred to as Alemania in Spanish and Almania in Turkish. The word Allemagne derives from the name Alemanni, which means “all men.” Alemanni was a union of all Germanic tribes that ruled the Rhine River.

Neimci

The title above means “the country of the mute.” While this name may sound strange for a country like Germany, it has a fascinating story.

Neimci was a title given to foreigners who couldn’t speak Slavic. Most non-Slavs in Germany had Germanic origins and interacted with Slav locals. They didn’t know their language and were called dumb and mute.

It is how the title, Neimci, became synonymous with the Germanic tribe.

Deutschland

Deutsch means people, and Deutschland is the “land of people.” Deutschland is still a trendy name for Germany, and Germans use it for themselves.

However, many Englishmen also started using the word Dutchland for Germany. However, the title was later given to the Netherlands to avoid confusion.

Švapska

This expression is a Serbo-Croatian word. While the name applies only to the Swabia region of Germany, many people still use it for the whole country.

Germany

Derived from Germania, the Latin word for a land the Germanic tribes conquered, this name is one of the most common terms people worldwide use to describe this region.

In simple terms, Germany means neighbor. It is a common word in many languages like Asian, African, Romance, and Slavic.

Also, here is a fun fact: Germany has a nickname! It is called ‘Das Land der Dichter und Denker.’ While it is long, it means “the country of poets and thinkers.” Quite thoughtful, no?

See Related: Top-Rated Restaurants in Germany

Do Schools In Germany Teach Its History?

Most schools in Germany teach the country’s history as part of their academic curriculum. This includes the story behind this region’s name. German children are aware of the different names of their land, from its original titles to its interesting modifications.

Since these schools have kids from various regions who speak other languages, all the words give a sense of pride to everyone.

However, most Germans are not proud of what they have achieved and lost in history. Unfortunately, World War II portrayed a bad image of Germany, which many people today don’t like to believe.

What Do You Think? Is it Germany or Deutschland for You?

A country with many different names and meanings, Germany has quite a culture and history. With every title, there is a background that can quickly grasp all your attention.

However, after reading about all the titles, which name would you want to use for Germany? If you are a tourist from the United States, Britain, or Asia, you may always have called this country Germany.

You will prefer that when you visit the region. However, as a German citizen, Deutschland is the word that suits your identity. You have every right to use a name of your choice.

Germany is one of the friendliest nations and accepts people from around the world. While its history may have been devastating for many, it doesn’t reflect the characteristics of the people and the country’s many names.

So when in Germany, call it by any name you want. But make sure you pronounce it correctly so the locals can understand.

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