• Home

Hello, international friends (and Brazilians) that are passionate about the Portuguese language!


With this post I start a series of texts about my language (Brazilian Portuguese) curiosities, tips, and vocabulary. And I decided to start with this topic because I recently had a deep conversation about it with a dear friend.

And the theme is … GEOGRAPHICAL NAMES!
I know it sounds complicated, but geographical names are nothing more, nothing less than the names used to refer to a person’s origin, let it be the city, country, state or, in some places, even the neighborhood from which the person originates from.

Interesting? Well, geographical names in Portuguese are very confusing!
They don’t follow a clear rule and you end up learning as you use it.


Geographical names are also called gentile names and they are usually formed by joining a geographic area (for example, Brazil) and a suffix (which, in the case of Brazil, is “eiro (a)”).

The information below is from a text (edited and freely translated by me) wrote by my dear friend, teacher and poet, Felipe Coelho. He also signs the preface to my book, which you can buy it here!

Text by Felipe Coelho

The geographical names in the American continent are formed by the name of the country + the suffix “ano”.

Peru, peruano; Bolívia, boliviano, Equador, equatoriano (it should be equadoriano…); Colômbia, colombiano; Venezuela, venezuelano; América, americano; México, mexicano; Haiti, haitiano; Cuba, cubano. In Portugal, they say canadiano for those born in Canada. In Brazil, we say canadense instead.

There is also the confusing mess about the terms we use for Central America, the Caribbean and Guyana, for which we have the suffixes “enho”, “eco”, “ense”, “ês”.

Honduras, hondurenho; Salvador, salvadorenho; Panamá, panamenho; Porto Rico, portorriquenho; Guatemala, guatemalteco; Nicarágua, nicaraguense, Suriname, surinamês, Guiana, gui-anês or gui-anenses; Aruba, arubenho , arubano or arubense; Belize, belizenho or belizense; etc.

There are also countries where we only need to add “o” to the end.

Argentina, argentino; Paraguai, paraguaio; Uruguai, uruguaio,  República Dominicana, dominicano.

In Brazil, we say that those born in Palestine are palestino, while in Portugal they are a palestiniano… But it is’t always that simple. In Brazil, we say that who were born in Estonia is estoniano, while in Portugal they say estônio.

For European countries, on the west, we tend to use the suffix “ês”.

Inglês, francês, português, galês, irlandês, escocês, norueguês. islandês, dinamarquês, holandês and maltês, with “finlandês” and “polonês” lost in the east.

The east part tends to use “o” at the end.

Romênia, romeno; Bulgária, búlgaro; Geórgia, geórgio; Armênia, armênio;  Suécia, sueco; Suíça, suíço; Rússia, russo; Macedônia, macedônio; Grécia (República Helênica), grego or helênico; Bósnia, bósnio; República Checa, checo; Sérvia, sérvio, Turquia, turco.

Between these 2 patterns, you find everything.
Who is born in Alemanha is alemão.
In Grã-Bretanha or Bretanha francesa is bretão.
In Letônia is letão.
In Bélgica is belga.
In Croácia is croata.
In Itália is italiano.
In Azerbaijão is azerbaijano.
In Hungria is húngaro or magiar.
In Polônia, it can be polaco or polonês.
In Lituânia is lituano.
In Espanha is espanhol.
In Chipre is cipriota.
In Mônaco is monegasco.
In Montenegro is montenegrino.
In Kosovo is kosovar.

To top it off, those born on the continents of América, África and Austrália are americano, africano and australiano, respectively.
Who is born in the subcontinent of India is indiano.
The rule seems almost perfect, but whoever is born in Europa is not europano but europeu and who is born in Ásia is not asiano but asiático.
As no one was born in Antártida (also called Antártica) there are still no people but everything else (ice, penguins, whales, bases) is antártico and not antartidano or antartidês or antartideco or antartidense…

The only thing that is certain is that this is a mess.
Those born in Espanha are espanhol and not espanhês (the norm of Western Europe) because Spain brought together Galicians from Galicia, Catalans from Catalonia, Castilians from Castile, Basques from the Basque country, Valencian from Valencia and Andalusians from Andalusia. In the Islamic era, Andalusia was all of Spain, El Andaluz, a name derived from the Vandals, a powerful Germanic people from Poland who migrated to Tunisia. The vandals got a bad name, perhaps unfairly, but they impressed the Arabs and hence El Andaluz was Spain. For Jews, Spain was Sefarad, hence the Sephardic Jews, expelled from Spain by the Catholic Kings. For the Romans (and their descendants) Iberia was Hispania, divided into several provinces, one of which was Lusitania.

Did you like Felipe Coelho’s text?

To continue this interesting little list, I will talk about geographical names from all Brazilian states, capitals and some other cities in the next post. I’ll also take the opportunity to explain some very curious ones!

Leave a comment here telling me what you thought of the content and what you would like me to write about! Oh, and share my link with whoever you think might be interested!

Thank you and see you next time!!

With love,





Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *