Long before it was discovered that malaria was transmitted by mosquitoes breeding in stagnant waters, people believed that the disease was caused by bad air, hence it was named mal aria (bad air.)
A myth about good air is at the origin of the name of the city of Buenos Aires in Argentina. It was said that the origin of its name was the good air it enjoyed atop a hill.
Another legend has it that the city was named after a Sicilian saint: Nuestra Senora la Virgen Maria de los Buenos Aires who is credited with having helped conquer the place.
And that is how names stick long after their origin has been forgotten. Venezuela’s name also boasts of a legend. The area around Lake Maracaibo supposedly reminded the navigator Amerigo Vespucci of the City of Venice, so he named it Piccola Venezia (Little Venice) or Venezuela.
Amerigo Vespucci was also the man who, in 1501 proclaimed that Columbus had not found Asia’s eastern side but a totally different continent, in fact two continents. He had deduced this from noticing the different constellations and observing indigenous customs and habits. In 1507 it was suggested that the continents be named North and South America in his honor. We are lucky that his first name was used in this naming or we would be known today as the United States of Vespucci.
Very informative with a bit of humor thrown in.
Speaking of how things are named, it is because Columbus thought he had found India, that to this day, native Americans are called Indians.
Neat! didn’t know that about malaria, makes sense.
Maine has a ton of cities named after countries, including Norway and Peru!
I’ve always been interested in how countries were named. Most countries were named after someone influential in the history of the country, a directional description, a tribe or ethnic group, or an outstanding feature of its land.
Canada got its name from the word “kanata,” meaning “village” or “settlement.” When French explorer Jacques Cartier was directed to the village of Stadacona, he used the word to name the area. Stadacona is now the site of the City of Québec.
It is often quite accidental and then the name sticks!
How interesting! You got my curiosity up and I checked to see how the city Las Angles got it’s name. From Wikipedia I found, “The original name is “El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles del Río Porciúncula” (in English, “town of our lady the Queen of Angels of the River Porciúncula”). I’m glad they decided to shorten it!
Yes that is quite a mouthful.