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Map of countries with the suffix -stan

The suffix -stan (Persian: ـستان‎‎ -stān) is Persian for "place of"[1] or "country".[2] It appears in the names of many regions, especially in Central and South Asia, but also in the Caucasus and Russia; areas where significant amounts of Persian culture were spread or adopted. The suffix is also used more generally, as in Persian and Urdu rigestân (ریگستان) "place of sand, desert", Pakistan "land of the pure", Hindustan "land of the Hindus", golestan (گلستان) "place of flowers, garden", etc.

Etymology and cognates[edit]

The suffix, originally an independent noun, but evolving into a suffix by virtue of appearing frequently as the last part in nominal compounds, is of Indo-Iranian and ultimately Indo-European origin: It is cognate with Sanskrit sthā́na (Devanagari: स्थान [st̪ʰaːna]), meaning "the act of standing", from which many further meanings derive, including "place, location", and ultimately descends from Proto-Indo-Iranian *sthāna-.

The Proto-Indo-European root from which this noun is derived is *steh₂- (older reconstruction *stā-) "to stand" (or "to stand up, to step (somewhere), to position (oneself)"), which is also the source of English to stand, Latin stāre, and Greek histamai (ίσταμαι), all meaning "to stand" and Russian стан (stan, meaning "settlement" or "semi-permanent camp"). In Polish and Ukrainian, stan means "state" or "condition", while in Serbo-Croatian it translates as "apartment" in its modern usage, while its original meaning was "habitat". In Czech and Slovak, it means "tent" or, in military terms, "headquarters". Also in Germanic languages, the root can be found in Stand ("place, location"), and in Stadt (German), stad/sted (Dutch/Scandinavian), stêd (West Frisian) and stead (English), all meaning either "place" or "city". The suffix -stan is analogous to the suffix -land, present in many country and location names.


Country Capital (Pop.) Area km² Population Den. /km²
 Afghanistan Kabul (3,476,000) 652,230 31,108,077 43.5
 Kazakhstan Astana (780,880) 2,724,900 17,053,000 6.3
 Kyrgyzstan Bishkek (874,400) 199,900 5,551,900 27.8
 Pakistan Islamabad (805,235) 796,095 182,490,721 226.6
 Tajikistan Dushanbe (679,400) 143,100 8,000,000 55.9
 Turkmenistan Ashgabat (1,031,992) 488,100 5,125,693 10.5
 Uzbekistan Tashkent (2,309,600) 447,400 30,183,400 67.5

Some of these nations were also known with the Latinate suffix -ia during their time as Soviet republics: Turkmenistan was frequently Turkmenia, Kyrgyzstan often Kirghizia, but Uzbekistan very rarely Uzbekia.[3][4]

Native names[edit]

Sub-national units[edit]


Some provinces of Iran:



Certain republics of Russia:


Cities and counties[edit]




Proposed names[edit]



  • Absurdistan – sometimes used to satirically describe a country where everything goes wrong
  • Bimaristan – a kind of hospital in medieval Persia and the medieval Islamic world
  • Bradistan – a moniker for Bradford, England, owing to its large population of Pakistani worker migrants
  • Dondestan – an album by Robert Wyatt. Sounds like ¿Dónde están? (Where are they?) in Spanish.
  • Filmistan – a film-production company
  • Gazimestan – name of a monument commemorating the historical Battle of Kosovo
  • Hamastan – a concept of a Palestinian Islamic government with Sharia as law
  • Iranistan – a pseudo-orientalist mansion built for P. T. Barnum in 1848 in Connecticut
  • Islamistan – means 'Land of Islam', used in various contexts
  • Jewistan – an anti-Semitic moniker proposed by Professor Francis Boyle as a replacement name for the state of Israel.[5][6][7][8]
  • Londonistan – French counter-terrorism agents gave the British/English capital of London this sobriquet. Sometimes used derogatorily to refer to the large immigrant population in the city of London.
  • Muristan – a complex of streets and shops in the Christian Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem
  • New Yorkistan – the title of the cover art for the December 10, 2001 edition of The New Yorker magazine
    • The New Yorkistan map itself included various districts ending in -stan, e.g., Bronxistan, Cold Turkeystan, Fuhgeddabouditstan, Gaymenistan, Taxistan, Youdontunderstandistan, etc.
  • Paganistan – the pagan/neo-pagan community of Minneapolis-Saint Paul in Minnesota[9]
  • Registan – a UNESCO World Heritage Site in central Samarkand, Uzbekistan
  • Sarvestan – a Sassanid-era palace in the Iranian province of Sarvestan
  • Shabestan – an underground space, usually found in traditional architecture of mosques, houses, and schools in ancient Persia
  • Shahrestan (several meanings)
  • Skateistan – a skateboarding/educational organization based in Kabul, Afghanistan

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Johnson, Bridget. "'Stan Countries – What the Suffix 'Stan' Means". About.com. Archived from the original on 2013-03-30. Retrieved October 9, 2012. 
  2. ^ Harper, Douglas. "-stan". Online Etymology Dictionary. Archived from the original on 2014-01-01. Retrieved January 18, 2013. 
  3. ^ Google Ngram Uzbekia, Kirgizia, Turkmenia, Tajikia
  4. ^ Becker, Seymour (2004). Russia's Protectorates in Central Asia: Bukhara and Khiva, 1865-1924. Routledge. p. 553. ISBN 1-134-33582-2. As early as June 1920, Lenin had toyed with the idea of dividing Russian Turkestan into three national regions: Uzbekia, Kirgizia and Turkmenia. 
  5. ^ Jewistan: Finally Recognizing Israel as the Jewish State by Francis A. Boyle, Dissident Voice, October 21st, 2010. Accessed 2014-12-27. Archived 2014-12-30.
  6. ^ Connections @ Illinois - Jewistan: Finally Recognizing Israel as a Jewish State.
  7. ^ Abbas Accepts Occupation Harshness By Stephen Lendman, People's Voice, February 7th, 2014. Accessed 2014-12-27. Archived 2014-12-30.
  8. ^ Anti-Semitic Website Attacks Fiveish: “Sick Jew Children Dance with Dollar Bill Man to Bring Joy”, Matzav.com, Wednesday July 9, 2014.
  9. ^ Pizza, Murphy (2009). "Schism as midwife: how conflict aided the birth of a contemporary Pagan community". In Lewis, James R.; Lewis, Sarah M. Sacred schisms: how religions divide (PDF). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 249–261. ISBN 978-0-511-58071-0. Retrieved May 25, 2011. [...] the Pagan community of the Minnesota Twin Cities, otherwise known by members as 'Paganistan.' 

External links[edit]